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Services and Resources for Children in Public Libraries, 1988-89
NCES: 90098
March 1990

Highlights

Services and Resources for Children in Public Libraries, 1988-89

  • Thirty-seven percent of public library users in fall 1988 were children l4 years old and under (8th graders and below).
     
  • Among public libraries that had a service or resource available for use or circulation, access to children ranged as follows:
     
    • Access by children to the service or resource was rarely restricted for foreign language materials, interlibrary loan services, and audio recordings. Between 86 and 92 percent of libraries allowed all children to use these resources and services; 5 percent or less denied use to any children.
       
    • Libraries were somewhat more restrictive about books in the adult collection; 71 percent of libraries allowed all children access to these books, and only 4 percent of libraries did not allow any children to use these books.
       
    • Access to personal computers and computer software was more restricted, with only about half (56 percent) of libraries allowing all children to use these resources and services, and 12 percent denying access to all children.
       
    • "Videocassettes and films" was the only service that was frequently not available to any children. These items were available to all children in only 39 percent of libraries, and to no children in 44 percent of libraries.
  • The services for which public libraries most often reported moderate or heavy use by children during 1988-89 were summer reading programs (89 percent), story hours (78 percent), and readers advisory service (72 percent).
     
  • Public libraries offered an average of 9 group programs at the library for infants through 2-year-olds during 1988-89. Examples of group programs are story hours, puppet shows, and booktalks. Libraries offered an average of 43 group programs at the library for 3- through 5- year-olds, an average of 25 group programs for school-age children, and an average of 5 group programs at the library for unspecified or combined ages of children.
     
  • Most public libraries (83 percent) cooperated in 1988-89 with schools enrolling children 14 years old and under; 62 percent of libraries cooperated with preschools or day care centers. Examples of cooperation are librarian visits to schools for booktalks, class visits to the library for tours or booktalks, and formal scheduled meetings between library and school staff. Libraries cooperated with schools enrolling children 14 years old and under an average of 24 times during 1988-89; they cooperated with preschools or day care centers an average of 14 times.
  • The assistance of a children's coordinator or consultant was available to 67 percent of public libraries.
     
  • Over half (58 percent) of public libraries did not have any children"s librarians (i.e., a librarian whose primary job is serving children) on staff, 34 percent of libraries had only one children's librarian, and 8 percent had two or more children's librarians on staff.
     
  • Children's librarians were most commonly found in public libraries with many library users per week and in main libraries with branches. Over three-quarters (79 percent) of libraries that serve 1,000 or more users per week had a children's librarian on staff, compared with 42 percent of libraries that serve 200-999 users per week, and only 11 percent of libraries serving less than 200 users per week. About three-quarters (73 percent) of main libraries with branches had a children's librarian on staff, compared with 39 percent of main libraries without branches and branch libraries.
     
  • Overall, about a third (36 percent) of public service librarians had a Master of Library Science (MLS) degree; about half (49 percent) of all children's librarians had an MLS degree. While a larger proportion of children's librarians than all public service librarians had an MLS degree, only 42 percent of libraries had a children's librarian, while 99 percent had one or more public service librarians. In those libraries with a children's librarian on staff, approximately the same proportion of public service and children's librarians had an MLS degree.


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