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 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Libraries are an obvious destination for language development, due to their wealth of books and language-based programs for all ages
Libraries provide teens with leadership opportunities through activities such as service on Teen Advisory Boards and employment as library pages or tutors for children who struggle with reading or seniors who need assistance using the latest computer technologies. Through these opportunities, teens also enhance their professional competencies; improve their research and communication skills; gain a stronger work ethic; learn the importance of self-motivation; learn about project management and working with others; and come to understand and value the importance of independent time management.
The US Census reports that 68.7% of households have Internet access. This means millions of teens, mostly from low socioeconomic households, must rely on school and public libraries for computers and access to the Internet. From library computers teens do more than just complete homework assignments. They investigate college and career opportunities. They connect with potential employers, apply for jobs, find internships, create and post resumes, connect with mentors and gain hands-on computer skills training.
The public library provides much needed college- and career-focused research tools, programs and events: they enroll in programs that provide SAT, PSAT and ACT testing strategies and career advice; interact one-on-one with recruiters at library-sponsored college and career days; and take advantage of the public library-sponsored job and career readiness workshops, outreach opportunities, and entrepreneurship trainings.