We’re all familiar with the “this is what my mom thinks I do, this is what my friends think I do, this is what society thinks I do,” and so on meme. This week, I was challenged to take on the perspective of my information community (readers of YA) and develop my own. Check it out below and then read on for some additional commentary!
With all of the controversy around adults reading YA literature (see here and here for a few thoughts on it), I figured I’d start with the perspective of that particular part of the YA-readers community. Understanding how adults may feel when approaching librarians for assistance in finding a YA book can help us to better serve them. Even as a teen, I remember being terrified that the librarians or circulation staff would judge me (silently or otherwise) for picking up books that I considered “brain candy” (Twilight, for example — certainly not spectacular literature, but enjoyable all the same) or books that may be considered inappropriate for my age by some (nonfiction on the psychology of sex, for instance). So it wasn’t too difficult to imagine adult readers of YA seeing librarians as a sort of judge. Of course, we’re trained to not be judgmental, but patrons don’t necessarily know this. So this skeptical, judgmental woman is likely an accurate representation of what many adult YA readers perceive or imagine us to be. If only they knew we read YA, too! (Hey, adult YA readers — let’s be friends, okay?)
I drew from my own experience a second time when I chose the second image. YA authors — or, aspiring ones, anyway — may see the librarian as a sort of teacher. My public library regularly held teen writing clubs and the librarian hosting them was expected to do some sort of creative writing exercise and lead the group as a teacher and mentor, whether or not they had any kind of creative writing background. Of course, some YA authors may also expect librarians to not only teach them the ways of writing well, but how to engage the YA audience, who the YA audience is, how to get an agent, and perhaps even what content will best catch the attention of YA readers. Of course, we do teach in some ways, but creative writing instructors we are (for the most case) not.
Let’s face it — everybody likes to eat. You know who likes to eat the most? College kids. After that, high schoolers. And a program is no good if there’s no food. This is something I’ve learned both during my coursework for my MLIS and my work as a resident assistant at Hollins University (a women’s college in Virginia where I also earned my BA). If you wanted your residents to come to a program, you better be sure there’s a pizza or chips or something. Otherwise, there was no incentive for them to come out for your little party, even if it was an event they had specifically requested. And we all love pizza, don’t we? Maybe being a pizza delivery person wouldn’t be so bad — no one is ever unhappy to see you, unless you’re late!
I can’t tell you how many middle school, high school, and college class periods were spent in the library learning for the umpteenth time how to correctly cite my sources in MLA. Hours and hours were wasted because (a) I wasn’t listening — why should I? I could look it all up online later and (b) most of the time the librarians didn’t seem to enjoy it much, either. They were mostly just glad to see someone using the library, I expect. Yet teachers set up these class periods time and time again and the librarians tried so hard to get us excited about putting periods after incomplete sentences in our works cited page. And remember, kids, it’s not a “bibliography” anymore! This sums up the librarian in the fourth image, instructing some students on a computer. By the way, I’d put money on those kids knowing how to use the computer better than the woman in the picture.
In addition to all of us liking pizza, we also all like to think we are crusading for some better good. Whether we employ our hobbies, our discussions, our volunteer work, or our jobs to make the world a nicer place, most of us humans want to leave the Earth better off than when we got here. Particularly in America, we strive for Freedom of Speech and Intellectual Freedom among other freedoms. Those things are hard to have when other people challenge and ban books for their own personal agendas. As an MLIS student and future librarian, I hope I’m doing my part to do just as this little girl in the fifth image: tell the world, “Don’t ban my books!” Or anyone else’s, for that matter.
And of course, the reality of it all — paperwork. Isn’t that the truth with every job? Well, except pizza delivery person. (That job looks better and better!) While the paperwork is split up among the staff and the majority of it is left for directors, there’s always enough to go around. Submitting orders for books, making note of disturbances, filing maintenance requests, it’s never ending. But we do it anyway because even ten hours of paperwork is worth that one happy patron with the book they’d been searching for.
Arnold, Karen. (n.d.) Yellow polka dot background. Digital image.Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1tQQa3v
b$/ram. (2008). Don’t ban my books. Photograph. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1wCz36s
cybrarian77. (2011). Teacher at chalkboard. Photograph. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/13SIdkz
marcusbep. (2009). Dogimos 1. Photograph. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1u7iazL
megnificent! (2010). So much paperwork. Pphotograph Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1tJ9v5j
Mullins, C. (2010). @velveteenmind aka “judgy Megan face”. Photograph. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1u7iHBI
UBC Library Communications. (2008). IKBLC group study43. Photograph. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/1u7iXAQ