Public Libraries Teen Pages

Previously they were the most neglected age group of patrons, but service for teenagers is now becoming an integral focus for public libraries, and what better way to reach out to and interact with teens than through the web. I’d like to take a brief aside from discussing physical material to talk about outreach and access from the libraries website.

Hennepin County Public Library (HCPL)

As you may have noticed one of my Links of Interest takes people to a page of HCPL’s website where teens can post their own reading lists. The HCPL is know for being ahead of the curve when it comes to utilizing technology, and their teen page is no exception. As you can see from the screen shot they have a very capable web designer working on this site. It is very visually appealing, and I am mildly surprised to find that one of the first descriptive words that comes to me when trying to describe this site is…cool! In addition to which a quick scan of the teen page and it’s links contain some valuable, though out content. Beauty and brains are a winning combination! However, I feel this site is a little too cluttered and with so many visuals I suspect that teens may just click on images that appeal to them rather than taking the time to read all the headings and figure out what exactly is going in in the site.

This clustering of images is contrasted against theMilton Public Library (MPL). As you can see from the screenshot of the MPL their teen page still has similar content as the HCPL page has, however I find the MPL’s page to be MUCH easier to access. There are still visuals, as any good website needs, but they are small and serve more to enhance the written content rather than overpowering it.

These are both pages from libraries that physically exist (which means they have funding of some kind beyond what ads can generate… unlike this next site). When searching for Library sites for teens I stumbled across theAwesome Library (online only) and I have to say it is the site I am using as an example of what NOT to do! While the first two sites have comparable screen shots of their homepage the awesome library homepage for teens is a big turnoff. It’s too bad because the content isn’t terrible. There is clearly an effort here to provide kids with up to date, reliable info, but the site is hampered by google ads and the content isn’t always the most academic, for example I wouldn’t be overly confident in citing MSNB.com as my sole source of information.

So, some quick lesson for your Teen page of you public library:

  1. Use visuals, but don’t make the site as cluttered as a teenagers room (not all teens rooms are cluttered, I’ll admit… just 99.9% 😉 )
  2. Make the page inclusive, HCPL has random polls and the book lists for teen input and MPL has the Reader rants section.
  3. Don’t use web design that looks like it’s from the 1990’s (most teens were barely even born in that century)… I’m pointing the finger at you “Awesome” Library.
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