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Who Belongs in the YA Section?

Discussion: Who Belongs in the YA Section?

All right everyone, I have a confession today: I feel out of place going to the YA section of the library when there are teens there.

Who belongs in the YA section?

My library’s YA section!

My library has this awesome section set aside for YA books with a crazy light-up sign. It is tucked away in its own room with three sides covered floor to ceiling with YA books, chairs, and magazines for teens. I’m less interested in the magazines, but it is apparently a popular place for teens to hang out after school, which I think is great. I’m jealous that I didn’t have a place like that to hang out when I was their age (and also such fun books to read, or at least I didn’t know about them!).

However, when I go to the library after I finish with my graduate classes for the day, it’s usually about the same time that a lot of teens are at the library. This means that this fairly small YA section is filled with teens hanging out and talking. Again, this is great, I’m thrilled they are hanging out at the library. But this generally leaves me with a conundrum: the space is just too closed-in and small for me to go in and find a book. I’m very obviously not a teenager anymore. The section is also an area that has been decorated and advertised to be for teenagers, not me. I feel like I would be intruding into their clubhouse if I went in. And I just know that their conversation would awkwardly stop until I hurriedly picked a book and scurried out to escape the awkward!

So the question becomes, what to do? I know that a big goal of libraries has been to create a space where teens feel comfortable and want to hang out, and it’s great that my library has accomplished that. However, it’s gotten to the point that I’ve started just picking books out online and putting them on hold so I don’t have to go grab them in the YA section, or planning out times when the section probably won’t be busy and just not going in if I guess wrong. Maybe this is a bit crazy on my part, but is it really so silly that I feel out of place?? Is there a compromise so that teens can have somewhere to hang out, but the wider audience YA now reaches can also feel comfortable browsing in the library? Or is teenager comfort more important, do you think? I’m probably going to keep reading YA books no matter how much discomfort I have to go through to get to them, maybe the same can’t be said for those teenagers the library has reached.

How is the YA section set up in your library? Does your library even have a YA section yet? How about a YA audiobook section? Do you feel comfortable browsing for YA books when there are teenagers hanging out and talking in the YA section? Am I just being silly, you can be honest? If you’re a teen, I would love to hear what you think about adults browsing YA books!

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings -A

© 2013, Anya. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. I get your worry and insecurity, but I think it would be for everyone. They might glance at you at first, wondering why she’s there, but they will soon ignore you….unless people where you live are different from where I live? Go in confident!

    Sunny @ Blue Sky Bookshelf

  2. Our local library did something similar with their section and I hadn’t thought about it until just now but I too felt awkward the last time I went in there. It is right next to the computers and although there were no young people looking through the books at the time several were around the computers.

    Still, awkward or no it is nice to get free books from the library so I say press on.

    • Completely agreed, I love the free books! I’m still amazed how easy it is to get a library card and then walk out with an amazing about of free books :D

      • That is pretty crazy in this day and age, if you think about it, that for very little effort you are allowed to walk into a place and walk out with a bag, or bags, full of books, dvd’s, cd’s, magazines… Says a lot about the trust between patron and library that is an established part of the bond one has with the other.

        • I like to think that it also says a lot about the type of people that get books from libraries that they haven’t had enough of a problem to have to put more limitations on book borrowing :)

  3. That’s a legitimate concern. I would feel awkward, too, even though I kind of still look like I’m a teenager. LOL. I feel like teenagers judge me more harshly than anyone else in the world. Fortunately, when I’m at the bookstore, it’s usually adults in the YA and section and we all sort of smile at each other like we have a secret understanding. And we ask each other to help find stuff so we don’t have to ask anyone!
    I don’t think your presence will make them uncomfortable so much as the other way around. If they see a book youre picking up, maybe they’ll feel like it’s awesome that you read YA and can probably understand them. i don’t know. The teenage mind is quite complex. Who can say what will set them off or get them to read or stop reading.
    I love the idea, but I also kind of feel like it doesn’t work. I mean, if groups of teens are hanging out in the YA section, what about the sociall awkward bookworms who are intimidated by the group hanging out? Where will they get their books? I wouldn’t have grabbed books from anywhere if a group of kids were hanging out near them when i was younger.
    I don’t think you’re being silly at all. I totally get it!!
    Great post. Certainly a thought provoking one!

    • Yeah, I also have to keep in mind what kind of kids would be hanging out in a library to begin with. I doubt that the typical “mean girls” would likely end up in the library, so if I briefly allow myself to horribly stereotype, they probably would be kids that would be excited to find anyone else who likes to read the same books they do, no matter their age, hehe. Since I’m in my twenties, I might also still fall into the “cool” age group, but who know ;-)

  4. My library has a YA/kids’ section. Well, I have 2 connected libraries. The smaller one has a single room, where kids/teens can be a bit louder. I only just discovered last month they have this whole other section for audiobooks. I went in and there was 1 teen reading. I browsed and picked 2 audios.

    The larger of the 2 libraries has a whole floor donated to kids/teens, and I haven’t explored it yet. Perhaps once I am off the crutches.

    So far, I haven’t felt awkward. How can you with on 1 reading teen?

    • Exactly, only one person reading I could deal with fine, it’s only when it’s a large group talking that I feel like I’m barging in on a meeting of some sort, haha. Also your library sounds awesome! I’m sorry that the crutches are interfering in your ability to explore!

  5. I’m not sure how your library classifies some YA titles, but sometimes older YA books can be found in the regular adult fiction collection. That’s where we have quite a few of the most popular YA series in my library since the Adult Fiction covers 16 and above.

