Teen and young adult program services is tricky. Typically, depending on when you start serving your kids (and if you’re like me, they are your kids), you either have them from tween (8 or 10) or teen (12 or 13) until they age out of the teen programs. Usually, teen services are either a. their own department with their own funding, or b. encased within the youth services umbrella. Which means, unfortunately, that while we as their people have grown attached to them over the years, our library funding and programming ends when they graduate from high school or turn 18 (depending on your system).
Interestingly, this flies in the face of newer research, which shows that a brain is still in development until their early 20’s. And there are a growing number of libraries that, when they aren’t able to have teen services separate from other departments, are placing them with adult services instead of youth services for that reason.
If you’re like me, Programs for Young Adults sound just weird. Unfortunately, I’ve not heard a term that I really like for the 18-25 age group that encompasses this new focus of services- “young adult” is still interchangeably used with “teen” in labeling books and materials, and gets confusing for everyone involved, and “new adult” has its own connotations within the publishing world and gets eye-rolls from anyone I’ve mentioned it to. So, Programs for Young Adults is how I have it internally. Anyone have a better phrase, please share.
So what do you offer these patrons? Like any, it depends on your demographics. The most popular of mine were:
- Online application assistance classes: if you have a computer learning classroom or a computer lab, book it out for a computer class and have them bring in all the required information for job applications, including social security number or work ID, employment history (if any) including addresses, school information, references (including addresses and phone numbers)
- FAFSA and college application classes: in an ideal world, their high school counselor or parent would be able to help them through this, but realistically, a lot of parents are just as lost as my kids were. Community colleges and trade colleges require FAFSA applications as well, so there’s no getting out of filling out the forms. While you may already be doing this for your teens, non-traditional students who just graduated may feel awkward about going to a FAFSA workshop with 16 & 17 year olds.
- Life hack classes: It always seemed strange to me when my teens came up to me asking questions about day-to-day things that I knew how to do at their age (or younger), until I realized that they really didn’t have the experiences I did. Run a series of workshops on life skills for the outside world, including how to change a tire on a car, how to balance a checkbook and figure out a household budget, how to get car insurance, why credit cards and negative credit is bad, how to get an apartment, how to sew buttons and fix a hem, how to patch a pair of jeans, how to cook a meal that isn’t from the microwave, basic first aid, and anything else you can think of that you use in your daily life. More often than not, you can reach out within your community and bring in experts to lead workshops- local banks, mechanic shops, crafters, fire department EMTs, and home improvement stores are excellent resources.
- Age Up Popular Programs: your teens have just gone from high school to either full time jobs, part time jobs and college, or full time college, and have a huge transition. If they’re coming back to the library, you are one of their touchstones, and they may need a way to relieve the stress. If you had extremely popular programs, and have enough interest, age up your programs to continue serving your teens. Are they still into gaming (video or board or card)? Have an age restrictive night, and see if you pull in some newer, older gamers who may have wanted to join the teens but were unable to due to the teen age restrictions. Were movie nights full, but you were unable to show the R rated moves because of the teen nature of the audience? Here’s your perfect opportunity to expand into horror nights and action adventures with an audience that knows you, and is willing to spread the word.
- Craft Classes: Just because they’re now “adults” doesn’t mean that they’ve grown out of arts and crafts and coloring, it just means that they may have more *cough* sophisticated tastes *cough*. Or not. Search around the internet for coloring pages for adults, do a class on canvas decorating so they have something for their new apartment or can transition their room to adulthood, or a class on junk journalism. Set up cosplay or steampunk workshops, or ask them what they’re interested in now that they’re out of high school.
What do you offer for this age group? Please share in the comments!