In brief: During my first professional position I found myself building a teen services program from scratch at a public library in a small town. In this article, I reflect on some of what I learned through that experience, including the value of data, the importance of having a vision, how much relationships matter, and the value of professional community. I conclude with a call for dialogue among other builders of teen services to share our experiences and lessons
When I finished library school (where I’d focused on teen services), I was expecting to work in a birth-through-eighteen youth services department and was hoping I’d be able to specialize in teen services while working alongside and learning from my other youth-serving colleagues. After all, there weren’t too many librarians I knew who did just teen services. Instead, I was hired as the first Teen Services Librarian at a library in Connecticut and found myself building a teen program nearly from scratch — all while working part-time (first 19 hours a week, then 21, then 28, with more hours each fiscal year). It was my first professional job, and I was building myself as a librarian as much as I was building the YA program at the library; I learned a lot about the real world of library work, about myself, and about the value of professional community.