Reading Response #1: Getting YAs Voices Heard

Overall, I didn’t find that many of the findings or opinions found were in Clare Snowball’s Teenagers Talking About Reading and Library were all that surprising. The primary idea that I took away, was that the only way to get teens and youth more actively involved in a public library is to let them know what they have access to at the library.

It makes sense to me that teens would have differing views about what can be defined as reading, it also makes sense to me that at the beginning of the focus groups teens would be less forthright about liking to read, changing their statements when they find that other teens are reading too. If the same kind of questions were asked to a group of adults, I think that the behaviors, answers, and opinions would be fairly similar.

The one finding that I felt uncovered information unique to the teen demographic was the difficulty that some teens have accessing a library because of travel restrictions, and the amount of use teens get out of their school libraries. Identifying actual problems that libraries can work at finding solutions for, in my opinion is the first step towards having teens feel like there is a place for them at the public library.

Through the focus group Snowball did identify some trends in teen readings behaviors like how teens tend to read materials about protagonists their age and they like the format of magazine. The same kinds of discoveries were discussed in the Ross, McKechnie and Rothbauer (RMR) chapter and I found the way they presented this information was much more informative and beneficial as an aid in a library. The popularity of graphic novels, manga and comics for instance was discussed in the Snowball article, but in the RMR chapter the formats are expanded and linked to other potential interests like fan fiction websites or role playing games based on characters and storylines found in literature.

The readers interviewed for RMR work may be a bit older and therefore the opinions may be a little different from those of the teens in Snowball’s article, but I appreciated that full thoughts were expressed. In Snowball’s article I found a great deal of the quotes to be fragmented. I never felt that I really understood what the teens were trying to say. I also did not appreciate Snowball’s decision to alter the language of the teens by omitting the word ‘like’ when the word did not grammatically belong in the sentence. I’m not sure how an opinion can be understood, or how something can be learned about a demographic, when their natural language is being challenged and questioned in an atmosphere where some understanding about teens as a demographic is attempting to be learned.

I appreciated that both materials were attempting to open dialogues and learn more about teens and their interests. I think that continually opening these dialogues and educating adults about the findings is the only way that teens will begin to become more comfortable with adults in general, and in public libraries.

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