Of the teens and by the teens

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Teen blogs keep young adults engaged with the Jeffco Library

By Laura Herrington Watson

The Jeffco Public Library is relying on a logical approach to help young people stay engaged with books and other library offerings: Teens trust teens.

The portion of the library’s website that features teen-targeted and teen-authored blogs experienced a 50 percent increase in traffic from 2010 to the end of 2011, teen services librarians say.

The blogs debuted on the Jeffco Library website in November 2009, said Jessie Ransom, a teen services librarian at the Columbine Library, “and either a librarian or a teen contributor has posted a blog on it once a day every day since then.”

The teen-targeted blogs are part of a library campaign to reach teenagers that started several years ago, said Bethany Frisbie, the Jeffco Library’s promotions and marketing manager. “We write everything for teens, specifically,” said Frisbie.

“Teens are already online, and we wanted to start the conversation,” said Ransom. “One of our goals is to say the library is a place you can get that information about pop culture. We do have fun stuff, movies, stuff like that.”

Teenagers, and the teen services librarians together cover the broad spectrum of media that the library offers. Each blogger, whether teen or librarian, covers whatever he or she is most passionate about, which makes for the best blogs, says Ransom.

Eighteen-year-old Patrick Ellet of Evergreen is a frequent contributor.

“Usually I blog about what books I've been reading, or what video games are popular, and my opinions about them, or what movies I find a worthwhile watch," Ellet said. "My last post was about something nerdy called Nyan Cat.”

Ellet said he learned about the opportunity to blog on the library website through his involvement with the Evergreen library.

“Blogging on the library teen blog is not really that different than having a Facebook page, or tweeting, or running your own blog,” Ellet said.

The online fluency of teenagers like Ellet is precisely what Jeffco’s teen services librarians are counting on to help connect the teens to books, CDs, and other educational media.

Ransom said teenagers’ contributions to the blogs in turn draw teen readers.

“Personally, I think it’s great, because they’re much more knowledgeable about certain things than me. Like video games,” said Ransom.

The blogs discuss books coming out the next week and library events. Movie Mondays discusses upcoming books being made into movies. There also is a forum where teens can learn about employment opportunities and find other teen-focused topics.


Other teen-targeted methods

The Jeffco Library also has a Teen Advisory Board that acts as a marketing sample group and sounding board for future events and library products geared to teens.

Ellet receives community service hours by volunteering on the board. “Every spring we go to the literature conference, so it's a big deal for me …,” said Ellet. 

Each Jeffco library branch also offers a "teen space" with magazines and computers reserved for teenage patrons. The space at the Columbine Library provides festive, colorful decorations and a wall-sized white board where teenagers can express themselves, said Ransom.

Upcoming events at Jeffco libraries include an elaborate “Hunger Games” event on March 16 in celebration of the book "The Hunger Games" and in anticipation of the movie release.

To find the teen blogs, visit http://engagedpatrons.org/Blogs.cfm?SiteID=2367&BlogID=224.