This weekend YALSA’s YA Literature Symposium takes place in St. Louis. The theme is The Next Big Thing. Last month YALSA’s The Hub blog had a set of great posts on the theme covering everything from e-reading, to science fiction, to why the next big thing isn’t important. This month in the YALSAblog series on Connect, Create, Collaborate we’ll also talk about The Next Big Thing. This week, what’s the next big thing in teen spaces?
There is a lot of conversation these days about libraries and spaces. Hackerspaces. Makerspaces, Learning Commons. And so on. These are all great conversations to have as they get library staff serving teens thinking about what they do to serve the age group successfully. I keep wondering, are we really planning and thinking about the future of library space beyond the activities that go on in that space? Hacking, making, and learning are all really important. It’s great if we can integrate those activities and re-organize space for that now. But, what happens in the not so distant future when:
- Our digital collections grow and shelves for materials are less and less needed?
- We replace desktops and laptops for customers/teens with portable devices?
- There is less of a need for libraries to provide technology as teens, and others, will come into library spaces with their own technology?
Those are just a few things that are on the not so distant horizon. Have you thought about them?
Picture it. You no longer have a traditional library computer lab filled with desktops or laptops or printers. You don’t need it because either a majority of customers come to the library with their own technology or you have setup flexible stations around the library for the same kinds of activities that used to be accomplished in computer labs. When this happens that means there is a lot of space now open in the library. What are you going to do with that space for teens?
Picture it. You have transitioned the library from stacks and stacks of physical non-fiction materials to a primarily digital – app based or e-book download based – collection of materials. The shelves that once housed your non-fiction collection are no longer necessary. There is a lot of space now open where those shelves used to be. What are you going to do with it for teens?
Picture it. The floor space in the library that once housed tables for desktops and/or laptops for teens to use to do a variety of activities is no longer needed. A large portion of the teen population is coming into the library with their own devices. There is a lot of space now open where those pieces of hardware used to be. What are you going to do with it for teens?
Picture it You no longer need formal reference or readers’ advisory desks because all of that type of support and service happens while roaming the teen area with tablets or other devices in hand. There is a lot of space now open where those pieces of furniture used to be. What are you going to do with it for teens?
Of course, some of this can take a few years to come to fruition. But, now is the time to start planning and advocating for the use of the space that will no longer be used as it has been. Perhaps you might:
- Be able to purchase furniture that is flexible and movable so that tables, chairs, etc. can be moved in and out of the space as needed.
- Setup your own version of a genius bar where teens staff the space and help library customers with trouble-shooting their technology.
- Setup a technology bar where teens sit and work with their devices in a comfortable collaborative space.
- Setup maker and hacker materials and spaces for teens to use to create and hack. (See Candice Mack’s recent post on getting started with library makerspaces.)
- Create spaces where teens can easily hang out, mess around, and geek out so they can socialize, learn, and create content.
- Be able to sit with teens to help them in their hanging out, messing around, geeking out. Reference questions, readers’ advisory, informal chatting about topics of interest could take place in flexible and informal spaces where everyone feels comfortable.
This is actually quite exciting. Think of all of the ways you’ll be able to support teens if have space for them to do what they want and need to do in flexible, formal, and informal ways. There are lots of opportunities if you start to consider what’s possible.
Try this, think about a space in your library that you could see changing as a result of the post PC world teens live in. (The post PC world is a world in which PCs are less the norm than mobile devices.) What might change in that space? What would you like to do in that space? How can you make it happen? Perhaps you can be the first in your library to start planning for the next big thing in teen library space. You can have teens help you to think things through. You can also get some guidance in YALSA’s National Teen Space Guidelines.
I’d love to hear your ideas. Post them in the comments and let’s talk about what the next big thing in teen library spaces is going to be.
Empty library image from Flickr user Manchester Library