Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

How I Changed My Teen Advisory Board by Michelle Biwer


Teen Volunteer Home Base

I identified a number of ways that my library’s teen volunteering program could be improved and give more of the responsibility back to the teens. With over 150 teen volunteers I was having a hard time recognizing teen volunteers who go above-and-beyond, keeping track of the number of active volunteers, and generally making sure volunteers felt valued and were informed of changes and procedures. I looked at how the library’s TAB could solve these problems and came up with a new structure for the group.

TAB Leadership

Teens submit applications before a new school year for a leadership position in TAB. They are required to have volunteered a certain number of hours at the library and encouraged to be an active TAB member. There are 5 positions (President, Vice President/Publicity Chair, Teen Programming Chair, Membership Chair, and Collections Chair). Each leadership position has a long term project and monthly responsibilities to work on at every TAB meeting.

Group Work


Having a TAB leadership team that knows what projects need to be worked on during TAB and can supervise other teens is essential due to the 30+ attendance that I regularly receive at TAB meetings. Every TAB leader supervises a group of volunteers working on a project I’ve assigned that is related to their job. For example, those interested in teen programming will help plan or create an upcoming teen program with the Teen Programming Chair. Those who love YA will create a display in the teen area with the Collections Chair.  The Membership Chair just finished an amazing project–digitizing the volunteer sign-in process!

TAB is open to everyone

Any teen can attend TAB or become a volunteer, there is no mandatory commitment. All new teen library volunteers must attend one TAB meeting. Even if some teens choose not to regularly participate in TAB and teen programs, attending one meeting means they know what the teen department at the library can do for them and what opportunities are out there in terms of volunteering. The Membership Chair runs a volunteer orientation as one of the group projects during TAB.

These changes have allowed teens to really take charge of TAB and have made meetings more productive.

Join the TLT Teen Advisory Board!


Did you know we have a Teen Advisory Board here at TLT? We do! We currently have 6 active TAB members and they do a variety of things like review books, share teen culture, and talk about teen issues with us. Several of our TAB members graduated or dropped out last year, so as we head into fall we are looking for a few more teen voices to help us help libraries serve teens. All voices are welcome, but we are especially interested in more diverse voices as our TAB is very white teen girl at the moment and there are a lot of viewpoints that aren’t represented. We would also like to have representation from all over the U.S., as many of our members are currently located near a TLT member. But since things can be done remotely, we’d love to have more geographic diversity as well.

Read More About TLT and Our TAB Here

At the end of the day, what we want is to hear from teens. As teen services librarians, we do our best work when we talk with and listen to our service base – teens.

We ask that TLT TAB members submit one post per month. It can be whatever type of article you like. For example, The Teen reviews for TLT, and she developed her Post It Note reviews.



The Bestie and The Teen do ARC Parties, giving us snap teen judgments of books based on their covers, titles and synopsis.


Lexi reviewed pretty regularly – oh how I miss her – and loved getting all the books and swag. She wrote pretty long and thoughtful reviews with her own point of view.


Others have posted about YouTubers, talked about issues, and more. Libraries aren’t just about books and your posts don’t have to be just book reviews, although we obviously do like book reviews because – hello – librarians!

Here are the requirements:

You need to be a teen

You need parental permission

You need a nickname, a short bio and a headshot (which will appear on the About TLT page under TLT TAB)

You need a monthly post

You need access to the Internet and the ability to share a post via email (your public library can help you with this)

You need to be willing to attend a quarterly virtual meeting or group chat

Here’s what you get:

You get to be as creative as you want to be. It doesn’t have to be a written post. You can submit a video, do bullet lists and more. Think outside the box and express yourself in ways that mean something to you while you talk about things that mean something to you.

If you want to review books, we help hook you up with books, often before they are even published.

You’ll also get to express yourself, be creative, and speak for teens.

You’ll brush up on writing and tech skills, maybe even use it as an opportunity to learn some new ones.

And when it comes time, I will sign your forms for school asking for service hours and write those recommendation letters for jobs or college. TLT is a part of the School Library Journal blog network so we have a little bit of street cred. We also have millions of page views. It looks good on a college application.

