Before the YALSA Great Books Giveaway books even reached our shelves, young adult readers eagerly snatched up something exciting to read at Suffolk Public Library’s Morgan Memorial Library. Situated in downtown Suffolk, VA, Morgan Memorial Library, one of three Suffolk Public Library locations, sees a lot of foot traffic from local teens and young adults. The Young Adult Collection at MML, though heavily used by these individuals, was dated and rather sparse. Receiving the YALSA Great Books Giveaway Grant allowed us to fill the young adult shelves providing an array of new books for these enthusiastic readers.

With three library locations spread out across 429 square miles of land, Suffolk Public Library sees a diverse group of young adult library visitors. When we came across the YALSA Great Books Giveaway Grant we knew that this was a valuable opportunity to support our efforts with our young adult community not just at our downtown library location but at all three of our library locations and even our bookmobile, known as the Library 2 Go. This grant has been such a positive force in helping to build up our young adult collection and in enhancing the services we provide to our young adult readers.

Expanding this collection has impacted not just the young adults who are able to visit our library locations but also our Library 2 Go. Suffolk’s Library 2 Go travels throughout Suffolk connecting with individuals living in the most rural of our communities, those centered in our urban areas, and all throughout Suffolk’s many suburban neighborhoods.The most visually noticeable impact the YALSA Great Books Giveaway Grant has had was that it doubled the young adult collection on our Library 2 Go. With the help of our Library 2 Go, this larger newly updated collection will travel throughout Suffolk potentially reaching all of Suffolk’s young adult residents.

In addition to expanding our young adult collection our main goal when applying for this grant was to provide the young adults in our community a selection of fiction books and graphic novels with diverse characters representing a variety of backgrounds and circumstances. The books and audiobooks we received from the YALSA Great Books Giveaway have helped us accomplish this goal more than we could have envisioned. The young adults in our community can now select from a variety of current and impactful books with characters representing their own cultures, ethnicities, and lifestyles. They can choose books that will open their eyes to new experiences and people or allow them to immerse themselves in the familiar. Observing the young adults select and check out books from these new materials proves that we have accomplished this goal.

Suffolk Public Library believes in engaging our community through a variety of methods and we hope to further expand the potential opportunities provided by this grant through our library programming. By using these materials to support the development of innovative programming that connects the experiences of young adults with learning opportunities, we will be meeting another of our goals while further impacting our young adult community. These materials are already available to use in current young adult library programs such as our Anime Club, Home School Hub, Teen Tuesday Hangout, and Drawsome @ the Library and very soon they will help support Summer Reading as well as other upcoming summer programs all while inspiring the development of even more new and exciting young adult programs.

Being a recipient of the YALSA Great Books Giveaway Grant has been such a wonderful experience. From the very first moment of opening the boxes to watching the delighted expressions on the faces of our young adult readers as they perused the new books we received has been such a joy. Suffolk Public Library is honored to be able to offer this diverse and thought provoking selection of books to our young adult community.

Karen Nelson is the Collection Strategy Supervisor at Suffolk Public Library in Suffolk, VA.

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