Teens Need Libraries

Did you Know?  I  Libraries Provide Key Services to Teens  I  How YALSA Helps  I  Take Action  I Support Libraries & Teen LiteracyVideos  I  Further Information

Did you Know?

  • Approximately 14 million middle and high school students are on their own after school. 
  • 8 in 10 Americans want all children and teens to have some type of organized activity or safe place to go after school. 
  • The hours between 3 and 6 p.m. are the peak hours for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol and cigarettes.
  • There are more public libraries in the U.S. than McDonald’s restaurants or Starbucks.
  • Students make 1.3 billion visits to school libraries in a given year, about the same as nationwide attendance at movie theaters.
  • Research shows that as an age group teens (ages 12 – 18) receive the least financial support. Government, philanthropic and non-profit spending directed at teens lags far behind what is invested in children (birth through 11 years) and young adults (19 and up)

sources: Afterschool Alliance’s “Afterschool Essentials: Research & Polling" (.pdf) & ALA's Quotable Facts

Libraries Provide Key Services to Teens

Libraries have a strong track record of providing a variety of key services that meet the unique needs of teens.  Make sure your teen has a library card.  If needed, print this flier and take it to your nearest library.  Check out this infographic that illustrates how.  This article from the Boston Globe provides some insight, as does the information below:

Workforce Development

Preparing teens for the workforce is a major concern in the U.S.  In the last three decades, the skills required for young adults to succeed in the workforce have changed drastically, but the skills emphasized in schools have not kept up with these changes.  87% of public libraries offer services and programs for teens, including career planning and computer skills.  Additionally, libraries recruit teens to work as interns and staff, helping them build practical job skills.

Digital Literacy

In 2010, 50% of the nation’s 14 - 18 year olds reported visiting a library to use a computer.  Data suggests that while teens are comfortable with new technologies, they are not always as technically savvy as adults believe them to be.  Librarians provide formal and point-of-need training to teens to help them use the Internet safely, effectively and ethically. 

Traditional Literacy

97% of public libraries provide a dedicated section of their library to teen books and other teen materials.  Librarians are trained experts who can match the right book to the right teen, whether he or she is a struggling reader, an English language learner, or developmentally disabled.  Watch this 5 minute video to learn about how YALSA's grants to libraries help keep teens reading all summer long.  Additionally, students in better-staffed school library programs scored as much as 22 percent higher on standardized English tests and as much as 17 percent higher on standardized reading tests compared to students in schools where library programs had less staff and fewer hours. 

Year-Round Learning

Better-funded school library programs help to close the achievement gap for poor and minority students, and for poor and crowded schools.  Additionally, a 2010 study from Dominican University (pdf) demonstrated that students who participated in a public library summer reading program scored higher on reading achievement tests at the beginning of the next school year than those students who did not participate.  During the school year 66% of public libraries make visits to area schools and 37% share collections or online resources with schools.  This type of collaboration helps teens continue learning and building critical skills beyond the typical school day.

(source 2012 Public Library Association PLDS Statistical Report)

To learn more about why literacy is important, check out this video featuring librarians talking about the importance of our teen literacy initiative, Teen Read Week.

How YALSA Helps

YALSA brings together key stakeholders from the areas of libraries, education, research, out of school time, youth development and more to develop and deliver resources to libraries that expand their capacity to support teen learning and enrichment and to foster healthy communities.  To learn more, check out this infographic (.pdf) or read about us and our mission in Associations Now.

Advocate By participating in events like National Library Legislative Day and implementing District Days initiatives for libraries to participate in, YALSA works at a national level to inform and engage policy makers and elected officials about the important role libraries and librarians play in preparing teens to become engaged, productive citizens.

Research Through efforts such as its Research Agenda and Journal for Research on Libraries and Young Adults, YALSA promotes and disseminates relevant research.

Train In order to ensure that librarians and library workers have the skills needed to engage, educate and support teens, YALSA offers a wealth of continuing education activities, including e-learning and a biennial symposium.  Through grant funding YALSA is developing digital badges that will provide a new way for librarians and library workers to gain skills and demonstrate their expertise to employers.

Build Capacity YALSA provides over $195,000 per year to libraries through grants to help libraries do things like offer summer learning programs, hire teen interns and increase their digital media offerings.  YALSA scholarships and stipends support librarians and library workers seeking to further their education or gain leadership skills.  Read our 2014 report (pdf) about Helping Libraries Meet the Needs of Diverse Teens.

Help us help libraries and librarians by making a donation!  Every dollar makes a difference!

Take Action 

  • Participate in advocacy efforts

  • Contact your local library to see how you can help there

  • Join YALSA and participate in the work of the organization

Support Libraries and Teen Literacy

Want to learn 10 easy ways on how you can help support libraries and teen literacy?  Find out here!


Watch this 45 second video below where teens talk why they need libraries, or check out this other video about teens and libraries.

[video:http://youtu.be/do5yVTQg2fI width:400 height:800]

Further Information