Beyond Books, Nooks, and Dirty Looks: The History and Evolution of Library Services to Teens in the United States

By Shari A. Lee, Assistant Professor, St. John’s University


Public libraries have had a long, though decidedly less than adequate, tradition of serving teens. While there have been encouraging transformations occurring in many of these institutions, a significant number continue to lag in their efforts to serve this group. Underlying this lag is not only the dearth of research that examines public library services to teens but also the quality of several recently published books about teen library services. Building on a background discussion of the purpose that U.S. public libraries were meant to serve, the development and provision of library services to teens is considered with specific focus on issues that have influenced and/or presented barriers to these services. Finally, using a model for inquiry that draws on William Scott, who posits that institutions are comprised of three pillars that enable them to keep order and provide meaning to individuals, the paper proposes that researchers look to the institution rather than at the community for new insights on serving and connecting with teens as a user group in a more meaningful way.


It cannot be ignored that the problem of purpose has plagued the public library since its inception or that the task of defining the library’s role in the lives of the American public has been equally arduous.1 This has understandably been the subject of much debate and discussion. It is also the focus of Patrick Williams’s historical work The American Public Library and the Problem of Purpose.2 Here the author analyzes the varying roles that the public library has played and how these roles have historically been determined and defined; he notes that these have often overlapped and that different purposes have been relevant at different times.

According to Virginia A. Walter and Elaine Meyers, in relation to teen services these roles are best understood as representing three different ideas about the nature of public library service.3 The first is the library as an institution that promotes reading; the second is the library as an educational institution; and the third, and more conceptual, is the library as an institution that serves to advance society by uplifting the underserved. These ideas of the purpose of teen library services have coexisted at times. They have also competed at times, and different ideas have been dominant at different times in American library history. This is noteworthy because, as Walter and Meyers attest, these ideas have formed the basis for librarians’ understanding of their work and the types of service young adults have received over the years.4 In this paper, I examine the evolving notions and role of U.S. public libraries and consider their effects on the development of public library services to teens.


The significance of defining the purpose and role of the public library is very evident in the founding ideals of the Boston Public Library, the first large, publicly supported U.S. municipal library. The library was expected to serve as a purveyor of democracy and knowledge, as well as an extension of the public school system. This agenda was clearly stated in the 1852 report that detailed the objectives to be accomplished by the Boston Public Library, which opened in 1854.5 In the report, the trustees affirmed that the overarching goal was to create a large public library “as the means of completing our system of public education.”6 They specifically focused on providing young people the opportunity to “carry on their education and bring it to practical results by private study” as demonstrated by the following rhetorical query:

Why should not this prosperous and liberal city extend some reasonable amount of aid to the foundation and support of a noble public library to which the young people of both sexes when they leave the schools can resort for those works which pertain to general culture or which are needful for research into any branch of useful knowledge?7

This progressive model served as a blueprint for the almost two hundred U.S. public libraries that were constructed by 1875. Each of these libraries also set forth to provide young people with the opportunity to continue their education by functioning to broaden the reach of the public school system. Nevertheless, this goal eventually gave way to the realization that the public’s love for fiction eclipsed its preference for educational reading materials. The fact was that these libraries mainly provided popular fiction, not the enlightening materials that were thought to lead to self-improvement and intellectual growth.

Williams identifies this as the first problem of purpose with which librarians had to contend.8 Librarians responded with the taste-elevation theory. They would continue to collect popular fiction as a means of whetting the public’s appetite for reading, as this would, hopefully, lead to a craving for more cultured reading.9 Access to large amounts of fiction, however, did not expand the public’s interest in educational reading materials. Instead, by the 1890s the taste-elevation theory basically had been cast aside. David Levy comments on the fallout:

As the taste-elevation theory lost adherents, the debate grew about what to do: exclude inferior fiction? accept entertainment as having social value? permit whatever the public wanted? It came to be accepted that public libraries should supply readers with what they wanted, entertainment mostly. But this meant that the original stated purpose of the public library, to be an educational institution on a par with the public schools, to provide “self-culture through books,” would have to be abandoned.10

A pattern of trial and error in its search for purpose would become the norm for the public library, and few would deny that it continues today in services to all ages of public library users, including teens. As each new purpose was found to be lacking or to simply have missed the mark, it was abandoned for a new, or improved–or sometimes reinvented–purpose.

