Are local libraries letting down teenagers?
by Megan Strange
45% of young people don't read for pleasure. Are libraries the problem and what can they do to help?
60% DON’T NEED/USE LIBRARIES!
‘The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library,’ I thoroughly agree with these wise words of Albert Einstein, as a avid reader, reading is my number one escapism route-my key to happiness. However, did you know a shocking 60% said they don’t use libraries and don’t need them? Astonished by this frightening figure today I am going to focus on why and how. Focusing on the largest group drawn away from libraries, teenagers: our own generation , I will discuss WHY we are avoiding libraries and HOW these barriers can be knocked down. As a fellow teenager, I will give you a personal insight into what we teens need from libraries and why we are being let down. If you are part of the 60%, I am assertive you will relate to what problems I arise, and solutions I discuss, and will be eager to spread to libraries my feedback, together we can knock that 60% down as quick as quick as Harry Potter learnt to fly.
Figure 1- a shocking 60% said they don’t use libraries and don’t need them
So why am I enforcing the significance of libraries when instead they can be replaced by an unlimited e-book supply?
Although libraries seem to be diverting us, we need them. You may disagree but we need a break from those compulsive, sometimes brutal, tranquillity thieving SCREENS! With libraries we can escape to a million places at once for free, in the calmest, cosiest, and most comfortable place in town, with an infinite amount of knowledge, research and history. What more do you need?
Well, not much, but the icing on the cake for libraries would be using all their fantastic facilities to their advantage so they have a larger audience, following all my solutions, there will be no time for Netflix!
Flexibility, libraries, flexibility, you’re shocked that only 31% go to library to actually view facilities, but the majority of libraries don’t open or restrict weekend hours. Of course, this varies in location and week hours wise , my local library has definitely improved opening hours with incredibly generous weekend hours however we teenagers have school 9-3,homework, out of school commitments and need to fit in family time and sleeping- in other words we are not able to fit in libraries on our bustling schedule if hours are inflexible! Librarians are all volunteers so if libraries advertise work experience for teenagers we can gain vital skills in a small safe space before going out into ‘the real world’ while being an extra pair of hands to extend libraries’ flexibility.
Figure 3- source Georgina public library à advertise work experience for teenagers we can gain vital skills in a small safe space before going out into ‘the real world’ while being an extra pair of hands to extend libraries’ flexibility
OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL
Additionally, as younger children have less school associated commitments libraries are able to swing open those doors to them organising more events and activities for them, however it seems there is hardly anything for us only diverting us to screens. Just because we don’t fit in with working hours doesn’t mean activities, events and clubs cannot be organised face to face. Libraries, encourage us to do something not screen based and break away from something not academically based and benefit our wellbeing. According to research by the National Literacy trust concerning young people and libraries, teenagers are not going to libraries because their own friends aren’t or they are self-conscious libraries are only for younger children ,organising these events will help bring this barrier on teenagers being self-conscious down ,in these teenage groups libraries can organize we can make friendships with people who have similar qualities and interest to us, and bring teenagers in communities together. They say there no friend as loyal as a book but who says you can’t have both at the same time?
Figure 4: source = cachevalleyfamilymagazine.com- bring teenagers in communities together
Firstly, a government survey records only 10% of those who use libraries use them for academic study. As the planet of paperbacks or the humanity of hardbacks is it true that there are no revision guides in a library? Revision guides are extremely beneficial, as a current Year 11, I cannot recommend enough how much revision guides helped me condense my ideas, picture information quicker and fire so many questions at me I could answer them in my sleep. Even a compromise on price, if libraries supply online past paper e books easy to access from the library , would hugely strengthen us academically. According to recent studies children and young people from socioeconomic disadvantaged backgrounds and young people 14-16 are less likely to use libraries , supply revision resources and give us an equal chance in achieving high receiving the same resources as our peers.
Some people may think ‘the library is like a candy store where everything is free’ but we teenagers have noticed a shortage of teenage books, we get the smallest section in the local library then you are shocked when only 45% of young people read for pleasure, if libraries are not providing us enough variety we will stick to Netflix where the variety is plentiful. Concerning costs libraries can partner up with local schools for donations, book swaps and charity events everyone will have something they would like to read. Libraires, extend the teenage section and prove libraries aren’t rejecting us and we will have a sugar rush by the quantity of books they are reading
American YA author Gail Levine believes ‘the library is infinity under a roof’- libraries prove her right and convince us by support with revision and a supplement of stories.
Figure 2- source= Hendersonville Public Library
‘we get the smallest section in the local library…only 45% of young people read for pleasure’
Figure 5- National Literacy trust reasons why teens don’t go to libraries- relating to teenage image and capacity
Most crucially libraries should reach out to teens, encourage us to enjoy reading encourage teenagers to balance reading and screens, reading books has numerous benefits including academic, wellbeing wise and provides employability skills. From the National Literacy Trust 73% of children and teens who use library’s have higher literacy engagement, therefore if libraries open up and encourage us by partnering up with schools to advertise and reinforce the important of reading, they can support students academically. Wellbeing wise also researched by National Literacy Trust young people who don’t use libraries are twice as likely to have low mental health than high, again provide more social opportunities to teenagers catch our eyes and enhance our welfare.
American journalist Margaret Fuller believes ‘today a reader tomorrow a leader’ I thoroughly agree because from my passion for reading I understand different perspectives of life helping me become more empathetic, I show commitment when travelling throughout series and my creativity builds when I use my passion in practice in writing- all these skills equip me to become a leader, a hard-worker, a role model.
Figure 6- The Power of reading which libraries can create- source ‘the Power of a book YouTube channel’
The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library?...
Within my article I hope I have convinced you on the importance of libraries and what they can provide to the community. I believe libraries really are the gates to the future and by providing some miniature improvements involving teenagers in the community more which may include volunteering, forming friendships in society and also supporting teenagers mentally and academically we can really strive for the best future. As miraculous Matilda who all librarians should know sings ‘if it’s not right you have to put it right!’