Monday, May 14, 2012

Need Summer Help? Try a YA Intern

As I am the only person in my branch who "does" teens (programs, outreach, reading, displays) I feel a responsibility to provide the best service possible - which means a VERY active Teen Summer Program.

Every summer for the past four years I have scheduled 50+ teen programs.  (Now before you freak out, keep in mind that some of these are passive programs or programs that require little in the way of prep.)  

My goal is to have at least one program a day Monday through Friday with a varied schedule of topics and times to appeal to the widest range of teens possible.  Here's an example of an average week for me during summer:

Monday: Movie Night with Pizza
Tuesday: Craft Day
Tuesday Night: Arcade Night or Poetry Slam
Wednesday: Games
Thursday: Read-In
Friday: Inter-Generational Yarn Crafting Club

I then throw in the odd Saturday program but, honestly, Saturdays are pretty slow during the summer as far as teens available for programs.  (At least they are at my branch.)

Anyway, the point is that there is NO WAY a single person can handle all of this programming without major burnout by July 4th.

My solution?  Hire a YA Summer Intern!

Thankfully my Friends of the Library group is very supportive and can afford to pay a part-time temporary position specifically to help with teens.  Check your Friends group - you may be surprised how willing they would be to fund this kind of position if it means a much stronger teen program.  If your library doesn't have a Friends group or the Friends lack funding try offering the position as an unpaid internship or see about getting a backer.

Who do I hire?
College Students.  I require at least one year completed and that they are currently enrolled.

How to get applicants?
Initially, I contacted local colleges and universities in the area to let them know about the position.  I also talked to my Children's staff and got the names of some strong volunteers who had graduated out of their program.  Since then the word has spread on its own.

Why it works?
I believe using a college student as a YA Summer Intern works for several reasons:
  • The Intern is working part time and has a flexible schedule since they work mainly when programs are run, so attending summer school isn't a problem.
  • By definition the position is finite, so students don't have to worry about quitting to go back to school
  • Your a library - of course you care about education
  • Having a college student means you've got a close-in-age role model for your teens ALL SUMMER
  • College students have lots of energy (which can be inspiring when your own supplies are running low)
Bottom Line?
If you need extra help during the summer give a YA Internship Position a try, but be prepared to pump up the level of teen programming your provide.  After all, if you have help there's no excuse not to try new things!

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