Ask An Agent: How Do You Create a Teen Area when there’s Limited Space?

askanagent2You’ve got questions,  we’ve got answers! Our volunteer Agents are on the job! Here’s what they have to say this week….

Question:  I am looking for ways to create a Teen Space in a library that does not really have room for one. Our YA books and dvds are wedged between the Juvenile and Adult sections. Any ideas are appreciated.

Jake (Boone County Public Library) says:
If there’s any way to use the shelving as a wall, that could be useful. Without knowing the specifics of your space overall, it’s hard to make much more of a suggestion, but try to look at your space differently. Can I change how these books/dvds are shelved?  Any way I could do without one of these shelves? If you have some teens on an advisory group or as volunteers, ask them what they’d like to try. If it’s not too outlandish, try it.

Jan(Moline Public Library) says:
Where do teens tend to hang out when they come in to your library? If there is a space where they naturally tend to gather, see if you can carve out some of that space for them by putting up displays or hanging posters. Ideally, the teen space is near the teen materials, but any place they can call their own will help them feel comfortable and appreciated.

Jenni (South San Francisco Public Library) says:
Is your shelving flexible at all? Could you create a space by using furniture like chairs or some small tables? If you make the area look significantly different from the Juv and Adult areas, it will stand out.  Our teen area has some distinctive “spinny chairs” that the teens love to sit in.  The shelving doesn’t look that different, really, but the YA book display, the Manga collection, and the chairs make the area look like a teen area.

Kari (Virginia Beach Public Library) says:
Are you able to rearrange any shelving?  We recently expanded our teen area (yay!) by removing a tall shelf and using half wall shelves to open the space up a bit.  If you can’t rearrange shelves, you could add a fun display that draws teens to the space or decorate the shelf ends.  If you have a TAG, have them paint your bookends to add color and a personal touch to the space

Melissa (Cherry Hill Public Library) says:
I’m not sure how much remodeling you’re able to do, but let’s dream big! Something as simple as re-orienting the shelves to create a sort of closed-off space where you could place a table or a few beanbag chairs can make a difference. Perhaps you could change the paint color along the walls near the YA shelves? Add a sign on the wall? OK, maybe you can’t do any of that — you could add shelf-talkers that advertise programs and suggest read-alikes for popular teen series. You might consider moving some books to clear off a full shelf of space for themed displays.  And don’t forget that you. the teen librarian, are crucial to the teen space! If you don’t already, maybe you could start doing roving reference through the teen stacks. Hopefully over time it’ll help crystallize in patrons’ minds that there’s a special section for teens there.

Pamela (Kenosha Public Library/Teen Services Underground) says:

We had a very similar issue at one of our branches when we needed to create a teen space.  Using blueprints of the existing space, we figured out how we wanted to rearrange the shelves to create a three-sided rectangle space with a half wall made of bookshelves on the fourth side.  If you don’t have a lot of space, use color and different furniture styles to visually differentiate this space from the rest of the library.  I also cover the existing wall with YA-themed posters.


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