You are only comfortable working with teens who are similar to you
By Violeta Gerza
Do you find it difficult to work with teens that aren’t like you (in terms of size, color, ethnicity, language preference, or lifestyle choices)? (Velasquez, 2015, p.97)
I think that it is human nature to be drawn to people who are similar to you and whose experiences you can relate to. However, if a person wants to work with the public, he/she must be comfortable working with all types of people.
This is especially important with teens, who are usually hard to connect with in the first place. If the librarian seems uncomfortable dealing with a teen, it may reinforce the teen’s notion that librarians do not relate to them and in turn, neither do libraries. It does not take much to make a teen feel isolated or uncomfortable around an adult, so any reticence on the part of the librarian can make a teen run away from the library and never look back.
In the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)’s report “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: a Call to Action,” it states that 46 percent of children under the age of 18 in the United States are children of color, and more than one-fifth and immigrants or children of immigrants. It advises that “now is the time for the field of librarianship, the population of which is overwhelmingly Caucasian, to consider what these demographic changes mean to school and public library services and programs for and with teens.” (Braun, Hartman, Hughes-Hassell, Kumasi & Yoke, 2014).
The most important thing for a librarian to remember is that no matter how different a teen may seem, there is some similar trait that they can tap into to use to connect with them. I personally want to make sure that I am prepared to deal with every teen that walks into the library equally. I think it is important for YA librarians to realize that it is their job to go outside their comfort zones in order to make all of their young patrons comfortable in the library.
Braun, L., Hartman, M., Hughes-Hassell, S., and Kumasi, K., with Yoke, B. (2014). Executive summary: The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action. Available at http://www.ala.org/yaforum/sites/ala.org.yaforum/files/content/YALSA_nationalforum_ExecutiveSummary_Final_web.pdf
Velasquez, J. (2015). Real-world teen services. Chicago: ALA editions.