Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Monday, October 25, 2010

Faris, C. (2009). Betwixt and Between: Tweens in the Library. Children and Libraries, 7(1), 43-45. Retrieved October 25, 2010, from Library Literature and Information Science Full Text.

The million dollar question of the day is: Where do the 'tweens fit in the library. More importantly, where do they fit in this world? Crystal Faris (2009), in Betwixt and Between: Tweens in the Library, sheds light on the various methods advertisers, publishers, and libraries utilize to entice 'tweens to purchase, read, and patron their establishments.  Moreover, through studies and experiments, we, as librarians, can learn a few marketing tips to bring 'tweens into the library.

According to Faris, "[d]emographic studies of those in the age group from 8 to 14 appear to have a main focus on attracting attention of tweens in order to sell them a product or gain a positive feeling that will influence a future purchase"(2009,p.43). Furthermore, "[t]weens (defined as ages 10 to 13) enjoyed being "in the know," that is, feeling that they were a part  an in-group that understood what was happening in an advertisement"(p.43). Clearly, 'tweens are looking for ways to not only fit in with their peers, but convey their awareness of the current trends by buying specific electronics, clothes, or listen to certain kind of music. In many ways, 'tweens are more concerned with they way others think about them rather than what they think of themselves; hence, the insecurities.  Advertisers are highly aware of this fact so when they target 'tweens, they are focusing on their need to have these items through creative marketing.  For publishers, in comparison to advertisers, they are actually struggling with the term 'tween."

After reading this article, I never, ever would have imagined anyone opposing the term "tween," when the editorial director of Pleasant Company said: "From letters we receive and time we spend with girls, it's our view that girls aren't ever 'between' girlhood and adolescence. They're in one or the other depending on the day (or the hour!) (Faris, 2009, p.44).  When I read this quote, I laughed so hard simply because there is so much truth to that statement. When I think about all of the advertising, especially towards young girls, I can see how the term "tween" maybe inappropriate; one moment you see ads for sexy skinny jeans and then next you see Hannah Montana posters. In many ways, advertising for young girls is practically an oxymoron. With publishing, it's also the same when you see a young girl who still plays with Bratz Dolls holding the "Candy Apple" series in one hand and asking for "Twilight." Is there really a label for young girls between the ages 10-14, or, in some cases, 8-14?

Since there is a lots of mixed opinions about the word "tween," what do libraries do. After reading this article, the best place to start is at the bottom by getting to know the young people through dialogue. Although young people are often pretty shy when it comes to talking with adults, address topics that may gain their interest. For example, ask them about their dream library space. What ind of furniture will there be and what technology be available. Building a rapport with these boys and girls is essential in gaining their honest opinions. Moreover, start observing them when they are in the library: "Asking questions of 'tweens, observing their use of the library, and participating in formal research studies all have importance in the understanding the population and providing excellent library service"(Faris, p.44).

So how do we get 'tweens in the Library? Easy. Ask them what they want and meet those needs. Who would have thought being a 'tween would be so dang complicated and intimidating for adults.

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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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