Words of caution Parents, librarians often at odds over books for teens

The Kalamazoo Gazette has an article on the gritty topics explored in today's young-adult literature that have made those books more popular among teenagers and more controversial for parents. Some librarians say they pick teen books based on reviews and the awards the books have won, without worrying about parental objections -- a stance endorsed by the American Library Association.

Still, librarians try to address parental concerns in other ways.


At my library, no one with a Juvenile card can check out anything in the YA section. Sometimes stuff does get through, but our support staff is so attentive that even a parent with a young child can not check out adult books on that card. It's a bit of a funny situation in those cases, but it does drive the point home to both the staff checking out and the patrons in question that library cards are meant for the person that owns them, and that we will not let an eleven year old check out Danielle Steele novels.

When the kids reach seventh grade, they are eligible (but not required) to have a YA card. The way they get this is that their parents sign a form stating that the child is now allowed to check out any book in the library, not just YA and J titles.

When they hit ninth grade, all bets are off and they get a YA card by default. Honestly, by the time a kid's in ninth grade, they're going to need to check out some adult books for school. Not just recreational reading.

If a parent wants their 11 and under child to be allowed to sign out YA (or older) books can provisions be made for that? I mean, if I want my 10 year old to be able to sign out YA books, I shouldn't have to sign them out on my card--I want my child to be repsonsible for the books. I don't see why your policy should trump MY choice as a parent of what I allow my child to read.

Of course, I'm saying this as someone who was reading V.C. Andrews at 11 and Stephen King at 13. At my HS library (grades 8-12) when I went to take VC Andrews books out, which were behind the counter, I had to swear that my mother knew what I was reading (which she did). I remember that I was allowed to sign out regular nonfiction books at my public library when I still had a kids card.

This has made me curious as to what my public library's policy is on this...


We really need an edit function around here!

Found this statement on my PL's website (in the selection policy section of all places): "The resources of the entire collection are available to borrowers of all ages. Adults are responsible for guiding the choices of minors under their care and rejecting materials they find unsuitable."

They also say that for those under 14, responsibility for materials signed out ultimately lies with the parent/gaurdian who signed the kid's card.

Parental responsibility...what a concept!


If you want your ten year old to be able to check out YA or adult books, and you sign the form, that's fine with us. The J/YA thing before ninth grade is kind of a grey area left up to parents. The ages I gave are just what we recommend. If we have the form signed and on file, then that's just an out for us when the parent comes in and says, "My Tommy is eleven and checked out the Shining and hasn't slept in three weeks!"

We don't require the parent sign it in front of us, so I'm sure half of the thirteen year olds in town have signed it themselves, but we do have the slip signed by someone to back us up. If the kids sign it themselves and mom or dad finds out the hard way, then it's the little scamp who has some answering to do.

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