Monday, September 27, 2010

An Exquisite Paradox: Making Teens and Young Adults Welcome in Public Libraries.

 This intriguing article presents the idea of a "ninja librarian" that is able to meet adolescents head on and provide the best service for their age group. Joseph suggests that the reason that many library staff have issues when dealing with teens is that they are afraid, that they "feel ill equipped to cope with some of the situations that can arise when dealing with young adults." (Joseph, 2010, p. 107) The key is to understand that when working in youth librarianship it is important to develop programs and services that benefit the teens rather than the library. Taking advantage of the research and guides available, such as the developmental assets created by the Search Institute, will mean that librarians can create the type of environment best suited for each age group. The article also includes suggestions for developing training tools to prepare staff for dealing with adolescents.

I found this article interesting and I like that it highlights a step in the right direction. I think that in the case of pre-teens, or tweens, it is equally as important to understand their need to become increasingly independent while still receiving support and boundaries from adults. As librarians, and library staff, it has to be clear that the point shouldn't be about attempting to force adolescents to change, but should instead be about understanding what they're going through and best responding to their needs. "No amount of signs or shushing, rules or intervention can possibly be as effective as building the skills, knowledge and attitudes of library workers to meet young adults where they are at - and to help them find the solutions, a sense of identity and the positive interactions they need to avoid risky behaviours and to grow into resilient adults." (Joseph, 2010, p. 110) When providing service to adolescents it is very important to understand and be aware of different levels of development and maturity, so being able to ask the right questions is important. Assessing the interests and needs of tweens and teens will allow librarians to become adept at building a positive rapport that in turn makes them feel welcome in the library.
         
References:
Joseph, M. (2010). An exquisite paradox: Making teens and young adults welcome in public libraries. Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services, 23(3), 107-10. Retrieved from Library Lit & Inf Full Text database

Search Institute. (1997, 2007). 40 Developmental assets for adolescents. Retrieved September 13, 2010 from http://www.search-institute.org/content/40-developmental-assets-adolescents-ages-12-18

Search Institute. (1997, 2007). 40 Developmental assets for middle childhood. Retrieved September 13, 2010 from http://www.search-institute.org/40-developmental-asset-middle-childhood-8-12

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Teenage Brain Under Construction

It is commonly known that teens are more emotional than adults are, but it has only been recently that we've been able to learn why. In Feinstein's article, we get a chance to explore the science behind teen behavior. "In tests performed on adult and adolescent brains, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reveals that teenagers actually rely on different parts of the brain than adults for reactions, decisions, and interpretations." (Feinstein, 2008, p. 122) The article goes into the teen's emotional response and lack of logical thinking that occurs in the frontal lobes of the adult brain.

Librarians need to be aware of the causes for erratic teen behavior. Feinstein provides many scientific reasons for librarians to find new ways to form a preemptive strike against visiting adolescents. Feinstein suggests improving the ways adults communicate with teens, though "it takes vigilance, patience, and a sense of humor on the part of the adult brain." (Feinstein, 2008, p.122) I think that as adults, we must remember that we were once teenagers and must have frustrated the adults around us – turnabout is fair play. Why not look back at when we were teens and recall what upset us about the way adults treated us and then try to avoid recreating those situations.

Feinstein also brings findings of a study that looked at what impact violent video games had on teenage boys; a lot of playing equaled increased impulsive and aggressive behavior. Though this has been proven by some research, I still find video games to be an important part of being an adolescent. The library system for which I work provides 2 hours every two weeks for teens ages 12-18 to play video games. This gives an outlet for many teens who are troubled as well as provides a chance to socialize in a safe environment; their emotional and social needs are met through joint video game sessions. With the right selection of games that are positive and that encourage interactions there is a chance to enhance the development of teens. In Paulson and Clabaugh's (2008) article, it states that teens playing the less violent and more social games "are much more engaged civically and politically than their peers, reporting greater interest and involvement in politics, volunteer activities, and raising money for charity."

