At the beginning of this semester I felt a disconnect between myself and teen patrons, it had been some time since I worked with them in the library and it has been some time since I myself was a teen. Though I have still yet to work with teens in my library, this course has given me some insight and knowledge into how the public library can provide quality services and programs to this population. Throughout this semester we have been introduced and discussed a number of different topics and ideas that are relevant to the library’s teen population. Two of the topics I previously discussed, collection development and connected learning, have both been consistent throughout the semester.
(American Library Association, 2016)
One of the major things that I learned during our discussions on collection development was concerning banned books. Before this class I was a big supporter of banned books week because I felt that the public should be made aware of a number of quality books that have/are being questioned or banned from some public spaces. I understood some of the reasoning behind why some people might question certain books for topics they cover, but when I learned that “over half of all banned books are by authors of color, or contain events and issues concerning divers communities” (Jacoby, 2016), I was disappointed. It just reinforced the importance of having a varied and diverse collection of books, especially in an urban library like where I work, our teen patrons deserve to have the opportunity to read works by and about people who share their diversity.
In connection with providing a diverse collection for teen patrons is providing diverse programming. As with materials, teens want programming that they can personally relate to and are passionate about. The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) advocates for librarians to “continually analyze their communities so that they have current knowledge about who the teens in their community are” (2015, p.3). To me this means that teen librarians need to be creative and thoughtful with their programming, they can take a generic idea (book group) and put a spin on it that suits their own teen population. When considering the diversity of teens, librarians also need to be aware of how their needs are transforming. With the changes and developments in technology teens now need to learn the tools and skills of how to use this new technology wisely (Common Sense Media, 2016). One of the resources we were introduced to during this course was the Common Sense Media website, a great tool for anyone working with children or teens in the information services field. Librarians can use it to get parent and teen reviews of various materials and also peruse the curriculum and lessons plans to get ideas of how they can improve their patrons 21st century skills.
The image below is one of many resources offered for free from Common Sense Media. I imagine that it could be posted in the teen area of a library, it is something simple that makes teens think through the outcomes of posting something online.(Common Sense Education, 2014)
As I mentioned before, one of the topics I am most excited to implement in my future as a librarian is connected learning. I have learned that one way of implementing connected learning in a public library is through makerspaces. I knew of makerspaces, it would be hard to work in this field and not be aware of the fact that many libraries are trying to rebrand and remake themselves with the inclusion of makerspaces (Montgomery, 2016). But I had never seen them implemented, so the activity of planning out our own makerspace was very nerve-wracking and exciting. First I thought that a makerspace was simply a space in the library where patrons could make stuff, I always just thought of 3D printers. I have since learned that they are “DIY spaces where people can gather to create, invent, and learn” (Kroski, 2013). I found that makerspaces seamlessly combine so well with connected learning so well because instead of a librarian leading the learning, teens and working together to discover new and interesting things.
Detroit’s Public Library’s HYPE Makerspace in action. (Telephase Heavy Industries, Ltd., 2012)
While there are many non-tech options for makerspaces in public libraries, I personally believe that the ones that introduce new and emerging technologies coincide with connected learning and will ultimately improve the lives of our patrons. Scott compared the rise in makerspaces to that of the library’s computer lab, that as librarians “our job now becomes providing access to new technologies and instruction to support new literacies” (2012). There are many teens that are continually behind their peers in 21st century skills because they have not been given the same opportunities and experiences to develop these skills. Scott explains that “by teaching our patrons to use new and emerging technologies to not only consume but also to create and share, we facilitate the creation of knowledge that is an essential and fundamental part of the public library’s mission in society” (2012). I wholeheartedly agree. As all of us in the information services field know, our community’s needs are constantly changing and it is our job to change along with it.
As our near the end of this course I find that I have gained so much more information and knowledge about teen services than I had expected. I was able to gain personal experience with current teen literature and I have found a new love for graphic novels. I have gained knowledge on how connected learning can be implemented into the public library and look forward to putting it into action in my future. Most importantly, I have realized that the teen population needs to become a bigger priority for my library. I worry that we are not doing all that we can to make an improvement in their lives and we need to make a greater effort in providing services and programs for those teens in our population.
American Library Association. (2016, July 28). Stand up Facebook1 [Cover art]. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/bbooks/bannedbooksweek/ideasandresources/freedownloads
Common Sense Education. (2014). Should I share [Digital poster]. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/middlehigh_poster
Common Sense Media. (2016). Our mission Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/about-us/our-mission#
Jacoby, M. (2016, February 23). Banned books week spotlights diversity 2016 [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/node/9166
Kroski, E. (2013, March 12). A librarian’s guide to makerspaces: 16 resources. Retrieved from http://oedb.org/ilibrarian/a-librarians-guide-to-makerspaces/
Montgomery, B. (2016, June 11). Forget the mall. These days, teens go to library makerspaces. Retrieved from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-06-11-forget-the-mall-these-days-teens-go-to-library-makerspaces
Scott, S.H. (2012, November 11). Making the case for a public library makerspace. Public Libraries Online. Public Library Association. Retrieved from http://publiclibrariesonline.org/2012/11/making-the-case-for-a-public-library-makerspace/
Telephase Heavy Industries, Ltd. (2012, October 13). Detroit Public Library HYPE makerspace
[Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/Daq2x5kIY2I
Young Adult Library Services Association. (2015). Teen programing guidelines. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/yalsa/sites/ala.org.yalsa/files/content/TeenProgramingGuidelines_2015_FINAL.pdf