The Fair Garden and the Swarm of Beasts Cover

in Conspicuous Consumption

The Fair Garden and the Swarm of Beasts

The Fair Garden and the Swarm of Beasts: The Library and the Young Adult by Margaret A. Edwards (goodreads.com)
The Fair Garden and the Swarm of Beasts has 67 ratings and 17 reviews. Cheryl said: Parts are fascinating. Parts mean nothing to a modern reader (though ...
Finished 05/09/2018.

This is a (perhaps the) foundational work on young adult library services. I disagree with Edwards in a few places, mostly due to her being a product of her time. Writing before the advent of true YA literature as she did, she tends to consider books for teens as a step on the way to more mature reading, rather than an end in itself. And she also suggests that librarians shouldn’t sponsor clubs that aren’t book clubs. (She doesn’t look too highly on book clubs themselves, either.) Whereas I think there is a wide range of activities that a teen librarian can sponsor and still be within the library mission. Still, Edwards has a lot of good to offer even those of us who already have a degree in and experience with YA librarianship. Some choice gems:

    • You’ve got to read books if you’re going to recommend them to teens. And you can do this by squeezing in reading in all those little moments. For myself, I’m trying to read at all the times when, for the past several years (since I got a smart phone, basically) that I would check my phone. Bye, Facebook. Hello, Stuff for the Teenage and the things you recommend.
    • There are some basic tools that it’s easy to forget about in our tech-saturated world, but that doesn’t mean they’re not valuable: having teens recommend books to each other, giving book talks, making book lists.
    • Treat teens with respect.
    • Remember that in a few years, teens will be voters.
    • Meet readers where they are.
    • Be friendly and helpful.
    • Librarians are not police officers.
    • Librarians need to get out of the library and connect with the community.
    • Many librarians are in the business of customer service, not technical service.
    • Treat your patrons as guests at a party.
    • Focus on people rather than systems.

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