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

About Kelly Czarnecki

Kelly Czarnecki is a Teen Librarian at ImaginOn with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She is a member of the YALSA blog advisory board.

3 Thoughts on “Not worth it?

  1. John Shableski [Visitor] on September 18, 2007 at 8:10 am said:

    I’m glad you were able to ask him to defend his position. However, the fact he was allowed to leave the building un-bruised is amazing. My guess is that he hasnt seen graphic novels or traveled beyond his own home library. People like him need to be challenged every time they speak.

  2. Linda Braun [Member] on September 18, 2007 at 8:25 am said:

    This is a perfect example of an adult not knowing about the non-traditional things that libraries are doing in order to serve teens. He knows what the library was like when he grew up and isn’t aware of what might (and has changed.)

    It also shows that librarians need to do a lot of PR and education in order to inform adults and teens about what a library offers in the 21st century.

    Plus, this also says to me that we need to demonstrate ways to connect with teens outside the library – which could very well bring them into the library.

  3. Wow, and here we are dedicating our professional lives to the well-being of our wonderful teenagers. I have to say I’m glad you voiced your opinion to this guy. It’s a challenge to reach this age group and to me, it’s a welcomed challenge. We do fill a void in their lives and no matter how many negative comments I receive saying I’m wasting my time….the smiles on their faces at programs, gaming tournaments, tab meetings, (i could go on) make it soooo rewarding every single day. I think we should write an article of success stories resulting from teens and library use. There’s so many out there waiting to be told.
    Valerie Jensen

    Chambers County Library System

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