Young Adult Library Services

Vol 15 No 1_Fall 2016

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HIGHLIGHT Editor's Note: This position paper was written for YALSA by Beth Yoke and adopted by YALSA's Board of Directors, April 22, 2016. Introduction P ublic libraries are an integral part of every community's learning ecosystem. This is particularly true in the summer when youth and their families rely on institutions, such as the public library, to provide both safe spaces and free, high-quality activities that are both fun and educational. Traditionally, libraries' response to families' summer expectations have been limited to primarily reading and literacy-based programs. However, the needs of today's youth are signifi cantly different from earlier generations. In addition to these evolving needs, recent studies show that all youth experience learn- ing loss in reading as well as academic areas over the summer if they do not participate in a range of educational activities that keep their brains en- gaged. These factors and others point to a need for libraries to revisit their traditional summer reading program model in order to ensure that the ser- vices and resources they provide meet the needs of today's youth and their families. This position paper is meant to help guide libraries as they reenvi- sion the services and programs they provide youth during the summer months. Abstract Traditional library summer reading programs do not meet many of the needs of today's youth because both the demographics of youth and the environment in which they live has changed signifi cantly over the past generation. Libraries must evolve in order to address these newer needs, which include but are not limited to building 21st century skills for the workplace, improving English lan- guage skills, and having a safe space to explore their passions and interests. Libraries can boost their relevance and impact by working with community partners to expand their efforts beyond summer reading in order to identify and meet the particular needs of the youth in their community. In addition, library staff must gain skills in facili- tating hands-on, informal learning for and with youth and their families. Problem Statement Five societal factors have emerged that relate to how libraries serve youth, especially the programs and services they offer over the summer: • The demographics of today's youth are signifi cantly different from the past. • There is growing economic dis- parity in the U.S. that his having a direct impact on youth. • The skills needed to be successful in the modern workplace have changed, and schools alone cannot prepare youth for the 21st century workforce. • Recent research has documented that young people who do not participate in educational activi- ties over the summer experience a signifi cant learning loss. • Young people are increasingly learning and acquiring information through non-text based formats, in- cluding but not limited to YouTube, podcasts, games, apps, and hands-on experiences. Adopting a Summer Learning Approach for Increased Impact: a YALSA Position Paper Find out why it's important for libraries serving teens to transition from summer reading to summer learning 4 Y A L S » Y O U N G A D U L T L I B R A R Y S E R V I C E S » F A L L 2 0 1 6

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