Collecting for Teens

Collection development in general is a difficult task for any librarian.  For teen librarians, it can be especially difficult as they need to keep in mind the required reading materials that teens will need for school as well as recreational reading that teens will be interested in.  Not only do librarians need to consider the types of books, they also need to take into consideration the formats of these books.  Some teens read exclusively physical books and some may read only e-books, or listen to audiobooks.  Some teens might only be interested in manga, or comics and graphic novels.  The librarian also must consider the budget that their department is allotted.  As Jensen puts it, the amount of money given to the teen department can depend on the how well the collection circulates.  For a collection to be well-circulating, the collection needs to have items that the patrons want.  If the collection does not circulate well, the budget will shrink, making it difficult for the librarians to purchase new items that the patrons want.

Ignoring the budget factor, I am going to focus on the types of materials that will be necessary to include in a teen collection.  As mentioned earlier, teens will require specific titles for school.  This will vary depending on their grade and the school.  For this aspect of the collection, it is important to get reading lists for the school year and for the summer from the schools and teachers that are within the library’s community, this would also require the library to purchase multiple copies of these books.  A good example of this is this past summer, at the public library where I work, we had to purchase ten additional copies of The Great Gatsby when it became apparent that it was on the summer reading list for many students.

Teens who come into the library will want books that aren’t just required for school, they will want books for recreational reading as well.  Of course, the big titles should be included in any library, such as Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, and the like of those.  But not all teens are going to like those books.  Not all teens are going to want fantasy and dystopian books, some will want LGBTQ books or horror books.  To ensure that there are books for every teen who steps through the doors of the library, it is important to talk to them, whether in face to face conversations or through surveys, find out what they are interested in reading, and develop the collection based on that.  This will also help to diversify the collection.  Additionally, using a resource like Book Riot, can help a librarian to learn about new and upcoming Young Adult books as well as many books that are not so well known and books that can add to the diversity of a collection across many genres.


Booth, H. & Jensen, K.(eds.) (2014). The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services. Chicago: ALA. pp. 91-104.

One thought on “Collecting for Teens

  1. Pingback: Week 15: Collecting for Teens Redux – YA Materials

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