References:
Feinstein, S. (2008, June). The teenage brain under construction. Voice of Youth Advocates, 31(2), 122-3. Retrieved from Library Lit & Inf Full Text database.
Paulson, A., & Clabaugh, R. (2008, September 17). 'Loner' image out: For teens, video games often social. Christian Science Monitor, pp. 1-11. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Understanding Kids in the Middle

 This article is about understanding what adolescents are going through and attempting to understand them. Weiner specifically addresses the issues facing children ages ten to fifteen, who are literally "in the middle." These tweens who are truly in be-tween are experiencing their life as if on a rollercoaster and are developing physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. Weiner addresses the issue of handling the tween rollercoaster by suggesting one understand "PIES (Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Social development of young adolescents) and use this information when working with middle school kids by creating strategies that meet their needs." (Weiner, 2007, p. 74)

I believe that this article introduces the idea that librarians should spend a little more time understanding the WHYs of tween behavior and learning the best ways to interact and handle tweens in the library. Weiner gives some basic theories and suggestions about middle childhood; libraries could use this information to build a workshop curriculum to help all staff to understand and work/interact positively with tweens.

Growth spurts cause kids to be gangly and uncoordinated and yet are full of energy; those working with kids should be ready to let them use up their energy. Librarians should include activities that allow movement and yet be prepared for those moments where kids fidget and can't hold still. Librarians should never hold that against them. At this stage in life, curiosity comes into the equation and kids need to be challenged and have their interest piqued. This is the perfect opportunity for library staff  to broaden the horizons of young minds and also showcase the library collection and highlight the areas that interest tweens. There is also an increased need for independence that must be met carefully as not to overwhelm them when they may not be ready. Boundaries should still be set and librarians should emphasize the rules while not being too harsh about emotional outbursts that come hand in hand with this age group. Being present in the children/youth area of the library shows not only interest in what tweens are doing/reading, but also gives opportunities to build rapport as well as carefully encourage proper library behavior.
           
References:

Weiner, C. (2007). Understanding kids in the middle. Principal (Reston, Va.), 86(4), 74-5. Retrieved from Education Full Text database.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dozens of Teens/Tweens in the Library at One Time? Why Not?

This article begins explaining how the new branch of a Texas library was created. The branch happened to be located near an elementary school and junior high school, which at first seemed the ideal source of automatic patrons. Unfortunately, employees soon found themselves overrun with tweens and teens, unable to corral them despite attempting various programs and activities. It was easy to see that "teens seem to want to be in the library, but not to have to "do" any prescribed activity." (Brannon, 2009, p. 93) Regular patrons complained and the library sought many solutions but soon realized that they had no "responsibility to create a form of after-school daycare for these patrons." (Brannon, 2009, p. 93) Luckily, the library soon figured out ways to deal with the herd of stampeding adolescents by being present throughout the library during after school hours.

In my opinion, very little was done to understand what adolescents were going through and instead the library staff only chose to keep an eye on the tweens/teens after failing with the plethora of offered programs that did not hold their interest. Though some rapport was built, it seemed as if no thought was put into how adolescent development affects teen/tween behavior at the library. According to the American Academy for Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, at this stage of their lives teens and tweens constantly test limits and rules, and have a "tendency to return to childish behavior, particularly when stressed." (American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, 2001) Brannon did mention in the article that students "had the right to be here and the right to engage in whatever activities they wanted as long as they followed the rules." (2009, p. 93) Brannon did not include the methods used to explain the rules to the adolescents other than a brief mention of speaking with the principals of the schools and sending letters home; the author could have included some examples of actual situations in the article. Tweens and teens like to feel as if they are valued; treating them like troublemakers, without taking the time to explain the importance of responsibility and proper behavior along with consequences can make adolescents resent such an approach and misbehave even more. I think ideally, emphasis should be put on sharing of resources and the importance of respect in order to overcome such a situation in the library.

References:

American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry. (2001, June). Normal adolescent development part I. Retrieved September 19, 2010, from http://www.aacap.org/page.ww?name=Normal+Adolescent+Development+Part+I&section=Facts+for+Families

Brannon, S. (2009). Dozens of teens/tweens in the library at one time? Why not?. Texas Library Journal, 85(3), 92-3. Retrieved from Library Lit & Inf Full Text database.