Access. Access to space. Access to resources. Access to community. Access to supportive mentors and adults. Access to services that aid creation and empowerment.
I think about access a lot in my job. I worry about lack of access via cluttered shelves and websites, and wonder how much weeding and simplifying is too much. I worry about inaccessibility of the space due to the archaic and un-relatable rules that govern the space. I worry about access when adult needs and perspectives are weighted more heavily than that of teens. I worry about access when trying to create circulation rules for an expensive and highly desirable addition to the library (kindle, iPad, etc.). I worry about access whenever I read a new article about the desk-less librarian. Am I really accessible when I spend most of my visible time behind a circulation/reference desk? I worry about access every time other responsibilities put my cataloging duties on the back burner (yes, I catalog. A lot.). I worry about access even more whenever I hear of more and more library staff dismissing cataloging as an unnecessary endeavor. I worry about access whenever I adopt a disciplinary role. Will teens still seek out me and the library’s services after being disciplined? I worry about access when a creative space – whether a high-end makerspace or basic crafting supplies – is only available or “open” during limited time frames. I worry about access whenever we don’t order the 800th dystopian series because we have too many dystopian series and need to de-clutter the shelves…to create more access!
I doubt I am the only one with these worries, and I’m sure many library staff have many more access-related worries than the ones listed above. I know I do. For me, everything comes back to access. I do not despair. The YALSA Future’s Report is really about one thing – access. Increasing quantity and improving quality of access for teens in libraries. This week, I needed inspiration in access. The Instagram posts this week reflect access in all its forms, from dedicated teen space in a public library, to Skype sessions with an author in a school library. From teen friendly library rules to library staff actively participating in the teen community they serve. Sometimes access is as simple as letting teens know that you like to read the same books that they like to read. Regardless, I hope you are inspired to think of makerspaces, collection development, social media efforts, displays, programming, and more in terms of access. Sometimes, it is hard to forget.