Teen Centric Collection Development Revisited

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.



Review Work #2

S 3Q 4P

Block, Francesca Lia. Weetzie Bat, The Weetzie Bat Books Dangerous Angels. Harper Collins, 1989. 478 p. $9.99 ISBN 978-0-06-200740-7.

Weetzie feels like a misunderstood teenager, until she meets Dirk. Falling instantly in love, she is shocked to find out Dirk is gay. This does not change their friendship status. They spend days on end hanging out in Los Angeles, California, partying and looking for love until Dirk’s grandmother gives Weetzie a magic lamp. The genie inside the lamp offers Weetzie three wishes. Her wishes come true, but not in the way she expected.

41pN2P46TbL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The first book of the Dangerous Angels series is a fast-paced, 70 page read, and is written as a modern fairy tale with all the traditional components of famous folklore. Block’s writing style is simple yet captivating. She effectively intertwines magic with reality and by using modern Los Angeles as this magical kingdom with people both good and evil, making Weetzie Bat a classic postmodern fairy tale. Block’s characters encounter magic lamps, witches, and explore the realties of happily-ever-after. This modern spin will definitely be appealing for teens, as it takes them on a journey through familiar teenage strife, (including the topics of drinking, drugs, abortion and AIDS) and Disney archetypes. Weetzie Bat is whimsical and intriguing, and those who like the first book should read all 5 books in Francesca Lia Block’s Dangerous Angels series. This book is definitely a pleasure to read, but it also would be a useful teaching tool in the classroom for a high school fractured fairytales unit.


Vaughan, Brian K. Paper Girlsillus. by Cliff Chiang, Jared K. Fletcher, & Matthew Wilson. 144p. Image Comics. Apr. 2016. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781632156747.


Gr 9 Up- Set in the 1980’s, Paper Girls follows KJ, Erin, Tiffany and MacKenzie on the morning paper route from hell, as throughout this graphic novel the girls experience a series of strange encounters, including creepy men speaking an unknown language, alien spaceships, and pterodactyls. The girls must over come their fears and use their individual skills to defeat the intergalactic invasion of their hometown of Stony Stream.

This beautifully illustrated graphic novel captures the essence of the 1980’s by using bright purples, pinks and blues as the main color palette. Illustrations and detail choices are all era appropriate, though readers should be warned about some grotesque violence. The panels are laid out in a comprehendible manner, and the story is fast paced and captivating. Vaughan does away with gender norms, as all four tween girls are strong female role models who care less about boys than making money and saving the world. Paper Girls is for teens both male and female, and also for either those new to the graphic novel world or genre stalwarts. It is recommended for those who enjoy science fiction, although it could act as a great gateway book into the science fiction-graphic novel genre.



VERDICT: This fun graphic novel is a great read with strong female characters and amazing sci-fi and 1980’s illustrations. -Lisa Bova

Review Analysis

The professional reviews consulted consisted of SLJ, Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. All three reviews were written fairly shortly after the publication of Paper Girls in 2016. The only review with an age recommendation was SLJ. The Publisher’s Weekly and SLJ reviews were around 200-300 words where the Kirkus review ran a bit longer. All reviews commented on setting, writing style and illustrations. SLJ and Kirkus warned about strong language. Cover art, was not mentioned but when it comes to graphic novels it is most important that the illustrations are the main focus. All three reviews commented on the unique appeal of the 1980’s and spoke about the immense amount of action. Compared to the alternative reviews, the professional one’s were rather short. The alternative reviews were from Slate and Talking Comic Books. Both reviews were quiet lengthy and delved further into mentioning Vaughn’s previous success, Saga. Both reviews had a ton of praise and were less critical. They highlighted not only Vaughan but the illustrators as well (especially Talking Comic Books). I appreciated reading a comic book review from a comic book review site. These reviews were more interesting to read, as they gave more detailed information about the book and its inspirations. Slate delved into the importance of the feminists characters and the appeal of the 1980’s. Overall, the professional reviews did a great job at giving a quick overview and opinion, while the alternative reviews were more detailed and gave more background information.

