LIBRARY IDEA FOR SEPTEMBER:

HISTORY OF BOOK CENSORSHIP: This presentation is perfect for Banned Books Week or as an introduction to book burning in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. The slides give a brief history of nine censorship and book banning incidents in world history.

Currently Reading...

THE MAID: Molly’s orderly life as a hotel maid is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. Before she knows what’s happening, Molly’s unusual demeanor has the police targeting her as their lead suspect.

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Library Challenge #1 tasks you with an annual review (or maybe your first review) of your library's Selection and Reconsideration Policies.

LIBRARY CHALLENGE #1 Are library book challenges scary? I think so! But they are much less scary when you have a strong plan. When you know exactly what to do

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This article is 10 essential tips for new school librarians. These are the 10 things you should do FIRST in your new school library.

You’ve landed a brand new school librarian job–congratulations! All summer, you’ve looked forward to standing in the middle of your very own library, taking a deep breath, and reveling in

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This is a collection of fun ideas for middle school library orientation. Even if you don't use the ideas, the videos are a lot of fun to watch!

Ahh, the first day of school! Call me crazy, but I’ve always loved it! I will see my first middle school library orientation classes this Wednesday. We have a book

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The Romance/Chick Lit Section: A YA vs. MG Dilemma

I just finished my first year as a middle/high school librarian. Prior to last year, I was a middle school (6-8) librarian for five years, and before that, I was elementary for five years. I have learned a TON in this last year, not only about high school libraries, but also about living in a new country and being far, far outside my comfort zone of Fort Worth, Texas. It has been fabulous so far, and I have lots of plans for Year #2.

One of the plans I am considering is a split of my Romance/Chick Lit section. I’ve struggled with this section a lot since I created it a few months ago. I had this same section at my middle school library without any major issues or challenges. But in my new middle/high library, I suddenly have some issues.

Let me start by saying I haven’t had any parent objections to my Romance/Chick Lit section at my current library. Not yet, anyway. But I am worried about the more mature YA romance titles I have purchased as well as those purchased before my tenure. Books like Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks series, Elkeles’ Perfect Chemistry series, and McGarry’s Pushing the Limits series are all books I personally love. And they are all fine for many of my high school students. But how can I keep the younger students from unwittingly checking out a book clearly intended for a much older reader?

My current system works okay, but it could definitely use some improvement. Right now, I mark the mature books as KS4+ on the spine. This means Key Stage 4 or Key Stage 5, which in British schools (as mine is) means Grades 9-12. I have a note in Destiny that flags these books as only for KS4+, and if a middle school student brings me the book, I either say they need to pick something else (for 6th and 7th graders) or I advise them of the mature content (for 8th graders, depending on the student). This system was in place before I came to my current library, and I see no reason to change it at this time.

I am thinking that this year though, maybe I should split out the middle grade from the YA romances. There is a huge difference in the tone of these books. The more middle grade titles would be “Chick Lit.” These books would be the ones that focus heavily on friendships, gossip, fashion, etc. They will likely have a romance, but it would be fairly clean. The “Romance” section (or, possibly, the “KS4+ Romance” section) would be for the more mature, high school titles. These would focus mainly on the romance and are more likely to contain sexual content. I would try to keep the “Romance” titles to a minimum (there are only so many with very mature content anyway).

Some difficulties I am facing in making this split:

  • Won’t 6th and 7th grade readers want books from the “Romance” section, too? Do I ban them from this section completely? Maybe put black curtains around the section and post a bouncer in front?
  • By creating a mature Romance section, am I drawing unnecessary attention to the “taboo” factor of the books in the Romance section? Am I essentially creating a “clean” romance section and a “naughty” romance section? The kids will certainly be all over that!
  • Keeping the Romance/Chick Lit section intact draws less attention to the mature books. They would still have the KS4+ sticker on the spine, and I would still block checkout for the younger students. It is consistent with what I do in all the other genre sections.
  • Is it really necessary to have two romance sections? Quite a few of my Paranormal books are KS4+, but I have no plans to split them out.
  • What’s to stop younger students from reading the KS4+ books in the library? What’s to stop them now? Nothing.

I know I am not the only librarian conflicted on this issue. Some argue that school libraries should only have books appropriate for all the readers in the school. I disagree with that for my library–I will not deny my high school readers the books they want. I will not force them to only read books appropriate for sixth graders. The more mature romances are fine for them, and they are quite popular with the girls. It would be unfair of me to eliminate these books altogether. If you are a school librarian serving a wide range of age levels, what do you do? How do you provide the more mature books your high schoolers want without risking the innocent eyes (and potentially, the parental wrath) of the younger students?

Related Post: Should MS librarians “mark” their YA books?

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