Teen Read Week is a good time for young adult librarians to reflect and reinforce why they have chosen to serve teens in libraries, school or public. Many of us who have committed our careers to the field can point to a person or persons in our youth that made a significant impression upon us. Maybe a youth group leader, a scout leader, a teacher, a coach, a band or choir director, or maybe it was a librarian, who took the time to connect with us. And it made a difference.
Becoming a young adult librarian allows us to “pass it on” to generation after generation of teens. We only get a few short, fast-paced years with each of our teens, so the time we spend with them is often intense, high-energy, and, for some of us “more experienced” librarians, exhausting. But what a satisfying feeling it is to put forth the energy and effort to reach out and then a teen takes the time to reach back! It might be immediately, like when they remember to say thank you when you hand them a book or ask excitedly after a program (when all you want to do is sit down and take your shoes off), “When can we do this again?” Sometimes we get delayed gratification, like some of my favorite moments as a young adult librarian when “my” former teens, then college students, would stop in my office for a chat, or send me an email and a photo when they met an author, or best yet, when one decided to become a librarian. Now several of my former teens are Facebook friends with me and are adults with full, active lives: one a librarian, one in medical school, a few with families, some just starting their college careers. Some just quietly lurk, just wanting to stay connected in a small way.
This week, while we are busy preparing and conducting programs, developing collections, and supervising teens in the library, and sometimes feel exhausted or exasperated because something didn’t work out as we hoped, remember that person who took the time to reach out to you in your squirrely youth because they could see something beyond the flighty, goofy, clumsy, noisy, sometimes smelly, sometimes pimply, sometimes weirdly dressed, maybe pierced and tattooed, young person who was you on the inside.
I hope you and your teens had a wonderful Teen Read Week 2012!
Teen Read Week Committee Chair
Editor in Chief, VOYA Magazine