I’m at a library conference outside of the US. There was a speaker this morning that in one part of his presentation said, “I don’t even know that it’s worth trying to get teens into the library anymore.” I asked him to explain that comment further during the Q/A. I thought, okay-maybe I misunderstood as in didn’t quite hear correctly or was interpreting it in a way that wasn’t intended. He went on to explain that many libraries are seen as ‘nerdy’ and basically irrelevant to teens and that they get their information elsewhere anyways. We talked a bit after his presentation and he asked, ‘is it the job of the library to pick up where an education system has failed and left off?’ in regards to providing services to teenagers. I told him that I disagreed with this way of thinking and how could we just decide that a whole segment of a population doesn’t have value worth providing relevant services for? Perhaps there was still some kind of misunderstanding from not being in the same country but for the most part, the message was that teenagers just don’t have as much worth as younger kids or adults. While his opinions certainly weren’t representative fortunately, since several people told me of the strong teen programs that had at their library. When someone came up to me and said, ‘You know, I’ve heard Patrick Jones speak before, and I know he would disagree with the comment that teens aren’t worth bringing into the library,’-I knew it was more than just a translation problem and I’m glad I said something.
Every day that we serve teens in our libraries, we’re standing up for their needs. Is it often that we’re challenged to defend what we’re doing? Perhaps, yes. You’re not alone. Feel free to share your stories.
Posted by Kelly Czarnecki