Since 1994, members of the Young Adult Advisory Council (YAAC) have helped staff improve the way the Newport Beach Public Library serves young people and made teens participating partners in the Library’s provision of quality young adult resources and services.
YAAC members have great ideas that turn into programs and services for the community. Over the years programs have included author visits, scavenger hunts, book giveaways, gaming and movie nights. The YAAC also helps to plan programs like our Teen Summer Reading Program, consulting with library staff on the theme and prizes and helping prep materials for the program. Their input has been instrumental in the development of the Library’s teen website, teen library spaces, and materials collections.
Guided by professional standards and best practices for serving young adults, library staff in the early 1990’s envisioned a council that would consist of students in grades 8-12.The recruitment process included press releases in local media, letters to teen leaders and school librarians and principals, and applications in all Newport Beach libraries. Originally planned for 12 members, library staff received 20 applications and accepted all who applied.
Early in its history, the YAAC was instrumental in coordinating Teen Open Houses, a Young Authors series and many other special events. Members provided input to two Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants through the California State Library, including a $47,000 YouthNet Award. They also made recommendations to the Library Board and other strategic planning groups. In the late 1990s library staff sought and considered YAAC input for the design of the Central Library Teen Center.
Since its beginnings, the YAAC has grown to include students in 7th grade as well. Young Adult Advisory Council members constitute an invaluable resource for library staff and the community. And they manage to have fun too. A typical YAAC meeting will include conversation about great books (and not great books), library business, program planning, crafty activity and, of course, snacks. Programs throughout the year give YAAC members the opportunity to dress up for Halloween, lead games for younger children, witness and participate in the inner workings of the library, and gain experience for the future (without any homework!).
By Mara Cota, Judy Kelley, and NBPL Youth Services staff