Canadian Reading Club for Teens may shut down due to lack of funding
I’ve been meaning to write a post about TeenRC.ca for the longest time, but life keeps getting in the way and I never seem to get around to it. When I learned that this awesome program is slated to shut down in September due to lack of funding, I knew this post could no longer wait.
TeenRC.ca is an online book club for Canadian teens. The program’s primary goal is simple: to encourage teens to read. The program also aims to support teens who live in communities with limited YA library services; to encourage teens to become involved in their local libraries; and to help teens develop critical thinking and writing skills.
Teens who register for the site are invited to submit book reviews, participate in discussion forums, take part in online chats with librarians and authors, and post their own creative writing and give feedback to their peers. Those who participate are eligible to win prizes from their local library.
The program is administered by the Greater Victoria Public Library with financial support from the BC Ministry of Education, the CanWest Raise a Reader Fund, and membership dues from participating libraries across Canada. A dedicated team of librarians serve as volunteer moderators for the site, ensuring that teens’ personal information is protected and that the content is appropriate. Moderators also monitor the site for misuse, harassment, and advertising.
When it launched in 2004, TeenRC.ca was a summer reading club offered only in British Columbia. Today, it is a nation-wide, year-long program open to any interested library in Canada. To date, over 650 public libraries and 3,000 teens have enrolled. It’s obvious that an incredible amount of work goes into running and maintaining this program. The TeensRC site is easy-to-use, teen-friendly, and professional-looking. What’s more, member libraries have access to a host of resources via a separate TeenRC librarians’ site: press release templates, sample letters to send to area schools, sponsorship request letters, and downloadable flyers and customizable graphics that libraries can use in their program guides, websites, posters, etc. The librarians’ site also shares ideas for promoting the program and helpfully lays out a number of well-articulated reasons to join the program which libraries could use to influence administration or use in grant application.
TeenRC is truly an awesome program supporting Canadian teen literacy, but its future is in jeopardy due to funding decreases. Without the support of members, TeenRC will not have the resources to continue beyond September 2010.
I urge everyone to visit TeenRC.ca and the companion librarians’ site at http://teenrc.bclibrary.ca/ to learn more about membership benefits, as well as the larger benefits that TeenRC offers to libraries and teens. Membership rates are quite reasonable and are based on the number of locations in a library system. If you’re a teen librarian in Canada and your library is not already participating, why not suggest it to your administration? If you’re a Canadian teen, ask your local library to consider joining.
TeenRC not only connects teen readers from across Canada, but also library staff who serve teens. There are very few networks for teen/ YA librarians in Canada. We’ll be doing our teens and ourselves a real disservice if we let this one die.