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T.O.T.A.L. (Totally Outstanding Teen Advocates for the Library)

Nashville Public Library
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Innovation Leader: Elyse Adler, Research and Special Projects Administrator, elyse.adler@nashville.gov

Problem Statement

Education in Tennessee is in crisis. Our current Metro administration has recognized the need to support students both in school and after school with constructive activities and additional study opportunities.

Innovation

Working on the premise that no one communicates with teens better than other teens, the primary goal of T.O.T.A.L. (Totally Outstanding Teen Advocates for the Library) is to attract this hard-to-reach audience by employing teens to plan programs that speak to their peers through fun, thought-provoking and constructive activities hosted at various branches of the library.

Working in a shared leadership capacity, the teens receive professional development in conflict management, team building, public speaking, leadership skills, and conflict resolution. The T.O.T.A.L. teens are then responsible for researching, creating and implementing programming for the public, advocating for the library in the community and recruiting teen volunteers to work for the library system.

T.O.T.A.L. also developed and implemented “Teen Friendly” workshops for Nashville Public Library staff, to help them relate to teen users of the library, and created other programs for both younger and older audiences to bridge generational gaps.

Representatives from T.O.T.A.L. helped the library with its “Strategic Conversation,” a long-range planning initiative, and T.O.T.A.L. teens serve on various systemwide library committees, representing a teen perspective.

The T.O.T.A.L. program is funded through the Nashville Public Library Foundation.

Progress

Since October 2005, T.O.T.A.L. has conducted nearly 500 programs serving close to 7,000 teens throughout the city and Davidson County.