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.

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