I know a ton of really great YA librarians, so I’ve been thinking about the difference between those who are just doing their jobs and those who are committed to the teenagers who come to their libraries. With that in mind, I tried to make a list of what I think makes great YA librarians so successful.
- They have read the Twilight books. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t like the Twilight series at all and I wish it wasn’t as popular as it is because I think the relationships it discusses are really, really unhealthy. But I think YA librarians who haven’t read them are distancing themselves from a lot of the kids checking books out at their library.
- They have a presence in the YA area. I understand that not every library has the space or resources for a YA desk, but I’ve been to libraries where kids don’t even know their library has a YA librarian, let alone who s/he is.
- They offer a pretty large variety of activities. In my experience, one of the best ways to get people my age to care about anything is giving them something to do and/or win. That way, they’re involved with the books and the YA librarian.
- They make informed book recommendations. I’ve seen a lot of lists that start with “If you’ve read the Twilight series, then you might like any book that is also about vampires”. I don’t think this is very successful, because the Twilight books are more about romance than they are about vampires, just like the Harry Potter books are more about love and friendship than they are about wizards. I just really appreciate the recommendations that take thematic elements into consideration more than subject matter, and I think they are ultimately more successful.
- They have colored hair. Okay, so this isn’t an actual suggestion. I’ve just noticed that all of my favorite YA librarians have fun colored hair.
- They have read the Harry Potter series. Aside from the fact that I think everyone should read these books, I included this for the same reason I included Twilight. So many kids have read these that it’s sort of ridiculous, as a librarian, not to have read them.
- They are aware of the online presence of YA authors. A ton of my favorite authors are on Twitter and Facebook and have blogs and YouTube channels, etc. Maureen Johnson actually lives on Twitter, John Green has a hugely successful YouTube channel with his brother Hank (the VlogBrothers), and Libba Bray has a great blog on livejournal, just to name a few of my favorites. I think being aware of this stuff is a good way to connect with the kids reading their books as well as a good way for librarians to connect to the authors directly.
- They have a following. I think they achieve this through a combination of most of the things on this list, but they all have this little inner circles of patrons who love them and come to the library just to see them, which I think is pretty cool.
I hope this was more helpful than it was, “well duh, I already knew all of that”. Can I use emoticons on this blog? I’m going to anyway.