It Happened Here: Virtual Volunteering
Post written by Michelle, Youth Advisory Group member
In the past year and a half, COVID-19 has changed the way a lot of programs and organizations are run. Like with many other programs, the North York Central Library’s Youth Advisory Group (YAG) has temporarily transitioned onto an online format. A Youth Advisory Group is a committee of teens who discuss and promote the library’s programs and the use of space for youth. Despite the ups and downs of virtual volunteering, working with the YAG has nonetheless been a very fun and engaging experience.
The library has continued to offer fun and engaging virtual programs throughout the pandemic. One such program that I’ve had the pleasure of helping run and host was a virtual music-themed Kahoot trivia night. In a group of a few YAG members, we researched various music-themed trivia and collectively put together a fun and interactive Kahoot game. On the day of the trivia night, we helped host the event by giving out commentary and engaging with the participants. Although it was strange to speak and interact with a virtual audience, it was still nonetheless a refreshing experience. Knowing that I could still promote the library’s activities during the pandemic was rather eye-opening. After all, COVID really seemed to have shut anything and everything down.
Through the advisory group, I’ve learned of the various programs and resources that the library has to offer. Some resources I’ve personally made use of include Brainfuse, a website where you can get homework help as well as online tutoring. The library even offers free access to many databases like JSTOR (which really saved me for my history and english projects!) and online course provider websites like LinkedIn Learning.
In June, the Advisory Group was given the green light for making book recommendations during Pride Month. For five weeks, I along with a group of a few other YAG members made a total of 36 book recommendations, seven of which were published every week. These book recommendations were posted on the TPL Teens Instagram account as well as the actual Toronto Public Library website. It was really fun to share some of the books I’ve read, and learn about many other books featuring LGBTQ+ characters. Although the recommendations themselves were very simple, I believe it was still an effective way to promote LGBTQ+ representation in young adult literature.
The YAG has also given me the opportunity to review a book from The List, an assortment of novels, manga and graphic novel recommendations compiled by the library. The book I got to review was Felix Ever After, a story about a transgender teenage boy, Felix Love, and his journey of self-discovery. I had never done a book review before, so this was a unique experience since I got to share my thoughts and opinions on a book with the public. It was nice to know that teens who could relate to Felix’s struggles might hear my review and give the book a shot.
Overall, the Youth Advisory Group has been a great way for me to support the library community despite the pandemic. The advisory group has kept me active by giving me the opportunity to review books, publish book recommendations and help run programs. I look forward to another year with the YAG!
Want to get involved? We are now accepting volunteers for the Adult Literacy and Leading to Reading Programs. All other volunteer opportunities, including new Youth Advisory Group membership, are currently unavailable. We are hoping to accept applications again in 2022.
Find out more: Volunteering