As a teen librarian, I still want a well circulating collection. If the library is seen as a “third place” (Latham and Gross, p.170) of learning, librarians must recognize the importance of a collection that reflects the interests of teens. Librarians must also be familiar with the collection in order to make book suggestions based on patron requests, or remove titles that do not fit within the collection’s definition and its goals. Furthermore, librarians should not be hesitant to promote adult or children’s literature if it would be beneficial to have these materials more accessible for teens. From reading various collection policies from other libraries I have learned the importance of refraining from labelling materials. To adhere to the standards of intellectual freedom teens should have access to all materials.
Common obstacles in collection development are space and budgetary constraints. When this is the case, we must keep in mind to never sacrifice the demographics’ needs in selection. Librarians should ask, “Is this decision focused on the teens in our community?” and “Did we include teens in our decision making?” To create a well circulating selection constant weeding is necessary, and if our ultimate goal is to increase teen literacy, we must prioritize collaborative efforts with teens to define the parameters of their interests. This does not mean that the collection neglects key components of school curriculums, such as classics, as these titles are also a part of teens’ informational needs. (Booth & Jensen, 2014, p.95) It means that the library’s responsibility is to create a balance of books for both recreational and scholastic reading.
Throughout the semester, it has become apparent that another major obstacle is advocating for challenged materials. It is important to address challengers with diplomacy and welcome their concerns but at the same time measure each material up against the collection development policy. As mentioned previously, it is important that librarians uphold the integrity of the ALA Bill of rights.
A balanced collection may consider awards and best-seller lists but should take a page from market researchers and focus more on teen’s recommendations (Agosto, 2013, p.33), like the reviewers from the Teen Advisory Board on SLJ’s Teen Librarian Toolbox. My one complaint about the Teen Librarian Toolbox is that the reviewers lack diversity. This week’s readings reiterated the extreme importance of diversity. If we want to “re-write the best sellers lists” (Booth & Jensen, 2014, p. 104) we should constantly be including teens of color, LGBTQ teens, and teens with disabilities to participate in the literary community. A balanced collection includes desired graphic novels, e-books, audio books, CD’s, DVD’s and video games (Booth & Jensen, 2014, p.96-97).
Something not discussed in week 3 was the importance of representation of genre. Every librarian may have their preconceived notions of what YA literature is and what makes “good” or bad” teen materials. This course has introduced me to genres I had never heard of. Genres such as Sick-Lit are wildly popular amongst teens. I was quick to dismiss this genre, but quickly realized my preference does not matter. Reflecting on the semester I have learned to really put myself aside. Our service is to the teens, and only they know what they like best. Let us again take a page out of market research and pay attention the teen “like”, and use it strengthen our collections. Librarians should be using social media relevant to their teen population to promote the collection. Keeping up with social media is not a simple task and takes time a dedication. In order for social media marketing to be successful librarians must pay attention to teen habits. At the same time, we should not forget about communicating with our teens in person. Developing relationships with our teen patrons will be one the of the most useful tool in collection development.
Agosto, D. (2013). “Envisaging Young Adult Librarianship from a Teen-Centered Perspective.” In Transforming Young Adult Services, edited by Anthony Bernier, pp. 33- 52. Chicago: Neal-Schuman.
Booth, H. & Jensen, K. (eds.) (2014).The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services. Chicago: ALA. pp. 91-104.
Latham, D. & Gross, M. (2014). Young adult resources today: connecting teens with books, music, games, movies, and more. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 170.