Teens and Libraries: Getting It Right

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Editorial Reviews

Virginia A. Walter, Chair of the Department of Information Studies at UCLA and author of Output Measures and More (ALA, 1995/VOYA February 1996), and Elaine Meyers, Manager of Children's and Teen Services at the Phoenix Public Library and former project director of the Public Libraries as Partners in Youth Development Initiative (PLPYD), collaborate on a book that asks readers "to reflect on our past, learn from the best research and practice available today, and work within our communities to create a new future for youth." The book's four sections use titles from young adult classics. "That Was Then, This is Now" briefly attempts to cover YA services history. "Rumble Fish" addresses what the authors consider to be new perspectives that "rumble and sometimes clash" with the old, insights from the youth development field, teen fascination with technology, new teen places in public libraries, the power of listening to young adults, and evaluation as a means of accountability. "The Outsiders" retells the YA services story in response to a Library Teen Bill of Rights. The last part is a toolkit and list of further resources. Particularly rich is the argument that public library YA programs should be formulated with teens themselves around youth development principles. Examples of how to do so include an evaluation checklist for libraries (reminiscent of checklists developed by the Center for Early Adolescence two decades ago) and the evolution of the Library Teen Bill of Rights, worth replicating with teens in other libraries. Also noteworthy is advice on creating library places for teens using teen input into their design, and a description of World Café, a dialogue process. On thedownside, the historical sections of the book are sketchy at best and selectively biased at worst. There is no mention of Margaret Scoggin's work in the New York Public Library. Patrick Jones is referenced only as the author of New Directions for Library Service to Young Adults (ALA Editions, 2002/VOYA October 2002), as if his other extensive contributions do not exist. VOYA appears only as the source of the YA Spaces of Your Dreams column, and if Anthony Bernier (now YA Coordinator at Oakland Public Library) had anything to do with Teen'Scape in the Los Angeles Public Library, you will never find it here. The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) is missing from Further Resources, although those few listed are excellent. Early youth participation work by Evie Wilson, Christy Tyson, and Cathi Dunn MacRae is likewise ignored. This reviewer agrees with two central points here: that reading promotion often eclipses other meaningful library services to young adults and that genuine youth participation is rare in public libraries, despite several decades of work to achieve it. By claiming the high ground in contemporary young adult services, however, the authors run the risk of sounding as if only they have the answer, rather than carefully critiquing inadequate practice. Better approaches might be lessons learned from the PLPYD project or a theoretical companion for Youth Development and Public Libraries: Tools for Success (Urban Libraries Council, 2002), rather than such a skewed and superficially researched book. 2003, ALA Editions, 168p.; Index. Biblio. Further Reading., pb. Ages 17 to Adult.
—Mary K. Chelton
Library Journal
Like Patrick Jones and Joel Shoemaker's Do It Right! Best Practices for Serving Young Adults in School and Public Libraries, this outstanding book advocates placing the needs of young people at the center of young adult (YA) services and involving teenagers in the planning and implementation of those services. Unlike Do It Right!, which takes a customer service approach to YA services in both school and public library settings, uses a number of successful programs as models, and provides practical suggestions for everything from materials to signage and displays, the authors of Teens & Libraries focus exclusively on public libraries, emphasizing theory before practice. Drawing on their considerable professional experience-particularly with the Public Libraries as Partners in Youth Development Project (PLPYD)-Walter (chair, information studies, UCLA) and Meyers (manager, children's and teen services, Burton Barr Central Lib., Phoenix) make a persuasive case for why youth participation in public libraries is not only effective but absolutely essential. In Part 1, they offer up a cogent discussion of the philosophical foundations of public library service in general, and service to teens in particular, showing how early pioneers in the field paved the way for the development of today's YA services. Part 2-the heart of the book-introduces the voices of contemporary teens, placing the needs of young people within the context of libraries. Part 3 focuses on the commitment librarians must make to teens to respect and advocate for and with them. The final section provides a complete step-by-step process for establishing a moderated teen panel and includes a "Youth Participation Worksheet" to help staff create opportunities for youth involvement. This section also contains a first-person diary of a day in the life of a teen library worker, as well as a detailed account of how a group of teens and librarians developed a Library Bill of Rights for Teens. The authors' creative research draws on not only model programs in the library field but on other fields as well, including the theories of architect W.G. Clark and the dialog process known as "World Caf ." The authors connect theory with practice beautifully, showing how youth must be involved in all stages of the planning process from creating teen spaces and selecting materials to developing programs and staffing homework help centers. The book's careful, thoughtful attention to both the historical and contemporary context of YA services in public libraries makes it unique among other titles on the subject. All librarians who care about young people should regard Teens & Libraries as a necessary purchase.-Rachel Quenk, Thomas Memorial Lib., Cape Elizabeth, ME Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Young adult librarians are perhaps more unsure of what their role was, is, and what it will be than any other group of library professionals. They are often in the same boat as the patrons they serve; they are caught in a kind of twilight zone, lost between children's and adult services. Walter and Meyers have created a seminal book on librarianship to this audience. Beginning with a historical account and moving forward to the present, the authors emphasize the necessity of the YA librarian. Researching print and electronic sources, using interviews and incorporating teen insights and commentary, they have established a new "place to stand" through which Teen Librarians can move the Earth. This book is a profound and professional look at young adults as library patrons, discussing their rights and privileges. The Library Teen Bill of Rights, methods of evaluation, and the necessity of creating teen advisory panels are just a few of the critical issues acknowledged and discussed. Every librarian or potential librarian who has any contact with teens must read this book.-Jane Halsall, McHenry Public Library District, IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780838908570
  • Publisher: American Library Association
  • Publication date: 7/28/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 9.12 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Table of Contents

Pt. 1 That Was Then, This Is Now
1 Where We Came From 3
2 We Learn to Think like MBAs 18
Pt. 2 Rumble Fish
3 Youth Development: The Power of Partnerships 37
4 Citizens of the Digital Nation: The Power of Technology 50
5 Teen Places: The Power of Square Footage 57
6 Conversation: The Power of Teen Voices 75
7 Evaluation: The Power of Accountability 88
Pt. 3 The Outsiders
8 Making Promises to Teens 103
9 Inside Out: Last Words 107
Pt. 4 Toolkit
Moderated Teen Panel 111
Youth Participation Worksheet 123
Teen Voices beyond the Sound Bite 127
The World Cafe Process and the Library Teen Bill of Rights 131
Further Resources 138
References 141
Index 149
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