Making the Case

Evidence continues to accumulate that supports what the library community has known for a long time: libraries benefit children and teens in a big way. From preschool through high school, both school library media programs and public libraries are crucial to the academic performance and development of the students who use them.

Children and teens who have trained school library media professionals partnering with teachers in the classroom, achieve more academically, than those who don’t.

In neighborhoods across the country, public libraries and the professionals who staff them, work to shore up the learning that takes place both in homes and schools.

Children and teens with exposure to adequately staffed and well-funded school and public libraries learn critical skills that enable them to enter college better prepared to succeed. Public libraries strive to bridge the gap that keeps low-income students at a disadvantage.

At the library, kids learn how to learn—an ability that will serve them well and position them for success all their lives.

The notion of library as a place for lifelong learning is not a new one for those in the library community. Likewise, this new web-based resource is not designed to convert the converted. Instead, it is designed to assist the library community in making the case accurately and articulately to those who need to hear it most: decision-makers, school boards, community influentials, even your next-door neighbor.

While a plethora of research exists that makes the case for the necessity of libraries in youth education and development, it’s often difficult and time-consuming for advocates to access and distill it into layman’s terms. Add it Up: Libraries Make the Difference in Youth Development and Education has done it for you. It takes data and statistics from existing studies and translates them into meaningful language that demonstrates the need for libraries in kids’ lives. No new research was conducted to create this resource.

The resource is divided into three age groups: Infants to age 5 (Preschool); ages 6-12 (Kindergarten-Middle School); ages 13-18 (Teens). Each section contains overarching talking points that make the case for libraries in that particular age segment. By clicking on “more,” one can find statistics that support these talking points. By clicking on “source,” one can view the statistical data and studies that correlate with the statistics. Links to resources, including additional studies and websites, as well as a “snapshot” of the role of each age group, are also included.

The American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Library Advocacy and Office for Research and Statistics have been working on this project for a year, in conjunction with ALA's three youth divisions (The American Association of School Librarians, the Association for Library Service to Children and the Young Adult Library Services Association), and several researchers.

Against a tide of budget constraints, cuts in services, hours, collections, jobs, and sometimes, a perception that the library is unnecessary, or that it can thrive without trained professionals at the helm, we hope that this resource will supply you with the data you need to advocate more effectively in these critical times.