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.