I attended the Metropolitan Library System Zones 1-4 meeting of reference librarians from the western suburbs of Chicago today. One of our many topics of discussion was how hard it is to get teens into the library. Mostly we talked about programs to attract them, but some of the statements were of a more general nature. I got to brag about how our game nights at Thomas Ford now require prior registration to control the numbers. Other programs do not always do so well. We seemed somewhat agreed that attracting teens is something we will always try with some successes and disappointments.
I then returned to my library and started my shift at the reference desk. The first thing I did was log into Trillian to get messages via AIM, MSN, and Yahoo. I immediately found an email from a teen asking us to register her for a program, and within minutes I got an instant message from another teen looking for a book and a CD. She was in luck, as both were on the shelf. I banded the items and put them at the checkout desk under her name.
On the way back to the reference desk I saw a teen looking around the fiction collection. I asked if he was having any luck. He had one book but asked for some recommendations. So we looked around for several minutes and he left with John Gardner and E. L. Doctorow books. He said he wanted serious reading.
Several minutes later another teen came wanting a specific book that we did not own, so we looked in the shared catalog and ordered it from a nearby library. When she left I gave our teen librarian a purchase alert.
At that point I saw the irony of our conversation earlier. I had four teens in less than twenty minutes. I had another at the desk about a hour later. She wanted humorous novels. She had already read almost everything I suggested at first, but we finally found a couple of books for her.
In the evening I had one more teen via instant message. He did not really want anything other than to see if anyone was online. I was. I hope we always are.