As the Community Librarian in Teen Services at Edmonton Public Library, I am expected to spend 50% of my time outside of the library working with community groups who deal with all types of teens. But since coming to EPL in October, I haven’t gone outside much at all and that’s not just because it’s always minus 30! I find that many of the community groups I would reach out to in the community (such as the YMCA, John Howard Society, Native Counselling Services and the City of Edmonton drop in centre) have already identified Stanley Milner Library (the downtown branch of EPL) as a place where many of their inner city teens congregate, thus making it a great location for their programs. In the past few months I have formed some strong connections with the staff at these various agencies, and been involved in their programs that mostly target the large inner city youth population.
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I recently moved from the Teen Services Librarian position at Red Deer Public Library to the teen job at the downtown branch of Edmonton Public Library, and while the two cities are only 1.5 hours from each other, they feel a universe apart to me. The teen area at the downtown branch has been without a librarian for the past few months (and in the 2 years before that, there was much turnover in the position). The space has been heavily used by street/at-risk/ inner city youth roughly aged 15-25, making younger teens and tweens feel intimidated to use the area to find library materials, let alone spend time there hanging out. Read More →

I love the tweens (10-12 year olds) who frequent our library after school. They are enthusiastic and generally well behaved, and I thoroughly enjoy some of the philosophical yet short attention span conversations I have with many of them.

However, they are not yet teens and shouldn’t really be included in teen programs or allowed to hang out on the teen floor. Many of them are not mature enough to be part of the conversations that take place in our No Boys Allowed Club, watch PG 13 movies (that their parents often object to), or discuss novels of the Ellen Hopkins variety. We also have programs for school aged kids (6-12) in the children’s department. Of course, the tweens don’t want to attend those programs because they feel they are far too cool for them. But alternatively if they attend teen programs, the older teens (15-17) feel like their time has been taken over by little kids and it is no longer a teen program.

So how do we solve this problem? I initially decided that they can only come to a teen program if they have a teen card, but that is problematic because of the 10 and 11 year olds whose parents have given consent for a teen card because their child has read EVERYTHING in the children’s section. Or perhaps because they want to sign out video games or graphic novels (which they can’t do with a children’s card).

My new plan is to offer a tween club once a month with teen-ish activities (crafts, Wii, movies etc) and let 10-12 year olds attend. We have the first club scheduled for March 17, and this could potentially be a hit … but it may also fall flat on its face. I have a hunch that nine year olds may try to crash the party this time!

Do many of you face tween troubles at your library as well and if so, do you have any great solutions?

Intellectual freedom is hard sometimes.

As a student of the amazing Ann Curry, I learned a thing or two about dealing with censorship, and in my four years at a public library in a mid sized Canadian city, I have had my fair share of parents complaining about books that are too sexy, too druggy, too violent, too magical, too realistic, too Christian, not Christian enough – the list goes on. And for all of those parents I have brought out my typical line of “I’m sorry that this book offended you, but…”, they have gone their merry way, possibly a little mad and likely to come back and steal the book later just to spite me, but I don’t have a problem with that. Well I do have a problem with it, but it’s out of my sphere of influence, so I can’t do much about it. Also, I will just order the book again. Read More →

Over the last 4 years at Red Deer Public Library, I have found that there is a fine line between social work and teen librarianship. I am quite comfortable with the tweeny boppers plunking themselves down in a chair every day after school (or during if they are skipping) and telling me all about their lives.  This I can handle, as usually they just want someone to nod and smile and offer the occasional bit of advice. Read More →