Kindergarten–Middle School 6–12

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Talking Points for
Public Libraries

7. Students and their families take advantage of the free learning supports offered by their local public libraries.

Quick Stats Supporting This Talking Point

Four elements seemed to generate excitement about the public library: the ability to check out many titles at one time, the ability to choose what to read, the availability of family programs, and the fact that all of the above came at no cost.(MacGillivray, Ardell and Curwen 2010)

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)

Households with children under 18 are regular and prominent users of the public library. In 2001, 65.6% of households with children under 18 used public libraries. Nationwide, more households with children under 18 used a library in the past month for a school assignment (22%) than to participate in programs for children under 13 (10%) or for teenagers, ages 13 to 18 (3%). Among households with children under 18, a larger percentage of Black and Asian households (25% and 26% respectively) used a public library in the last month for a school assignment than did white or Hispanic households (22% and 20% respectively). Forty-one percent of households with children under 18 used a public library or bookmobile in the past month to borrow materials. This is compared to 28% of households with any members ages 18 to 64, and 19% of households with any members aged 65 or older. (Glander, Dam and Chute 2007)

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)

Nationwide, circulation of children’s materials was 716.4 million, or 35 percent of total circulation, in FY 2005. Attendance at children’s programs was 54.6 million. (Chute and Kroe 2007)

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)

Circulation of young adult materials is strong, despite the fact that libraries only spend an average of 5.2 percent of their materials budget on young adult materials. In the fiscal year 2006, an average of 4.7 items per young adult circulated, with a materials cost of $2.97 per young adult. (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)