Interview Summary!

Hello, book nerds! I’m happy to present a summary of my interview with a YA librarian. It went very well. The librarian and I established a good rapport, and she was happy to answer any follow up questions I asked her.

In Short: 

– Marion, the interviewee, touched on a lot of topics we’ve discussed in class. I appreciated that our topics were relevant to her job, and enjoyed an outsider’s perspective! She emphasized the importance of acknowledging diversity in the library, particularly when it comes to developing programs.

– She also shared her strategy on finding the balance between connecting with her teen patrons, while keeping her personal life and other inappropriate topics out of the discussion. Specifically, she said that she will not “friend” any patrons on social media until after they’ve graduated high school.

– Over the years, Marion has developed a good sense of what works and what doesn’t work when interacting with teens. She takes advantage of her strong communication skills and uses them to connect with teens.

– Marion discussed the importance of considering the physical space of the YA room when trying to attract teens. She said that a room featuring colorful posters and comfortable furniture is much more appealing to teens than, for example, something that more closely resembles a study hall.

– As stated before, Marion’s advice rang true with some of our class discussions. When I think of a term to sum things up, the word “balance” comes to mind. Marion advises that we be friendly with teens, but don’t engage in conversations that are inappropriate. This similar to our discussions in class, where we said that it’s good to communicate with teens, but that trying to “sound cool” by adopting their language is just embarrassing. It’s a balancing act!

Conclusion:

I enjoyed the one-on-one time I got to have with Marion. I do want to keep in mind that these are the thoughts of just one librarian. Other librarians may have different opinions, or even the same opinions but different strategies. That being said, I appreciated Marion’s insight, and hope to utilize her advice in the future as an aspiring librarian.

 

Generational Divide: How Does this Affect Librarians?

This post is a response to  the article written by Mike Males. In it, Males analyzes the generational gap between teens and adults, and how this affects the library.

“Are generational divisions so irreconcilable that libraries must physically separate young people from older patrons, perhaps to the point of restricting or banning youth from adult library spaces or libraries themselves?”

(Males, 2013, p. 152).

I believe that older generations will always be threatened by younger ones. When rock music was first popular, older generations criticized the “punks” who listened to music that they considered blasphemous. In a time where technology has become such a significant part of our lives, older generations view youth today as spoiled and lazy. The younger generation is glued to their phones, obsessed with Pokemon Go, and blind to the world around them.

Teens also will never escape the stigma that they are stupid, angsty, and driven by their hormones. That, it seems, is a stereotype that every new generation of teens will endure. Just yesterday, I was telling some friends about the discussions we’d been having in class. I told them about how we’d talked about adults and their perceptions of teens. Unsurprisingly, their opinions on teens were equally negative.

“Teenagers are idiots,” one friend said, “I should know. I was one.”

As Males’s article discusses, this stigma has found its way into public libraries. We live in a world where most people are afraid of things they don’t understand. That is why we are divided by generational gaps and, as the article also discusses, by other factors such as race.

This makes the job especially difficult for the librarian. Our job is to serve the public, regardless of their background and whether or not their experiences are different from our own. It’s harder then, when we live in a world where stigmas that work against teens are drilled into us as adults. Librarians all want to say they don’t feel this way about their teen patrons, but can they all really say it? We all have our own personal prejudices, and need to be aware of them.

One way we can cater to teens especially is through technology. While many adults like to point out all the flaws of technology, it has become an extremely critical part of our lives, and teens are no exception. Libraries can use technology as a way to cater to teens. This is why libraries should offer technological resources. As Hartman, Hughes-Hassell, and Kumasi state, “While technology is not the only aspect of teen lives that is important to libraries, it is probably the most pervasive element causing a need for a shift in library services for and with this age group” (2014, pp. 4-5). Implementing technology in libraries will show teens that we’re not here to criticize their ways. Using technology to help serve teens isn’t going to fix everything, but it’s a start in the right direction.

It is naive to think that we can change the way the world thinks. We can’t. We can try, but perhaps we’ll never be able to banish stigmas that transcend generations. That is not our job. Our job is to serve and mentor teens. We want teens to see that not all adults see them in a negative light, and that we’re here for them. However, we must take note of stigmas, and bear them in mind when trying to think past our own personal prejudices. Nobody said it was easy, but it’s our job.

References

Braun, L., Hartman, M., Hughes-Hassell, S., and Kumasi, K., with Yoke, B. (2014). The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action. 

Males, M. (2013). Tribalism versus Citizenship: Are Youth

Increasingly Unwelcome in Libraries?. In Bernier, A. (Ed.). Transforming young adult services (pp.151-169). Chicago: ALA editions.

 

 

 

YA Librarians: Be Friendly, Just Not too Friendly

You Try to Relate to Teens In a “Cool Way,” Often Using Teen Lingo. You Sense It Is Tragic. You Might Be Right

(Velásquez, 2015, p. 103).

