Stuck in the Middle: Serving Tweens and Young Teens

It wasn’t all that long ago that adolescence was first recognized as a distinct stage of life. But anyone who works with teens can tell you that a twelve-year-old’s adolescence looks a lot different from an eighteen-year-old’s. Over the teen years, the brain undergoes dramatic growth and change. The Office of Head Start and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (part 1 and part 2) point out significant differences in the mental, physical, and emotional development of younger teens versus older ones. One way for libraries to meet this variety of needs, and perhaps to better serve our patrons, is to offer services for tweens and young teens that are separate from those for older teens.

Special services for pre-teens and young teens are a growing trend, and they come under many different names: tween services, middle school services, junior high services, in-betweens. School Library Journal recently created a monthly e-mail newsletter called Be Tween, for “those kids who are not little children anymore—but not quite young adults, either.” Members of a large library system in my state just started a tween services group for staff serving these patrons to network and share ideas. Continue reading

Dewey Shelvem & Howe

I once worked in a library where, despite a gigantic REFERENCE sign prominently located by the front entrance, patrons were constantly coming to circulation to ask where the reference desk was. Actually, patrons asked us about everything–often without looking at the prominently located floor plan or just about any sign in the building. (“We’re librarians,” my boss once said, with more than a little snark–“We like to put everything on little signs and then complain when no one reads them.”)

I’ve been thinking about signage and organization a lot lately, because my students seem to have a really hard time finding anything in my library. And I don’t just mean the Stephen King novels, which until recently were inexplicably shelved in the periodicals room.
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