Does Your Teen Need Volunteer Hours? Hit the Library!
Does your teen need community service hours for a club, organization, to meet the requirements for a scholarship, or to boost their chances of getting accepted to college?
Look no further than your local library!
Your local library is the heart of your community where librarians strive to provide excellent educational, social, and career-boosting opportunities. Librarians want to do everything they can to help young people in their communities succeed.
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Why Should My Teen Volunteer at the Library?
Research shows that teens who engage in community service display higher levels of self-esteem and responsibility. By volunteering at your local library, your teen can form new social bonds, learn work skills, and engage with diverse members of your community. That’s why libraries love to offer volunteer opportunities to teens!
Libraries are a safe place for teens to earn volunteer hours. At the library, you can expect that your teen will be monitored by a library staff member. Librarians do not allow teens to use sharp paper cutters or move heavy furniture; we are grateful for our teens and would never risk their safety.
Furthermore, the librarian who works with your teen will more than likely be your library’s Youth Services Librarian. I’m a former Youth Services Librarian myself, and I can tell you that we care deeply about our teens and are used to working with adolescents on a daily basis. Teens rock — especially when they help out!
Contrary to popular belief teens actually do love to help out, provided the right circumstances. Teens are individuals with their own interests and talents and they are proud when they can allow those talents to shine by helping others. Your librarian will make sure that volunteering is a fun experience for your teen by offering different types of tasks and a flexible schedule.
My teen volunteers frequently stayed at the library longer than the amount of time they were signed up for because they had a blast! Your librarian will welcome the extra help and if your teen needs to miss a day, it’s rarely a problem. We are just happy to have the help!
What Can My Teen Expect to Do?
Since libraries tend to be very flexible when it comes to teen volunteers, there is a variety of tasks which teens can help with. These tasks help teens build the knowledge and skills that they will need for college and for jobs in the real world:
- Social teens enjoy helping out at the circulation desk, greeting patrons before programs, handing out door prizes, and acting as helpers during programs such as art classes.
- Tech-savvy teens may enjoy using the library’s computers to design flyers, compile book lists for display, and to research other libraries’ programs and facilities to provide the library with ideas for improvement.
- Bookworms can help plan and host book club meetings, select titles for book clubs and for purchase by the library, and to provide book reviews for library newsletters. They may also enjoy helping to shelve books because they will discover a lot of new titles when they’re in the stacks.
- Teens who enjoy working with children or seniors can help with special programs for these populations. For example, it is very useful to have a teen volunteer when several children are working on crafts or enjoying snacks after a storytime or family night. These are great tasks for teens who want to be pediatricians and teachers.
One of my teens enjoyed working with older people and she regularly helped with a card game group for seniors. I honestly couldn’t shuffle a deck of cards to save my life, so having her help was amazing. During each meeting, everyone laughed and really enjoyed themselves.
An option for teens who prefer to work with other teens is to join a Teen Advisory Board. Many libraries have Teen Advisory Boards (TABs) and librarians will sign off on volunteer hours for teens who participate. Members of Teen Advisory Boards help select books for teens and plan activities for young people, such as game nights, craft projects, and special guests. A Teen Advisory Boards usually has a President, Vice President, and Secretary; these groups are a great way for teens to earn leadership experience.
How Can I Register My Teen as a Volunteer?
It’s recommended that you call your local library in advance and ask to speak with the librarian who coordinates teen volunteers. Ask them if your teen is old enough to volunteer. Some, but not all, libraries have age requirements.
You should also explain why your teen is interested in volunteering. If the library has a high volume of teen volunteers, they may give preference to teens who need to complete a certain number of hours for an award, a school club, or for organizations such as Boy Scouts of America.
Next you should schedule a meeting so that the librarian and your teen can meet one another. If your teen is under 18, you should be present during the meeting as well, just in case you need to sign to authorize your teen to volunteer. While you and your teen are at the library, the librarian can coordinate a schedule that works with your teen’s needs.
Your librarian can also discuss your teen’s interests and plan some tasks that your teen will enjoy completing. Also, make sure that your librarian is aware if your teen needs any special accommodations. Libraries are for everyone, and your librarian will do everything they can to ensure that your teen has a comfortable and worthwhile volunteer experience.
Once your teen begins volunteering, they are bound to love experiencing the unique community bond that can only be found in our public libraries. Libraries are not books or buildings — they are places to develop confidence, make new friends, plan for the future, and learn responsibility.
The library is an awesome place for any teen!