This section was very interesting to me, both Deborah Takahashi’s advice and the fact that librarians attempt to use lingo to relate to teens.

Let’s break this down, starting with Takahashi’s response. I appreciated her insight on relating to teens by following what’s popular in their world, especially because I am also passionate about many aspects of nerd culture (I got a little too excited when she referenced to crunchyroll.com). The idea that I could connect with teens by appreciating their interests as much as they do, and maybe even learn more about pop culture from them, is exciting to me. Takahashi discusses this with great enthusiasm. Aspiring librarians can learn from her.

Onto the second point, that some librarians try to match teen “lingo” so that they sound current. It would, to me, be pretty amusing to hear a librarian try talking that like. I’m no longer up to date on teen lingo, but even as teen myself, when “oh, snap!” was still a thing, slang sounded ridiculous to me. I suppose it’s always good to google the slang words you hear in the YA room, but I do wonder who these librarians are that attempt to talk the way their teen patrons do.

I think it’s important to listen to Takahashi’s advice on making an effort with teens. Take the time to talk with them and make the effort to know more about them than what their favorite books are. Make the YA room a warm, welcoming place for them. That’s certainly more important than knowing what GTFO stands for, or who Taylor Swift’s latest beau is.

References

Velásquez, J. (2015). Real-World Teen Services. Chicago, IL: ALA Editions.

Chapter 6 Response

In chapter 6 of our textbook, YA librarian Violeta Garza is asked whether or not she finds it difficult to work with teens who are different from her, concerning everything from ethnicity, to size, to language. As a children’s librarian trainee working at a library that is known for its diverse population, I was very curious to read Garza’s response.

The East Meadow Public Library is huge, and therefore diverse. We have patrons from all different ethnicities and lifestyles. In the children’s room, I see many different families. Many of the children have parents whose first language is not English. We also see many patrons with special needs who come in, which presents an entirely different challenge. Our policy is, of course, to serve everyone equally. Every family is permitted to sign their children up for any of our programs and we’re expected to provide assistance to everyone who asks for it, regardless of any differences we may have. During the holiday season, the children’s room decorations and programs are “winter” themed. We do not pick any one holiday to recognize, so that no one feels left out.

While I haven’t encountered any issues serving such a community, I should note that I haven’t been working at the East Meadow Public Library for very long. The other day, a woman who’d been born in Greece came to me for assistance, and we bonded over our shared culture. My strategy for serving her was no different than any other patron who I didn’t share this similarity with. In the fall, I will be leading a children’s story time program. Since this is a chance to get to know some of the children and their parents more personally, perhaps I will experience difficulties then. With this in mind, I read Garza’s response.

Garza suggests that, no matter who you’re talking to, as a librarian you must always make an effort to understand your patrons. She also reminds readers that it doesn’t matter how different a teen may be from you. Every teen is growing up and just trying to understand the physical and mental changes he or she is going through. YA librarians should make an effort to understand every patron. The teens will appreciate the simple fact that the librarian made an effort to get to know them.

I felt that Garza’s advice was very well thought out and practical. You could tell that she was speaking from personal experience. That being said, I felt that the question stated in italics wasn’t quite addressed. The question is asking her if she finds it difficult to work with teenagers who are different from her, not her advice on how to approach this. Her advice, as previously stated, is useful, but left me wanting to know about her personal experiences with this issue. What are her stories about working with teens who come from different walks of life? Had she ever made a mistake with one of these teens? What has she learned over the years? I thought that information on some of her more personal experiences would’ve added a lot. In the end, I took her advice for what it was, and will keep it in mind as I continue my work at the East Meadow Public Library.

Expectations of a GSLIS Student

This is my second semester at Queens College. Previously, I’d only taken prerequisite courses. Since this is my first semester taking more “fun” courses, I hope readers will understand that I’m not entirely sure what to expect. That being said, I think that means I have a lot to learn, which is a good thing!

Despite going in with very little idea of what to expect, I did understand more of what this course will be like based on the first class alone. Firstly, I expect to be challenged. My classmates all seemed to agree that our professor is  not an easy grader, but that I will become a better writer if I put the work in. I’m confident in my skills as a writer, but there is always more to learn. I also expect to learn a lot about the duties and challenges that YA librarians today face. I’m thankful for this, because the YA room is where I hope to be once I finish the program at Queens College. Before our first class, I’d never really considered how YA librarians face unique challenges working with teenagers. I hope this class will better prepare me for those challenges. Lastly, I do expect that technology will play a role in this course. After my first semester, it’s become very clear to me that we as future librarians need to learn how to use technology not only to improve the library, but to help libraries survive in the modern world. I expect that the YA room is no exception in this case.

Ultimately, I hope to learn a lot and come out of this course more prepared for my career as a librarian. I especially am looking forward to a class that is centered around Ya librarianship. I wish my fellow classmates the best of luck this semester!