Public Libraries in the Lives of Young Readers

Past, Present, and Future

Authored by: Paulette M. Rothbauer , Virginia A. Walter , Kathleen Weibel

Handbook of Research on Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Print publication date:  October  2010
Online publication date:  April  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415965057
eBook ISBN: 9780203843543
Adobe ISBN: 9781136913570


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Youth services in public libraries have always been characterized by good intentions and commitment to patrons’ personal choice: to select, to question, and to know. The public library has changed and grown since its Progressive Era beginnings, and the leadership for much of this change has come from youth services librarians through their work on behalf of young library users, whether this involves summer programming or digital media development. This chapter’s three scholars bring a wealth of public library experience to this endeavor, as they describe the past, present, and future of public library service to young people in the United States and Canada.

For over a century, young people’s literature has been a central focus of public library service to youth. In the past, youth services librarians’ leadership in supporting and facilitating young people’s reading and use of literature has focused on texts in the traditional print-on-paper format. The young people of today and tomorrow will continue to read and connect with texts in traditional formats. However, with the rapid expansion and growth of electronic resources in the virtual online environment, young people are becoming “digital natives” who look to online resources to meet their informational and recreational reading needs. The public library has taken a leadership role in facilitating overall public access to the internet and online resources.

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