How I Changed My Teen Advisory Board by Michelle Biwer
Teen Volunteer Home Base
I identified a number of ways that my library’s teen volunteering program could be improved and give more of the responsibility back to the teens. With over 150 teen volunteers I was having a hard time recognizing teen volunteers who go above-and-beyond, keeping track of the number of active volunteers, and generally making sure volunteers felt valued and were informed of changes and procedures. I looked at how the library’s TAB could solve these problems and came up with a new structure for the group.
Teens submit applications before a new school year for a leadership position in TAB. They are required to have volunteered a certain number of hours at the library and encouraged to be an active TAB member. There are 5 positions (President, Vice President/Publicity Chair, Teen Programming Chair, Membership Chair, and Collections Chair). Each leadership position has a long term project and monthly responsibilities to work on at every TAB meeting.
Having a TAB leadership team that knows what projects need to be worked on during TAB and can supervise other teens is essential due to the 30+ attendance that I regularly receive at TAB meetings. Every TAB leader supervises a group of volunteers working on a project I’ve assigned that is related to their job. For example, those interested in teen programming will help plan or create an upcoming teen program with the Teen Programming Chair. Those who love YA will create a display in the teen area with the Collections Chair. The Membership Chair just finished an amazing project–digitizing the volunteer sign-in process!
TAB is open to everyone
Any teen can attend TAB or become a volunteer, there is no mandatory commitment. All new teen library volunteers must attend one TAB meeting. Even if some teens choose not to regularly participate in TAB and teen programs, attending one meeting means they know what the teen department at the library can do for them and what opportunities are out there in terms of volunteering. The Membership Chair runs a volunteer orientation as one of the group projects during TAB.
These changes have allowed teens to really take charge of TAB and have made meetings more productive.
Filed under: Teen Empowerment
About Robin Willis
After working in middle school libraries for over 20 years, Robin Willis now works in a public library system in Maryland.
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