    In the case of feeling awkward, sometimes they’ll think you’re cool to enjoy YA literature. :) There’s nothing wrong with reading what you enjoy, and if it’s Young Adult books, then you’ve got to go where they’re located, right? I love looking through the YA books at bookstores, and those areas can be rather packed with teens either browsing or sitting on the floor and reading. Read what you like and to heck with what others think!

    • True, though my biggest problem is finding anything in the Adult fiction, especially when I don’t know what I’m looking for in particular ya know? When I walk into the YA section, so many covers jump out at me, it’s awesome! In the adult section, most covers don’t just out at me, so it makes it hard to find the few that would appeal :(

      Exactly, I think I’m going to focus on the idea that they might think I’m cool and just assume that, fake confidence leads to real confidence right :D

  6. My library does have a YA section – it’s located near the back and has a comfy place to sit as well as table set up for teens to study… I visit the YA section often (for myself) and I’m a mother of teens! I haven’t had any teens look at my strangely – perhaps they think I’m picking up something for my kid? I don’t worry about it anymore – although, several years ago, I did. I got into reading YA through Twilight and found that there were/are so many wonderful YA books available these days. (unlike when I was a teen) I felt kinda silly shopping in the YA section of the bookstore or library. But I’ve found that there are SO MANY adult women who read YA that it doesn’t bother me anymore.

    I will also say this – I work in a bookstore and the YA section is my domain. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had teens (and their moms) be grateful that I know the books they’re looking for and/or I can recommend something based on titles/authors they’ve read and liked.

    So I don’t think you’re being silly. But my advice (not that you asked for it :) is to read what you like! Maybe a teen will read MORE because of seeing you reading it; that must mean there is something GOOD in there! ;)

    • That honestly helps so much. I really believe in getting more kids reading any way I can (I donate when I can and do outreach as the schedule allows *gulp*), and just thinking that maybe seeing a twenty-something pick up a book they like or were thinking of reading would encourage them definitely motivates me to overcome the awkward fear, thanks!!!

  7. My library has a young adult section. It is downstairs along with children’s section. They also have a room for kids to hang out in on the other side as well. However, I never feel bad browsing because my sister and i are usually the main ones doing so. We know so much about what’s coming out before we even get there, that we usually get all the new releases before anyone knows they’re there. We also place holds on books online. So we just go pick them up at the desk. But we’re not embarrassed or anything. I just think…free books! LOL.

    • Hehe, that helps a lot! I usually go into the library not knowing what I’m looking for, so I spend a lot of time browsing just to destress from the day *drifts around* but exactly, who doesn’t love free books! Totally worth any weird looks ;-)

  8. Oh I totally get how you feel! My library’s YA section is basically just a shelf, but our local bookshop has a separated YA section with bean bags and comfy seats and stuff, and it’s decorated for teens too. I always feel a bit awkward going in there, especially if there’s a big group of teenagers sitting in there, but when I do they never look at me funny or anything. I reckon, just try not to be embarrassed and just go for it. :-)

    I do think it’s really nice that they have their own section though, and they’re being encouraged to read and hang out at the library. My library is so not child or teenager friendly, which is a shame because there’s always a few really shy looking teens there sitting at one of the tables (which are next to the crime section) and trying to read and looking a bit scared. Would be lovely if the library gave them a section where they could sit on comfy seats and stuff. Actually, would be nice if there was just a ‘reading’ section, maybe separate from the books so that people looking for books don’t disturb readers?

    Great post, really interesting stuff to think about! :-)

    • That’s awesome, I love bookstores that have comfy places to sit and try out a book! And libraries too, so that if your friend is still looking, you can just get to cracking open your first book :D It’s good to hear that in similar situations the teens don’t react to you, I’m going to assume that the same thing will happen to me :D I’m been eyeing a couple of books that I really want to go decide between, hehe!

  9. I wish my library had such an awesome and huge (!) YA section. It is definitely not decorated for teens at all, and I sometimes feel awkward going there as the only teen/college-age person– the reverse situation, I guess. I feel better in the YA sections of bookstores, where you usually see teens and adults browsing the shelves. That said, if I was lucky enough to have the library as my hangout place, I definitely don’t think many teens would blink twice at an adult browsing the YA section. They’re teens who read, after all– they probably have open minds. :)

    • Exactly! I was just realizing that, teens who read are probably the most open minded of teenagers, what was I thinking, hehe! And I definitely have to give props to my library for that awesome sign right?? It’s so pretty :D

  10. Hmmm, well I’m from a small village on the outskirts of a city (about 140 000 people) and we definitely don’t have any libraries close by that look like yours. So, I started thinking about my local book store which also has huge YA section. It’s in the far back and it has bean-bag chairs to sit down on in the aisles all around. I do feel a bit weird sometimes when I get there and it’s filled with teens, but if I find something I want to check out more & there’s no room to sit I can just walk a few more steps and sit in the adult section. Your YA section at your library is quite isolated from everything else, so I can see myself really feeling like you do…but I like how Bookworm Brandee said that teens may actually read the books they see you checking out if only cause you’re older then them – I’ve noticed that happen personally a few times. I think most people feel that literature is really for anyone so have at it :)

    • I completely agree, and I am happy to report that I braved the YA section this past week and grabbed a book out ;-) I had to awkwardly walk around a boy in a chair, but he didn’t even look up from the book he was reading, so it wasn’t too bad ;-)

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