Tackett, Michael, and Rachel Shorey (May 20, 2018). Young People Keep Marching After Parkland, This Time To Register to Vote. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/20/us/politics/young-voters-registration-parkland.html
Michael Tackett and Rachel Shorey do not interview many teenagers for this piece, instead focusing on adult analysts, advocates, and politicians who are reflecting on what youth interest in gun control and other issues mean. Teenagers appear in the form of photographs of hundreds of protesters marching in the streets, and in a quote each from Gonzalez and Hogg, who make arguments about political engagement specific to the Parkland mass murder and its aftermath.
However, I was drawn to the story because it reflects a truth that most news stories in The New York Times and elsewhere don’t much address: the fact that teenagers are deeply interested in the world around them and the changes they are able to make. Teenagers who are at the library have the potential to be more than students or audiences for print entertainment (though they will inevitably be part of these kinds of communities too). Even those high schoolers who are not yet enfranchised often feel deeply invested in political causes that they see affecting their lives, including abortion, pollution, animal rights, oil pipelines, water contamination, climate change and more.
What I think this indicates in terms of library material selection is twofold: librarians should not assume any incapacity for learning on the part of teenage readers and take pains to let teenage patrons know about the access they have to databases, information about civic events, and elections. At the same time, libraries should try to become actively involved in enabling youth to participate in local politics in a range of ways, facilitating workshops on voting and voters’ rights, election information sessions, and discussions of local issues that city councils are addressing, like construction of housing. The library is an ideal public space for youth to gather the information they need to start mobilizing for the future.