SLV ‘retires’ Centre for Youth Literature
State Library Victoria (SLV) has announced that it will be ‘retiring the Centre for Youth Literature sub-brand’ and will bring its teen programming under general SLV programming.
SLV says that while it will drop the Centre for Youth Literature name, all current teen reader programs will ‘continue unchanged’, including Story Camp, the YA Showcase, the Reading Matters conference, the recently redeveloped Inside a Dog website and the Inky Awards. (In 2019 the Inky Awards will be presented in conjunction with the Melbourne Writers Festival for the first time.)
The Centre for Youth Literature newsletter and social media channels also will be wrapping up shortly but SLV said it ‘remains committed to supporting young adult literature and programming for teen readers’.
SLV director of library services and experience Justine Hyde told Books+Publishing, ‘One of the misconceptions is that [the Centre for Youth Literature] a physical centre; it’s really a brand for communicating about a range of services and programs offered by the library.’ Hyde said, ‘There’s no change to staffing,’ as the one dedicated manager for youth programming pulls on a pool of programming staff with a range of experience. ‘That team is quite diverse and many of them have worked across different audiences,’ added Hyde.
SLV CEO Kate Torney said teen programming at the library would be ‘reimagined’ as part of the Vision 2020 redevelopment project and that renewed ‘programming, spaces and services’ are planned as part of the redevelopment. Torney mentioned the opening in late spring 2019 of the new Pauline Gandel Children’s Quarter and the Create Quarter, which will have a ‘youth focus’ according to Hyde. Programs running through the Create Quarter will be aimed at those aged 12 and up, while the Children’s Quarter programs will be aimed at children aged up to 12.
‘If you look at libraries around the world, the global trend is towards offering creative and collaborative opportunities for young people beyond literature programs,’ said Hyde. As a result, SLV is broadening its youth programming to beyond literature and literary programming to include ‘maker spaces’ and ‘creative enterprises’—though literacy and literature will still be a key part of its activities.
The Centre for Youth Literature (originally called the Youth Literature Project) was established in 1991 by youth literature advocate and author Agnes Nieuwenhuizen and moved to premises within SLV in 1999. After the Centre for Youth Literature lost Australia Council funding in 2015, SLV continued to fund it from its own operational budget and according to Hyde there has been no opportunities for external funding. Internationally renowned, the Centre for Youth Literature was one of the first of its kind to focus on the development of youth literature and its readers and writers.
When asked to respond to criticisms about the changes to programming, Hyde said: ‘I really don’t think it is [short sighted], the way that we’re broadening the offer for teens and youth is for the long term.’
This article has been updated to include comment from SLV