Library - Berryessa Branch

Virtual Volunteering - Teen Writer for Short Édition

Position Overview:

Teen Short Edition Writers play an important role in encouraging San José library users of all ages to discover new stories and, through them, new experiences and understanding. Your main goal is to build our collection of poems, short stories, and personal essays written by local authors for our Short Edition dispensers.

Poem/Short Story/Essay Guidelines:

Your story should be:

  • your own, original work
  • previously unpublished (either in print or online)
  • no more than 8000 characters long (including spaces)
  • suitable for general and diverse audiences. We will not accept submissions with explicit language, mature content, or words that are offensive to a group's race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender, national origin, or disability.
  • a complete work on its own (not one part of a longer narrative).
  • proofread for spelling and grammatical errors.

Volunteer responsibilities:

  • Sign up for the Teen Writer for Short Edition position in your MyImpact account (look under Virtual Volunteering).
  • Write an original piece of work that is no more than 8000 characters long (see guidelines above).
  • Communicate with your Teens Reach librarian if you have questions about writing your piece of work or about the submission process.
  • Email your piece of work to your Teens Reach librarian for review (please include # of characters).
  • After your work has been approved for submission, use the Short Edition link on the SJPL website to submit your story. (You will need to create a Short Edition account first.)
  • Email your Teens Reach librarian a screenshot of the acknowledgment message you received (either on the screen or in an email from Short Edition) when you submitted your work. Please include the title of your work and the name you used to submit it.

Volunteer hours:

After your Teens Reach librarian has confirmed your work's submission, we will log your volunteer hours using the Teen Writer for Short Edition activity in your MyImpact account.

  • 1-minute poem, personal essay, or short story (fewer than 2600 characters) = 2 volunteer hours
  • 3-minute poem, personal essay, or short story (2600-4799 characters) = 3 volunteer hours
  • 5-minute poem, personal essay, or short story (4800-8000 characters) = 5 volunteer hours You may write a maximum of 5 poems, essays, or short stories per calendar quarter for volunteer credit.'
  • Officers will read all entries; their posting decision is final. Neither the officers nor San Jose Public Library staff will enter into any correspondence.

Support Available:

Assistance with story guidelines and how submit to Short Edition. Unfortunately, we will not have the time to help you edit.


Accepted SJPL teen volunteers, age 13-17

Expected Commitment

You may write up to 5 poems, essays, or short stories per quarter. Schedule is dependent on the availability of the volunteer.

Quarter Breakdown in any given year





How to Sign Up:

There is no need to sign up for this activity, so no need to respond that you will be doing this. You can just email your piece of work when it is done.

Policy for Requesting References and Letters of Recommendation

As volunteers in this program will not receive a regular schedule, and accomplishments will vary, requests for employment references and letters of recommendation will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis at the sole discretion of the Teens Reach Coordinator: Shih Fa Kao.

Additionally, this opportunity is not structured in a way to help teens develop the leadership and teamwork skills that colleges desire, nor does it offer work experience. If you are interested in an opportunity where you can practice more leadership and teamwork skills, please sign up for our Active Teens Reach Opportunity: details below.

Requirements for Onsite Volunteers

  1. Review the Volunteer Handbook, which will be emailed to you, and be aware of the following branch-specific policies.
    1. In some instances, you hours will be logged for you, but it is still your responsibility to make sure that all hours that you have volunteered will be credited to you.
  2. Sign and submit the volunteer signature form.

Other Volunteer Opportunities

As volunteers are needed for other programs and services, we will email all volunteers. Please check your email regularly.

Additionally, if you are interested in taking a more active role in how programs and services are delivers to teens and the general public, please sign up to be an Active Teens Reach Member: only one application is necessary. Volunteers with our Teens Reach are required to attend meetings once a month. This is also a great way to meet other teens who are volunteering at the library.

Please only sign up for one library branch for this volunteer opportunity. 

What's Next?

Please wait for an email from Shih Fa Kao, Berryessa Branch's Teens Reach Coordinator, and make sure that "Teen Writer for Short Edition" has been added to your application's custom field: "Which volunteer activity interests you?" Volunteer Applications are processed once a month. If you have any questions, please reach out to Shih Fa at

Thank you for your patience during this process. If you are not getting a response after a month, please check your SPAM folder for emails sent from and unmark them as SPAM. If you still cannot find them, please send me an email at

Qualifications Required

  • Age Must be at least 13+