On Embracing Teen Patrons

At a library I used to work at, I often would overhear interactions between patrons and librarians. More often than I liked to say, I’d over hear librarians complain to each other about having to help patrons. They would either criticize the patrons for making unreasonable requests or complain that patrons were interrupting the time they needed to prepare for programs. This always seemed strange to me. Now that I work as a trainee, I’d like to think I always do the best I can to make sure that the patron gets exactly what he/she came for, and if I can’t make that happen, I’ll try offering them the next best thing (not saying I’m perfect but, hey, I try). It’s my job and, on a bigger scale, libraries depend on patrons who want our help! If we don’t have patrons asking for help, then we don’t have jobs. Libraries depend on the needy. Why would we not want people to ask us for help? After reading the response to question eleven, I was reminded of all those times I’d overheard librarians complain. It is our job to assist the patron, teen or otherwise, regardless of the request.

Under question eleven, Velàsquez addresses how librarians sometimes will resist helping patrons by sending them to someone else, and how this can be an issue specifically for teen patrons. I currently work in the children’s room at my job, so I don’t get the chance to interact with teens. The YA librarians I’ve spoken to are enthusiastic about working with teens, but it sadly wouldn’t surprise me to hear of other libraries where librarians, both in the YA department and beyond, are less than thrilled to be assisting teens.

“But, this is also a moment when you can help your colleague to provide better service for teens and demonstrate how awesome you are with teens and what a great asset you are to the organization” (Velàsquez, 2015, p. 110). Sadly, YA librarians have to work extra hard to prove that teen patrons matter. However, I think Velàsquez does an excellent job of advising teen librarians here. Not only does she show us how to assist the teens so that they get the help they need, but she also shows us how to bring the interview back to the reference librarian to show them: Look! Teens aren’t so scary after all! This is not an issue with adult patrons. Occasionally I’ve heard complaints about children misbehaving, but on the whole, it’s always the teens who get the most resistance. It’s important to remember this when you’re a teen librarian, and to remember that a little enthusiasm goes a long way.

Velàsquez, J. (2015). Real-world teen services. Chicago: ALA editions.

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