I picked up our first set of test kits and robots the other day, giving myself the weekend to learn about them before presenting them to a group of teens on Wednesday. While compiling the list of items to test, I thought about the demos I’d seen and contemplated which would hold the interest of my teen audience the longest. As you might imagine, I chose some of the more complex projects in hopes of engaging teens over a longer time period – products that were more robot than toy, and more project than activity. And I’m frustrated. I am excited about the potential for creative engagement, and glad to be able to present these to my teens this week, but I’m feeling very insecure about my ability to lead the teens and answer their questions. I wanted this to be easier. I wanted my enthusiasm to carry me through — but it’s work and it’s out of my wheelhouse, and if I want to be an effective facilitator for these teens, I need to seriously up my game.
Like many teen service librarians, my work days are pretty full already, and I do that careful dance that so many of us do around how much of my personal time I’m willing and able to devote to work projects. With all of the new tech and new opportunities for creative engagement that RTK presents the teens in my community, that dance is getting more complicated and more difficult. But I’m not giving up. I want it to be easier, and the only way it’s going to be easier is if I change. And why shouldn’t I?!
Everything else is changing: technology, access, our teens’ knowledge base, the expectations for the Library by parents in our communities. Why would we be exempt from the obligation to change and grow? And hard as it might be to do so, why would we want to be exempt from it? Exempting ourselves means rejecting the chance to walk through the doors that could lead to wonderful new opportunities to connect with our communities, help our teens find or fuel a spark of excitement, elevate the impression of the Library as a forward thinking and relevant institution, and even find personal satisfaction. I haven’t reached the point where learning Scratch and working with the Finch feels personally satisfying yet, but I’m not giving up.
I’m hoping that Wednesday I’ll be able to demonstrate to my teens the few things I’ve learned, and then let them explore and play.
I’m hoping that the spark in their eyes will remind me why I’m doing this hard thing.
I’m hoping that the more open I am to new learning opportunities, the less stressful this will become, and the more rewarding.
I’m hoping it will get easier because I’m willing to work to make it easier.