Since July 19, we have been running our Month-long (+One Extra Week) Young Adult Appreciation event in which we exclusively review YA novels and talk about the genre. We are lucky enough to have been able to invite some really cool authors, editors and bloggers to guest blog with us. But we felt that the event wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t invite a Teen Librarian to join in the fun. I met Matt a few months ago at the Guillermo del Toro singing in London and when I learnt of his profession and that he ran a blog about Teen literature I knew I was going to ask him to be here for the party.
Without further ado, please welcome Matt, The Teen Librarian:
A day in the glamorous life of a Teen Librarian
It is 8:30 when I walk into my Library, I have my second cup of coffee of the day in my hand and I am ready for action. I cut through the Children’s Library, it looks neat and tidy, I can remember how it looked the day before and it impresses me that it always gets tidied up before the Library shuts. I walk past the TeenZone, it looks as if a bomb has hit it… I carry on walking.
8:35 and I am back in the Teen section making sure it is fit for purpose by the time the Library opens at 9:00. At 8:50 my job there is done, the TeenZone looks presentable. I wander over to the Enquiry Desk as I am timetabled to handle the first shift. For the first hour I check my e-mails, and refer people to the IT booking desk as they mostly want to book computer time. The last 30 minutes of desk duty gets busy, I deal with one lost book, an overdue charge and three requests for books and DVDs. At 10:30 I am relieved and take a tea break.
The Teen Zone
10:45 I log in to my PC and open the Peters website and start looking at books for the Teen collections in the Libraries that have Teen collections that I am responsible for. 10 minutes in to the ordering process and Ernie pokes his head round the door and tells me that there is someone here to see me. I walk out into the Library and see Ben – one of the Teens that attends the Manga Group that I run. He is very excited and tells me that he has bought a large fan that he is going to use as part of his cosplay outfit at the next Manga Group meeting, he then asks if I have any Pocky and we start talking about his Warhammer figurines.
After he runs off I get back to my ordering, I manage to order a half-dozen books when Ernie pokes his head round the door and says that someone wants to have a word with me. I pop out again and Toni is waiting at the desk, Toni is the first Teen I recruited for the Manga Group and acts as the unofficial Youth Leader, she is in the Library to return my Steampunk Goggles that she borrowed for the London Film & Comic Con, she did not really want to give them back so I told her she could hang onto them until the next Group Meeting. She perked up considerably after that and I told her that the Manga that the Group had ordered the previous month had come in and was being processed. I grab a handful of the processed Yaoi titles for her to preview and then get back to ordering.
Savita comes in to the workroom and tells me that there is a problem with some of the manga titles, it transpires that the cataloguers had catalogued several of the titles to issue as a set. Fortunately it is not serious problem and I tell her to set those titles aside for Ernie who is a part-time cataloguer to sort out. I see that the time is 12:00 and it is my turn to man the desk at our Internet Cafe satellite on the other side of the mall. Imaginatively called Internet@31 this is a small shop that holds 20 Computers, the duties here encompass booking computers for people, helping them when something invariably goes wrong and giving them their printouts. While I am there I compose the letter informing Manga Club members of the date of the next meeting and the challenge for the monthly art competition. This month I will be running a DDR dance-off and be showing anime courtesy of MVM Entertainment as well as looking at the new manga titles the library has acquired.
13:00 – 14:00 is my lunch hour and I go to the local Italian deli for a sandwich.
At 14:00 I am back on the Enquiry Desk, the afternoon shift is always a busy one I deal with people with questions, complaints and requests as well as a group of teens that come in to say hello and tell me how bored they are. I suggest that they try reading something and get a horrified look in return. I log back into the Peters site and get some more ordering done in between the customer interactions.
At 15:30 I leave the counter again for the afternoon tea break, after which I go back into the Library to take a look at the TeenZone. I find three adults sitting there eating fried chicken and chips. I ask them to stop eating and move as the area is set aside specifically for Teens, one of them responds aggressively and says that he cannot see any signs saying Teens only, I point out the sign on the Teen notice board and another on the study desk. Once they moved on I start straightening out the bookshelves, after five minutes I find a chicken bone pushed between the books. I enjoy spending time amongst the shelves in the afternoon as that is the best time to chat to Teens.
At 17:30 I am back at my desk stuffing letters into envelopes, I do it myself after I had a bad experience with a staff member folding the letters incorrectly and ending up with no addresses appearing in the little transparent box in the front. Once the letters are sealed I send an e-mail invitation to the digital communication group that attends the Manga Group.
At 18:00 I am back on the Enquiry Desk for the last hour of the day, at 18:05 Ayaan wanders past calls me baldy and tells me that she hates me. In return I say she is ugly and that I hate her back, she then sits down and tells me about her day and how bored she is. For the rest of the evening I finish the stock ordering on Peters, answer a few questions and unlock the public library toilet for some mums with desperate toddlers. At 18:45 the public computers shut down – this causes a mass exodus, the likes of which has not been seen since well Exodus. At 18:50 the duty manager asks me to do a circuit of the Library and let people know that the Library will be shutting at 19:00. James, another colleague mutters about wanting a cattle prod to get some people moving but we always manage to get people moving by 19:00.
So that was a day out of my work-life. The post of Teen Librarian is one I had wanted for many years – even before it existed where I am now. Most of the day to day work is pretty mundane as I have to fit in with the routines and rhythms of the Library, but when I am developing ideas and working with a group of Teens and they see something happening that they helped develop and plan – that is when the sparks fly. Or on a one on one basis when you put the right book into the hands of a young person and convince them to give it a try or listen to their hopes and dreams and aspirations – those are the things that make what I do more than a job, I love my work, working with young people is fantastic and then aside the YA lit is bloody good too!
Great post, thanks very much Matt!
A question for our readers: do you check the Teen section at your library? Do you think your library has a good YA section? Let us know!