While I have gone to the teen section of the public library many times, as well as to the teen section of most major bookstores that I visit, I have never collected my thoughts on this subject before.
Yesterday, I went to the Sherwood Branch of LPL to pick up some reading materials for this course and to explore the Teen section in detail. My first observation was that it was on the same type of low shelving that the children’s materials were on! While I’m not exactly tall and probably a similar size to the average teenage girl, I still had to bend down to access anything that was on the shelves. To peruse the lower shelf, I had to either sit on the ground, kneel, or squat uncomfortably. Half of the teen collection was only accessible this way! Why could they not have higher shelving for teens? Nothing says “we think you’re still children” like having low shelves!
On the other hand, I was impressed by the variety of literature presented. I am glad that the library is less concerned with making a profit and more about sharing literature, because much of what is marketed to teens is based on what is the latest best-selling book series or blockbuster film. For someone more interested in historical or dystopian novels, like myself, the library is more navigable.
Reading some of the books, I am reminded again why I’m so much older than teenagers. Ten years does not seem like a long time, but I realise that my expectations are different. For example, I want my romantic relationships in books to be enduring; the fickle high-school-relationship novel is not at all enjoyable. Historical novels get around this by older conventions (marriage in late adolescence, for instance) and many dystopian novels get around this by having the characters in a different situation that calls for different values. I actually still preferred these types of relationships as a teen reader, but I only feel this way moreso as an adult.
I have decided that I have a distaste for non-fiction marketed directly at teens. At my old workplace, the library either filed non-fiction with children’s materials or with adult materials. Most of the materials directed at teens (such as health- or music-related items) were placed in the children’s section, while materials whose subjects appealed to both teens and adults (such as history) were filed with adult materials. This also allowed adults to borrow these materials without feeling awkward. One of the branches of GVPL, however, had its non-fiction collection integrated, with only the primary non-fiction kept separate. Children’s materials were still labelled with a ‘Y’ before the Dewey number, but otherwise books about China were all together. I think this way is ultimately good for most subjects and I wish that this could be adopted in more libraries. It would eliminate the problem of what to do about teen non-fiction materials altogether.