What do young adults need?

The other night we had an interesting discussion about the critical components that teens need in a library. Specifically, if you were building a YA/teen section from scratch, what are the most important things to include. My partner and I settled on: books published for/as YA, graphic novels/manga, non-fiction, computers, and seating. Yeah, maybe seating is superfluous, and our imaginary, budding teen population would benefit more from study guides, or DVDs, but I like a good sit. A good sit, a comfortable space, a bit of real estate to call your own . . . these things seem important to me. I know they were when I was a teen.

My public library was right next to my tiny high school and I spent many many an afternoon there. I don't remember if it even had a YA section because I wasn't there for the books (gasp!). I was there to hang out in the basement where the past years of periodicals were stored. To be loud and obnoxious, to read ancient copies of Cosmo, to flirt and fight, to smoke cigarettes out back, and to form friendships that sustain me to this day. Occasionally I was there to use the microfiche and photocopier, because I didn't have the internet until I was a senior. I never once checked out an item, I never volunteered, I wasn't a page, and eventually I left.

I remember thinking wistfully how wicked awesome it would be if the library was open late. Or if it served coffee. Or hosted poetry nights. Or short fiction contests. And you know what, it may very well have, only we never heard about it. What my library needed was literal space for us (no, the basement storage area does not count) and someone to talk to us, and to listen. As we discuss relating to teens and drawing teens into our libraries I think back to my young adulthood and I'm struck by how little it would have taken to get me involved.

1 comment:

  1. Wow good post. I think you probably were not alone in these musings about the library when you were a teen...My favorite time to hit up the public library was at night time because it was so much less crowded and less intense than during the day. That said, there weren't any activities or anything going on for teens, I just liked being there at night.

    But I think your team made some sound decisions for your library--Again I can't stress the importance of manga on teen culture, so I think that should be at the top of everyone's list, so kudos to your team for adding that to your list.

    But yeah, you totally hit on one of the biggest issues facing teen librarianship: how do you get a space?!?!