The Online Lives of Teens

Generation Like and Merchants of Cool were aired 13 years apart, but both documentaries give insight into how the media and corporations continuously take advantage of teen culture in order to more effectively market their products and maintain consistent growth in their revenues. It is important for librarians to be aware of teen production and consumption of media, as it gives us insight into where teens are gathering and what their interests are. Knowing what kind of content they are creating and consuming is vital information when creating collections, providing services, and, most importantly, interacting with teens on a daily basis. Research into teen interaction with media should be a component of every library science curriculum, just the same as creating community profiles.

When Merchants of Cool was filmed in 2001, teens were mainly interacting with media through their television sets, and with channels such as music titan MTV. At that time, adults and librarians could get a good sense of what teens were being sold, as they were able to access the same content being broadcast at the same time. In order to stay relevant among youth, advertising companies would interview focus groups and then seek out and identify a small percentage of teens they considered to be trendsetters. Currently, marketing companies are still in the business of targeting teens, but the dissemination of their branding is different. In Generation Like, social media is the main way advertisers sell to teens. This is because teens are no longer gathering around their television sets, but sitting at their computers or with mobile devices. In a time where fear of the outside world are at an all time high among parents and adults, teens have been forced online, as it is the only escape from the tight restraints society has created. (WGBHForum, 2014)

Librarians can act as market researchers, in a less intrusive and abrasive way, by taking a note of the online behaviors of teens in their community. They can also create outreach opportunities by creating social media pages for the library and engaging teens online. Monitoring their interactions with the library’s social media pages is important to find what does and does not work. Do teens in your community respond to what you have posted? Is using social media effective marketing for your community? It might not be. Even though 92% of teens are online, not all teens are using social media in the same way or the same amount. (Lenhart, 2015) For example, African American teens are more likely to own a mobile device than White or Hispanic teens. (Lenhart, 2015) A librarian may decide not to interact over social media if they notice that the majority teens in the community do not have personal devices.

In both Merchants of Cool and Generation Like, teens are seen as trendsetters and, more recently, as content creators. Teenagers are creative, and through this creativity trends are set. Advertising agencies seek out teens and use them to sell their products. Technically this makes teens the creators, as they are responsible for much of the original content on websites like YouTube. Advertisers love using teens on YouTube to sell their try their products, and in return, depending on the number of Views and Likes, teens receive reimbursement in the form of free merchandise or even cash. Agencies use what teens like in order to integrate their brand into teen culture, seeking to form a bond of trust with a potential life-long customer. This may seem as though teens are being taken advantage of, but teens do not view it as such. In Generation Like, when teens were asked about “selling out”, most of them did not know the meaning of the phrase. It is important to understand that despite all the controversial practices currently circulating online, allowing teens to create original content and express themselves is more important than ever. This is because the job market has never been so competitive, and jobs that originally were meant for teenagers are now going to college students. Teens are losing out on ways to make money and gain work experience. Creating user generated content is a way for teens to work, gain experiences, grow, and have a sense of community. Online activities definitely come with pitfalls, as anytime you hit the “like” button you are selling information about yourself.

In regards to the library specifically, it is important to note that librarians are no longer the gatekeepers of data surrounding YA media consumption. Publishers now go straight to teenagers for information even encouraging young readers to take part in the writing of stories. Furthermore, books are no longer just books, they are franchises, mostly based on information teens have given to publishers. (Martens, 2011) It may seem unsetting, but librarians cannot ignore this event. Librarians can follow suit and also trust teens to add input when acquiring books and creating a collection. Going forward it is important for librarians to recognize that teen deserve a say in what is served to them, and if we don’t include them in the decision-making process they will lose interest.

One of the most interesting takeaways from the Frontline documentaries was the way teens have caught on to how advertisers use and exploit their originalities. Teens are now taking part in the branding ecosystem, turning exploitative efforts into their own profit. YouTube teens will listen to their viewers and incorporate them into their videos in order get more likes and reach a wider audience. Maybe the library can benefit from this as well? One possibility may be to encourage local YouTubers to use the library space to help facilitate content creation. Teens can in turn plug the library in their videos. If teens have a keen interest in using the library to create content, librarians can further incentivize them by purchasing better recording equipment or editing software.

Going forward, as times change media consumption and the way advertisers read youth will change. It is important to stay informed, as these tactics bring constant guidance to librarians to help them interact better with their target market.



