rusq: Vol. 52 Issue 3: p. 253
Sources: Answering Teens’ Tough Questions: A YALSA Guide
Lisa Hunt

NBCT, School Library Media Specialist, Moore Public Schools, Moore, Oklahoma

Young adults aged 12–18 can be a tricky group to understand, and our society too often doesn’t know how to deal with them or what to do with them. This book delivers on its promise of advising librarians about how to answer teens’ tough questions, but provides even more than this. “Working with teens is a roller-coaster ride,” according to author M. K. Eagle (ix). Many would agree with this statement, but what is needed is a systematic approach to surviving that ride and maintaining our own professional goals. It is widely acknowledged that professional training for youth services librarians is sparse, and this book demonstrates and documents the huge need for training and preparation.

The book is structured in such a way that it could be used for professional development and would make an effective tool for a book study. Rather surprisingly, the first chapter asks the reader to reflect and engage in self-evaluation. The author emphasizes the importance of asking ourselves tough questions and discovering our own biases. Once we can put those aside, it will be easier to address the tough questions of our teens.

Other chapters include discussions and descriptions of the teen librarians’ experiences in answering questions about sexuality, homelessness, body modifications (tattoos and piercings), abuse, and much more. These are tough topics. Librarians are trained in information retrieval and use, not counseling. However, librarianship is a service-oriented field, and librarians tend to step up to the plate and do what is needed to serve their patrons. Answering Teens’ Tough Questions is a tool that will help librarians prepare for one of the potentially challenging aspects of their jobs. This book is recommended for group study or individual use and as a professional development resource to help librarians learn to effectively answer the tough questions our teens have every day.

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