Public Libraries and Youth Development
A Guide to Practice and Policy
Samuel P. Whalen, Joan Costello2002
This study provides an overview of the landscape now evolving between public libraries, young adults, and the growing national movement that advocates for them. It explores three critical questions: What history, structures, and incentives account for the low priority frequently accorded young adult services within public libraries? What shifts in structures, incentives, and leadership create new opportunities for innovative involvement with young adults? And where are the opportunities within and surrounding public libraries to support, sustain, and institutionalize innovative young adult services into the future? The analysis aims both to inform people who are considering new directions in library-based young adult services and to engage a broader audience concerned with building a more youth-friendly America. The paper examines challenges facing libraries in an age of television and the Internet and how libraries have changed their programs to meet these challenges. It also discusses challenges posed by the increased number of youth who spend time at libraries. The authors conclude that despite meeting these challenges, libraries still have other challenges to meet in order to be youth-friendly, and they propose questions to explore in further research.