Teen Advisory Board: Learning, Connecting, Sharing

6 07 2012

About a week ago I posted about how my librarian uses advanced reader’s copies with my local teen advisory board (TAB). I got a couple of emails from people asking for more information on TABs and what they are, as well as what one does at the meetings.

So today I present more information on what my teen advisory board is, what we do there, and a rundown of the meetings.

A teen advisory board, also known as a teen advisory committee (abbreviated to TAB and TAC though I will use the former in this post) is a group of teens that meets at the library with a librarian to discuss events and programs going on at the library. This gives the librarian imput on what the teens are interested in and gives them new ideas.

Many librarians, in thanks for the teen’s help and time, give them some sort of reward. Many – including my own – give out advanced reader’s copies; others give out other prizes like bookmarks and gift cards.

So there’s a basic summary of what a TAB is. Note of warning before I continue onto the next segment: this description is not how all teen advisory board are. Each TAB is different and run in a different way, so this description is not the be-all, end-all of how they should and need to be run.

Keep that in mind.

Alright, first up: a picture of my local library. When this picture was taken, the library was under construction. This is where all of the meetings are held. As you can tell, the library, while being not a huge one, is designed very nicely and has a nice selection of books. And it is winter in this picture, a season that is very long and very prominent in my neck of the woods. (Well you can’t tell the “selection of books” one from this picture, but no worries: it does.)

walking in a winter wonderland


The meetings are held once a month, on the last Tuesday of each month.

We hold our meetings inside one of the conference rooms. Unfortunately the internet has not given me a picture of this meeting room, but this stock photograph looks about the same as our meeting room. (They both have long tables and lots of chairs, but ours is not as fancy, sadly.)

i want this room.


So how are the meetings run? The meetings go from 4pm to 5pm and around 3:50 people begin to arrive. Amy, the librarian that runs the program, usually comes in early with her supplies – papers and calendars, etc – and then runs back out for a few minutes.

The rest of us mill around for about ten minutes and sign in. We have to sign in on a clipboard every time that we come. The clipboard has a table on it that is fairly simple and asks for your name, arrival time, how long you attended the meeting, and your signature.

The other thing that we do while waiting for the meeting to begin: eat Twizzlers. Seriously. This is a tradition started by some of the kids who now have graduated and moved on from the board. At every meeting there is a bag of Twizzlers – red ones – that you can eat. There is no limit to how many you can eat, either.







Amy returns and then the meeting begins. She always brings an agenda, usually just some notes scribbled on a piece of paper, and the papers and files that she wants to discuss and a calendar to take down dates.

Including the agenda that she brings herself, someone usually writes the agenda on a whiteboard so that everyone in the group can see and read the topics that are being discussed.

As for the actual discussion itself, it’s fairly straightforward. Amy goes down the agenda and begins each topic with a short introduction – explaining the situation and suggesting what she needs help with.

For instance, at our last meeting we talked about The Friends of the Library. The Friends needed to redesign their buttons, since their button was old and outdated. (It looked old and had a picture of a book on it.) Our task was to redesign a button and come up with some different concepts that could be used on the button.

For the most part these discussions are fairly linear – going straight down the list – but as in any good group, we get sidetracked often. The Hunger Games movie, for one, merited a long discussion.

The discussions are always very funny and interesting, with every person in the group getting a chance to say their piece, and merit some very interesting comments. I also learn a lot about the library itself. While I may be a regular patron of the library, I always learn something new – from how the books are ordered to how the events are scheduled.

About a half an hour/forty five minutes into the meeting pizza arrives. Amy orders a cheese pizza from a local pizza place for every meeting. This is another draw for the group – the opportunity to eat totally free pizza. This free pizza also has brought in quite a few people.

The remainder of the meeting is usually us finishing the discussions and eating pizza. If there are any advanced reader’s copies, at the end of the meeting Amy takes out the box and we get to choose which ARCs we would like.

To keep track of all of the copies, we write down our names and what books we chose on a list. At the next meeting we discuss the books that we read (or didn’t read).

Finally, we wrap up our discussions, take our ARCs (if we get any) and head out the door. Every time that I leave one of these meetings, I always feel so happy. The meetings are always enjoyable and fascinating.

I don’t know if there’s one particular reason why I love the board so much. A few people, via email, asked what my favorite part of the board was and why. I suppose instead I’ll list my favorite parts.

The amazing discussions that we have. They’re always thought provoking and funny, and can go on for a while.

The really friendly, nice people.

And yes, the advanced reader’s copies. Those are nice as well. But the people and the discussions rank higher for me.

As I was thinking up this post and the reasons that I love the board, it all boiled down to 3 things. Learning, Connecting, Sharing. I don’t have a great title that wraps all three of these things together, so no acronym.

I learn at the group. I learn about the people in the group as we share information about ourselves and the activities that are going on in our lives. I learn about the library and how it is run.

I connect at the group. I connect with a group of teens that are like me, book-loving, nerdy teens. And through these connections, I make friends.

I share at the group. This one goes both ways – I share my information, feelings, and thoughts with the group. I also share my advanced reader’s copies and my thoughts on them.

Through this process of Learning, Connecting, and Sharing, the teen advisory board is always a wonderful experience for me and I’m glad that I get to attend the group.





One response

6 07 2012

🙂 They are lucky to have you too!

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