Library services for children are more important today than ever before. Access to the multicultural riches and knowledge of the world and life long literacy and learning skills are priorities in our society.
Quality children's libraries equip children with those skills and enable them to contribute to and participate in the community. Libraries should respond to the ever-changing society to meet the entertainment, cultural, and information needs of children. Every child should be comfortable and familiar with the local library and have the skills needed to find their way around a library.
Children's Library Services
By providing a broad spectrum of activities and materials, a public library offers opportunities for children to experience the excitement of works of the imagination and discovering knowledge and the joy of reading. Parents and children should be taught to make use of libraries and to develop skills in using electronic and printed media.
Public libraries have the responsibility of supporting the learning process of reading and promoting children's books and other media. Libraries need to provide special events like storytelling and activities that are related to the library resources and services.
What Is this Program Area?
Usually, when libraries are mentioned people think of sources for books. Libraries have many programs and services that help children and their care givers. There is a variety in library programs. There are some general trends and common services for children. For preschoolers, programs include:
- Programs for infants
- Parent-child story hours
- Toddler programs
- Group activities
- Library reading programs
- Training for child care workers
- Books and other materials
- Audiovisual materials
For school-aged children, there are:
- Information for schoolwork
- Read-aloud programs
- Young adult programs
- Books and other materials
- Reference books
Children's services are the cornerstone of modern public libraries. Strong youth services programs get new users to come in by providing an after shcool place for children and promoting literacy education. Thee are ten things children's librarians need to know.
- Current early literacy trends in education and practices
- Importance of a reference interview
- Understanding the needs of readers at all levels
- Awareness of pop culture
- Networking and management skills
- How to talk to children
- Technological know-how
- Be creative problem-solvers
- Time management
- How to promote the services of a library
Online Programs for the Area
The days of cold, impenetrable libraries and strict, shushing librarians are long gone. Librarians operate in an ever-changing digital world with amounts of information that are sometimes overwhelming. A Master in Library Science degree taken online prepares information specialists, like those in Children’s Services, to tackle heaps of information. There are online graduate programs that are focused on children’s and youth services that teach future librarians about emerging technologies, young adult literature, and more.
A Master of Library and Information Science broadens students’ understanding of information in its many forms. Many online courses are asynchronous, which allows students to maximize flexibility to integrate personal and academic responsibilities. There are thematic areas that provide students with a variety of ways to meet educational and career goals.
Students can select Children and Youth Services as a concentration of the degree. The programs introduce students to real-world issues and provide opportunities to collaborate with fellow students. A Bachelor’s degree and a minimum GPA are typically required. The programs equip students to fulfill roles as leaders in information-focused organizations such as those specialized areas of Services for Children and Youth. Participation in a field study experience or completing a thesis may be required. Some schools offer dual degrees such as an MLIS and a Master of Arts in History.
Sample Universities with this Online Program
University of Central Missouri – The Master of Science in Library and Information Science degree entails 33 credit hours that start with Foundations in Librarianship and finish with a School Libraries research and practicum course. Children’s, Adolescent, and Young Adult Literature is a required course.
Emporia State University – A Master of Library Science is offered in a cohort model. Student groups enter and move through the program together. Youth Services is one of the four concentration options. A series of residential classes are expected to be completed that take place on two intensive weekends.
the University of Maryland, College Park – The Master of Library and Information Science has a Services for Children and Youth as a specialization within the degree. Of the 36 credit hours required to complete the degree, at least 24 credits must be in instructional, information, or library science courses. This university offers the choice of a graduate thesis or field study experience. It is also a university that offers dual credit with a Masters of Arts in History.
Typical Coursework for this Degree
Special Topics in Children’s Literature and Library Science – The course offers a thematic exploration of young adult and children’s literature as viewed through the disciplinary lenses of library science and literary criticism. Topics include the similarities and differences between literary criticism and professional reviewing, the reading audience and literary reception, and the intersection between practice and theory.
Information Sources and Services – Topics of focus are related to information sources, services, and information-seeking processes manifested in various information centers. Introduces information services and concepts that include the assessment of services, service in institutional settings for a diverse population, user service philosophy, management, evaluating the collection, ethics, customer service, and the reference interview (question – negotiation). Students learn about creating, packaging, accessing and presenting information in different types of formats and sources.
Storytelling – The course examines contemporary practices and cultural origins of oral storytelling. It explains the social and psychological value of stories and ethical and practical issues in the selection, adaptation, and presentation of materials. Students develop personal repertoires of stories as they observe and develop storytelling skills. Class discussions and exercises, readings, and course assignments acquaint them with a variety of storytelling skills, story types, and developing story programs.
Principles of Management – Designed to acquaint students with management functions. They learn to plan, organize, staff, direct, and control the library. The course is meant to help understand human interactions and develop practical problem-solving skills necessary to handle managerial problems like a professional. Students examine management approaches from laissez-faire, to participate, to authoritarian. The class consists of case studies, readings, simulations, critical issues, and discussions.
Public Libraries – The course surveys the history, development, organization, staffing, and future of public libraries. It addresses the techniques and principles associated with planning and delivering library services to communities and individuals. Students examine the service and governance of town and municipal libraries. They consider the societal, fiscal, and political trends affecting them. Special attention is given to analyzing the needs of specific groups and analyzing the needs of specific groups and the relationship of the assessments to implementing particular services and programs.
ALA Mary V. Gaver Scholarship – The scholarship honors the many contributions Mary V. Gaver made in library youth services. She is a past professor at Rutgers University and past ALA president. Applicants must be the United States or Canada citizens or permanent residents. They must be enrolled in an ALA-accredited Master’s program and specialize in the library youth services field.
ALSC Frederic G. Melcher Scholarship – Awards two $6000 scholarships each year to those who are pursuing a Master of Library Science and plan to work as a children’s librarian, The work should serve children 14-year-old or younger in any library.
Top Organizations to Know
The Association for Library Service to Children – This is an ALA division dedicated to the enhancement and support of children’s library services. It includes over 4200 library and education faculty members, publishers, children’s literature experts, children’s youth librarians, and other adults committed to the creation of a better future for children via libraries.
The Association of Children’s Librarians of Northern California – Consists of youth services staff and librarians in school and public libraries, students of library school, and others with interest in the youth services librarianship field. They keep abreast of the trends, network, review books for youth and work to build the future library services to children.
Career Options with the Degree
Children’s Service library careers include:
- Children’s Librarian – Involves the supervision of children’s library services
- Coordinator of Children’s Services -Plans, implements, and promotes special programs for children
- Head Children/Teen Services Librarian – Provides reference to caregivers, parents, and youth