PBS. (2001) Frontline: Merchants of cool [Video File] Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool/view/

PBS. (2014)Frontline: Generation Like [Video File] Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/generation-like/

Lenhart, A. (2015). Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015. Available at http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/09/teens-social-media- technology-2015/

Martens, Marianne. “Transmedia teens: Affect, immaterial labor, and user-generated content.” Convergence: The Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 17, no. 1 (2011): 49-68.

WGBHForum. (February 26, 2014) danah boyd: It’s Complicated – The Social Lives of Networked Teens. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yCHI8WCbD Y


Five Media Challenge: Sick-Lit

Looking for a more contemporary genre? Something that will evoke emotions and have you thinking critically about society’s view of mental health, terminal illness and suicide?  Although Sick-Lit became popular in the 1980’s, classics in this genre can often be seen as shallow representations of what it means to be terminally ill.  Even so, they are still enjoyed by many as they take you on an emotional journey of life, grief and loss. Like any genre, Sick-Lit is still evolving today; more recent books in the genre explore what it means to accept mental health challenges and illness.

Want to jump in? Start with these 5 pieces of media:

Read/Watch/Listen: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green200px-The_Fault_in_Our_Stars

John Green is your go-to-guy for contemporary Sick-Lit.  The Fault in Our Stars is a modern staple that has also inspired a movie adaptation.  To further embrace the John Green mood, listen to his writing inspiration The Mountain Goats.

While attending a cancer support session, sixteen-year-old Hazel meets Augustus. Her terminal journey is forever changed by this encounter.



Thirteen Reasons Why By Jay Asher adapted into Netflix T.V. show




A few weeks after Hannah Baker commits suicide, Clay returns home from school to find a package with his name on it. Inside are tapes that will reveal the 13 Reasons Why Hannah committed suicide. Read the book or watch the Netflix series. Be aware of the deviances from the book and the MA rating.

Click link to watch Netflix trailer:




Dawn Rochelle By Lurlene McDaniel (classic sick lit from 1980’s)


Termianlly ill with Luekemia, 13 year old Dawn Rochelle wants the same life as everyone else. The series follows Dawn’s battle with cancer. If you want sick lit in its most traditional sense Lurlene McDaniel is your author.



The Rest of Us Just Live Here By Patrick Ness



Not your typical Sick-Lit book, this story is a bit more humorous and fantastical. That does not dismiss the fact that Mikey and Mel face the difficult realities of mental health. For a more positive and up-lifting take on the genre, this is the book for you.





The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B By Tereasa Toten (Canadian Author)

Falling in love is not easy when dealing with the intrusiveness of OCD. This novel follows Adam as he copes with his thoughts and struggles, such as attending support classes, his mom receiving threatening letters and his parents’ divorce.



Buchanan, K. (2015) John Green on Lonelygirl15, Rushmore, and 10 other things that influenced his work. Vulture. Retrieved from http://www.vulture.com/2015/07/john-green-12-biggest-influences.html

This Vulture article on John Green revolved around what influences his writing. Since he is part of the reason this genre came to be I thought it fitting to include inspirational media.

Elman, J. P. (2012). “Nothing feels as real”: teen sick-lit, sadness, and the condition of adolescence. Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies, 6(2), 175+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=LitRC&sw=w&u=cuny_ccny&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA295325640&asid=c9590ced5a1d0926536e89a7421ffb71

This article provided other search terms for the genre, title suggestions, and gave history of where it originated forms. It discussed the genres various forms and controversies.

Honnold, RoseMary. (2006). The Teen Reader’s Advisor. New York, NY: Neal-Shuman Publishers.

Used to findbooks on social issues that would fit Sick Lit category. Though I did find books fitting the genre, I did not end up using titles from this resource. I have included it here as it is a great text for finding titles for any genre.

Mead, L. (2016). Mental illness in YA: Rehabilitating sick-lit. Retrieved from https://the-artifice.com/mental-illness-in-ya-rehabilitating-sick-lit/

This article was all about changing the stigma of the genre. It gave excellent suggestions for contemporary titles that included more empowering characters, that were not defined by their illness.

YALSA. (2013). The controversy over “Sick-lit”. Young Adult Library Services Association. Retrieved from http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/2013/01/24/the-controversy-over-sick-lit/

YALSA was my starting point, it gave me contemporary titles and spoke about controversies.


