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Contact: Stephanie Kuenn
Communications Specialist
312-280-2128
skuenn@ala.org
For Immediate Release
July 24, 2007

 


Youth and library use studies show gains in serving young adults

CHICAGO - The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), the fastest-growing division of the American Library Association, applauds two recent surveys that illustrate progress in staffing and use of library services to young adults.

The Public Library Association's (PLA) 2007 Public Library Data Service (PLDS) Statistical Report tracked young adult service trends in public libraries. The report found that nearly 90 percent of the public libraries surveyed offer young adult programs, with more than half (51.9 percent) employing at least one full-time equivalent dedicated to fostering young adult programs and services, up dramatically from 11 percent in 1995.

"We are seeing one of the largest generations in US history begin their teen years, so it is not surprising to see more and more teens visiting libraries," said YALSA President Paula Brehm-Heeger. "Clearly libraries that have embraced teens have seen benefits to their teens and communities and to ensuring that their libraries remain a relevant part of future generations' lives. For libraries considering expanding or enhancing teen services, these statistics can help them to be confident that in doing so, they will find a receptive, responsive audience."

A poll conducted for the American Library Association (ALA) by Harris Interactive, which surveyed 1,262 youths between the ages 8 - 18 on library use, found that a significant amount of respondents used both their public library and their school library media center for personal use. Thirty-one percent visit the public library more than ten times a year and nearly 70 percent use their school library more than once a month. Of those who regularly use their libraries, more than three-quarters (78 percent) indicated they borrowed books and other materials for personal use from public libraries, while 60 percent sought out materials for personal use from the school library.

The Harris poll also found that nearly one-third of youth surveyed would use both public and school libraries more if they offered more interesting materials to borrow (32 percent public, 33 percent school). One-quarter of respondents said they would visit their school library more if its computers didn't block information they needed (one-fifth cited this for public libraries). Other suggestions to draw more youth into libraries included: offering more activities and events (32 percent public, 22 percent schools); staying open for longer hours (31 percent public, 21 percent schools); and creating a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere (22 percent public, 21 percent schools).

"When librarians committed to providing excellent service to teens host programs full of excited, enthusiastic young adults who check out books, manga and other materials, there really is no doubt that libraries can and should provide service specifically targeted to and designed for this age group," said Brehm-Heeger. "And to help them, YALSA offers online courses, institutes and conference sessions focused on helping staff- all staff-feel comfortable and confident in serving teens."

PLA is taking orders for the PLDS Statistical Report at http://www.pla.org/ala/pla/plapubs/pldsstatreport/pldsstatistical.cfm, and a summary of data from the Harris Interactive poll is available for download as a PDF at http://www.ala.org/ala/yalsa/HarrisYouthPoll.pdf.

For 50 years, YALSA has been the world leader in selecting books, videos, and audio books for teens. For more information about YALSA or for lists of recommended reading, viewing and listening, go to www.ala.org/yalsa/booklists, or contact the YALSA office by phone, 800-545-2433, ext. 4390; or e-mail: yalsa@ala.org.


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