I was intrigued to read Penny Johnson’s post (April 9, 2010) about serving older teens and twenty-somethings and the formation of the “Serving New Adults Interest Group” earlier this month. She suggested that older teens and twenty-somethings are abruptly cut off of the Y/A services currently being offered and, as a result, lose interest in the library until they become parents and return with their children. One of the comments to this post in particular, got me thinking. Amber asked, “Where, pray tell, will YALSA draw the line?” Indeed, drawing the line does seem to be the issue.
Last month, for example, Linda Braun discussed space (“Whose Space Is It?”, March 5, 2010) and whether or not adults should be allowed to work in areas identified as teen spaces in the library – again, we’re drawing lines here. Her post solicited a huge variety of responses. Of particular interest was a link to Sarah Fisk’s blog (be sure not to miss the follow up post and comments). Fisk is a YA author who likes to browse the YA shelves but was deterred (and I’m being kind here) from doing so at her community library because she is an adult.
As it turns out, my first post graduate position is not with what YALSA would classify “Young Adults,” but is instead with what Johnson refers to as “New Adults.” I am working at a community college. And it is the view from here – my vantage point, if you will – that I would like to share with you.
The lines between young adults and new adults appear blurry here. I see some students who seek out the quiet corners of the library for independent study to get down to task working on their assignments. I see others who seek out the quiet corners of the library for snuggling and giggling (maybe even “full-frontal snogging,” to borrow a term from Georgia Nicolson’s confessions) (Rennison 2001). And others still puff out their chests or hike up their skirts in a manner reminiscent of the experimentation with sexual identity that so often is displayed in high school locker rooms.
Yes, it’s true, these same students who I find snogging in the corner need help with not only academic research but also budgeting and cooking – often they’re away from their parent’s home for the first time. But they are also still teens at heart, wanting to have fun with their friends, go to movies, order pizza, and hang out.
Now, I am not an expert on developmental psychology but I have to wonder, given the YALSA discussion and my own observations, if these categories aren’t really just arbitrary line drawing designed to ally with the North American education system. And, if they are, if we as librarians shouldn’t use them as guidelines only.
Any developmental psychologists out there? What do you think?