Informational Non-Fiction

Kyi, T.L. (2017) Eyes & spies: How you’re tracked and why you should know. Toronto, Canada: Annick Press

I chose Eye and Spies this week, as online security and privacy is a very hot topic amongst teens and adults.

eye and spies

To be honest, I may have been bias in picking this book, as I am very interested in the topic.  I also believe that this is a very prevalent subject amongst teens, as many of them have their lives online.  I was hoping a book geared towards teens would also give me an idea on how to talk to teen patrons about online security.  When flipping through and deciding whether or not to choose it, I appreciated the use of formatting including text boxes and font, although I found the illustrations to be juvenile.


Eye and Spies: How You’re Tracked and Why you Should Know is a very informative text on present day surveillance and online security. This is an area of expertise where the information is changing constantly, and it is important for libraries to keep their books about the online world and the law current. This book was published this past year, but it was difficult to find other recent books published on the topic.  This book may be a difficult sell to teens, as the illustrations cater to a younger a crowd where the information takes on a more serious tone. It would be excellent resource for librarians to use when educating themselves and teens on the focus of cyber security and surveillance.

Grade Level Interest: W

Quality: 3Q

Popularity: 3P

Merino, Noel, ed. Surveillance. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Greenhaven Press, 2014.


This information text about domestic surveillance was a suggested reading from the back matter of Kyi’s book. It is more of an anthology of reliable sources.

Grade Level Interest: W-J

Quality: 3Q

Popularity: 3P

Appeal Factors: Both texts are information and about surveillance. They can also both be deemed as controversial.

Library and Community Profile

Highlights from the Library and Community Profile Assignment on the Washington Heights Library

  1. Teens have their own space located on the fourth floor
  2. The library focuses heavily on serving academic needs
  3. Most of the teens served are bilingual
  4. The space is newly renovated and equipped for 21 century learning
  5. The Washington Heights Library only hold a small fraction of the teen programming offered by NYPL

Speculative Non-Fiction

Woodson, J. (2014). Brown girl dreaming. New York, NY: Nancy Paulsen Books Penguin Group.

Due to availability this week it was between Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson and Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin. I decided to speak with the local librarian and she recommended Brown Girl Dreaming. I was leaning towards Woodson to begin with as I was interested in reading a non-fiction in prose. I was also very impressed by all the awards it had won including the John Newbery Medal, the National Book Award for Younbrown girlg People’s Literature, and the NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Literature. I noticed that Woodson not only has won awards for Brown Girl Dreaming but also numerous other books she has written. I have realized that I definitely need more Jacqueline Woodson in my life!

I noticed that this book was located in Juvenile Biography section of my local library. I definitely believe Brown Girl Dreaming to be a book that could be place in multiple sections of the library. As a piece of literature and informational text is appropriate for any age group. I do not disagree with it being place in the children’s section but it should definitely be a part of YA as it can be used as a primary source for personal or academic research on the civil rights movement. It is captivating and does not read like an information text thus very appealing to wide variety of teen readers.

Grade Level Interest: W J S

Quality: 5Q

Popularity: 4P

Lewis, J.P, & Lyon, G.E. (2014) Voices from the March on Washington. Homesdale, Pennsylvania:march on An Imprint of Highlights.

Grade Level Interest: J S

Quality: 4Q

Popularity: 3P

Appeal Factors: Both books are historical poetry, inspiring, lyrical, and thoughtful. Before heading to Novelist, this week I browsed the YA non-fiction shelve for books I thought might be a read-a-like. I found From the Voices and felt that it was a great fit. Since Jacqueline Woodson was born at the same time as the March on Washington, From the Voices gives more context to the people and events referenced in Woodson’s writing.

Fantasy Materials

Ness, P. (2011). A monster calls. Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press

This week I had a choice between reading Shadowshaper electronically or A Monster Calls in print. Once getting my hands on a Monster Calls, I was immediatelmonstery drawn to the illustrations. I do prefer reading print books over electronic books and I have been noticing a fondness for Patrick Ness among peers. Since I have not read anything written by him before, I decided to give it chance. I was also curious about how Ness would “run with and make trouble” (Ness, 2011) with Siobhan Dowd’s ideas. Even though I have not read Dowd, I was intrigued by the idea of Ness using Dowd’s potential fifth book as inspiration.  I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and will definitely be checking out Siobhan Dowd.

