Your Community: Teen volunteers have published 1,000 reviews in two years

For over a decade, Johnson County teens participating in the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Teens’ Top Ten program received access to pre-published books in return for writing reviews that go directly to publishers and on the Library website. But in spring 2020, as pandemic shutdowns changed the landscape for teen activities, Library staff member Heather Miller saw a chance to expand the teen book review program and create another layer of engagement with the Library: a new volunteer opportunity that would recruit, train and engage teens as regular contributors of book reviews, in exchange for the opportunity to earn service hours and hone their writing skills.

The Teen Book Reviewer (TBR) opportunity launched in August 2020 and has been going strong for two years, averaging about 35 reviews a month. Reviewers earn two service hours in return for each review of books, audiobooks, and other media of teen interest from the Library’s catalog. Recently, the opportunity expanded to accepting video reviews and Bibliocommons lists. Since its launch, this opportunity has reached over 1,000 reviews, which equates to 2,000 service hours awarded to teens.

 All reviews are available on the Teen page of jocolibrary.org. Every Monday, a select review is also featured on the website and on the @joco.elementia Instagram. Then, a monthly List is made from all the reviews that were submitted for the previous month. This is a great way for teens to keep a finger on the pulse of what their peers are reading, and get some great new recommendations for their TBR (to-be-read) pile.

All teens 12-19 are welcome to apply via Johnson County Library’s volunteer website. There are no limits on the number of reviews they can submit so they can earn as few or as many hours as they like on their own time. Most books and other media are fair game, everything from Juvenile to Adult books from any genre. Reviews are subject to approval by Library staff before they are posted on the website.

The Teen Book Reviewer is a great volunteer opportunity for any teens who are looking for service hours and love reading! Stop by any of the Library’s 14 locations to learn or visit the volunteer portal to learn more.

Johnson County Library – Nurturing the Community’s Collective Wisdom