YA Librarian Interview Summary

I had a brief interview with a public librarian in a small town in Montana. The micropolitan area population is 93,000, but the town where the library is located is only 6,600. Here are the highlights of my interview:

Keeping up with teen trends:

I stay current with teen trends by staying connected with teens and their parents. There’s no way to keep up otherwise, as fads, lingo, and “what’s cool” change so quickly. I stay current with teen library trends like programming, RA, and activities through websites and journals. I stay current with teen literature by reading as many books as I can – of all kinds, for all different teens. Keeping up with trends in our book collection, we keep a balance of the classics, and new books. Graphic novels are big now, and we try to maintain a collection of these as well.

Establishing boundaries with teen patrons:

We have clear library policies established, and training so that the library staff understand those policies. We have also had seminars for library staff to identify teen drug use and depression, so that we can direct teens who might be going through something more challenging toward assistance. We are a small community, and we mostly know teens’ parents, and will reach out to them if we suspect that there are problems that need attention beyond the library.

Getting teens interested in your current or new programs:

The answer is the same for both – we typically have teens serve as the messengers and we get someone who is already invested in the program to talk to their peers about how great it is and why they should get involved.  We also get them involved during the development process so that they are already invested in the event.  

Most successful strategy to improve the teen department:

Some of our programming is region-specific, like wilderness hikes, bear safety, and science outings. It’s been fun to work with the teens outside of the library setting, and get them to open up about more.

Biggest challenge and greatest reward of teen librarianship:

The teens that come to the library are mostly well-behaved, and enjoyable to work with. I know many of their families, and the connectedness is rewarding. Seeing these teens move into adulthood in a positive way is the greatest reward. The biggest challenge would be reaching the teens whose families don’t use the library now.

Segments of youth population who are not using library:

We know there is a large population of teens who might need the most help – lower income or teens with family dysfunction that prevents them from being connected to our community. Disenfranchisement leads teens in a less productive direction for adulthood. We worry about these teens, but we’re not very successful at reaching them.

Strategy to reach teens who are not currently using library:

We don’t really have an effective solution for reaching those kids, and can only hope they are getting some of those needs met through school or Parks & Rec during the summer. We communicate and work with schools and Parks & Rec, but I wouldn’t say that that has helped to get this group in to the library. We don’t give up on those teens, but we don’t necessarily succeed in reaching them either.



  1. What an amazing location to choose! We talk so much about urban and suburban libraries, while rural libraries aren’t mentioned as much. Wilderness hikes and bear safety…That would be a pretty cool change of pace.

    Liked by 1 person

    • bear safety sounds a little scary to me (!), but yes, makes sense that they would have programs specific to their surroundings. I would imagine our programs are pretty urban-specific too – I just haven’t ever thought about it!


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