This award-winning book should be included in every YA collection for various reasons. First, great fantasy not only allows us to escape, but can also be used to teach and empathize. A Monster Calls not only brings us into the intense world of Conor’s nightmares, but also teaches us about grief, what it means to face our fears, and losing a loved one. This beautifully and eerily illustrated book. Fantasy novels are not always well received and often dismissed as something for young children. Ness’s protagonist is a boy who endures very real emotions and allows fantasy/ surrealism to help him cope and find truth. Between the bone chilling illustrations, the beautifully interwoven ‘stories within a story’, and the parallels between real life and fantasy,this intricately written novel is a must read.

Grade Level Interest: J


Popularity: 4P

Carrol, E. (2014). Through the woods. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

Grade Level Interest: Late J to S


Popularity: 4P
the woodsA Monster Calls definitely reminded me of reading a Grim Fairy tale, so for the read alike this week I wanted to find something that was inspired by the Grimm’s Brothers. After some searching in the NYPL catalog I found Through The Woods by Emily Carrol. Carrol is Canadian author who has taken inspiration from the Grimm tales to create 5 eerie short graphic stories.

Appeal factors: Both books are intensifying, character drive, illustrated, haunting, and atmospheric. I paired these books for their similar appeal factors and their nods to traditional story telling. Both are very engaging and could be enjoyed by any type of reader.

AW Teen Publisher Profile


AW teen is an imprint of Albert Whitman and Company Publishers. Based out of Illinois, Albert Whitman published award-winning books since 1919. They are most famous for their children’s publications, including the titles The Boxcar Children and Jacob’s New Dress. Albert Whitman is dedicated to publishing respectful, intellectual and emotional content for children and teens. It is an independently-owned company, which prides itself on impacting the publishing industry while, maintaining a small, community-like atmosphere. Known mostly for childrens’ books, they are now working on breaking into YA books.

As of 2011, AW has started a new division devoted to teen literature, and thus far have published 19 titles. Their most recognizable books are Biggie by Derek E. Sullivan and Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke. These titles and the complete catalog of all Albert Whitman materials are available on their website.

Albert Whitman and Company is visible on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest, Youtube (AW Teen Channel) and WordPress. Their WordPress features Q & A’s with authors of new published books. The company also has a YA newsletter; currently newsletter subscribers have a chance to win all the teen titles published so far!

Please visit reviews for Biggie and Girl with the Red Ballon at the sites below!

Biggie By Derek E. Sullivan:

Kirkus Review

Publishers Weekly

Girl with the Red Ballon By Katherine Locke:

Kirkus Review

Good Reads

Teen Book Reviews

American Street by Ibi Zoboi

american street

16-year-old Fabiola Toussaint has recently landed in New York from Haiti, thinking she is ready to embark on the American Dream along side her mother. Fabiola’s mother is stripped from her by American Immigration officers and is forced to make the journey to her family in Detroit on her own. She quickly finds out that life in Detroit is not all sparkly and clean like she thought it would be. She learns about what it means to survive the realities of being a black immigrant teenage girl in 2017 America.

Fabiola’s story is familiar one and though it may be emotional to read, Zoboi conveys Fabiola’s journey as though they were lyrics to a song. Similar subject matter to “The Hate U Give”, American Street is a story of love, hate, grit, triumph and truth and one everybody should be reading.


This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki


this one summer

Interested in reading a graphic novel that does not revolve around superheroes or fall into the science fiction category? This One Summer is a beautifully illustrated graphic novel, which follows Rose through her hangouts with her best friend Windy at the lake. When Rose arrives at Lake Awago for summer action she thinks it is going to be a normal summer of swimming and renting movies with her best friend. Soon after arriving Rose finds that her parents are fighting. Something is going on with her mom, but she cannot figure out what it is. Hanging out with Windy is a bit of a distraction but little does Rose know she will overhear conversations between Lake Awago local teens she cannot ignore. If you liked When My Sister Started Kissing by Helen Frost, and are excited to try out a graphic novel, then this is the book for you!