In my library, I have a teen section upstairs and a juvenile fiction section downstairs. I have about 1400 in my budget for the teen section for the year - this includes fiction and graphic novels - and about 2000 for the juvenile fiction - including series, beginning chapters, graphic novels, etc. These numbers are kind of general as I shift them around a bit, but that's what it usually works out to.
I do think my teen section skews towards books of interest to girls and with female protagonists. There's three reasons for this.
- Circulation and budget. We are very dependent on our circulation numbers to survive. So I buy more heavily titles that I know will check out and check out frequently. This generally means bestsellers which generally means paranormal romance and teen chick lit. Once I've bought the popular stuff and all the items teens specifically request, there's not much left.
- I've seen various studies that girls read more socially than boys and this shows up in my own experience. All the teens who request titles, tell me about what their reading, ask for recommendations - they're almost all girls. So, their voices get more weight. I have to justify my purchases and "10 girls asked me to buy this" is going to trump "I think a boy might really like this" every time.
- My library focuses on early childhood and elementary school programming. I have maybe 3-5 teen programs a year, compared to 7-10 storytimes and after school programs for kids 12 and under every week. I also have no outreach in place for teens above 6th grade. Would I like to have more teen programming? Yes, of course! I would also like to live to see 30 without burning out or having a nervous breakdown. In addition, even the really strong teen programs I've seen at other libraries in our area have widely varied attendance and I have to show regular, strong numbers for my programs by the end of about 3 months or they get cancelled. All of this is to say, I have a good relationship with a group of teen girls that I snagged in 5th grade and with a few older teens I've managed to hook, but I don't have regular interaction with most of our teens - the teen section is on the upper floor where there is no librarian for another thing - and I don't really know what the guys want to read.
So, honestly? Yes, we have waaaay more girl books than boys books because it's the easy way out. It's easier to buy books I know will circulate without me having to booktalk each one to boys I may or may not see. It's easier to justify using my budget to buy books specifically requested by patrons who are waiting to check them out.
I do have more "boy books" in the juvenile section, because I think there's less gender division - girls will eagerly read the "adventure and explosion" books that grab younger boys as well. Also, since our combined services desk is in the children's area, I have more chance of booktalking the kids who come by.
I don't think this is a good thing. We should have more boys reading, more teen programming, more books with a wider appeal.