By the end of the nineteenth century, the public library had positioned itself as militant, and librarians as missionaries charged to evangelize, reform, and save.11 Motivated by what they termed the “library spirit,” librarians reveled in their newfound purpose, which was to make the public library an integral part of the American fabric, one community at a time.12 This vision, nevertheless, would quickly fall victim to the social upheaval wrought by World War I, which left the public library reeling and, once again, in search of a new purpose. The relentless search for purpose led the public library to take on adult education and the protection of democracy, among several others. These proved to be just as fleeting.

Levy observes, “It wasn’t until the 1980s, Williams claims, that public libraries finally began to come to terms with their more limited but realistic purpose: to be suppliers of books to the middle class and a symbol of culture in the community.”13 However, this realization did not come without challenges to the progressive view, which, many will agree, still continues to underpin the public library’s mission in many ways. The most notable of these came in 1973, when Michael Harris questioned the theory of natural progression and the notion that public libraries served the betterment of society.14

The Paradigm Shifts: A New Purpose

According to Harris’s radical revisionist theory, public libraries were developed by politically motivated elitists as a way of controlling the beliefs and actions of the middle class as well as a means of Americanizing immigrants.15 He argued that these institutions were established as a means of keeping the public off the streets and in an environment where they could be controlled. Although Harris was criticized for a lack of evidence, his work did lay the foundation for a new way of thinking about libraries. It also prompted librarians serving all ages, including teens, to think differently about their work and their institutions.

This shift is evident in the Mission Statement and Imperatives for Services: Guidelines for Public Libraries, which was published by the Public Library Association (PLA) in 1979 and renewed in 2010.16 In the original document, the PLA described a rapidly changing society that was different from that of the past century, which made it crucial to redefine the goals of the public library. These institutions were no longer simply to standardize American values; instead, they should identify and promote cultural differences among users, including education, information, recreation, and age. The mission placed on libraries a new responsibility: to serve the public as a whole. Instead of simply setting one standard for all libraries, the PLA encouraged these institutions to look at the community and whom they served and to develop services based on these factors.17 The shift in direction eventually led the PLA and the American Library Association (ALA) to recommend the use of output measures instead of the traditional regulatory standards to which these organizations had previously prescribed.18 While standards and guidelines are still in place today,

neither the ALA nor our division the Public Library Association (PLA) sets prescriptive standards for public libraries. Instead, we advocate an outcomes-based assessment process set forth in a series of books on planning and assessment. The reason for this is that each library serves a different community with different needs.19

Despite the shift in focus to unique community and user needs, teens as a group fared little better than they had in previous decades. The fact is that although serving young people was a fundamental principle of the Boston Public Library, early advocates of youth services were influenced by the progressive view of the public library. Their underlying goal was to advance society.

Early Library Services to the Young

Like most librarians of his day, Samuel Swett Green (1837—1918)–thought to be the father of reference work–believed in the progressive notion of public libraries.20 This thinking is apparent in Green’s argument for the importance of personalized reference services, which offers a contextual vision of the purpose for which public libraries were meant to serve as well as the people they were meant to serve.21 Young people were very much a part of Green’s public library, and he later advocated to “have in every library a friend of the young, whom they can consult freely when in need of assistance, and who, in addition to the power of gaining their confidence, has knowledge and tact enough to render them real aid in making selections.”22 Social constraints of the time notwithstanding, the public library that Green was describing is just that, a library for everyone, including teens.

Age Restrictions and Library Services to the Young

It is important to note that although the trustees repeatedly singled out young people as central to the early Boston Public Library’s objectives, many libraries initially denied access to those below a specific age, usually twelve or fourteen. In the introduction to her 1893 ALA report, Reading of the Young, Caroline Hewins summarizes the results of five annual surveys, which asked 160 libraries, “Have you an age limit, and if so, what is it?”23 Seventy-four libraries responded that they would not serve children under the age of twelve or fourteen; sixteen did not serve young people under the age of fifteen or sixteen; and only thirty-six had no age limit for service. It is logical, therefore, to presume that the young people referred to in the report most likely excluded younger teens. This is certainly a reasonable assumption given that adolescence was yet to be identified as a specific and separate stage of development, which made the line between teens and children less visible or certainly more flexible. In any event, children, which then included younger teens, would not be denied service for long. By the time Green had delivered his renowned 1876 speech, the children’s movement was well under way.

