The American Library Association (ALA) (2017) created a resource about delivering services to children and young adults called Answering Questions about Youth and Access to Library Resources. This resource prepares information professionals to respond to concerned parents and reminds them to consult the library’s collection development policy when acquiring resources. A list of six frequently asked questions, two examples of messages to parents, and two additional resources relating to internet activity by minors were prepared. The questions were also reformatted into a printable document for distribution. By using bullet points rather than paragraphs for the first question and bolding each of the questions as headings, the form clarifies the ways in which parents can engage with the library and the way children and young adults already engage with the library.
There are three elements that stood out to me in this resource.
- First, the resource emphasizes that children and young adults have agency in how they decide to engage with their library. If the children and young adults are not interested, the library cannot force them to engage with the resources. Hence, it also encourages parents to be part of the process of using the library, communicating with the child or young adult about their choices rather than rebuking the information professionals.
- Second, the resource recognizes the ways information professionals navigate censorship. They link to the Library Bill of Rights identifying the core values of librarianship that the ALA adopted and emphasize that libraries as public institutions should not discriminate; however, they also mention that information professionals also use their professional judgement when selecting resources to serve the communities’ needs.
- Third, the resource dedicates a question to the internet. It recognizes that technology has evolved, integrated into the collections of libraries, and children and young adults are using this resource. It reiterates, in this section, that parental supervision is important to shaping how a child or young adult safely interacts with the internet.
One section that could be added is acknowledging that censorship can happen when buying from mainstream publishers, vendors, or wholesalers. These mainstream resources are more likely to have professional reviews, one source that influences a librarian’s judgement, as “traditional reviewing media has tended to ignore self-published books” (Johnson, 2018, p. 144). In turn, these mainstream resources have a higher likelihood of making it into the collection.
Overall, this resource is a comprehensive but succinct and informative source as it discusses two major challenges involved in preparing to deliver services to children and young adults: children and young adult information-seeking behaviours and censorship (Manuell, 2020).
American Library Association. (2017). Answering questions about youth and access to library resources. http://www.ala.org/tools/challengesupport/youthresourcesFAQ
Johnson, P. (2018). Fundamentals of collection development and management (4th ed.). Chicago, IL: American Library Association.
Manuell, R. (2020). Module 6: Challenges in delivering library services [Study notes]. INF505: Library services for children and young adults. Interact 2. https://interact2.csu.edu.au