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?

References:

Search Institute. (2007). 40 developmental assets for middle childhood. Retrieved November 15, 2010 from http://www.search-institute.org/40-developmental-asset-middle-childhood-8-12

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