Library Spaces for Youths

According to Feinburg and Keller (2010), “children’s and teen spaces need to reflect the library’s philosophy of service and be designed as an integrated entity with a consideration of and an attraction for young patrons.” The designing and building of such spaces requires an examination of the aims and roles of the library and how the library utilises space to satisfy the needs of the community. In particular, the library should focus on the needs of families and youths, from infancy through to young adulthood.

When visiting the Caboolture Public Library, it is quite obvious that a lot of thought and effort has been put into creating engaging and comforting spaces for both children and young adults. Both children and young adults can visit the library and discover entertaining and educational materials, as well as technology designed especially for their age groups. The way that parents act within these spaces will also determine how children will act and feel within the library setting.

The Caboolture Hub


The Caboolture Public Library is situated inside the Caboolture Hub, which is a large building on King Street that encompasses the library and an art gallery on the ground floor, and a number of business and conference rooms on the upper floor. The library itself is large and open, full of natural light and light, bright colours.


The children’s area is separate from the adult and young adult sections of the library and contains all of the related materials, including picture and chapter books, non-fiction books, children’s dvds and cds, toys, puzzles and games, so that children need only visit their area of the library. Everything in this section is awash with bright lime green, as can be seen in the picture above. The space is full of areas for children to sit and play, including soft green couches, tables and chairs, and carpeted areas on the floor. Flat-screened televisions are also mounted to the walls so that children can watch movies or TV programs, or play games through xbox, playstation or other gaming consoles. A number of computers are also provided for children to use for play or for school homework.


The children’s area also provides an area for children to play while they learn. A specially designed ‘tree’ was built in the middle of the carpeted area for children to play in, read, and escape from the noise outside. It has proven to be very popular with its young visitors.


The space designed especially for teenagers is also made enticing. The space is more muted in colour, with oranges, whites, and browns. More computers are provided for youths in this section, as the older children are far more likely to use them, whether or fun or for educational purposes. This space also has more couches for youths to sit and read or just to hang out. Flat-screened televisions are also provided on one wall of the space, with gaming consoles also available for use. All of the young adult materials are also available next to this space, including young adult novels, manga and graphic novels, audio books, magazines and non-fiction and reference books.


All in all, Caboolture Library has provided spaces where children and young adults can be comfortable while they play, read, learn, and engage with their peers. The library has no policy where children and young adults have to be silent, so they are able to socialise and enjoy their time in the library. The spaces are very popular and always seem to be in use. Caboolture Library have definitely adhered to Feinburg and Keller’s ideals of how libraries should approach the design and implementation of children’s and youths spaces.

Engagement with bands and boy wizards

I interviewed Tricia, an 18-year-old university student, to find out how she engages with texts. She responded to my facebook plea for an interview subject with, “I volunteer as tribute!” so I knew I had the right girl. To begin, I reviewed the course definitions of youth, pop culture, and texts. She was surprised that youth are seen as producers of content – she considers herself mainly a consumer. When I asked why, she said doesn’t think she has anything to share with an audience. We touched on several topics from the metalanguage map: vampires and adult themes, blogs, web 2.0, and intertextuality.

As I write this post, I’m listening to a YouTube playlist of Canadian band Mother Mother. Tricia is currently obsessed with them, while two years ago, it was Taylor Swift. She says she’s still forming her own taste in music. She listens to music in her room while studying, and on her iPod when she works out. Music is also a social activity, as she listens with friends in the car, and goes to concerts. She has one friend who is a 1Direction fan, and she finds this very embarrassing.

Internet and Gaming
Unlike a lot of teens, she doesn’t blog, tweet, instagram, tumblr, or create YouTube videos. Her facebook use is lower than average too, and although she does send text messages, she prefers to make a phone call. Tricia does not have a smartphone, so she doesn’t play games or surf the web on her phone either.

There has never been a gaming console at home, so her video game experiences have been limited to playing wii at a friend’s house.

Tricia remembers seeing The Time Traveler’s Wife with a group. They hadn’t heard much about it, but they wanted to hang out, and going to the movies is a popular choice. Because movies take less time than reading a book and are more social, she engages with movies more often. Comparing books to movies, she says books are better in general.

The last fiction book Tricia read was Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife. It was a gift from an aunt who is in a book club. Tricia liked it a lot more than the movie, and became emotionally invested with the characters. As a first-year student, she hasn’t had much time to read anything but textbooks lately. Popular YA fiction she’s read includes Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Twilight (she, like me, prefers to ignore Breaking Dawn). She is frustrated that so many of the popular teen novels in bookstores are about vampires – she would like to read something else!

Tricia is a big fan (she says that’s an understatement) of Harry Potter – both the books and the movies. She thinks her generation has been shaped by J.K. Rowling’s books, to the point that one-third of her graduating class used a Potter series quote as their high school yearbook quote. She and a friend used the same one –

It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – Albus Dumbledore

Rowling, J.K. (1998) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, p. 33

In a culture of consumers and disappearing childhoods, we can do far worse than the far-reaching influence of Rowling’s boy wizard.