Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Friday, October 1, 2010

Brannon, S. (n.d.). Dozens of Teens/Tweens in the Library at One Time? Why not? Texas Library Journal, 85(3), 92-93. Retrieved October 1, 2010, from Library Literature and Information Science Full Text.

Ohhhhhhh...how I relate to this article. Sian Brannon (2009) confessed that "[s]ome days, I wish I could travel back in time and smack the city employee upside the head [for building a new library so close to schools]"(p. 92). The Alhambra Civic Center Library is directly across from Alhambra High School and a mile or two away from seven elementary school (K-8). Every single day, we are filled to capacity in the Teen Center with teens and 'tweens looking for somewhere to study and/or hang out. Well, when we have a tiny room not all of those crazy teen and 'tweens are going to be able to stay. This issue that we are experiencing, clearly, is not a new one. Brannon states that "the after-school deluge of around 60 or more unchaperoned children presents a number of problems for the library"(p.92). The biggest problem is noise and seating. 'Tweens and teens are loud and that is to be expected. Even when they are using normal voices, where there are 60 of them crammed in a room, noise is going to happen. As youth librarians, we need to be creative as to how we approach this problem without upsetting the older patrons and alienating the 'teens and 'tweens.

This article does offer program suggestions that have worked and failed in entertaining and engaging 'tweens and teens. One program the article does mentioned, that works here as well, are weekly programs. At the Alhambra Civic Center Library we have a variety of weekly programs such as Anime Club and the Teen Advisory Board. Along with these programs, we also provide other opportunities where 'Tweens and Teens can make crafts, watch movies, play video games, and hang out with their friends. However, what I appreciated the most about this article, is that in order for these programs to work, we need to know who we are serving: "[p]ublic services staff made an effort to get to know student's names, figure out who hung out with whom, and overall, build a trusting rapport with the youth"(p. 93).  With any kind of service, we need to know exactly who we are dealing with and how we can effectively meet their needs. Yes, the library is not baby sitting service, but when you have young people looking for somewhere "safe" to be, rather than streets, then we do have some obligation to make sure the library is one alternative.

Along with programming and rapport to regulate the massive traffic build-up's that occur in the library, some sort of monitoring system to keep behavior and noise in check. According to Brannon, "[t]he most successful thing that we have done so far in dealing with the kids is to have  "ALL HANDS ON DECK" during the immediate after school hours. Starting at 3:30 p.m., all staff are expected to go to the public floor and establish themselves in different areas of the library"(p. 93). We definitely have this program implemented and it have been success not only with the kids, 'tweens, and teens, but the adults as well. The Library is a place for everyone so as long as there are plans to ensure that everyone can have an enjoyable time is to make sure everyone obeys the rule regardless how old or who they are.

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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