Friday, 28 February 2014

Thoughts on libraries and age rating and those sorts of things

Recently, there's been a bit of a debate online (due to some idiotic articles) about age rating Young Adult and Teen fiction and whether that is an idea that is viable, and if it is how the publishing industry should go about it.

I'd done my fair bit of reading the articles, commenting on it a bit on twitter, RT'ing authors when they make points I agree with, you know. However, last week something happened that made me view it all from a new light.

I was refused a book in a library. A public library. I had reserved Legacy by C.J. Daugherty, the second book in the Night School series. Is good, would recommend. I have lots of problems with the library service in this county compared to the one where I used to live, and quite high up on that list of issues is the matter of paying £1 per book to reserve them. But, the library here is tiny and the only way I get to read anything I want is to reserve them and pay the money and feel bitter for absolutely ages about it.

So on Tuesday I went to collect the book and the librarian serving me asked me my name then searched the books behind her. She looked at me. Then she searched it again. She looked at me again and tentatively pulled out a book. "Yep, just that one!" I said cheerily. She looked at the book and put it back on the shelf and said, "I don't think that's it. That book has a T+ sticker on it."

After a bit of insisting that yes I am twenty one and yes I do still want to read it, she handed the book over. Ironically, I think it's the only time I've ever looked too old for something.

It got me thinking. Age ratings are somewhat necessary in libraries - they tell the librarians where to place the book, readers where to find books they might like, parents where to direct their children to etc. However a goal of libraries and librarians is to promote reading, not prevent it.

I'm glad I'm an adult and I'm stubborn and I can decide for myself, but I hope no young readers get dissuaded from reading something due to lack of access. Read everything, that's what I was always told. It hasn't done me any harm. 

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