Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.


Teen Read Week, Part 2

In honor of Teen Read Week, here's the question that sounds easy. But isn't.

What do you mean by "teen"? What do you mean by "young adult"?

Every profession has its jargon. And to make it that much trickier, every library has its own spin.

According to YALSA (the Young Adult Library Services Association), a part of the American Library Association, "young adults" are aged 12 to 18. Yet even YALSA uses the less cumbersome "teen." Which some people are surprised to know includes twelve-year-olds, because -- well, because they think "teens" are people whose age ends in "teen". But for YALSA, teens start at 12. And ends before you hit 19.

To those of us in library-land, it makes sense: if we are a YA Librarian or a Teen Services Librarian, our customers are in Junior High, Middle School, High School -- basically, 7th to 12th grades. But instead of using grades, we use the ages, 12 to 18.

As I said, every library has its own spin. Its YA section may begin at 6th grade, because the local Middle School includes 6th grade. Or its Teen Section may be for those in High School. And while the collection may be for one age group, programming may be something different entirely.

So what does YA/Teen mean in your library? What ages and grades are you buying materials for? Where do you go to do your outreach? Who is coming to your programs?

And, now that you've grown that loyal teen following, what happens once the teens are over 18? How are you and your library adjusting, if at all, for these older teens -- the ones who are "young adults" because they are in their late teens and early twenties?


  • At 2:27 PM, Blogger WriterChick said…

    As a writer, I've had to deal with this question!

    When I first started writing, I considered "teen" to be a literal definition--13-19. As I've worked with different books and reading groups, I softened to 12-22, and now look at "teen" audiences as 7th-8th grade and up.

    Today's reader seems much more ready for sophisticated stories and characters than I remember being ready for at those ages, so as a writer, I'm now doing my best to keep up.

    At our local library, my books, though for the middle to older end of the teen spectrum (except for Stormwitch, which reaches to 6th and up, from teacher feedback), are shelved in the children's section. All YA books with potentially objectionable content are shelved in the adult section. The librarian seems very on top of things, and I think this happens because a) the library is very small, so not large enough for a true YA section, and b) she's working in rural Tennessee, and doing her best to provide a wide selection despite the cultural restrictions of the area.

    Susan V.


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