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

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