Between October 2006 and January 2008, I held a series of teen focus groups and conducted two online surveys in communities across the United States. Over 800 teens responded. They were asked what they would like to see in libraries. The top fifteen common responses were:
• More space for teens
• Separate, distinct teen area
• Comfortable furniture
• Warm, welcoming environment
• More technology such as computers, TVs, listening stations, sound domes, gaming equipment
• Teen-only computers (like in the children’s room)
• Areas for talking and socializing as well as quiet study
• More nature light and better, “cooler” artificial light
• More up-to-date materials such as graphic novels, music, DVDs, popular books, magazines, and video games
• Good signs that look nice and make it easy to find things
• Color (no white walls)
• Food and drink options (e.g. vending machines or a library café)
• Better advertising of services and programs
• Cleaner, better organized library
• Helpful staff and good customer service
Over 75% of online survey respondents said having a space just for teens that is comfortable and welcoming where they could hang out would make them want to use the library more. Other top responses to increase teen library use included having a café (68%), bringing in more technologies such as listening stations, TVs, etc. (58%), adding music and DVDs (56%), adding more books (55%), and adding more computers (51%).
For more information see my new book on teen space and teen services coming in 2008 (published by ALA Editions).
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