02 October 2007


Ah. You know, I've met some wonderful library workers in my time. Generous. Effective. Ambitious. Innovative. And I'm talking about librarians, library assistants, circulation attendants, pages, janitors-- everyone. There are people out there who really work hard at making libraries a bit of a second home for the community.

The one I met just an hour ago did not fall into those categories. I'm sure that she is hard-working and brings wonderful input to the library. Just not today.

I was getting my assigned 20+ Caldecott winners from the holdshelf at the circulation desk. A really polite circ attendant was checking my books out to me when a boy in his early teens came up to the desk to use the phone. Another library worker looked at the boy and asked, "Why don't you go read a book or something?"

Her tone was not rude or malicious by any means. I know that in her mind she was trying to be helpful, maybe by ridding the kid of boredom. My first thought, though, was "Way to go, lady. Now he's REALLY going to go to the shelf and pick up Tolstoy."

  • If you want respect, you don't patronize teens by telling them what to do.
  • You won't get anywhere with a sentence or two of "helpful" suggestions. You have to get to know them on an individual basis. Find out what they are interested in.
  • If you have the luxury of a varied collection, you might want to slip them a cool book/graphic novel/magazine while they wait for the computer to be available. Again, it should be something that fascinates them. You don't want to hand a Sweet Valley High book to a manly guy who's into hip-hop, you know?
Granted, the library worker I mention is not a teen librarian or library assistant. She is not expected to specialize in the psychology of the fourteen-year-old male mind, but come on. Can you not ruin the work of so many people who are trying to show the community that libraries are essential?