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Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Teens Talk: Elyse says we don’t have to be hip or cool

It’s Friday, which means it is time for another installment of Teens Talk, where we ask teens what they love – and loathe – about libraries.  Today we are talking with 16-year-old Elyse.

Do you use your local library?  Why or why not?  How often?

Yes, as often as I can.   I don’t have my own income and I can’t afford to buy books I want to read, so the library is often my only source of literature.   I try to go at least once a week.

What would you like a teen space in a library to look like? What should it include? What should it avoid?

I would love to see a teen space look a lot like the adult space, just with YA books.  I feel like a lot of teen spaces in libraries feel they have to be “hip” and “cool” or whatever and they really don’t — kids coming into a library are already there to read, so why push the issue?  Also, a lot of YA sections aren’t divided up by genre, just listed by author, which is okay in a small library like mine but in bigger libraries it gets a little frustrating.   The one thing that I love about the YA space at my library is that it has one lower shelf where they display new books or current bestsellers.   Oftentimes if I come in without an idea of what I want to get out, I head there and look at all the shiny new things.  That’s how I found DELIRIUM, which I really liked, and ERAGON back when I was into that whole series.  Overall, I think that since teens aren’t always sure about what they like yet, a teen space in a library should offer options  and suggestions, but it should avoid being too peppy or ridiculously cheery because I’m there to read and get books, not be reminded about how reading is good for me.   I know that.  That’s why I’m here.

Do you read for pleasure? Why or why not? What types of books do you like to read? How do you find the books you want to read?

Yes, I most definitely read for pleasure.  I’ve always loved to read and go through about one book a day when I have time to read.   In addition, I like to write, so reading is an essential part of that.   My favorite kinds of books are science fiction and fantasy and contemporary non-romance.   I’ll read things from the adult section if I have to, but in general I find the amount of sex and violence a lot of the books contain distasteful.   My first resource for finding books to read is recommendations from friends — when I walk into a library, if I see a book that one of my peers has been raving about and I know we have similar tastes, I’ll pick it up.  After that, I generally scan covers and see if they look interesting or if they’re by an author I’ve heard of/ read before.   If I’ve generally heard good things about a book, I’ll get it out — reading isn’t arduous for me, so it’s no problem (for me) to pick up a book I might not like just to try it. 

What is your process for selecting a book to read?

I’d like to say it’s some grand, glamorous research process, but to be honest I love to read so if something looks interesting, I’ll pick it up.   Like I said before, it’s no big deal if I end up not really being a fan.  If the average YA book is about 80k words, it’s only going to take me about an hour to read; even if I don’t like it, it’s not an issue.  Basically, if I walk into a library or bookstore with no clue what I want to get, I’ll browse around the displayed books for a little while; if I don’t find anything there, I usually make a beeline for the spec fic section.   If the front cover is awesome or I’ve heard the title before, I’ll pick it up and read the back cover or the inside flap.  If it sounds interesting, it comes out the door with me

Have you ever attended a library program for teens? Why or why not? What types of programs would you be interested in going to a library for?

Yes, but not often.  My library has a teen council, but in general their activities are things like art classes and rock hunts.   Those are definitely interesting, but I have other things to do with my time.   I’d be far more likely to attend a library seminar on writing,  publishing,  or a similar topic then on anything else.   Also, if a published author of any kind of fiction came in, my butt would be in one of those chairs quicker than you can say David Copperfield. 

How do you find things of interest to you?  How can libraries let you know about their services and programs?  What is the best way for you to find about things happening in your local community?

I mostly use the internet to find out about programs or activities that would be interesting to me.   The number one way I would know about library happenings would be if they had a regularly updating facebook or twitter page.   I’m on the computer or an electronic device every day, and I always check social media.    The biggest way for me to find out about community events would be through those avenues.

Do you think libraries are relevant in today’s world? Why or why not? If not, how can they become more relevant to teens like you?

I absolutely think libraries are relevant in today’s world.  I think now that more libraries that are able to offer e-lending programs, more teens will be using their services.   The library remains and probably will always remain my main source of reading material and without a library, I would not be able to read as much as I do.  Meaning I’d probably die.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, generically: What part of the US do you live in? How do you spend your time outside of school? What types of social media do you use to learn about new trends, etc?

Hi!  I’m from the northeastern part of the United States; Pennsylvania specifically.  I’m 16 and a senior, and outside of school, I like to write and read novels, talk to my friends, watch action movies, and sing Broadway showtunes at maximum volume.  My favorite book is THE LORD OF THE RINGS, which is the consummate fantasy epic in my opinion, and I love yelling all of Theoden’s quotes from the Peter Jackson adaptations.  Twitter is my main social media service, though I use facebook and goodreads as well.   
Other Teens: Mark, Lucy B


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