Nice library

This Library Has Students Covered With Its “Tough Topics” Guide

We all know books are cool. Nothing controversial about that statement. You can pick up a book that was written by Aristotle thousands of years ago and have his words in your head as if he’s alive right now, talking to you. You can have conversations across time and space about any topic imaginable. That’s why books are cool.


But reading books on “Tough Topics,” as New York’s Fayetteville Free Library calls them, can sometimes be difficult or awkward to come by. If a teen is going through, for example, severe chronic depression and is thinking about committing suicide, then it might be uncomfortable for them to seek out and procure the necessary literature to help them cope. It’d feel pretty rotten going on your mom’s Amazon account to sneakily order a book about preventing suicide. Fayetteville Free Library has a plan to help people find information on topics like suicide.


Tough Topics

Image Via Inverse


A visitor saw the poster and put it up on reddit, where it went semi-viral. It’s been widely well-received. Each topic has a number next to it, pointing visitors to the Dewey Decimal numbers for the corresponding topic. Everything from acne to abusive relationships is covered.


Margaret Kingsport, director of Innovative Family Services at the library, spoke to Inverse, and said:


Teens don’t even have to necessarily check the book out of the library; they can just walk into their space. They don’t have to feel like somebody’s watching them or judging them for having checked them out or wanting to read this topic. They can just find out what they need to know and have the information.


You and I probably both agree that a librarian’s goal should be to guide people to the information they need. However, not everybody’s been so positive about Kingsford’s efforts. Apparently, she’s heard from some concerned parents. “There have been a few parents who are less excited about it, because they see it as a one-stop place where their kid can go find all this ‘terrible content that they’re going to read now, and they’re going to act on it.’” Nope, parents. This is the “video games cause real-life violence” argument from twenty-five years ago.


The thing is, to say a sign like that shouldn’t hang is the same as saying these topics shouldn’t be addressed. Not only should they be addressed, it should be a priority to communicate clearly the intricacies of topics like suicide and abuse, especially to young people. And if it’s anybody’s job to facilitate communication on “tough topics,” it’s a librarian’s. So good on you, Fayetteville Free Library!


Image Via Unsplash