Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tween Programming - Yes, It IS Necessary

Tweens don't necessarily have their own place in the library – most libraries either have tween books mixed in with the juvenile books or occasionally include some lower level books in the young adult section. Is this fair? No. Unfortunately, space is an issue… so is recataloguing… so who knows when this change will be made.

There is however, something that can be done without too much trouble and that is creating programs that are tween-specific. This age group is very inquisitive. Tweens are trying to find out who they are and their likes/dislikes. This is the best time to think about programming that feeds their thirst for knowledge. (See post Meeting informational needs of tweens with different maturity levels and interests)

Tweens are basically untying the apron strings at this point and venturing past the constant hand-holding by parents – they are trying out stuff on their own – so why not give them what they want? I think that offering programming that allows tweens to use their budding creative genius is the way to go. These programs can be less involved for the parents, but can still offer more guidance by the adult(s) present if needed. Arts & Crafts are perfect for this age group.

Also, if the activity is tied to a good cause, the tweens may choose to become more involved in local volunteer groups afterwards. For example, what about decorating paper bags from the grocery store that can later be used to deliver food to food kitchens or the homeless. An earlier post of mine talked about how tweens are eager to help the community and do have concerns – so why not take advantage of that in tween programming. (See post Plugged-In Tweens)

Tweens should be able to feel comfortable during programs offered at the library. During Game On at my library, I noticed that the older kids took over during one evening… I was able to make sure that everyone got a turn, but I am sure that the tweens present felt like they weren't welcome by the older teens. The funny thing is that as the program has continued, the older teens stopped coming and now it is mostly tweens. (The program is from ages 12-18)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Defining Young Adults

This post is a response to another blog post by Mary Pearson, which can be read at

Mary Pearson strikes up a good point about most adults being unsure or unfamiliar with what exactly teen literature, YA (Young Adult) literature is. Pearson comments on an idea that adults have - that the teen experience is one to get through quickly, and how she thinks it amazing. I think I have to agree with her, although while it was interesting… it did have its ups and downs – not everyone was gifted with popularity and looks… therefore creating a bag teenage experience. Oh well. I do think though that those who write for teens have a chance to make those less fun experiences go by faster and provide escape from uncomfortable situations in real life – isn't that what reading is about? Pearson makes a point that teen books are there for entertainment purposes and not to raise children.

Teens and tweens come to the library to find books with characters that are similar to them… so it should be obvious that teen books will have teen-aged characters. Despite being able to read up to adult books, why would tweens and teens care about what a corporate shark was doing before he got murdered and the burnt-out detective that has to solve the murder?? They're more likely than not going to want to read something that resonates with them. Like Pearson said, it is about the teen experience – something that most adults (other than those facing a mid-life crisis) have already experienced. Therefore, it would not be the focus of adult books… unless the book has teenagers in it… but at that stage, the consensus of many adults is that the parents of the teens are pulling their hair out and are stressed at the antics of teens… so another no-go.

The blog post by Pearson makes a good point in trying to put teen fiction in a protective bubble that won't be burst easily.


Mary Pearson. (September 10, 2009). What YA Lit is and isn’t [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Monday, November 15, 2010

Advocating for Tweens - Someone Has To

Advocacy is a major aspect of serving tweens, both in support of their needs and of what they have to say. Tweens are able to experience more freedom than younger children are; though they are on their way to maturity, they are unable to advocate for themselves.

Tweens lack a complete understanding and recognition of their needs; they also lack the resources to do so. It is up to librarians and staff members to prepare themselves to be a fair and impartial mediator in situations that arise between teenagers and adult patrons. With the proper training and understanding of tween developmental behavior, librarians and staff members can have the appropriate tool kit to not only assess the situation with a keen eye, but also diffuse tensions with information and possible solutions fair to everyone involved.

Even though tweens are close to being grown up, they still need the same nurturing and support that their younger counterparts do. The Search Institute (2007) provides 40 developmental assets, which can be used to assess what type of service and support the library and its staff should be providing.

As advocates, we need to ensure that tweens' time spent at the library is worthwhile. At the same time this would be to show that tweens are valued patrons as well. Tweens using the library should have a sense of belonging; as tweens go through the phase where they no longer fit in the children's section yet aren't ready to become young adults, it is important to show that the library cares. There should be more to the library than the clear split between the juvenile section and the young adult section… what about those in-beTween?


Search Institute. (2007). 40 developmental assets for middle childhood. Retrieved November 15, 2010 from

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Connecting With Tweens Through Marketing

In Westlund's (2010) article, the quote that caught my eye was: "'Today's teens are the first generation to grow up in a three-screen world: online, offline and mobile,' says Erin Cliff, svp of global sales development at AOL." It made me think of the additional work marketers need to go through to plan campaigns to reach their audience. It used to be simple… and now it is not. In the case of librarians, we are basically running around from one platform to another attempting to catch our target audience while they are logged on.

We can take an example from celebrities - these days it is those who tweet most often or make the most connections with their fans that are the most popular – so as librarians we should take the hint and use all possible channels to share library news, book reviews and whatever else that would interest tweens. The article mentioned that teens and tweens have a high expectation of interactive products… so whatever we do as librarians will need to be good. The only way we can do this without hiring a professional web designer is to learn how to use blogs, how to tweet, how to create websites. If we're lucky enough, the library we work for will pay for any workshops or training sessions.

Marketing the library and the books inside can be a tricky thing. I think that the best way that librarians are able to market the books they want tweens and teens to look at is through the various displays they create. The hardest part though is balancing out books intended for girls versus those for boys. Boys are harder to convince to read… and the only way to do so is to make it cool.


Westlund, R. (2010). Teens: One distracted audience. How to reach this multitasking demo. Brandweek, 51(38), T1. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database at Persistent URL:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Online Connection to Information Literacy and Reading

As tweens and teens are spending more time online, they face temptation to veer away from books. The truth is that no matter what they're doing online, they are still reading. Going online and looking for something involves various search strategies that they have to employ – sometimes googling isn't enough and they must problem solve their way to finding what they're looking for.

These days many book or author related web sites offer a wide variety of activities and bonus material that enhances the experience. Encouraging tweens to explore the websites of their favorite authors/books would give them an inside view into the author's thought process when writing, a better breakdown of characters or any other interesting tidbits. Some authors post playlists of music on their sites as well as personal thoughts on blogs, creating yet another connection with readers (Beaman, 2006). Author websites also allow a connection with fans – librarians should encourage readers to try and communicate with their favorite author if they want to know more about the book they read and why it was written in a certain way as well as possibly finding out clues to what will happen next.

As for librarians, from a professional stance we can provide and promote media and information literacy to tweens by sharing resources. Creating web pages on the library website that offer a collected list of the author websites of tween books or web pages of resources for projects will help not only connect tweens and teens with the information they are seeking but show that the library is meeting their needs. If librarians also wrote blogs with book reviews and other musings related to tween interests then maybe this would encourage tweens to explore the reading choices we are recommending.


Beaman, A. (2006). How technology is enhancing the pleasure reading experience for teens. Knowledge Quest, 35(1), 30-33. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database at Persistent URL:

Gilton, D. (2008). Information literacy as a department store: Applications for public teen librarians. Young Adult Library Services, 6(2), 39-44. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database at Persistent URL: