Many libraries offer services for teenagers, providing information and activities of interest to teens in the community. Teenagers are more independent than younger kids, so parents will have a somewhat different role when it comes to helping them use the library and encouraging them to read for recreation. Just being certain that teenagers know what kinds of programs are available may be the best help you can give — that, along with setting the example of visiting the library and reading yourself.
Books and Magazines
In public libraries, teens will find a section of books specifically for them, often called the "Young Adult" section. Not only will teens be able to find resources for their schoolwork, they will be able to find age-appropriate novels and other works of fiction and non-fiction that will be of interest. Libraries also may offer a wide selection of magazines that teens will find appealing on topics such as sports, music, the outdoors, entertainment, and current events. Teens generally like to choose their own books and materials.
Computers and Multimedia
Many libraries lend CDs and DVDs, and have computers or multimedia programs that are of great interest to teens. Libraries may also offer computer, programming, and design courses.
Review your library's computer use and internet policy with your teen to make sure that he understands and follows all library guidelines, especially if you will not always be accompanying he to the library.
Make sure your teen is aware of online risks. Help him understand how to evaluate information he finds on the internet, and to look for safety/security risks. PBS offers parent advice about pre-teen and teen computer use at the PBS Parents website.
Enrichment Programs, Academic Support, and Youth Education
Libraries may offer book talks, summer reading programs, creative writing seminars, drama groups, and poetry readings for middle and junior high school kids. In many areas, libraries also have special services for helping students with homework and research projects, including telephone or internet help, workshops, test preparation, or tutoring programs.
A number of public libraries have developed special programs for teens to help them as they make the transition into adulthood. For instance, at some libraries there are teenage advisory boards to ensure that programs and materials for youth actually meet their needs. Some libraries publish book reviews written by their teenage patrons or help young people in the community to publish their own newsletters or magazines.
The local public library can help young people seeking information on very serious, personal choices. There is information on school and career planning, including choosing a college and financial aid. Many libraries distribute educational materials on drugs and alcohol for children and parents. Many others act as referral agencies to other community resources, including counseling centers, and runaway services. And of course there is always an abundance of books and reading material!
Don't miss 10 Great Ways to Celebrate National Library Week with Teens, from AdLit.org!
Volunteer and Employment Opportunities
Libraries often enlist teenagers to help with programs for younger children, such as tutoring summer reading participants, doing puppet and crafts shows, storytelling, and theater productions. In addition, libraries frequently offer part-time job opportunities for teens, both volunteer and paid, to help with such tasks as checking in books and reshelving materials.
To learn more about different kinds of services offered by public libraries, take a look at these articles: