What and How We Teach Now: A Survey of Youth Services Faculty

By Welch, Cindy C. | Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, July 2013 | Go to article overview

What and How We Teach Now: A Survey of Youth Services Faculty


Welch, Cindy C., Journal of Education for Library and Information Science


Youth services faculty in LIS programs have seen significant changes in the last ten years in the content they teach and the variety of methods by which they deliver instruction. However, youth services education continues to be understudied and this study takes a first look at several gaps in the LIS education literature: youth services faculty voices speaking directly about what and how they teach; information about the interaction between youth services coursework, professional competencies, and standards; and the impact of technology and popular culture on LIS youth services coursework. Results indicate that technology plays a major role in both course content and delivery.

Keywords: children's services, technology, curricula, survey, competencies, young adults' services

Introduction

Youth services faculty in LIS programs have seen significant changes in the last ten years in the content they teach and the variety of methods by which they deliver instruction. However, youth services education continues to be understudied, as evidenced by the lack of articles on the subject post-2000. This study is a first look at several gaps in the LIS education literature: faculty voices speaking directly about what and how they teach; whether there are connections between youth services coursework and professional standards; and the impact of technology and popular culture on LIS youth services coursework.

Terminology is an ongoing issue for anyone teaching or researching youth. Designations such as "child" and "childhood" have changed over time, as has the accepted term for a person between ages 10 and 20. The age ranges currently used by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), divisions of the American Library Association (ALA), have been used for this study. "Child" or "children," according to ALSC, refers to anyone from birth through age 14. "Teen" or "YA" or "young adult," by the YALSA definition refers to anyone from age 12 through age 18, a population segment that has also been labeled "adolescents/adolescence" and "young people" in library literature. These ages are functionally elastic in practice, with some YA librarians having responsibility for clients through age 21, and some children's units assigning responsibility for 11, 12, and 13-year-olds to their YA departments. The broader term is "youth," which for this paper includes children and YA, the whole spectrum from birth through and including age 18. By these definitions, "youth services" includes both children's services and young adult services.

There is also an ongoing evolution related to the image of the "teen." Brain research (Giedd, 2008) combined with youth development advocacy efforts (Yohalem and Pittman, 2003) and the dominance of the teen consumer (Moses, 2000) have changed programming and collections for teens. Although public libraries and institutions such as the Institute of Museum and Library Services still regularly conflate children and teens in their statistics, teens have become a distinct client group. According to the latest data, the 2007 Public Library Data Service Report (PLDS) on public libraries, teens average 11.28% of the constituents of a public library service area, nearly 50% have at least one full-time equivalent (FTE) librarian for young adult services, and close to 90% offer some type of teen programming (American Library Association, 2007).

Youth services curricula typically include elements similar to adult services: collection development, reference services, programming, outreach/collaboration, advocacy, management, and technology. However because of societal concerns about the vulnerability and innocence of youth these subjects may be treated differently. Youth services librarians must be prepared for materials challenges, since the majority of book bans and challenges target children's and YA literature; be grounded in developmental issues and brain research in order to explain - and sometimes defend - client behaviors; and know specific physical and emotional requirements for programming to create successful educational and recreational programs for a range of users from prewalkers to newly licensed drivers. …

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