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Dan Bostrom (staff)'s picture

Community Forum Follow-Up Discussion

This forum is being posted as a follow up to the Community Forum live chat on Friday, October 28. Members are invited to post their comments and suggestions on the following questions below. Also attached is a PDF transcript from the live chat. To view the initial background discussion, please check out the ALSC Strategic Focus Discussion under General Discussion in the ALSC Discussion page: http://connect.ala.org/node/151258

Each question will be post as a comment below. Please respond within the comment by clicking "reply" to the individual comments.

    1. Who are the tweens in our libraries?
    2. What are the significant similarities and differences between programs and services for tweens/younger elementary children/"real" teens?
    3. If you have children’s librarians and teen librarians in your library system, who is responsible for serving tweens?
    4. How can we garner administrative support so that front line staff can offer service to this special group?


oct28_chat_transcript.pdf309.62 KB
Dan Bostrom (staff)'s picture

1. Who are the tweens in our libraries?

Ann Crewdson's picture

I did some quick research and found that TWEENS really came into the spotlight when the Obama kids came into the White House in 2009.  Many are socially-minded and have deep concerns about the issues facing the nation today.  Some even have their own non-profit website and they are tech-savvy.  I also ran across this Peace Helper program designed for 4th and 5th graders.  Having 4th and 5th graders be Peace Helpers to help the rest of the students in class regulate diffuse conflict with their peers has fostered leadership and helped children regulate their own emotions.  A hot item right now is HR 2437 The Academic Social and Emotional Learning Act of 2011.  Social and Emotional Learning has been attributed to academic success, lowered substance abuse and decreased suicide attempts.  This 75 page step-by-step guide to creating your own Peace Helpers Program is very helpful.  http://www.edutopia.org/conflict-resolution-peace-helpers-video

Dan Bostrom (staff)'s picture

2. What are the significant similarities and differences between programs and services for tweens/younger elementary children/"real" teens?


Dan Bostrom (staff)'s picture

3. If you have children’s librarians and teen librarians in your library system, who is responsible for serving tweens?


Ann Crewdson's picture

The teen services librarian and I are experimenting with tween programming for ages 9 to 18 by throwing a "Hunger Games Party" in March, right after the movie's release date.  We're looking for ways to incorporate both age ranges by finding developmentally appropriate activities.  I'm idealistic there will be synergy.  I think the more the teen services librarian and I collaborate, the more we'll be able to identify the nuances of tween programming.  I'm planning to document the outcome of what works and what doesn't work when programming for this age group.  We just might have to do this type of "out-of-the-box" experimentation until we figure out how to best serve tweens in the library.

In February 2012, the teen services librarian and I will be conducting a "Comic Life Lab" for tweens with the DDZ van (which is a vehicle with laptops loaded with innovative Mac programs).  Here's a working draft of the description (NOTE: It hasn't been vetted).

Comic Life Lab

Ages 9-18

manga and comics? Want to make your own? Give it a try aboard the
Digital Discovery Zone at the Issaquah Library. Create your own graphic
stories using Comic Life. Bring artwork
or photos (in print or digital formats) to use in your manga if you
wish but this is not required. Space is limited. No registration
required. The Digital Discovery Zone is ADA accessible.

So the long answer to your question is--for the time being it's a joint effort between the children's and teen services librarian.  I can give you feedback on the outcome of each program if it will help.

Dan Bostrom (staff)'s picture

4. How can we garner administrative support so that front line staff can offer service to this special group?


Mary Fellows's picture

Since I was running the chat and a little too busy to post much on the questions, here are some thoughts on this one. 

First, we need to gather our research. Tweens, while the definition varies quite a bit, are nevertheless identified as a market segment. So we put together information to prove that they are a separate category.

Second, we advocate to have "tween" in our department's name and our job title. If tweens are recognized politically in this way, we will have made a great step. Perhaps, if children's and teen librarians both serve tween, you *both* want it in your job titles.

Third, we create a programming stream for tweens. Maybe it's the same program as you're doing with teens if you serve a small population - but it's advertised both under tweens and under teens.

Fourth, we measure our progress and report it under the heading of tween services.

*Now* it's time to advocate for more money! We have advocated for their needs, changed our services to meet those needs, and proven our progress. This is the proof of our need for money to support work with tweens. 



Ann Crewdson's picture

There are so many things competing for my attention right now and I'm sure that most children's librarians find themselves in a similar position.  I would say that having this discussion was a step in the right direction.  As long as it remains foremost in our minds, we will consciously seek out ways we can make connections with other like-minded organizations.  With each contact there is a potential for partnership that can help bring "tween" services to life.  We just have to look at all the angles.  I agree that further research is needed to convince administrators that services to the tween group is important.  I'm sure it's out there--we just have to conduct it or find it.

