I am so lucky. And my teens in our Manga Club are lucky too. I mentioned a while ago that we were having a volunteer guest speaker come to our Manga Club meetings. And I am so glad he did!
I was contacted out of the blue by a young man who heard about our Teen Manga Club but was disappointed because he is now too old to participate (he is in his mid-twenties).*So he wanted to know if he could volunteer. Of course my first step was an interview because I had to know his qualifications and I had to check him out to make sure I was comfortable having him around teens in the library. It turns out he passed with flying colors. Polite and super enthusiastic about all things manga and Japanese, he also has a ton of knowledge and even coursework in Japanese culture and language. So of course I welcomed him with open arms and I hope he now becomes a regulart part of our Manga Club.
I believe it is all thanks to our volunteer Martin that we have had the same group of teens return to Manga Club three months in a row! Our December meeting was OUTSTANDING. Martin brought visual aids for the kids, showed them awesome youtube clips, and even did a demonstration of Kendo in full costume. He showed the kids the super cool swords he is making for cosplay at an upcoming convention. He talked to them about Japanese holidays, game shows, and pop culture. A huge thank you to Martin for volunteering his time to interact with young people who share his interests! The excitement in the room when he is talking is so much greater than I could ever generate with my limited knowledge on this topic. I’m really looking forward to our Spring programs now!
Of course, I just got lucky and this opportunity fell into my lap. But it has reinforced my idea that it is always a fantastic idea to reach out into the community and use the experts in your area. Does your university have an Asian or Japanese Studies department you could contact? Is there a martial arts studio that would come and give a demonstration? Talk to comic book store owners in your community, talk to anyone and every one to weed out those experts who are passionate about the things the teens in your library are passionate. They are such an excellent resource for building that passion and knowledge in your teens and making the library a place they want to be.
*And, as another aside, isn’t it a shame that libraries don’t target a lot of programming to this audience (the young professionals)? Though I have seen it done exceptionally well recently in places that have Books and Beer book clubs or trivia nights. I think programs like that here at my library would be AWESOME!