Editorial: Winter 2011

By Marcia Mardis, Guest Editor

Welcome to the second issue of the Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults (JRLYA), the official research journal of the YALSA and the only research journal devoted to youth librarianship. The intent of this journal is to enhance the development of theory, research, and practices to support young adult library services in information-rich environments.

If you are a librarian who works with youth, you may not be sure what research has to offer your practice. Research is an important component of strengthening practice and making sure the libraries evolve to remain centrally relevant to children, teens, and all of the other people who comprise their social, cultural, and learning networks. Research has many faces. At times, research informs practice; at times, practice informs research. Figure 1, based on Stokes and Mardis, illustrates the ways in which research and practice are linked in librarianship.1

For librarians, these relationships are deeply intertwined and help us model the inquisitiveness, creativity, and lifelong learning we hope to impart to our younger patrons. As librarians, we strive to understand the information needs of our users and how to help our patrons use information to meet their person needs. Practice without research and research without practice are close-ended endeavors that lack the responsiveness to patrons which is central to youth librarianship.

In This Issue

The researchers in this issue reflect a range of perspectives on youth librarianship, from the personal to the professional to the political. Paulette Rothbauer presents a fascinating exploration of teens’ interest in reading for pleasure. For anyone who feels that the Internet has killed leisure reading, Rothbauer has found that the role of reading as sensemaking is still treasured even if the opportunities youth have to encounter books are changing. Katie O’Leary wrestles with many of the same issues of helping youth situate libraries in their lives through her in-depth exploration of the very well-articulated information needs of a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome and how fueling his passion for hockey is the gateway to helping him feel connected to the world

Joni Bodart and her research team have examined the role of the Printz Award in youth literature. In this study, the researchers discovered consistent themes in Printz Award-winning books that not only help youth make sense of the world around them, but the Award also raises some larger questions about youth librarianship and how books are selected for recognition. In the final paper from the YALSA’s 2010 Symposium (other papers from this event were included in the Fall 2010 issue of JRLYA), Catherine Andronik shares a thought piece in which she frames her intended research also regarding the Printz Award winners. She compares the Printz Award winners and award process to the ways in which literature for young adults is treated differently in Australia. We are looking forward to your continued exploration of this area, Catherine!

Amy Pelman and Beverly’  Lynch present a thorough and detailed analysis of the laws pertaining to intellectual freedom in libraries. Through an examination of laws and court cases, they trace the development of the guidelines and values librarians embody to ensure that libraries remain places where information and thought are freely developed and exchanged.

Regardless of whether you consider yourself a practice-based researcher or a research-based practictioner, JRLYA offers you scholarly, but accessible, investigations of phenomena that make librarianship an exciting, ever-changing, rigorous field. Even if you never considered the role of research in your own practice, enjoy these articles and you will be inspired to ask, explore, and answer your own questions!


Mardis, M. A. (2009). A gentle manifesto on the’ relevance and obscurity of school libraries in LIS research.’ Library Trends, 58(1), 1-8.

Mardis, M. A. (2011). Evidence or evidence-based’ practice? An analysis of IASL Research Forum papers 1998-2009.’ Evidence Based Library and Information’ Practice‘ (EBLIP), 6(31), pp. 4-23.

Stokes, D. E. (1997).’ Pasteur’s quadrant: Basic science and technological innovation.’ Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.

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