Friday, October 5, 2012

Teen Spaces...not just an afterthought

The Importance of Teen Spaces in the Library

Today in class we shared our library observations. One theme seemed to ring through most public library observations: Teen Spaces. Many people observed that the spaces set aside for the Teens are often very small, poorly placed, and often ignored in their local public libraries. It can clearly be seen in most cases that the Teen Space was an afterthought for the library. In the libraries' defenses, when they were originally built, creating a space for Teens was not on the radar. It has only been recently that libraries are attempting to accommodated their Teen patrons and because of space limitations, the Teen Space has to be carved out of an existing building plan. As a result, Teen Spaces are clearly recognizable as an afterthought to original planning. This is tragic for Teen patrons who are left with spaces that are small and poorly located in the library, especially compared to the Children and Adult areas. Is it any wonder that reading drops off when kids become Teens. Without a useful space to call their own in the library, teens are left wondering rather aimlessly between the children's section (that they have outgrown) and the adult section (that they are too young for).

Libraries need designated spaces for Teens that are accommodating  comfortable, and useful. Obviously this problem is not easily solvable for most libraries without a complete renovation or rebuilding in most cases. However, libraries should be aware that Teen Spaces are important and they should try their very best to create a user friendly space for Teens within their building spacial limits. And libraries building new buildings or new branches should most definitely allocate funds and create floor plans specifically for Teen Spaces.  


  1. Hi Tiffany,
    Your post was a great summary of everything we went over that day! I think that was what was great about that day was the tying in of grants into our work as librarians. Through advocating for teens ( by writing grants for programming and the like) we can sort of make up for the lack of space at times, and also show the community that teens are an important group that we serve, so when the time comes up for us to make an appeal for reconstruction, we can advocate for that teen space.
    Great Post!

  2. Hi Tiffany,

    I agree with you that it is tragic that teens do not have their own spaces in many public libraries across the nation. Upon considering the fact that many teenagers often feel like outsiders or that they do not belong, this trend can be especially damaging. However, what is a library with veritable space and budget constraints to do in such a situation? As you point out, they should at least work with what they have to make and comfortable and useful space for teens. I also like your idea of allocating funds for dedicated teen spaces when building a new library or branch.

    I live in Schaumburg, IL and our library just recently underwent a renovation to create a massive and amazing teen area. Here is how they describe it: "TEEN PLACE, a state-of-the-art, 6,000 sq. ft. area full of incredible technology that community teens can use for school, skill building, group projects, and creative fun. They will have access to a digital production studio, gaming area and smart board, as well as high-tech collaboration areas, 27-inch MacBooks and the DVD and Game Kiosk. In addition, there is a large screen for showing movies and a multi-purpose Program Room where teens will be putting on a Variety Show during the Grand Opening."

    They really needed it though, as the previous teen area was literally an annex wedged between the Children's and Adult Fiction section (symbolic right?) I think we are very lucky to have the space and funding to create this new "Teen Place," obviously a case like is probably the exception, not the rule. That being said, I can't wait to check it out though!!

    Thanks for the interesting post Tiffany!!