Insufficient library staff is a leading barrier to increasing services for both children and young adults, according to librarians. Children and young adults represent 60 percent of public library patronage. However, only 52 percent of all public libraries employ a librarian specifically trained to serve children (either a children's specialist or a youth services specialist trained to serve both children and young adults). Fewer libraries, 37 percent, have either a young adult librarian or a youth services specialist available to serve their young adult patrons. Most libraries provide children's programs such as story times and book talks for both preschool to kindergarten-age children and school-age children. Although less than half offer group programs for infants and toddlers, these programs are more prevalent now than in 1989.
While most libraries report working with schools, the types of activities and level of involvement varies. For example, while 60 percent of libraries host class visits from young adults to the library, fewer (40 percent) indicate that the librarian visits schools sewing young adults. Only 17 percent engage in automation projects or shared online resources with schools serving young adults.
Computer technologies and homework assistance programs are not widely available in public libraries. Where available, however, they are heavily used by both children and young adults.
These data demonstrate that libraries provide a host of services and resources for children and young adults. There is evidence that with Goals 2000 and the educational reform movement, the importance and need for library services for children and young adults, their parents, and the professionals and institutions serving and educating them will increase. Further investigation of these data and of libraries should take into consideration library staff size. While there are an average of 3.8 librarians per library, 30 percent of libraries have only 1 librarian on staff. Staff size may be associated with library activities and programs conducted outside the library, such as librarians visiting schools. The number of librarians is also likely to be associated with the provision of services requiring supervision or dedicated staff time including computer technologies and homework assistance programs.
Areas recommended for additional research include the ways in which libraries meet increasing demands for services to children and young adults. the ways in which libraries cooperate with schools and school library media centers, and the ways that libraries support parents of preschoolers and those who are schooling their children at home. Information on all of these issues will he of great interest to both the library and the larger educational community.