Teens in the Library

Okay, so yesterday our library had a county-wide library staff meeting.  Which means that the staff from each library branch gathered together for a single, big meeting.  One of the things we did during this meeting was to go over some of the county use statistics for last year.  Now, the county’s doing pretty bloody good.  Almost everything is up from last year, which means that, yes, our library is still ALIVE AND THRIVING!  Which is great.  About the only thing that has gone down in the last year is…the checking out of teen materials.

Now, the decrease wasn’t huge…it wasn’t like a plummet-and-crash type of statistic, but it seems to be on par with that is happening in our system a lot these days.  We are having no luck with teens!  Every summer, our library system has a Teen Summer Reading Challenge, where teens can win prizes for reading (this year it’s Chapters gift cards and an e-reader).  Last year, the county also gave away books over the summer, through the teen blog.  And in August, not a single teen in the entire county entered the giveaway for the book.

I started taking care of the blog at the end of March of this year.  I took a look back over the previous months, and noticed something saddening…there hadn’t been a single comment on any of the blog posts since last July.

I’m not sure what to do about this!  I tried starting a YA Book Club in the fall, which failed miserably.  I ran it for three months, and in that time, I got…not a single participant.  I had advertisements, bookmarks, and teens that said they were interested, but no one ever showed up.  Then, this Spring, I held a book giveaway in the library.  It ran for four weeks, and in that time we got four entries, and two of them I had to pretty much force into entering.

Now, the summer blog giveaways have started.  I’ve got advertisements all over the teen section, bookmarks on the way for all the branches, a big bulletin display in the library.  I’ve written the blog down and given it directly to teens, telling them how easy it is to enter the contest, and I’ve told our teen pages to promote it to their friends.  I’ve also sent out e-mails to all the other branches, letting them know and asking them to promote.  And I know at least a couple of the branches are, in fact, promoting as best they can.  The contest is a 1/3 through, and so far…no entries.  Gahh!

So, for all those librarians out there, or anyone who just has ideas…how can we get teens into the library?  No one is having much luck with this group.  I’ve been really focusing on keeping new displays in the teen section, creating pathfinders for popular books, and trying to highlight the books we have that I know teens enjoy.  Some things are out of my control; I would love to develop a teen reading area, with bean bags and some privacy for the teens, but there is just no room, and no budget for it at my branch.  I’d also love to start having teen movie nights to try and get teens in that way, but our library doesn’t have a public viewing license, so we can’t show films.

Any other suggestions?  I want to reach out to this user group so badly, but need new ideas!


  • mary stewart

    This is a tough one, because we know the teens are reading… could it be their parents are purchasing books for them? Or maybe their school has summer checkout and they've loaded up? Okay, just asked some of my students and they say if you have good books they want to read, they'll go. They also want some "time" designated to go when they know other teens will be there. I hope that helps some!

  • Mere Joyce

    Thanks for the suggestions! Yes, the teens are definitely reading, but just not coming into the library, I think…hmm. I think I'm going to try a drop-in Teen Cafe over the summer, just a time for teens to come and hang out. Hopefully that gets interest up, =)

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