24 Hour Library

A Library Blog by Abby Hargreaves

LIBR 200: Reflection

I have spent a lot of time in my life on the patron side of the YA/librarian relationship. I am just now starting to have the opportunity to flip that. As a result, I am immensely grateful for the research I’ve been able to undertake as a student in LIBR 200: Information Communities. The most important piece of advice I learned throughout all of the reading and interviewing I did for this class was that it is crucial to personally communicate with your information community about their wants and needs.

Relying on published research can be helpful and used as a springboard, but ultimately, every community is unique. Inner-city teens and rural teens may, in general, be very similar, but their information needs can be vastly different. Their interests, too, may vary depending on geographic location. We can do all we want to try to bring teens in with flashy program titles, switching up our vocabulary, and offering help for school projects. However, the best thing we can do for young adults is listen.

The same goes for adult readers of YA. This population has grown — or, at least, it’s population of openly-YA-readers has — greatly in the last ten years. Little research has been provided on this audience, though. Perhaps we are under the impression that adult readers of YA are no different from adult readers of adult fiction. This doesn’t seem to be the case in what little research is available. In many of the popular articles I’ve explored (some of which I’ve referenced in previous posts) this semester, it has been abundantly clear that adult readers of YA can feel lost with feelings of doubt and even shame. Librarians must take it upon themselves to help diminish these feelings, assuring adults that it is okay — wonderful, even — to read YA fiction.

Patrons may not be experts on finding information, but they are the experts of themselves. It’s time to recommit to communicating with patrons regularly in order to better serve their wants and needs and, consequently, build a stronger community with the library as the hub.

3 Comments

  1. As someone who wants to be a Young Adult Librarian as well, I completely agree with your sentiments about adults who read YA literature. I know of many adult patrons who frequent the YA stacks at the library where I work, and they feel no shame in doing so, because that’s what they like to read. But, I do remember a patron telling me once that they really didn’t want to try The Book Thief because it was a young adult novel.

    Young adult literature has so much to offer, and it makes me sad when I hear people say things like that. Have you seen this article that Slate posted?

    http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2014/06/against_ya_adults_should_be_embarrassed_to_read_children_s_books.html

    It unnecessarily slams adult YA readers for no good reason, saying that we should be ‘ashamed when what we’re reading is for children’.

    Great post.

    • abbyrhargreaves

      December 1, 2014 at 1:54 am

      I have. I wrote about that particular article in several of my papers this semester. I’m astounded that people would shame others for their reading choices as Graham does in “Against YA.” It’s a shame that so many avid readers are turned off of spectacular books solely because they are “intended for a YA audience.” Thanks for your comment!

  2. If nothing else, the fact that you tell us to just “listen” is awesome and so very true and it applies to all patrons. It’s important to learn what patrons want and listening allows us to form a rapport with readers. I also agree with Kayleigh’s comments, YA does have a lot to offer. Since when does it matter what people read- if they are choosing to READ? I guess coming from a teaching background I’ve been educated with/by people who believe reading a soup can is better than not reading at all. I also worked for years in a bookstore helping people find books to read and have no qualms about people reading outside/inside any “age-defined” category. My 82 year-old grandma reads children’s picture books and gets just as much enjoyment, if not more, from them as she does from novels or non-fiction. I am definitely going to check out the Slate article. Every book offers a reader an unique experience and each reader chooses to read a book that will give them the “experience” they are seeking. Besides, YA is not only an age-category, it is also a genre and one that doesn’t discriminate against the reader based on their age, only people do that. Great post!

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