So, I find myself sitting in a branch of the London Public Library. This particular branch—as I was told by one of the librarians on my first visit—is located in a relatively affluent area of the city. As a teacher, I’m used to hanging out in the “non-adult” sections: I’ve often used library resources to supplement school materials when studying a particular unit. (I gather this particular fact can make teachers very unpopular with librarians: I guess they find it frustrating when an entire section on knights and castles disappears for weeks at a time!)
I arrived shortly after 7 pm, thinking that maybe I’d see the after dinner/homework crowd…? The teen section is located at the back of the library—you have to walk through to get to the “Teen Annex”. For some reason this name makes me think of some 1960’s style teen variety show with a western theme….
New books are displayed on a display rack at the back of the section, along with a magazine rack. Interesting that magazines (well, the back issues at least), can be borrowed; I always assumed mags didn’t circulate. Also, one computer station—with the monitor facing into the library.
All located against the back wall, by the alarmed emergency exit doors. Hmmm…
There was one group table/workspace in the area—but a 50 year old man had set up camp there, so I’m guessing that may have discouraged some of the younger patrons from hanging out or using the space (particularly as half the time he was chatting on his phone). There was another “café style” grouping of chairs grouped around a low table (this was where I was sitting, along with a grade 5-ish boy doing math homework). The shelves were not as low as the kids section, nor as high as the “adult” section…(All very Goldilocks and the Three Bears: ”…they were just right!”) and there were specific titles displayed on top of the shelves.
There were handouts/flyers that targeted the age group in the area—for homework help, programs and activities. But I noticed that the flyers were often titled in the vein of “…for kids and teens”. I don’t know, but my reaction is that “teens” don’t want to be grouped with “kids” regardless of the fact that something may be tailored especially for them. Although there was one flyer specifically titled “English Assignments and the London Public Library” which appears to be specifically targeting high school kids (or undergraduate university, I suppose), and one titled “Fiction for Older Teens”.
After an hour, there were a total of 3 patrons who visited the section:
2 grade 6-8-ish girls; one perusing the fiction books on the shelves, the other wandering around (later I noticed her herding her younger brother over to her dad) but back and forth to “check in” with her friend. Eventually, both of them ended up with books. A third girl (high-school-ish or undergraduate) spent about 15 minutes perusing the shelves before she went to check the catalogue. She returned, found (?) her books, and then continued to peruse the shelves for another 5 minutes.
The children’s section saw more action than this one, although now that it’s 8 o’clock, things have quieted down (in the library in general, actually)
Time to go…