Library Diva's Guide to Volunteering…

{June 7, 2011}   Smells like Teen Spirit!

I stopped in our TeenZone to give a pep talk on volunteering and go over the policies and procedures to our Teen Advisory Board and when I walked in the room I didn’t expect almost 20 kids in there!

I was dually impressed that all stereotypes were represented! I felt like I was in the library with a meeting of the Breakfast Club.

Its great to see such involvement and enthusiasm. It’s tough now with people with Masters degrees getting jobs that usually are reserved for teens. I know of some Ph.D’s scooping ice scream and waiting tables. Teens want to be involved and busy. What’s the old saying, Boredom breeds Destruction?

Not only will these teens be planning our teen activities, but they’ll be participating in our movie nights, wii game nights, helping with projects and shelving materials. It’s an exciting time for us and for them!

Very cool…


{March 17, 2011}   more good kids being “bad”

What do kids do at a suburban library…? They drink monster drinks on the sly. There….its out… I told their secret. They come to the library after school, run over to the nearest CVS and buy monster drinks. And gulp them.

It’s a weird phenom. They aren’t allowed to have them at home so they sneak them. I used to sneak far worse back in the ’80’s. I must give off that cool old chic vibe because they like to come in and hang out and gulp their drinks, swish it around their mouths and let out an “ahhhh” after they swallow.

For the most part, it’s not like they are in the public areas downing their monsters. If they aren’t in my office, they are hiding out, almost ashamed that they are drinking one, but thrilled that they are getting away with it. And they are true monster drinks, I’ve witnessed it from lid cracking open to can crushing end. No tipping the flask, nothing added to them, just a true monster drink.

Most of these kids are ADHD, and they tell me so. I had a neighbor kid once who’s mom never gave him anything sweet for fear that he’d bounce off the walls. Then one day she found him on the kitchen floor, legs straddled around a 5lb sack of sugar eating fistfuls with both hands. In pure desperation, she came over and asked me what she should do…I said, for crying out loud…give the kid something sweet once in a while!

I’ve never had one, so I don’t know what the fascination is, they pooh pooh coffee so maybe it’s a generation thing. Oh well…I’ll continue to keep their secrets. Heck, they’ve signed the waiver and if it helps them be better volunteers and more productive…I’m all for it. 🙂

{March 5, 2011}   you’re perfect…

I have a few things to say to all the teens who have come in to see me in the past couple weeks….

If you are coming to me for probation. You made a mistake…be patient. Think before you act! Straighten out and fly right and get out of the system.

If you are coming to me for school and college applications. Balance out your life…it’s not all about spelling bees and top schools sometimes.

If you are coming to me because you need a job…it’s a tough world out there. Look in to grants, aid and scholarships for college. Cut out spending…eat mom’s cooking and play some board games at home for crying out loud.

If you feel you’re different. You are! and that’s a good thing. So the “preps” took over your lunch table today…you are labeling just like everyone else. Embrace differences. It’s ok to have different likes and dislikes. It makes the world more interesting.

…and for my little friend that confided in me….it’s not your fault. No means No.

It’s tough being a teen in today’s world, please stop being so hard on yourselves…

{March 3, 2011}   I yam what I yam…

I’m going to stray a bit from volunteering and the library world and mention a couple of things about the volleyball team that I help coach. Number one…the girls do not know what it means when the coaches ask them…

“Did you have your Wheaties? I thought everyone remembers what it means when people say…did you have your Wheaties…if you hit the ball hard in baseball, kicked a home run at kickball, ran fast, did great at was all because of eating our Wheaties for breakfast. Breakfast of Champions…Hello…!?!?

I think athletes are still on the Wheaties box…right? Well, that one didn’t fly the other night when the coach for another team asked if they ate their Wheaties when the ball kept going out-of-bounds. So he pulled out Popeye…and asked…did you eat your spinach?

That garnered more disgust and stink eye looks then ever imaginable…It’s just a different generation of kids. No Wheaties. No Popeye.

…a sad sad day…

{December 7, 2010}   Gone Too Soon

A few months ago, I had returned from a very relaxing vacation at the shore to find out that one of my young teen volunteers had taken his life. To say the least, I was in shock. I couldn’t believe or understand what had happened. Then the news picked up on the story and it became a huge media frenzy. He had allegedly been bullied over a course of time and felt overwhelmed.

Then came the news calls. He was a good kid and volunteered at the library. They wanted to find out more about the personal side of this young man. When the reporter came in to my office to talk with me, I told her that he was a normal kid, and was willing to share more, but she then asked if I would be willing to go on camera for the evening news about what he was like. No. No Way. I politely declined and ended our conversation. That’s not my thing, to have tragedy happen and then go publicly talk about it does not sit well with me.

After a few months, what I can do now though is let you know that he was a good young man. That he had the same teen angst that all teens do. Wanting a girlfriend, the latest pair of fashion sneakers, going out with friends, clubs at school, liking sports and other activities. He also liked to eat. My office mate noticed that he was ALWAYS hungry. He’d come in to my office, plop down in the chair, scoot it over to my fridge and grab whatever was in there, diet pepsi, pudding, string cheese and even a V-8.  He’d devour a bag of snack lays chips in seconds.

He liked it when I noticed he got a hair cut, and he even liked it when I brought him in to my office to reprimand him on getting off task or disrupting staff with his antics. When the news reporter left my office, I closed the door behind her and sat at my desk and burst out into tears. My Assistant Director called because I had left a message regarding PR procedures, but I decided on my own that I didn’t feel right about talking about it. She asked if I was ok. I said I wasn’t ok. It was sad. I was sad.

Losing volunteers to me is like losing a staff member. I care about them, they are my friends and the relationship is very different from a manager/staff member. It’s personal. It’s intimate. My office mate helped me through it all by saying, “while he was with us, we were good to him”. And, I agree~we were good to him and he was happy here…

She did add…”boy, he sure liked to eat…!”. That made me smile. He did like to eat… 🙂


Today I met with 10 volunteers in 7th and 8th grade for a group orientation and training session. This is a great and enthusiastic type of volunteer! The first step in working with Teen Volunteers is to understand their generation. This generation needs to feel purpose. They like to help. They are very generous and caring. They value their time and don’t like to waste it. This generation is very technically savvy. They’ve only known cell phones, cable tv, computers and communicating via social networking and texts. They are very audio and visually motivated. This is a very busy generation, don’t hold them to schedules or you won’t retain them. Give them plenty of tasks to choose from, allowing them to control their opportunity. They like to work in groups in areas that interest them.

They also need to see and understand the big picture. Provide a lesson or lecture on community service outside the library. If your library provides a Teen Area or a Young Adult Area, create a Teen Advisory Board. Colleges, Universities and Scholarship applications like to see applicants in Board positions in leadership and decision-making roles. TAB’s provide this opportunity at the local library. TAB’s plan programs, events, displays. They determine the books in book clubs, movies for movie nights, gaming nights and craft nights.

Watch the handbook with these groups! Cell phone and dress code are the biggest violations. Progressive discipline works wonders! Lots of places aren’t hiring, so a great place to get job experience is by volunteering, and having this age group volunteer is a huge help and lots of fun. Patience,  a Sense of Humor and Understanding are all you need to work with this group, and before you know it, and you’ll be doing your own group orientations with 10 or more teens at a time leading them around the library on a tour like the Pied Piper!

et cetera
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