A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about an email I had sent to my public library administration in December expressing some frustrations over their poor YA collection development. (They didn’t have Cat Winters’ In the Shadow of Blackbirds which I was dying to read, or any Maureen Johnson novel published past 2006, not to mention they were missing several Printz books…) But then I didn’t hear anything back. Nothing. Radio silence. It wasn’t until after I participated in a phone-in town hall meeting with my state senator, and brought up the issues I had with our library, that I got a response. From my state senator. Still, not the library. Well, long story short, my state senator put me in touch with the new library board president and he invited me to meet with him and two other board members to discuss the library and ideas on improving, not just the YA collection, but teen outreach and customer service.
That meeting happened last night at the new library building in town. I was so excited to attend. You’d think I was going on a wine tour in Napa Valley. But, as a YA librarian, being given a chance to talk about the insufficient YA collection and programming is a tremendous opportunity. And the board did not disappoint. They listened to my ideas with open ears. They deferred to my experience and knowledge. The board president apologized to me for not receiving a reply to my 1.5 page email. He was interested in my ideas on how to get teens into the library and he asked me for a specific list of YA titles the library should order for the collection. At one point, I was referred to as a consultant which practically made my head explode. These trustees seem to be very involved and they value community input.
I left the meeting feeling very hopeful about the future of the library and excited about the changes I believe are coming. Just this morning, I sent another email with a recommended list of YA titles and teen programming ideas and I have faith progress will be made. Perhaps, in baby steps, but still progress. Because in Pennsylvania (unlike New Jersey), library funding does not come from taxes unless a special referendum is passed. But county residents won’t pass a referendum for the library unless the library can show how they are an integral part of the community. And unfortunately, they haven’t been able to do that.
I am incredibly grateful that my state senator facilitated this meeting and I’m grateful that the board of trustees were receptive to my ideas. And hopefully some wicked YA books will be gracing the shelves of our public library very soon.