By Sandra Hughes-Hassell
This issue of the Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults (JRLYA) marks the beginning of our second year of publication. Over the past year, we have published articles on research topics such as the reading interests and modalities of teens, the representation of minority communities in young adult literature, and the information seeking behaviors of young adults with Asperger’s Syndrome–to name just a few. We have also expanded the types of research we publish to include juried conference papers and juried posters. In this issue, we turn our focus to the YALSA National Research Agenda, 2012—2016.
To provide a context for the agenda, we’ve asked the chair of the YALSA research committee and the members of the JRLYA advisory board to contribute to this issue. Each has written a thought-provoking piece aimed at expanding our understanding of the agenda and challenging us to use the agenda to “help guarantee that librarians serving young adults are able to provide the best service possible as well as advocate for funding and support in order to ensure that teens are served effectively by their libraries.”1
Don Latham, Chair of the YALSA Research Committee gets us started by discussing how the agenda fits into YALSA’s strategic plan and introducing the agenda’s four priority areas. Focusing on Priority Area 1, Impact of Libraries on Young Adults, Kafi D. Kumasi challenges researchers to apply the principles and methodologies associated with critical research to the questions posed by the agenda. She argues that a critical research stance “positions young adults as capable researchers who can use their real-world experiences as a place to generate powerful and purposeful learning experiences where they serve as the professional researcher who poses the question, gathers resources, analyzes data, and educates their communities.”2 Similarly, in their discussion of Young Adult Reading and Resources, Priority Area 1, Robin Moeller, Amy Pattee, and Angela Leeper encourage researchers “to consider the role of young adults in the research process, marketing efforts, and personal choice in reading assignments tied to the curriculum.”3 They argue that the only way we can really understand and meet the reading interests and needs of teenagers is to include their perspectives and voices in our research.
In her essay, Denise E. Agosto provides an overview of what we have learned so far about young adults’ information behaviors and practices (the focus of Priority Area 3) and suggests guiding questions for advancing this important line of research. She too emphasizes the need to learn from young adults about their information behaviors and practices, writing that “it is only through a deeper understanding of young adults’ information needs, perceptions, and preferences that we can make young adult library services truly youth-centered and designed to meet youths’ ever-evolving information needs.”4 Finally, Frances Jacobson Harris, in her discussion of Priority Area 4, Formal and Informal Learning Environments, reminds us that in our increasingly digital world, learning is no longer limited to formal settings such as the school or classroom. She challenges the research community to consider the impact technology is having on young adult learning and to look at how the library community is responding in terms of our understanding and design of library spaces and programs “particularly in terms of the core values that define YA services, such as intellectual freedom and privacy.”5
In addition to presenting the National Research Agenda, YALSA is also providing support for researchers to implement the agenda. The Frances Henne/YALSA/ VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates) Research Grant annually provides $1,000 in’ seed money for small-scale research projects that respond to the YALSA Research Agenda. Applications for the 2012 award are due December 1, 2011. The Young Adult Literature Symposium provides a venue for researchers to share the results of their work with other researchers and with library practitioners. The theme of the 2012 symposium is “The Future of Young Adult Literature: Hit Me with the Next Big Thing.” Located on the YALSA wiki, the Research Resources Clearinghouse is YALSA’s primary source for information about conducting research involving libraries and young adults. The Research Resources Clearinghouse Taskforce put together a set of page links of information to make developing a research project easier for YALSA members. Recently YALSA launched the Network for Research on Libraries and Teens, a community and space “for those interested in and performing teen research to connect with each other” (http://yaresearch.ning.com/). Finally, JRLYA is published four times a year with the purpose of enhancing the development of theory, research, and practices to support young adult library services.
We hope you are inspired by the YALSA National Research Agenda and look forward to receiving your manuscript submissions to JRLYA.
- Young Adult Library Services Association, YALSA Research Agenda 2012—2016 (2011), http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/yalsa/guidelines/research/researchagenda.cfm.
- Kafi D. Kumasi, “The Impact of Libraries on Young Adults: Toward a Critical Research Agenda, “Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults 2, no. 1 (2011).
- Robin Moeller, Amy Pattee, and Angela Leeper, “The Young Adult Voice in Research about Young Adults,” Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults 2, no. 1 (2011).
- Denise E. Agosto, “Young Adults’ Information Behavior: What We Know So Far and Where We Need to Go From Here,” Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults 2, no. 1 (2011).
- Frances Jacobson Harris, “Gimme Shelter: Informal and Formal Learning Environments in Library Land,” Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults 2, no. 1 (2011).