As a teen librarian, my goal is to provide a diverse and informative collection for the teens in the community. In Agosto’s article, it was sad to see how research in young adult services has been known to leave out teen input. I found the story of the teen girl who was confused by the sign reading “Young Adult Paperbacks” to be especially memorable. As the article states, “Young adult is a term known only to librarians (and publishers) to mean ‘adolescents'” (Agosto, 2013, p. 42). As an avid young adult reader myself, when people ask me what books I enjoy reading, I have the urge to explain exactly what young adult means. It’s true that YA is a term that isn’t really used outside of the publishing world. The story really stuck with me. It shows how librarians must take care that everything in the young adult department, from the book collection, to the programs, to the decor, must be made with the teen community in mind. Librarians must always ask themselves what the teens would want when developing the department, and if they aren’t certain of the answer, they must ask for input from the teens themselves.
My strategy as a teen librarian would be to focus on my passions, and then to work from there. My interests are teen fantasy, science fiction, and teen contemporaries. I’m already very well read in these areas, and would enjoy collection development for them. I would search for holes in these genres. Perhaps the fantasy books are missing diverse protagonists, or the science fiction books have too many dystopians and not enough space operas. Most importantly, I would pay attention to the teens who come into the library. I could see what materials the teen checks out the most, as well as what materials teens are asking for that we don’t have. There are young adult resources that I am not as well versed in. For example, I don’t think I have an especially good eye for interior design. In these areas, I would rely on the teens even more. I would interview teens, perhaps some of the regular patrons, and ask them how I could decorate and furnish the room to cater to their interests.
Lastly, it’s important to consider the teen room beyond being just a place for books. “We need to move away from this library-centered focus to the teen-centered focus…” (Agosto, 2014, p. 45). If teens need the computers, then we have to make sure our computers are up to date. Maybe they’re looking to make friends in a safe environment, and rely on the library’s programs for that. Just as the article says, I agree that it’s important to ask teens what they’re using the library for, and to then respond accordingly.
Agosto, D. (2013). “Envisaging Young Adult Librarianship from a Teen-Centered Perspective.” In Transforming Young Adult Services, edited by Anthony Bernier, pp. 3352. Chicago: Neal-Schuman.