YA Lit and Teens: A (Future) Librarian’s Perspective: A Guest Post by Melissa Higey

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hi, I’m Melissa and I’m a YA-lit-aholic. And I’m far (OK, not that far) from being a teen. But I have a great excuse, and will one day have the perfect job to feed my addiction: I’m going to be a young adult librarian in a public library. When Steph asked for guest bloggers, I leaped at the chance, as lately I’ve been musing over my chosen career path and what I can do to become the kickass librarian I’ve always dreamt of being. Do I have what it takes?

What do I love about YA lit?

What don’t I love about YA literature? Books for teens have so much optimism, even when they’re dark and depressing, in the smallest things. The teen protagonists have the world at their feet, choices to be made, mistakes to stumble over, first crushes to go gaga over, and maybe even a world to save. YA books are uber-creative, and despite the current trends in the paranormal genre, YA books are distinct and represent a wide variety of characters, settings, emotions, and stories.

Why did I decide to go into YA library services?

I could say something like I wanted to influence future generations, or increase literacy amongst youth, and on and on, and those types of things are important to me, but the biggest reason is that teens are cool. Teens are creative. Teens are diverse and awesome and if I could, I’d be a teen forever. I want to give teens the best library experience they’ve ever had. And maybe that library experience will mean more than just a “library experience.” Maybe a teen’s reading skills will improve, or they will try a different genre than they normally would, or maybe a teen would meet someone they’d never meet normally, or maybe they’ll just learn how to inform themselves and educate themselves. If I can be just a little bit of that in what I do, then I’ll feel like a success.

What are the challenges I will face as a YA librarian?

Many communities today still don’t respect that teens deserve and need library spaces and collections of their own. I’ll be faced with issues of censorship by parents and communities. I may have to encourage reluctant readers to try something new. I may face a lack of resources or lack of budgeting for my teens’ needs. And I may just not know what to do in a tough situation.

What advice can I give to someone that wants to work with teens in a library?

Get in a library and get experience working in the children’s and teen’s departments. Many teen librarians may also work as children’s librarians, so having some experience in a children’s department is helpful. If jobs aren’t available, volunteer! That’s what I do. And definitely read YA lit, keep up to date on pop culture, take workshops with peers, and on and on. Always keep learning. I’m early on in my career and still learning myself, but I know that these things are very important.

What’s your point of view on YA library services?

Have you had great experiences in libraries, or are you treated as a “second-class citizen”?

Does your library have an outstanding teen room or teen programs?

I’d love to hear from you!

Check out my blog at bibliochic.com where I write about YA lit and library services and you can also follow me on Twitter!
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