At PLA in Boston. My first session of the day: The Denver Public Library presented a program on how they reinventing their libraries with a target service model – different library brands to meet the needs of various demographics (users who want a central library, an online library, a contemporary library, a learning & language library, etc).
My final session of the day: In “From Good to Great,” Cate McNeely said “Everything we do send messages to our customers, even desks: intimidating, welcoming, hostile, inviting.”
I put these two ideas together and came up with this question: what kind of message does it send to your community–and your profession–when you don’t design a library specifically for teens, but you do have TWO types of libraries specifically focused on serving children? Children’s libraries are designed for latchkey kids, and Family Libraries for, well, families.
The FAQ in the handout from the AM session said Denver did use teens in their focus groups, and decided that teens were included in the “Contemporary” category – they were likely to choose the Contemporary brand because it was about multiple copies available now, computers, and media. We of all people should know that words matter, and so do the absence of words.
Having a library marketed to ALL other segments of your population – except teens – sends a clear message about teens in this community: that they are not valued enough to be considered or served in a physical space.
I was a little pacificed to see that teens are targeted online at http://teens.denverlibrary.org/. Are there any Denver YA librarians out there who want to shed a little insight?
On a hopeful note, one of the speakers said that in each quadrant of the community, there is at least one of each type of library, and in each quadrant, there seems to be an “orphan branch” that isn’t flourishing. I’d be advocating for those branches to become the teen centers.
~posted by Beth Gallaway