A proponent of the cause, William Fletcher began his 1876 special report, Public Libraries in the United States of America, by asking the question “What shall the public library do for the young, and how?”24 He enthusiastically proceeded to argue for the elimination of age restrictions on library use, emphasizing that this was the only recourse that fit within the notion of a true public library. The first Yearly Report on Boys’ and Girls’ Reading, which Hewins delivered in 1882 at the World’s Library Congress, confirms that this thinking had in fact gained momentum.25 In the report, Hewins references the findings of a survey, the first in a series, in which she asked twenty-five librarians what they were doing to promote “a love of good reading in boys and girls.”26 This survey shows that there was a growing interest in serving this relatively new and younger user group, children. Interestingly, Samuel Green was among the survey participants. His response to that question–“The close connection which exists between the library and the schools is doing much to elevate the character of the reading of the boys and girls”–demonstrates that there also was an effort to work with schools to provide effective library services to children.27

Just over a decade later, while delivering the 1893 ALA report on Reading of the Young, Hewins accuses the ALA of being slow to act on initiatives concerning library services for children.28 This lack of early ALA support, however, was not indicative of the general attitude of the time. Long-standing supporters of the cause were riding the wave of social reform for children that had been sweeping the United States (and Europe) since 1870. This trend not only led to social reform for children, but also to the expansion of public library services and to the development of children’s reading rooms.29 As Alice Hazeltine observes, the leading editorial of the April 1898 issue of Library Journal speaks to this development, noting that “the phrase ‘the library and the child’–which was itself new not so long ago–has been changed about. It is now ‘the child and the library,’ and the transposition is suggestive of the increasing emphasis given to that phase of library work that deals with children.”30

While this transposition signaled a turning point in children’s services at the time, the reality is that the first library dedicated specifically to children was created almost a century earlier. The library was founded in 1803, when Caleb Bingham donated 150 books to the town of Salisbury, Connecticut, with instructions that the books be used specifically for children between the ages of nine and sixteen.

Bingham’s library actually predates the 1833 founding of the Peterborough Town Library, commonly known to be the oldest free publicly supported library; therefore, as defined today, the first public library was created specifically for young people.31 This is noteworthy because, as Jane Hannigan argues, library services to children in the late nineteenth century would be called library services to young adults today, and that the emphasis of service to young children represents a gradual shift.32 Hannigan makes a keen observation regarding the shifting notions and definitions of children over time. For instance, in its 1972 Standards for Public Libraries, approved by and the Public Library Section and subsections, the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) defines children as those from infancy to the age of fourteen.33 Approximately twenty-five years later, in its Background Text to the Guidelines for Children’s Libraries Services, IFLA still defined children as those from infancy to fourteen years of age; however, they were now broken down into the following four categories:

  • Babies/toddlers
  • preschool children
  • (ages 5—10) elementary/primary school children
  • (ages 11—14) “older” children34

This redefining also is apparent in libraries. For example, the Young Adult Services division of the ALA, renamed the Young Adult Library Services Association in 1992, has defined teens as those from twelve to eighteen years old since 1991. However, tweens–defined as eight to fourteen years old–long acknowledged and targeted as a viable consumer market, have been more recently identified and accepted as a distinct and separate user group in libraries.35 The same is true in library and information science (LIS) research.36 It is evident that as the public library struggled to define its role and purpose, the types of services deemed appropriate for young people evolved as much as the definition of who comprised this group. Even so, the focus on young people remained an important aspect of the public library’s purpose.

Development of Library Services to Teens

It was the aftermath of World War I that drove the need for young adult library services. Miriam Braverman observes that postwar technological changes had significantly reduced the need for a large workforce; therefore, the age of transition from school to the job market (approximately twelve to fourteen years before the war) was increased to accommodate the growing number of economically dependent youth.37 As a result, many more children went on to high school than in previous decades. The increase in the number of teens using the library for homework raised the demand for adult reference services. According to Holly Willett, librarians in a few larger cities already had recognized that intermediary services and materials were needed for these users who were too old for the children’s room but not quite old enough to roam the adult stacks unsupervised.38 Willett notes that this need was also reflected in a 1924 survey, which revealed that libraries had developed different methods of handling these materials.39 For example, some shelved these intermediary materials alongside children’s materials, labeling the books to signify age appropriateness. Depending on available space, these intermediary collections ranged from single shelves to entire sections, with several libraries even providing separate reference areas for high school students.

