Book Review: Real-World Teen Services


Hey Library Lovers,

How’s your 2023 year of reading going? Mine’s going pretty well, but it’s about to slow down a bit with the new grad school semester starting tomorrow. Speaking of which, I finished another read.

This time I read Real-World Teen Services by Jennifer Velasquez.

Alright, you caught me! This is one of my textbooks for the semester. If you’d rather mosey over to my more entertaining posts, you can do so right here. But the point here was to get a jump on my required reading so I had the slightest leg up on the semester (last semester was awful!) and make my own conclusions on the material.

So, how did this educational read go? On with the review!



There are plenty of resources about teen services that focus on YA readers’ advisory and programming ideas. But the basics of day-to-day service to teens in the library setting, a discipline requiring specific skills, is all too often glossed over in professional literature. As a result many LIS grads begin serving teens armed with an incomplete understanding of why their job is both important and unique, and what they need to know from day one. This compromises their effectiveness as both young adult librarians and advocates for teen services.

In this down-to-earth book, former Library Journal Mover & Shaker Velasquez explores real-world challenges and obstacles to teen service that often present themselves, offering solutions and guidance for both new YA librarians and those wanting to freshen up their approach. Presenting fresh ways of thinking about the role of the teen services librarian and how it fits into the organizational structure, Velasquez Combines field-tested approaches with current research to tackle common teen library service issues such as truancy, curfews, programming philosophy and mission, privacy, and organizational resistance, whether subtle or overt Addresses each topic from the perspective of working with teens, family members, fellow colleagues, and community stakeholders Presents realistic strategies to help shift a library’s culture towards one that embraces teens and teen services Shows how to get the most out of a library’s teen space, discussing factors like location, age restrictions, time of day restrictions, and staffing, plus suggestions for using the shelf-space of the YA collection as a starting point

This book goes beyond the “what” and “how” of teen services to get to the “why,” ensuring that both new and experienced practitioners will understand the ways teens want to use public space, discover and create information, and interact with peers and adults.”



***Brief disclosure***

I am an Amazon affiliate and earn a tiny commission for purchases made through the Amazon links in this post at no cost to you. It’s a great way to help me keep things running on my blog if you’re already intrigued enough to make a purchase. 


The Review

I read this as required reading for a graduate school course, and I found this to be quite educational and enjoyable.

This short nonfiction book focuses on how libraries can accommodate teens and their needs in a library environment.

The chapters of this novel focus on topics such as space, programming, service dynamics, rules, privacy, and a fun lightning round at the end on common issues and concerns. As an MLIS student with no experience in a library setting beyond volunteering in circulation, I found the subject matter very important and illuminating.

First and foremost, teen services have to focus on the teens themselves. This book provided some insight to avoid many common pitfalls. One of the central ideas throughout is that teens need to be able to contribute to their own programming, to tell the library system what their interests and needs are (which admittedly is easier said than done). There’s so much more to teen services than just the collection, and I appreciated all the great learning opportunities, scenarios, and food for thought presented.

I also truly enjoyed that this book was easy to read and understand, as many graduate textbooks can feel overly written and poorly edited to be understood by the average adult.

Ultimately, this book is great for MLIS students, existing librarians needing a fresh take on teen services, or anyone interested in how libraries try to meet the needs of teens in today’s changing landscape.


That’s A Wrap!

Well that’s it for this book review. I hope you enjoyed it!

Have you read this book? Are there other similar books you’ve read that you simply have to gush about? Feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to start a conversation!

Have a great day!


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