Youth Programming

Providing youth services can go a long way to further the mission of public libraries. Approximately 60% of library users are under the age of 18. Young people who come to the library bring their parents or caregivers who are often too busy to seek out resources for their own use. For many families, attending youth programs is how they become regular library users.

Teens are a unique group to serve. Spanning middle school to high school, teens go through many changes before adulthood. It is important to be familiar with these changes in order to provide appropriate services.

  • STAR-net (Science, Technology, Activities, and Resources for Libraries): STAR-net is the Space Science Institute’s National Center for Interactive Learning (NCIL) provides interactive STEM exhibits, programming, and training to public libraries nationwide through its Science-Technology Activities and Resources Library Network (STAR Net). They have an online library with hands-on activities for library programming needs, as well as many other resources including webinars.
  • Plum Landing (PBSKids): This site has a lot of interactive programs for kids that are easily transferable to the library setting. There is also a toolkit available. In the near future, they are planning on devoting a segment of the website to libraries.
  • The Secret Lives of Scientists and Engineers (PBS): This site is a good resource for middle schoolers and teens. Each person has a series of shorts vignettes - none are more than five minutes long. A particular favorite is 30-second science in which they have to describe their science specialty/research in 30 seconds. It is very entertaining.
  • NASA Education: Offers a rich variety of videos, webinars, activities, and resources for all things “space.”
  • PBS Kids: Has a multitude of resources for kids, parents, and educators. All you have to do is create an account with a username and password and you will have access to kids' games, activities, and learning resources such as live events for black history month, women’s history, and virtual field trips.
  • Design Squad Global: Has hands-on activities and videos in classrooms and afterschool programs, in libraries and museums, at events, and at home. The newest resource, Design Squad Global Clubs, connects  10 to 13-year-olds in out-of-school programs around the world.
  • Coding resources provide structured and/or unstructured coding lesson material. You do not have to necessarily know how to code, just be willing to be in the room and offer support. There are also offline coding lessons that do not require you to be on the computer or Internet to learn coding logic.
  • AL-RAN is staffed by experts in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Each RAN strives to connect people with ASD, their families, educators, and service providers to the information and/or services that best meet their needs. They are located in five Alabama regions and are based at universities: University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa), University of Alabama at Huntsville, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Auburn University, and University of South Alabama. They can help provide regional resources to parents, schools, libraries, etc.
  • The Autism Society of Alabama seeks to improve services to Alabamians with Autism Spectrum Disorders. They can also assist people in connecting to the services they need. They also provide educational services to organizations.