The traditional “shush” space of the library may seem like the last place a moody, awkward preteen wants to visit in their free time. The ever-changing needs of our busy Tween crowd requires us to evolve and expand the library’s services to remain relevant and keep pace with the constant innovation within our world.
Many school and community libraries are embracing the Middle School audience with redesigned community furniture and collab space, a dedicated makerspace for creative messiness and a resource area for digital needs and exploration!
A school library at Alice Buffett Magnet Middle School in Omaha initiated a push to get more students — especially busy eighth-graders — into the school library. They found that eighth-graders were way behind their younger counterparts when it came to checking out books. Fifth-graders checked out 15,000 books last year; eighth-graders borrowed just 3,000. The reason was unclear. Was it because of more after-school sports and activities? Lack of a “reading class” that forced students to check out books more often?
The library started putting great effort into keeping up with young adult trends — making sure to stock wildly popular series and host promotional events for book and movie releases like the “Hunger Games” and “Divergent.” They also try to make the library a welcoming place where kids know they can drop by to browse, ask a question or do research for a school project. Furniture that’s moveable, where kids can pull together to chat or work on a project together always works best for this crowd.
In many communities, the local library can be a safe haven for kids whose parents work full time. What may have once been considered a nuisance to the library crowd, consider welcoming Tweens and Teens in with hot cocoa and movies at 3 pm on chilly weekdays or offer a Teen Summer Reading Challenge with age-appropriate prizes. Consider “pop sockets” for their iPhone, $5 iTunes gift cards or goodie bags with popular snacks!
Cardinal Rule Press is here to make this part easy with our very own FREE downloadable Summer Reading Challenge sheet ready for distribution. Schools ends for most this week so start sharing this throughout your library today!
Lastly – don’t forget that Middle School Tweens and Teens are always on their phones. So, USE your social media accounts to lure them in with cool events, freebies and movie showings! Before you know it, you may realize that your library has MORE of this crowd checking out books than you had the weeks and months before!
For more tips, tricks, and helpful resources, make sure and subscribe to the Cardinal Rule Press Newsletter HERE.
Sarah Cavanaugh, mother of two teens, Marketing and Communications Consultant living in West Michigan.