Youth Development

Youth Development and Summer

Library summer teen volunteer and internship programs can be valuable youth development tools that provide teens with opportunities for social and emotional learning, leadership development, and workforce readiness skills. Many California libraries are creating summer youth development programs using teen volunteer or intern time on summer reading, library summer meal programs, and other summer programming, as a central experience for supporting social, emotional and work-related skill building.

For libraries seeking to leverage the work of teen volunteers/interns into a successful and valuable youth development experience, one that has the potential to have profound effects on their personal and professional development, the Summer @ Your Library Project has developed resources to help.

Some suggestions for enhancing the experiences of your teen volunteers:

  • As you identify each teen’s individual strengths, interests, comfort-zones, try to match volunteer assignments with individual teen volunteers.
  • Plan regular check-ins with your teen volunteers to discuss how things are going and if any adjustments need to be made.
  • Train teens to plan and facilitate programming for families who participate in the meal service to further enhance their skill set.
  • Talk with teens about how the skills they are developing and using can help them in the future, e.g. in the workplace or on college applications.
  • Invite human resources staff from local organizations to talk with teens about applying and interviewing for jobs.
  • Write letters of recommendation for your teen volunteers, and assist them in creating a resume that incorporates their newly acquired summer work experience and skills.
  • In addition to having teen volunteers complete an evaluation survey, hold exit interviews with teen volunteers to discuss in what ways they were an asset to the program, how they have enhanced their skill-sets (both interpersonal skills and work skills), how they can use these skills in the future, and in what ways the library can improve the program for future teen volunteers.
Additional Youth Development Resources

YALSA Summer Reading Teen Intern Toolkit for information on working with teen interns during the summer.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning‘s mission is to help make evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) an integral part of education from preschool through the high school years.

The Search Institute is a nonprofit organization that studies and works to strengthen youth success in schools, youth programs, families, and communities. The Search Institute has identified 40 positive supports and strengths that young people need to succeed. Half of the assets focus on the relationships and opportunities they need in their families, schools, and communities (external assets). The remaining assets focus on the social-emotional strengths, values, and commitments that are nurtured within young people (internal assets).

If your library is using summer to promote youth development opportunities in your community, or if you have developed youth development resources that you’d like to share, please let us know.