OPINION – The need for better young adult services in Macau’s public libraries

Opinion by Angela Chong, former high school teacher

While there is much talking about the choice of the site for the new Macau Central Library, I would like to raise awareness of the need for it and the other public libraries to provide better young adult services.

In my opinion, it is necessary for public libraries to include young adult services in their future plans. One main reason is that, according to some experts, adolescents 12 to 18 are likely to be affected by what is known as youth culture with their styles, behaviors, and interests different from the main culture of older generations within society. To meet their specific needs for their intellectual, emotional, and social development, public libraries can do far more than merely providing access to resources and a reading environment.

One thing that can be done is to have a specific area set aside for young adults, preferably an attractive place that reflects their lifestyle, so that they will not only stay in the library but will also make good use of it. There they can feel well cared for if a wide array of books compatible with their varied needs is available.

To be included are reference resources as well as related advisory services to support their academic research. Besides, a wide spectrum of current materials of interest can be provided for the young adults to encourage lifelong learning and to promote reading for enjoyment and literacy appreciation. 

In addition, as libraries are providing a foundation for lifelong learning, they should be ready to create partnerships with other groups in the community that address the needs of young adults. And, particularly, libraries can work in cooperation with the schools to nurture a reading culture among the students through co-sponsoring reading promotion programs and other reader development plans.

Another important consideration is for a young adult librarian to be assigned the responsibility to cater to the needs of the teen population. The librarian should be outgoing and in touch with current popular culture, thus familiar with adolescent development and age-appropriate resources for young adults.

He can also give them computer and technology assistance and select materials, such as books, audiobooks, games, CDs for the library’s collection. Moreover, the young adult librarian can also help planning activities which can include both educational and recreational events to encourage the use of the library.

All in all, young adult services in Macau’s public libraries need careful attention. Though there are foreseeable problems, with the support of the government and that of other institutions, there is hope for more desirable services not only for young adults but for readers of other age groups as well.