Being in a job that has no real peers can be a challenging position. No one who can relate to your specific issues, no one to cover for you in a tough situation, no one fighting the same fight – against the same things and the same people. It’s easy to feel isolated; like the underdog. Especially when you’re a teen services librarian, the area that’s already the black sheep of the library. They’re the outcasts and troublemakers. “You deal with them. All of them. Alone.”
If this is actually too daunting a task, you very likely shouldn’t do it. If not, it’s a pretty great role to have. The impact you can have on the teen space, and teens, is awesome. You can take anything you’ve learned and apply it. You can provide consistency and get to know the teens well as they grow up and out of your teen space.
If you need peers, there are many options – they just don’t work in your teen library space. But they can relate to you, and have been through what you’re going through. YALSA, SLA, VOYA are all organizations where you can reach out to other teen librarians. A wealth of Facebook Pages, Twitter feeds, and blogs exist and are open for interaction and relationship building. If you need face to face, conferences, classes, and seminars will all put in you in the presence of others like you. And you’re not so different from the other librarians at your library, you just have some unique problems and limited resources. That doesn’t mean they won’t help you with ideas and support.
As for those limited resources, do what you are able to do for the teens, and don’t stress about what you can’t do. Your ambitions will likely be much greater than what you can manage to get done. Work with the goal of growing your staff. Connect with community to create programing, and track your successes to prove that you can do more if you have more resources. Do not be too busy that you don’t document and track information to state your case for growth. If you want improvement, you will have to make a strong case. Get your teen board to participate in the campaign for growth. Prove that the teens care about the space, and are willing to work for it too. The library administration will notice, and you will feel less like you’re an army of one.