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How About You Take The Advice AND Make More Hot Chocolate?

, , , | Right | December 12, 2018

(I volunteer at my local library from middle school until I leave the area for college, and during that time I am the youngest staff member by about forty years. Given my age and familiarity with the library, the other staff members frequently come to me for opinions on book-related things for younger library patrons. This particular occasion, however, is one I may never be able to forget.)

Head Librarian: “Hey, [My Name], you’re pretty familiar with book trends for teens, right?”

Me: “Yeah, I keep track. I like to pay attention to what the other kids at school are reading, and I check what’s selling well online.”

Head Librarian: “Right. Do you think you could come up with a list of things we could do to get a bigger teen presence in the library? Different things we could have in stock that they would consider worth it?”

Me: “Sure. Not a problem.”

(I spend a significant chunk of my summer vacation on this project, listing out the most popular things I know kids at the local high school like, as well as researching what’s growing in popularity. Then I take it back to the head librarian.)

Me: “There are three main problem areas in our inventory. First, there aren’t any comic books, manga, or graphic novels. They’re very popular, and that popularity is only growing. I highly recommend getting some collections in both junior fiction and young adult fiction, because that alone is going to be a great way to start. Second, we have a DVD collection, but it’s rather sparse and outdated, and it contains almost no television. It would be a smart investment to commit to a wider collection of DVDs, because they’ll bring teens in the door, and from there the rest of the library will be used. Third, new adult fiction. I know it’s an iffy genre, but making a separate section just for books geared a bit older than the standard young adult will make that whole section a lot more user-friendly for the older teens who want to read more mature books without jumping straight to adult fiction.”

(She’s just staring at me, so I press on, handing her a few stapled-together sheets of paper.)

Me: “I put together lists of the most recommended comics, graphic novels, and manga, as well as some recommendations for DVDs and new adult fiction.”

Head Librarian: “Hm… I was just thinking you’d tell me everything was fine. Or that we should make more hot chocolate.”

Me: “I mean, that’s fine, but if you want me to tell you what teens are looking for, that’s it.”

Head Librarian: *pause* “Hm… I’m just not sure I believe that’s what’ll work.”

(She then walked away without a thank-you, and nothing I recommended happened. Years later, I was invited to a meeting at the library where an auditor was checking everything over and then giving a recommendation. I showed up, and what do you know. The very first thing he recommended? Manga and graphic novels.)

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