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.
There was previously a reference desk near the teen area that was closed down (due to staffing constraints, but also because EPL made the move to roving/roaming reference). I am a relatively young librarian but old school in the sense that I generally find a stationary reference desk to be more ideal than roving reference, especially in the teen area. It has been my experience that unless all the staff members are equally committed to working with and engaging teens, they may as well not rove in the first place. That being said, roving has become the trend of public service at EPL, so I may just have to adapt to that.
What has been the experience at your libraries – do reference desks or roving prove more effective, or a combination of the two? It is my goal to engage with the older and inner city youth so they know that they are still welcome, but must abide by the rules like all of the other library patrons. I’d also like to make the space more welcoming to the younger teens, who currently use the children’s library. I am open to any thoughts or suggestions on this topic!