Supporting Youth as They Transition and Grow

As human beings, we experience transitional stages of growth and development throughout our lives. Adolescence, that period of time between the ages of 12 to 18 years old, is often viewed as one of the most challenging and confusing stages. During this time, we really begin to experience significant changes in our bodies and minds, and on top of that, we become increasingly more aware of and affected by social influences. Historically, adults have often stigmatized, and even parodied the behaviors associated with this complex transition, referring to it as “teenage behavior.” Poor impulse control, heightened risk-taking, and an increase in self-consciousness are often attributed to this “behavior.” In addition to adolescence, we also know that from the ages of 18-24 our “new adults” are still going through life changes as they work to make and find their place in the world.

My passion is to break those stigmas by creating a dialogue that focuses on the positive nature of our youth to be independent; to seek new experiences and grow from them; and to create new, incredible things. As the Tween/Teen/Transitional Youth Librarian of Practice, I work to support youth and new adults on their journey to independence.

So what does my work look like?

It might be working with community partners to create a platform that amplifies the voice of ALL youth, including historically marginalized youth. For example, convening or facilitating a youth-led forum to discuss the topics that matter the most to them: bullying, suicide, opioid abuse, gender identity, school safety, self-image, sexual consent, etc.

It might be working with youth to develop programs and events, as well as self-directed activities, that reflect their personal interests. Gaming tournaments, cosplay workshops, creative art and writing workshops, and gender neutral makeup tutorials are just a few examples of what could be created.

It might be working with library staff and community partners to create opportunities for youth to develop the skills they need to thrive independently–resume building, career fairs, or other life skills classes.

By creating opportunities, experiences, and resources that model reflective risk-taking, promote social-emotional learning, and support the lifelong pursuit of knowledge, we are readying them for the future and acknowledging them as people who bring value to our society.

Claire Winternheimer
Librarian of Practice

Claire Winternheimer

Claire enjoys reading, especially graphic novels and young adult fiction, and finding and exploring new methods of creative expression. She frequently contemplates the existence of unicorns and other magical creatures, and spends much of her time with her two very real dogs and husband.

School Engagement