In the age of television, it was feared that books had no longer become the main source of entertainment among young people. This fear has only solidified over the decades, as it is easy to see that not only has television become the primary source of entertainment for young people, but also for every other generation alive today. While the sixty-plus population reads an average of about 15 books a year, that’s still only three more than the average person reads overall. This number is considered low considering that at an average reading speed, it would take about five hours or less to complete the common novel.
Fortunately, over the past few years there has been a growing online community known as “BookTok”. Just one of many aspects of the TikTok video app, “BookTok” focuses on reading, reviewing, and discussing young adult novels with others who are in the same age range as them. While Amazon remains a popular way to receive their books, local libraries are also seeing an increase in memberships for their eBook sections on their websites. The Irvin L. Young Memorial Library in Whitewater followed this trend along with hundreds of other libraries across the country.
“We’ve definitely seen an increase in people signing up for library cards and one thing we’ve seen across the state is a huge increase in e-book lending and so we’re seeing a lot more people accessing things online. Our library in particular offers two different ways to access eBooks and audiobooks. We use Libby which is a statewide tool that is funded by a grant that allows all libraries in the state to access eBooks and audiobooks online. Our library is also part of the Bridges library system and our system has access to HOOPLA. HOOPLA offers e-books, audiobooks, and graphic novels, but it also has a streaming service so you can put the app on your device. I have a Roku so I have it on my Roku and you can stream movies and so on. You’re limited to four checkouts per month, but it’s free and something you can get with a library card,” said Deana Rolfsmeyer, Youth Education Services Librarian.
The librarians at Whiteeater Library work hard to ensure the books on the shelves are up-to-date and fashionable with the times. While the library sees a few young adults every day, Rolfsmeyer would certainly like to see more over time. No matter how many, however, librarians will continue to scour the Internet for the best content for their readers who frequent the environment.
“In my collection, I order roughly up to the YA collection. What we would consider books for middle school, high school, and a bit above. I’m ordering about once a month right now with whatever budget I have and I use a variety of different sources to do this. Everything from blogs like Book Riot, to academic journals like school library journals. I picked up a few things from TikTok and Wattpad. Staci Lunsford, who works in the adult section, orders a little more frequently than that. She’s pretty good at getting a lot of new releases. Things that come out every Tuesday for pre-order. So she gets smaller quantities pretty regularly.” , said Rolfsmeyer.
There are a number of young adult authors to get hooked on. It only takes a little research to find your next favorite author. They can be fantasy writers or story writers. Maybe even sci-fi or horror novels for young adults that appeal to you. Rolfsmeyer shared some of his favorites.
“I’m very into young adult fantasy. I particularly like Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir are probably two of my absolute favorites. A lot of the mid-level and young adult historical fiction is also very good. focus on bits of history that I don’t think you typically see covered Ruta Sepetys is an author whose most famous known title is called ‘Between the Shades of Grey’ which was about World War II and the way Russia basically took a lot of people out of the Baltic states and sent them to Siberia and what happened to those who survived that. This exodus is not something that gets talked about very often. I just came from to finish one by Stacy Lee called ‘Luck of the Titanic’ and she wrote it from a Chinese-American perspective on a fictional story about Chinese passengers on the Titanic and it was really interesting,” Rolfsmeyer said. .
Things have really slowed down since the start of the pandemic. They have just restarted. The same can be said for the Irvin L. Young Memorial Library which has just got back into the swing of things.
“Before the pandemic, our librarian did a lot of middle school outreach and did a lot of young adult programs. Of course, the pandemic hit and everything was thrown away. We have a new librarian from the 28th, so hopefully we will see that again,” Rolfsmeyer said.
Considering that there have been discussions about whether or not libraries will survive this new era of digital media, e-books and budget cuts, this sudden interest and new technology maintenance has caused the Libraries are not just a thing of the past, but something to continue to fund and research some of the oldest and best entertainment the world has to offer: books.