Dan Bostrom (staff)'s picture

If you'd like to respond to one of the additional questions, please reply below. Make sure to copy the question to which you are responding.



What are the special informational needs of tweens?

What specific criteria do you look for in programs or services that your library provides for tweens?

If your library has both YA librarians and children's librarians, what are some of the ways that you cooperate with joint programming to serve the tween audience? Or, if you don't do joint programming, why not?

Do you offer programs in your library that are marketed to both tweens and older teens? How does that work out? Do you have more tweens than teens?

How do we best make summer reading programs relevant to tweens?

How can social networking be incorporated into library service for tweens? What polices need to be in place so that this can be accomplished?

Nina Lindsay's picture

I feel like these additional questions are getting to the real "HOW" question.  Does anyone have thoughts on these?  There were some great examples of programs in the chat, I'd be curious to here how you went about developing them...if there were any specific criteria/needs addressed.

Nina Lindsay

2017-18 ALSC President



Marge Loch-Wouters's picture

I had to miss the chat  -was presenting a Halloween program on a no-school day. Wanted to say how well organized and on task it stayed. And a great mix of informative and asking for feedback from members. Very much appreciate the efforts of all to plan and do this despite missing the live chat!

Marge Loch-Wouters, Consultant

Loch-Works Consulting




Mary Fellows's picture

Thanks, Marge. Our fellow members came up with some great questions! We tried to make it a useful mix of updates, answering questions, and discussion of a pertinent issue. I'm already looking forward to the next one, which will follow Midwinter in late January or early February! 

Anyone who participated or viewed the archive want to comment on the mix? 

Martha Simpson's picture

If you have children’s librarians and teen librarians in your library system, who is responsible for serving tweens?

How do we best make summer reading programs relevant to tweens?

We are fortunate to have strong support from our Administration for our Children's and Teen Departments at my library. The departments are located in different areas of the building, so the collections/computers are not adjacent. Each has dedicated staff members, but there is some crossover.

Children's services/materials/programs generally cover from birth to grade 6 and Teen generally serves middle and high school, grades 7-12. But there is some overlap, particularly with the 6th grade. Although Children's covers this grade, the Teen Department conducts formal class visits at the Stratford Library for every 6th grade in the town's public and parochial schools (Children's does the same for second grade.) The visits serve as a bridge for the students who may still be at an elementary school level but are getting ready to explore young adult materials and services for school or personal reasons.

Both departments can help 6th graders with school assignments and our book collections overlap sometimes (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Percy Jackson, etc.) We do try to draw the line on internet use (we don't filter but parents need to sign a permission form) and send students in 7th grade to the Teen Department. Although if a parent says the child is not mature enough or feels intimidated by the older teens, we will let him/her use the Children's computers.

Both departments have summer reading programs and we have made some adjustments to allow for more participation by students in this age group. The Children's Dept. SRP used to be for kids up to entering grade 6, and Teen had kids entering grades 7-12. We also have a very active summer teen volunteer program, and Children's used to accept kids entering grade 7 as volunteers. After many years, we realized that most entering-7th graders were too immature to take volunteering seriously, so we changed our policy. Teens must be entering grade 8 to volunteer in Children's. Kids entering grade 7 can choose to participate in either the Children's or Teen SRP. This works well for us and allows students in this age group to choose what they want to do according to their level of maturity and comfort.

Martha Seif Simpson, Head of Children's Services

Stratford Library Association

2203 Main Street

Stratford, CT 06615



Aimee Strittmatter-IL (staff)'s picture

Hello, ALSC members:

During the chat, several budget-related questions were asked.  I've attached a brief overview document, the I hope provides a sense of ALSC's basic budget structure.  Additionally, it should address some of the specific questions that were asked.  For the daring and brave, I've attached a PowerPoint presentation that I use when providing budget orientation to the Budget Chair, and my staff members.  It typically takes 1.5 to 2 hours to walk through.  As mentioned during the chat, you may find ALA financial documents on the ALA treasurer's page at: http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/governance/financialdata/treasurerspage.cfm.

ALA just finished the end of its fiscal year on August 31st, and the ALA finance department is working with our auditors to close out the year.  The ALSC Board receives the results of the fiscal year, along with a summary of first quarter activity for the new fiscal year, during the Midwinter Meeting.  If you have an interest in figures, you can review them when the Board documents are posted to the ALSC ALA Connect space in January.  If finance is your passion, volunteer for the Budget Committee!


Aimee Strittmatter
ALSC Executive Director

Aimee Strittmatter
ALSC Executive Director