In Short…

Why do you want to be a YA librarian?

I often get asked about what I learn as a student pursuing a Master of Library Science degree. More than once, this question has been followed by, “So you’re learning about the Dewey Decimal System?” Ha. Well, I’ve learned a lot after two semesters. I’ve learned about cataloguing and how to retrieve accurate research. But I’d have to say that one of  the most fascinating and valuable things I’ve learned is how important reading motivation is for children and adolescents. That’s why learning about how hard it can be to advocate for teens in the library was so frustrating to me. It’s sad to know that YA librarians have to fight extra hard to give teens the resources and space they need in the library.

Research has shown that technology and skim reading internet articles have caused our brains to develop differently. We can’t process longer, denser texts the way we used to. Going back to the conversations I’ve had with people about my career choice, I’ve often been asked if I worry libraries will become obsolete now that we live in the digital age. My response, in addition to mentioning that libraries have adapted to this change, is that because we live in a digital age, libraries are more important now than ever. We need libraries, and we need to continue to fight for our teen patrons especially.

I felt the need to write up a longer response, to help me craft my much shorter elevator pitch.  And so, TL;DR:

  • I want to be a YA librarian because, in an age where we are so glued to our computer and phone screens, reading motivation for adolescents is essential. I hope to find that one special book every reluctant reader needs, and to put it in his/her hand. I want to advocate for teens in the library, so that they will be drawn to a place that offers them so many valuable resources.
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Limited Budgets, Burnouts: Welcome to YA Programming

You Are an Army of One, the Only Teen Services Librarian In the Library System.

This section was perfect (read: scary) to read as I was working on the program proposal. The program proposal has forced me to really examine the challenges of organizing a program, and doing so when you are the smallest department in the library. Never mind a lack of budget, something far too many YA librarians are familiar with. Never mind the challenge of actually getting the program approved and struggling with feeling like you are alone in your work. Once your program is established, bringing it to life is an entirely different challenge.

For example, the program my partner and I proposed involves cooking. This brought about a whole list of questions I hadn’t been prepared to answer at first. Questions like:

– What recipe is simple to cook for a group of 10 teenagers?

– How many ingredients should the recipe have?

– Does the library have an appliance that can be used for cooking?

– Is there a space you can use to cook it? A basement? A community room?

I hadn’t realized what a challenge it would be to answer all of these questions! I’d taken developing a program that involves cooking for granted, because I’d seen other libraries pull them off (Seemingly without any effort. Impressive.)

Ms. Kitchen, the sole YA librarian at her library, must have her work cut out for her when she’s developing a program. When you have a small staff, questions about your program become much harder to answer.  I’d like to think that when I’m a librarian, there will be more than one of us in the YA department!  I think this section gave some very important advice on how to deal with these obstacles. A positive attitude, perseverance, and good networking skills goes a long way.