(Week 4) Teens and libraries: A love-hate relationship

Where I work, I always knew the situation with teens was bad… but I didn’t know it was that bad.  After interviewing my library’s Young Adult librarian, this week’s readings took on new meaning.  The way I see it,  YALSA’s The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action  represents the ideal, while Mary K. Chelton’s “The “Problem Patron” Public Libraries Created” illustrates the reality (at least at our branch).  

YALSA’s Call to Action (2013) outlines the most important issues facing teens today and “lays out a new path for serving 21st century teens” with clear recommendations libraries can follow.  As a YA librarian, my co-worker has a deep understanding of what teens need and how libraries can help.  She has developed a positive report with the teens and she tries her best to implement the ideas in this report.  However, she faces push back from the staff at every turn.

Our interview was enlightening because while we work in the same branch, we work with different populations, different staff and have different supervisors.  So I was truly unaware of the unfair treatment teens and teen services receive.  And like the title of Chelton’s article states, the problem is not the teens, it is created by the library itself.  She has to pick her battles, though.  In order to confront the most egregious of staff behaviors she must go above her manager and seek help from other administrators.   I agree that administrative support is vital.  Chelton emphasizes, “When the message comes from the top that inequitable service to teenagers is unacceptable, things at the bottom may start to change.”  



Braun, L., Hartman, M., Hughes-Hassell, S., and Kumasi, K., with Yoke, B. (2014). Executive summary: The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action. http://www.ala.org/yaforum/sites/ala.org.yaforum/files/content/YALSA_nationalforum_ExecutiveSummary_Final_web.pdf

Chelton, M. K. (2002). The “problem patron” public libraries created. The Reference Librarian, 36 (75-76), 23-32.


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