Young Adult Literary Councils Return in Person

Johnson County Library strives to provide materials and activities that will be particularly appealing to teen patrons. Its Young Adult Literary Councils are a major part of that outreach. They are an excellent way for patrons ages 12-19 to share favorite books and help plan fun events such as author visits and game days. Participants meet other Johnson County teens and receive volunteer credit hours for their time. They can even pick up advanced copies of teen books to read and review before publication, for the Young Adult Library Services Association.

During the pandemic, an online system-wide Young Adult Literary Council kept some teens engaged and involved. But in 2023, the councils resume meeting in-person at Lenexa City CenterBlue ValleyMonticello and Gardner. Staffers are eager to welcome them back.

For Gardner Youth Information Specialist Matt Imrie and for Monticello Youth Information Specialist Jordan Young, this is an ideal chance to involve young patrons in the life of the Library, lending their energy, creativity and enthusiasm. It’s mutually beneficial for the teens and the Library system. “It’s to keep young people engaged in the Library and to give them a sense of ownership. It gets them involved in planning events for the Library, for the groups themselves and other people that might be interested,” Imrie said. “I’ve found through past experience that young people, if it’s something that’s theirs, they are more interested.”

Young agreed. “I’m really excited to start this opportunity again,” he said. “We have a great group of teens at Monticello and we have lots of fun ideas for what the program can be. I’m excited to see what they come up with.” Both Imrie and Young bring valuable prior experience working with teens and have a passion for this project. 

Imrie’s Library career extends back more than 25 years, including stints from South Africa to the United Kingdom, and much of that work involved teens. Since 2006, he has run his own blog website focused on Libraries and teens, with all sorts of book lists and reader interaction. He has been a youth information specialist at Gardner for about four years, establishing positive relationships with many families. He has spoken to a number of patrons about YALC, including some home-school parents, and interest is spreading.

Gardner’s YALC will meet the third Saturday of each month, from 2-3 p.m., through April. Reservations aren’t necessary and participants can just show up.

Young has theater experience and was very involved in running teen programming years ago at the Yorba Linda Public Library in California. He was hired as a Johnson County Library clerk in 2018 and helped open the Lenexa branch. He became a youth information specialist at Monticello in November 2020 and discovered that branch has a very strong teen patron base. They attend nearby schools and flock to the Library after school. They fill the study rooms and are avid readers. Young helped Monticello resume its in-person teen volunteer program, which went really well in summer 2022. He also worked with the online YALC, in which teen participants planned a game/book celebration event at Blue Valley Library that attracted over 100 attendees in 2022.

Monticello’s YALC will meet the fourth Wednesday of each month, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., through April. Young will run it with help from Jeni Cosgrove. Lenexa’s YALC will meet the second Tuesday of each month, 5-6 p.m. Blue Valley’s will meet the third Sunday of each month, 1-2 p.m.

Young praises Johnson County Library for providing teens this opportunity, “giving them a place to be, giving them leadership experience, and helping them engage with the community.”