Kindergarten–Middle School 6–12

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Talking Points for
Public Libraries

4. Staff in public libraries assist students in finding and enjoying learning resources geared to their interests and needs, which are also available at times when school resources are not, such as after-school hours, weekends, and during the summer.

Quick Stats Supporting This Talking Point

Programming and outreach for children and young adults is an important part of public library services. In 2006, there were over 102,000 library programs geared towards young adults with a total attendance of 2.1 million students. Under school outreach efforts, 70% of libraries reported that classes visited the library and 73% reported that the library visited classes. Libraries also reported strong partnerships with other organizations to serve youth: 66% with youth organizations, 54% with recreational organizations, 52% with cultural organizations, and 38% with health or mental health organizations. In 2006, 77% of libraries reported they had a children’s or young adult page on their website. (Public Library Association and Public Library Data Service 2007)

Public libraries are in an ideal position to serve students as an after-school activities and services venue. Of K-8 students who participated in weekly non-parental after-school care arrangements, 77% participated in homework, educational, reading, or writing activities. This number was stable across student characteristics—such as age, sex, and race/ethnicity—and family characteristics, such as family type, household income, and poverty status. (Carver and Iruka 2006)

Public libraries increase literacy levels among elementary school children through summer reading programs, which are particularly effective at addressing the achievement gap. Summer reading programs increase young people’s interest in reading by combining silent reading with opportunities for children to read out loud, listen to stories, and take part in creative activities inspired by what they’ve read. These programs have also been very effective at drawing parents into students’ reading lives, a crucial element in developing strong reading habits. (Celano and Neuman 2001)

Libraries are uniquely positioned to respond to the achievement gap, because they draw families from across the socioeconomic spectrum. Libraries are second only to religious-sponsored events as the destinations of choice for family outings regardless of parents’ economic and education levels. (Vaden-Kiernan and McManus 2005; Sonenberg 2005; McClure and Bertot 1998)

For Latinos who visited the library weekly or more, the second most common reason for their visits was to take their children (33.6%). They were more satisfied with children’s books (91.9% and movies (86.9%) in English than with the same materials in Spanish (76.5% and 66.9% respectively). Satisfaction was also high with programs for children (85.5%). (Flores and Pachon 2008)

Eighty percent of Americans think that all children need access to a good, safe, and appealing library. Of the top public priorities for public libraries, having enough current children’s books ranked second (82% of respondents) and providing reading hours and other programs for children ranked fifth (79% of respondents). (Public Agenda 2006)

Public libraries are the top source of curriculum or books for homeschooled students. In 2003, approximately 1.1 million students, or 2.2% of the K–12 student population, were being homeschooled, with 78% of homeschooled students (ages 5–17, with grade equivalent of K–12) and their parents reporting they used the public library as a source of curriculum or books. (Princiotta and Bielick 2006)