24 Hour Library

A Library Blog by Abby Hargreaves

LIBR 200: A Brief History and Future of Me

For those of you just joining me, here’s a bit on me and my goals to get you up to speed.

I grew up in the great but small state of New Hampshire, a fact of which I typically remind people around me daily. While I now live in Virginia, I’m a bit of an elitist when it comes to my home state. Live free or die, right? After eighteen years and some months in glorious New England, I headed south to Roanoke, VA to earn my BA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing and a minor in Psychology at the ever-supportive Hollins University. Hollins is basically unknown, so here are some quick facts:

  1. Hollins is a women’s school with a co-ed graduate program. There are a few trans* students on campus (F to M), though I do not know of any M to F individuals there.
  2. Hollins is tiny, both in campus size (you can get to one side to the other in six minutes, walking slowly) and population (we’ve got fewer than 650 undergrads).
  3. We do not have a mascot and, because this fact got us on Jeopardy once, we never will.

Hollins was a great place that encouraged me to do lots of things I wouldn’t have done on my own including, I think, trying an online program for my MLIS. I’ve known I wanted to be a YA librarian since I was sixteen. I feel very lucky knowing that I’ve had such a sure career path for a long time as I know this is not the norm. Despite the many comments I’ve received from people around me (“Libraries aren’t going to be around much longer, you know.”), I’ve stayed true to my path and am confident that libraries aren’t going anywhere.

All this to say, I’m very excited to start my adventure with SJSU. Already I am learning about things I had no idea about — information-as-* for example, is a totally new concept to me. For once, I am excited to learn about theory and other topics that are typically encountered with groans from students in all disciplines — foundation-driven topics and the like.  I’m interested in cementing a strong online presence and have considered opening an additional Tumblr account as I am already aware of the large LIS community on that platform. Pinterest, too, seems like a great opportunity that is currently being underutilized by LIS professionals, and so I will be making an attempt to pioneer my way through that path as well. As I continue to read for pleasure in what little free time I’m anticipating, I’ll also be documenting these books with brief reviews on this blog. Check in to see what I’ve read recently and what I recommend. While these goals develop, I’ll be taking on smaller goals of learning as much as I can and trying to stay up-to-date in the larger field and the more specific field of YA readers in public libraries.

This brings me to my next bit: For this semester’s community-driven assignment in LIBR 200, I’m interested in studying YA readers in public libraries. I phrase it this way because, although I am mainly interested in the “intended audience” of YA novels/programs/etc., I also recognize that people who are not strictly “young adults” (that is, middle to high school students) also read and enjoy YA materials. It’s important to create a space in which all categories of readers feel comfortable seeking material. Due to the nature of age-emphasized environments in many of the public libraries I’ve visited, I can see where “adult” readers may be uncomfortable browsing the YA section of a library. Of course, the section should focus on it’s young adult readers, but it should not alienate any group, either.

I’m looking forward to a great semester and, if you’re wondering what the person who wrote this looks like, look no further than below.

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4 Comments

  1. I like how you specified your interest in the “intended audience” of YA. I am more curious about the other groups who read and enjoy YA and why. I recently got into a discussion about the appropriateness of adults reading “younger” literature and vice versa. I look forward to checking out your thoughts as the semester progresses. Also, thanks for including book reviews!

    • abbyrhargreaves

      September 5, 2014 at 3:58 pm

      Yes, it’s so unfortunate that people look down on YA literature so much. I’ve found that most of the “adult” books I’ve read actually lack the very substance and thoughtfulness that a lot of casual YA critics claim YA lacks. Perhaps I’m not picking up the “right” books, but I’ve always preferred YA to “adult,” aside from the classics and the occasional school assignment.

      I do feel that YA readers lose when it comes to nonfiction material, though. There doesn’t seem to be as much out there, though I think there’s a market for it. For example, autobiography and biography writers might consider focusing on the YA years of their subject rather than the entire lifespan to make it more relevant to YA readers.

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment!

  2. Hi, Abby.
    I really enjoyed your blog post. “Juliet Immortal” sounds intriguing. From the description I’m thinking you might also enjoy Kelly Creagh’s “Enshadowed,” if you haven’t already read it. It’s interesting what you noted about the YA space possibly alienating non-teen readers of YA. That hadn’t crossed my mind; I think I’ll definitely be mulling that over this week.

    What I have noticed in my own teen library service is certain teen groups can easily be alienated from the teen space by teens from another social group. At the previous library I worked at, we finally minimized this by sequencing our teen area to flow from a tech area (a multiplayer video game area) to a manga/graphic novel area to classics.

    Spanning this whole space on one side was the general YA fiction. I’m sure it varies from community to community, but the teen social groups in our area had certain overlap in their members. Tech-oriented teens were made up of teens less interested in reading and more into physical competition, as well as teens who were die-hard manga fans. Similarly, a lot of the teens who read classics were also interested in graphic novels, and they got along well with the manga readers. However, there was a bit of hostility between teens who read the classics and the non-reader video game players, so the manga readers served as both a buffer and a unifying link. Your post has me wondering what buffer/unifying link could work to keep non-teens from being alienated to the point that they don’t peruse the YA collection.

    • abbyrhargreaves

      September 9, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      Wow! That’s such an interesting dynamic you described. Thinking back, I can definitely see some of those issues in my own experience as a teen in the YA section. To be honest, I was definitely one of the “get-out-this-space-is-for-reading-not-video-games” people. For bibliophiles, I think it can be a struggle to consolidate the ideas that libraries are for books and services — be it assisting with tax forms, employment, local resources, or just a place to be entertained. This is something I’ll definitely have to make note of and keep in mind. Thanks for the book recommendation and the thoughtful comments!

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