Woodward Library Celebrates TeenTober

Woodward Library Celebrates TeenTober

This month, the Carlos Library is celebrating TeenTober with a variety of exciting initiatives, including a book delivery system in the Upper School called UberReads. We talked to librarian Ann Haber about the broader TeenTober inititiatives, UberReads, and more.

Beyond the Gate: Can you tell us a bit about TeenTober and its goals?

Ann Haber: TeenTober is a new initiative by the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Libraries Association, to replace what was called Teen Read Week with a month-long celebration of teens and library services that support their development. 

At the Carlos Library, we decided to promote teen reading with a few different activities:

  • Banned Books Week (Sept. 27- Oct. 3, 2020) We created interactive displays in the Carlos Library and at the Middle School Reading Room to celebrate the freedom to read. The banned books display gave students the chance to see why different books were banned or challenged and to ask themselves whether they felt those reasons were legitimate. The question was: "Is there ever a time a book should be banned?"
  • Reading for Latinx/Hispanic Heritage Month- We created bookmarks for MS and US with suggested titles from our library collection to go with our in library displays of books that feature characters and/or authors of Latinx cultural backgrounds.
  • Pop-Up Library- This is the Carlos Library To Go traveling checkout station that "pops-up" over at the Middle School during their break time with books for students to checkout. The next one will be for Halloween with scary and mystery selections. We will have some pizza slice giveaways. 

BTG: Tell us about UberReads -- what went into the decision to offer this service?

AH: Given the requirements for social distancing and the reduced time on campus for our students, UberReads's main goal is to make it super easy to get a print book from our collection into our students' hands. We have been offering a book delivery service for MS/US faculty and Middle School students the past few years and decided to expand our service to the UpperSchool student body and brand it as UberReads. We recognize that students on campus have less time to get over to the library to browse with the requirements to stay in Advisory for lunch and Study Hall. So to overcome these limitations and help students out, we will deliver books upon request to the US students' advisor or the Middle School front desk. We can also pull books for pick up in the library to save students time and get print books into their hands more easily. It has been well-received.

BTG: How important is it to get kids off of screens and reading from a physical book, in light of all of that screen time so many of them now have?

AH: Here is an interesting article about screen time:  https://news.d.umn.edu/news-and-events/news/screen-time-and-kids 
With remote learning, students are spending more time on their screens. UberReads is a way to give students a break with a physical book as an escape from constant technology. Studies have shown that screen time may have negative effects not just on teens' physical health and emotional well-being, but also on academic performance such as reading comprehension. Setting aside the research, many of our students tell us they prefer physical books over eBooks. Their reasons range from the engaging cover art to the tactile experience of  print-- the weight and feel of holding a physical book. The tactile and visual sense of progress as they move through a book and see the pages they have read stacking up on the left and the number dwindling on the right.  Some even mention that they like the smell of print. Whatever the reason, many students express a preference for reading on paper., especially for pleasure reading.

These anecdotal student preferences reflect the circulation patterns we track at the Carlos Library. Circulation of our physical collection far exceeded eBook usage until the pandemic hit. Once we closed the library, we saw an uptick in eBook circulation that has continued during this semester. 

It is interesting to note that people have said for years that print books are going to be obsolete given the availability of digital books. However, sales stats reported by the Association of American Publishers refute that notion. In December 2019, total sales across all publishing categories for January to December 2019 rose 1.8% as compared to the same period last year, reaching $14.8 billion. Sales for eBooks in 2019 showed  another year of declining sales --down 4.2% compared to 2018 to a total of  $983.3 million.

BTG: Is the UberReads program something you're planning on continuing after October, or just for the month?

AH: UberReads will continue for the foreseeable future. As long as we feel we are helping students access our collection, we will deliver.