Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Tools for Teen Engagement by Michelle Biwer

Below are a few resources that have helped me improve my electronic communication and expand my reach to teens in my community.


Mailchimp is a marketing email platform that is free for up to 2,000 subscribers. I use it to send updates and opportunities to teen volunteers because I have over 150 and Outlook can’t handle that volume of email. It can be used to create templates and schedule emails in advance, as well as maintain listservs easily. You can even import your current listserv. I find it easy to use and it saves me a lot of administrative time. Also, you can add logos to your emails and other design elements that will make your communications with teens look more polished.


Remind is a service that can text or email people signed up to a list. It was designed for schools and has a lot of advanced functionality related to needs of teachers and parents, but I have been using it to reach teens at the public library for the past few years. I advertise the code to join our teen department’s Remind list on all our programming flyers and announce it at each Teen Advisory Board Meeting. Usually teens are more likely to check their texts than their emails, so I use it when I need to update them about emergency library closings, if I need volunteers for an event coming up soon, or even just that there are a few teen programs that week they might be interested in. As a best practice, I only send out one Remind per week.


Signupgenius is a free program I use to list upcoming teen volunteer opportunities. It is available for free but my library system has purchased Signupgenius Silver for $9.99 a month. A few extra features that come with the Silver plan are no ads on signups, customized signup and reminder emails, and customized contact information. A key to running a successful volunteer program that benefits the library is to have a clear cancellation policy that can be easily found by teens. I go over mine when teens become volunteers, but I also post it to the top of every signupgenius and include it in all of the customized signup and reminder emails. I find that using signupgenius and its reminder functionality greatly improves volunteer attendance at the library and makes it easy for volunteers to see what they have signed up for in the past.

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Have any other suggestions of communication tools that have worked well at your library? Please let me know in comments.

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