This post is a continuation of my week 3 post, Collecting for Teens.
I do not consider myself a “cool” person. I do not consider myself as someone who keeps up with current trends. I know what I like as far YA books are considered, but I do not know what books, comics, graphic novels, manga, movies, and video games teens are enjoying and want to read, watch, and play. However, a teen librarian does not need to be “cool” in order to be an effective librarian, especially when it comes to collection development for teens. From the discussions in class, I have learned a few things that make a teen librarian effective in collection development.
One of the most important things to consider when collecting for teens is that teens know what they like. A librarian has to be engaging with their teen patrons and get to know what they like, and what their peers may like. Not every teen is going to be the same, and not every teen is going to have the same likes, so the librarian has to try to engage with as many different teens as possible. This can help the librarian not only get to know their patrons on a personal level, but to also fill in the gaps of their own knowledge of YA materials and the current trends. A librarian should be open to suggestions for materials from their patrons. At Longwood Public Library, if a patron is looking for an item that is unavailable in the county libraries, the library will generally purchase that title. This is especially true for video games, which are kept in the same area as the movies and audiobooks for the general library population. Most libraries in Suffolk County do not send their video games to other libraries as an inter-library loan (ILL). So when a teen, or any patron for that matter, requests a video game that Longwood does not own, the library will purchase it. Of course patrons will have to wait for the items to come in, but what I have learned in the past few months of working at Longwood is that most patrons are actually pretty patient.
Of course, librarians can’t rely solely on their teen patrons for recommendations. Librarians also have to look at reviews, both professional and non professional. One source that I found interesting when looking at book titles was Common Sense Media. This source offers reviews by both parents and kids/teens, as well as talking points for discussions. These reviews can give good perspectives on the item in question, whether it be a book, movie, or a video game and the talking points can help for potential discussion groups with teens.
Something else to keep in mind when collecting for teens, are books that are being challenged and banned in schools. This can act as topic for discussion as well as a “selling” point for a book. Banned and challenged books don’t only have to be used during Banned Books Week, but during the whole year. Books get challenged year round and it is important for teens to understand that there are schools that prevent kids from reading certain books. For example, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas was recently banned in a school in Texas. Teens should be made aware of current challenges happening across the country, and knowing that a certain books is being challenged might prompt them to read it themselves.
There is a lot more that can be said about collecting for teens, but I will end it with something that was talked about that beginning of the semester. Teens aren’t one thing or another, teens just are. As soon as we say “teens are …” we immediately say that they aren’t something else. Teens and young adults are individuals with many different aspects and their library and space within the library should reflect this.