Making a Case for Teens Services: Transforming Libraries and Publishing: Advocacy Can Come in Many Forms, but Always Focuses on the Teens

By Hopkins, Audrey | Young Adult Library Services, Spring 2017 | Go to article overview

Making a Case for Teens Services: Transforming Libraries and Publishing: Advocacy Can Come in Many Forms, but Always Focuses on the Teens


Hopkins, Audrey, Young Adult Library Services


Contemplating the evolution of youth services is similar to revisiting my own childhood. I've always been a library kid. My mother is a librarian, so I grew up in and around librarians and libraries. I would spend hours navigating the physical library, microfiche, and later databases on my own. As a teenager I became a volunteer at a local library and assisted with their summer reading program. Having practically grown up in libraries, advocating for teen services came naturally, and established the foundation of my passion for youth advocacy. I had a physical space I could go to that made me feel safe, and countless resources; whether it was librarians eager to assist me, or books that exposed me to different thoughts, worlds, or perspectives. Though I didn't realize it at the time, reading for pleasure was a gift. It taught me practical knowledge, as well as empathy, and helped me find my voice for the things that were and are important to me, such as social justice and human rights. My experiences reinforced a love and commitment to information, public service, equal access, and the belief that the public library should be an inclusive community without confines.

As a Teen Services Librarian now I realize how lucky I was to have those experiences, and I appreciate the transformative impact they've had on me. Through my involvement with libraries as a youth and a professional, I was able to experience and participate in the evolution of youth and teen services firsthand.

As a teen I read the Sweet Valley High series, followed by S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders countless times. I only knew of realistic fiction in the young adult genre. Then, the Harry Potter series came along which had a huge impact on me, my peer group, and the young adult demographic. Finally, a magical high fantasy series of considerable girth in which I could also grow with the characters, and I had options! Harry Potter served as a gateway for not only young people, but also the young adult publishing industry. Due to a baby boom in 1992, a renaissance of Young Adult Literature occurred in the early 2000's, and has been on the rise ever since. In return, we also have as many options if not more for young adults in variety and genre selection when compared to Adult. Science Fiction has its Dystopian subgenre, and more recent successors such as Steampunk, Cyberpunk, Social Science Fiction, etc. Not to mention the coalescence of completely different genres, such as Alternative History's that combines Historical Fiction with any other genre. The possibilities of previously unheard of and untapped hybrids were now a reality (http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/15/living/young-adult-fiction-evolution/).

The hallmark of what makes Young Adult Literature is the reflection of firsts and the shared human experience of transformation which, prior to the early 2000's was not as readily accessible. Young Adult Literature has been an unstoppable powerhouse ever since. Not only because it provides a relatable teen voice previously overlooked, but also because of adult interest in the genre. As quoted by the Association of American Publisher's in 2014, "The area of largest growth for the trade category was children & young adult, which had double-digit growth in both revenue (20.9%) and units (13.5%). Children & Young Adult Fiction surpassed the Adult Fiction market with 843 million units and 746 million units sold respectively" (http://newsroom.publishers.org/us-publishing-industrys-annual-survey-reveals-nearly-28-billion-in-revenue-in- 2015). That was also the year that John Green' The Fault in Our Stars was released in paperback. A pivotal milestone for Young Adult Literature, which would also go on to help pave the way for New Adult; Literature that bridged the gap between young adults and early 20 somethings. One could say that 2014 was the year that Young Adult Literature saved the publishing industry.

In sync with literature, Teen Services has also evolved. …

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