Most importantly, you’ll get to be heard!

So what next:

So if you are interested, contact me at kjensenmls at yahoo dot com and look over the following application/contract/submission guidelines.

TLT TAB Application


TAB Book Discussion: THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS by Marieke Nijkamp

tiwie9 I have a secret: I have never been able to succeffully host a teen book discussion group at any of the libraries I have worked at. At most I ever got 3 people to attend, so I eventually gave it up and moved on to more successful programming. But I was contacted by Sourcebooks and given the opportunity to host a book discussion of the upcoming January release THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS by Marieke Nijkamp and I jumped at the chance. The main difference this time? I was going to be hosting it in my house with the TLT Teen Advisory Board.

So on Thursday, November 12th 4 TLT TAB members and a couple of their friends met at my house to discuss THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS. We had 6 teens all together and they had all read and loved the book. Discussion kits were sent to me a few weeks earlier by Sourcebooks to help us prepare for our discussion. At the end I asked each teen to share a short review of the book and we asked each teen to share visually their overall impression of the book. That information follows the Publisher’s Book Description.

Here are our TLT TAB members getting ready to discuss THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS

Here are our TLT TAB members getting ready to discuss THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS

Publisher’s Book Description

thisiswhereitends10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

The auditorium doors won’t open.

Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.



The Teens’ Reactions


Melanie, 12th grade


“In the debut novel by Marieke Nijkemp, it displays an ever growing situation that is being an everyday problem. The author utilizes literary devices to portray an event told by different perspectives. It moved readers and changed the way we viewed things.”

Lexi, 12th grade


“This book swept the rug out from underneath my feet. I felt every death, felt every pain these deaths caused, felt the devastation these twins faced. This book ripped me apart and only when I lost all hope did it stitch me back together.”

Kris, 11th grade


“This book kept me wondering and always on the edge of my seat. I always [wanted] to know more and was always changing how I felt about characters. It was constantly having my emotions played with. Great read had me hooked from the first few pages.”

The Teen, 7th grade


“This book captured the pure horror of an event and beautifully told the story of many people. It also created the image of people who change and how they turn into what they are. Just perfect.”

Cat, 7th grade


“Unexpected and captures the true terror of the people inside the school and outside. Tells of people’s life and how each of them contribute to Tyler’s story. beautifully written, it’s a story of a school shooting. I understand how people react to the shooting and how your life is at risk. Also, if my loved one’s died I would die inside.”

The Bestie, 7th grade


“Unexpected and suspenseful in so many ways. No changes are needed to make this one of the best book’s ever. I’m in love with the mind-blowing ending and the twists and turns of a crazy high school experience.”

The Discussion

This is a really powerful book for a book discussion. There were a lot of characters to discuss, a lot of events, and of course the teens had a lot to say about the topic of school violence and even gun control. The three older teens all go to a magnet school and it was interesting to note that they all felt safe there. They said there was almost no bullying and they thought it may be in part because each student there chose to go to that school. In comparison, the three younger teens all talked about the bullying and fighting in their school. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago there was an incident where someone in the local high school had made threats and had been arrested.

Although the teens were overwhelmingly positive about the reading experience, there was some heated discussion about characters, motivation and, as I mentioned, gun control. One of the teens felt that the book was perhaps propaganda for gun control because they didn’t really present another viewpoint. Although in the end she was still really enjoyed the book and her reading experience. I’m not sure that I agree with her about the gun control issue because it doesn’t really come up one way or the other in the book; because it is a book about a school shooting it of course must show someone using a gun for a negative purpose. Towards the end there are multiple police present so it could be argued that both sides are shown. But like I said, it was an interesting and at times intense discussion.

Our primary discussion revolved around the characters. It was interesting to note that all 6 of the teens had a different favorite character. It was also interesting to note how sympathetic they felt towards various characters and why. THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS presents a diverse cast of characters, which I appreciated

As you can probably tell, this was a great book. I think intense is a really good word for it. Be sure to check out Amanda’s recent Take 5 on some newer titles dealing with school violence.

THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS by Marieke Nijkamp will be published in January of 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire. ISBN: 978-1-4926-2246-8