Library Visit

Teen Annex

On Friday I visited the Teen Annex at the Central Branch of the London Public Library and I was very impressed by what I saw. The Teen Annex is placed on the first floor by the Children’s area and the Little Red Roaster coffee shop. Despite being on the first floor where much of the activity is, the Annex did feel secluded enough to be relatively cool. It was also near the escalators which is great for people watching. Once actually in the Annex, the importance of space becomes very obvious. There are bright colours, a mixture of comfortable lounge areas and tables and chairs. The books are very spaced out so there is a sense of openness and comfortability. There are also computer terminals and more independent seating options. 

There is a good selection of books both new and old, with entire sections devoted to series, non-fiction, graphic novels and language (such as French and Spanish) books. The fiction section is quite large, although most of the books look a little worse for wear. Many books are on display. My only concern for the collection/set-up was that the books that were on display were of such a mixture I found very few that I recognized. Furthermore, the books they did choose to have on display did not actually seem that appealing. If the Teen Librarian had been there I would have asked him/her for some help selecting a book. This brought to my attention the question of reader’s advisory for teens, and whether or not teens feel comfortable with asking for help. Perhaps on my next visit I will ask the librarian about that, as it definitely sparked my interest.

There was also a good selection of teen magazines and multimedia such as CDs and DVDs. I am not surprised that there was such an emphasis put on space, considering some of the dated books, the difficulty in keeping the bestsellers on the shelf, lack of funds, etc. Also, with the OPAC students can easily reserve the books they want without having to browse the shelves. The Teen Annex then becomes a safe and somewhat hip place to hang out, read, study, etc. Overall, it felt very welcoming and trendy, some place I would have definitely hung out as a teenager. It was great to be at the Central Branch where there is such a dedicated space to teens. I am interested in knowing how this differs from smaller branches or rural libraries that do not have the funds, space or community to warrant such a specific space. Obviously all public libraries have young adult patrons so I am very interested in finding out how their needs are met in smaller libraries.

In comparison to my library visit on Friday I decided to check the teen section at Chapters. Obviously there is no comparison as far as collections are concerned. Chapters has a lot more books available, the books are new and glossy, and more are on display on the shelves. However, I was interested in how the other aspects compared.

With regard to space the London Public Library Central Branch came out far ahead. The teen section at Chapters is very crammed and it is in a very high traffic area. However, this might not be the case if compared to smaller libraries where there might be less space. For collections, Chapters had a section for series and graphic novels, but there were no language books and surprisingly no non-fiction (that I could find at least). Besides the shiny new books, the thing that Chapters had that I really appreciated had that the library did not was special sections throughout the store for teens such as “20 books to read before you’re 20”, “teachers choice” and “award winning teen fiction”. These put specific books on display that I felt were well recommended, and it is likely that I would read them before ever going to look through the shelves. This is a good solution for young adults sections if reader’s advisory from a librarian or staff worker is not an appealing option.

Chapters did have a selection of magazines in the teen section as well as a larger selection held with the rest of the magazines. No multimedia were in the teen section, instead these were kept with like items. Likely, simply for space and organization, keeping DVDs and CDs with the young adult books would not be the best idea.

After going to both places I made some conclusions about how I utilize both the library and the big box stores such as Chapters.  I conclude that if I wanted books I would first order them through the Library OPAC. If they were not available and I was in a hurry, I would go to Chapters. If I was not sure what I wanted, I would likely go to Chapters instead of the library, because I prefer to browse covers and I am not comfortable with asking someone to recommend a book. If, however, I wanted a great place to hang out and read, I would go to the library, especially since they have the Little Red Roaster now!

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2 Responses

  1. Hey there – you indicated you’re interested in knowing how LPL Central “differs from smaller branches or rural libraries that do not have the funds, space or community to warrant such a specific space.”

    I visited a branch in a small town in a county library system – there was a huge difference! There was almost no space for young adults and definitely no sense of place. Have a look at my blog (Lakeside Librarian), if you’d like, for more details.

    I know, however, that other smaller or rural libraries do offer more for young adults than the one I visited. For example, the Owen Sound (pop. 22,000) recently renovated their Children’s floor and describes their “teen” area as “there is a special area just for teens on Level 5 of the library. Check it out — your own bean bag chairs and coffee table right beside your own collection of books that have been selected with teen interests and issues in mind. The Young Adult paperback rack is overflowing with horror, mystery, science fiction and romance written for teens. Just look for the YA label on the spine.”

    The YA librarian graduated from the UWO program in 2005 and implemented a Teen Advisory Group to make suggestions and decisions regarding their space/place in the library. This isn’t a county system, but it shows that it is possible for smaller libraries to provide unique spaces/services for teens.

  2. […] Chapters Makeover Posted on March 18, 2010 by greybird24 Do you remember my visit to Chapters months ago when I compared their teen space to that of the library? Probably not. That’s okay you can check it out here. […]

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