Teen Librarians Roar!
Welcome to Library Lions Roar, interviews with outstanding librarians serving youth in schools and public libraries across the U.S. Please Roar today’s guest, Aimee Meuchel. Last year, Aimee was awarded the OYAN You’re Excellent Award! (OYAN is the Oregon Young Adult Network that is a part of the Oregon Library Association.) And in January, she was named employee of the year for her city. Welcome Aimee!
Tell us about your work
I’m Teen Services Librarian at the Tualatin Public Library in Tualatin Oregon. We are part of the Washington County Collaborative Library Services. Tualatin is a town of 26,000 people and a suburb of Portland. I’ve been working in libraries for over 20 years! And with youth specifically for 16. I’ve worked with babies, toddlers, preschoolers, school age, and teens during my career. I love working with preschoolers and teenagers most of all.
I feel privileged that I get to have a part in teens’ lives and watch them grow up (as well as read great books). Their enthusiasm and excitement keep me looking forward! I have a teen committee with 18 members. They work hard to put on interesting programs for teens and families at the library. They have so much fun with this, that the rest of the staff has fun as well! They started a Dia de los Muertos program 5 years ago and it continues to be a big hit every year.
The Teen Library Committee helps host large programs each month and their ideas continue to amaze me and make me work hard to make greatness happen. They’ve created mystery nights, Star Wars celebrations, glow-in-the-dark parties, and more!
During the summer, I run a teen volunteer program. 50-60 teens volunteer at least 20 hours over the summer and learn great skills from shelving to summer reading sign-up. They also help run kids’ programs and see how the library works.
I work with preschool kids and they are delightful. So much of what they experience is for the first time and it’s great to be a part of such joy and wonder. Doing storytime for the 3-6 year-olds each week is a highlight of my work week. They continually crack me up and keep me on my toes.
And I love the literature. I think young adult books have improved so much since I was a teen and continue to improve each year. The breadth of issues and topics is amazing! It’s fun to see what is coming out next.
A Mighty Roar!
In my library, we have a special room just for teens. They have to show their library card or school ID in order to come in. Over 500 individual teens have visited since the start of the school year. Over 20 teens use the room each day. It is an important place for the teens in our community to have to hang out! They socialize, do homework, and attend different programs and events. We do crafts, STEM, video game tournaments and more in this room.
This space is unique in our community and it is so important for teens to have a safe place to go and just be teens. Adults and kids cannot use the space and teens are proud to have something to call their own. Luckily, our library system is decently funded and my city gives great support to teens in the community. This helps make the library and the teen room a great place to be. Our Friends of the Library group helps fund our great programming and makes it possible to do more for teens.
I have a story from a library I used to work at. I was working at the teen desk when a young man (early teens) came and asked for help finding a book. He had just finished The Diary of Anne Frank (it was the best book he ever read) and was wondering if the author had written anything else. After a long pause, I asked if he had finished the book. He had. I explained that the book was true. I asked if her remember if the ending. He did. “It was sad.” And then I reminded him that it was true. After letting that sink in, I did manage to find other books about the Holocaust for him. And my husband still laughs about this. (I’ve also been asked for photos of Jesus, dinosaurs, and Cleopatra!)
A Lion’s Pride of Programs
My library is a treasure chest! We have over 200 teen programs a year and over 600 youth programs! For free!!! Kids and teens can learn new things, craft, read, game, and just have fun. My teen committee just put on a glow-in-the-dark party that almost 70 teens attended! One of my coworkers said that it was like recess in the dark. Super fun. This week we are hosted our annual Unlucky in Love party—45 teens attended. We had different anti-valentine’s games for teens to play, snacks, and prizes! The teens and I have been planning our summer activities and are going to have events ranging from Taiko drumming to Tie Dye!
“The Teen Room at the Tualatin Library is truly one of a kind. The Teen Room is place where teens can come and work on homework, play games, and just hang out. With the provided internet services and computers, the Teen Room has helped many teens to excel in online assignments. And librarians can help set students up for tutoring sessions to help them stay on track academically. When students are not studying, they can come to the teen room to hang out with other teens and play board games. On the weekends teens can play games on the X-box and Wii. Anyway you see it, the teen room is most definitely the place for teens” –Angel, 11th grade
“Teen programs are like parties. Parties in which reading is considered a good thing.” -Isaac, 11th grade
“The teen programs are such a great way to meet new people in the community” –Rachel, 10th grade
Author! Author! Describe the perfect author visit from a librarian’s point of view.
The perfect author visit—I don’t know. I haven’t had many authors visit, but the ones who have come were all different and excellent. An author that enjoys talking to teens, is comfortable speaking publicly, and wants to be here are all good things!
One Last Roar
I’m constantly amazed at my friends and colleagues who are also librarians choosing to work with teens. The energy, creativity, and exuberance are excellent to be around and help keep me going in my job. I’m always amazed at what people are doing and inspired to try new things with my teens. Librarians are amazing human beings and I’m proud to be a part of this tribe.
Thank You for the Roar, Aimee!
Tualatin Library Website
Note to Librarians: If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Email Janet via the Contact page on this website to set up an interview.
Note to Authors: If you’re interested in Roaring for Libraries on this blog, contact Janet.