Three large urban libraries at this time designated space, materials, and personnel specifically to young adults. These were located in New York City, Cleveland, and Baltimore, and they were run, respectively, by three innovative women: Mabel Williams (1887—1985), who believed in the importance of addressing developmental needs in library services to teens; Jean Roos (1891—1982), who championed social issues with the conviction that in order to provide effective teen services, libraries were obligated to work with other youth service providers in their communities; and Margaret A. Edwards (1902—1988), author of the influential book The Fair Garden and the Swarm of Beasts: The Library and the Young Adult. Their service philosophy was to meet the needs of the adolescent without imposing the ideals of the library; nevertheless, these women were very much influenced by the traditional reading ideology on which the public library was founded. Thus, reading programs became the foundation of teen library services.40

Walter and Meyers observe that between the 1930s and 1940s, the focus shifted from reading to include community betterment and education, which created a significant, though short-lived, increase in young adult library use.41 Fast-forward through the 1970s and 1980s, they state that the focus turned to public accountability, with libraries adopting business management models, thus laying the foundation for the “next golden age” for teen services. The 1990s saw the dawn of this new era, which embraced the notion of supply and demand, with libraries giving teens what they wanted. Yet reading reclaimed center stage, as librarians armed with new marketing strategies tried, once again, to attract the elusive teen with books.42 Seemingly by default, public library service to teens was founded on the long-standing purpose of the public library: reading.

Focus on Reading

The focus on reading was not exclusive to libraries. By the late 1950s, educators focused on the importance of reading for pleasure with the goal of improving student reading skills. Many have correlated this with the publication of Why Johnny Can’t Read: And What Can You Do about It.43 The book stresses the value of literacy, which, one educator observed, is an important first step in reading for pleasure. Uninterrupted Sustained Silent Reading (USSR) soon followed. Known later as SSR, this program provided time for silent reading in schools, where students were encouraged to self-select reading materials with no requirement for book reports or comprehension testing. It was touted as a foolproof recipe for instantly improving students’ ability to read.44

Since its inception in the early 1960s, SSR has undergone unending scrutiny in the education community. While the findings are mixed, the general consensus is that SSR is effective.45 In fact, when SSR was discontinued in one high school, the impact was swift and significant. Within two years, the school library circulation nosedived, and there was also a decline in overall student achievement on standardized tests. The surprise was that this decline was not limited to reading scores; history and science scores had declined as well.46 A more recent study on silent reading concludes that “the need for efficient silent reading habits for success in the digital-global age is unarguable.”47 Clearly, when provided the time to read for fun, the benefits are undeniable. Modified and offered under a plethora of acronyms, such as DEAR (Drop Everything And Read), SSR is still a part of the curriculum of many schools today.

Given the focus on reading in schools, as well as the role of reading in the development of library services to teens, it is not surprising that getting teens to read (or connecting teens with books) became the overarching goal of teen library programs. Even when justifying or promoting gaming programs in the library today, the benefits are often described in terms of increased circulation. By default, the underlying thinking seemed to be that teens did not like to read; thus, they needed encouragement. The opposite was, in fact, true. Most teens “like to read, read quite a bit, and value reading.”48 When e-content is considered, it seems that today’s teens are reading as much as (or more than) they did in the past, though in nontraditional ways.49

Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet and Life Project, reports that today “teen reading levels match or exceed those of adults,” and that 76 percent of sixteen- to twenty-nine-year-old respondents cited pleasure as one of the reasons they read.50 A decade earlier, the Teen Read Week Survey found 72 percent of respondents reporting that they enjoyed reading recreationally when they had time.51 The 2012 Scholastic survey of six- to seventeen-year-olds shows higher numbers, with 74 percent of respondents (76 percent of girls and 72 percent of boys) reading for fun at least once weekly.52 Vivian Valberg, who looked at three major studies on teen media usage, finds that print was the only category that had lost ground in the prior five years and that the decline was mainly in newspaper and magazine reading.53 Book reading had held steady, actually increasing by four minutes per day in the last decade. Similarly, Stephen Krashen’s analysis of reading surveys from 1946 to 2011, including several National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) questionnaires, finds little change in book reading among teens and that the only real drop was in magazine and newspaper reading.54 His analysis also shows an increase in pleasure reading from 1946 to 1984, but a somewhat steady decline from 1984 to 2011, yielding no net increase in sixty-five years. English teacher Colette Bennett voices concern in that “there is heightened awareness about student reading for over fifty years, there is time provided in school, and there are materials published. Yet, there has been no increase in teenagers reading for pleasure?”55

Should libraries also be concerned? This is certainly worth considering in view of the fact that an analysis of Teen Read Week Surveys from 2001 to 2003 finds that only a “very small minority of teens [just over 5 percent] said that they read as a direct result of adult encouragement.”56 Critical reading motivators in teens are found to be choice in reading materials and access to reading materials of value, which Krashen says presents an additional barrier for teens living in poverty.57 Time pressure, or limited opportunity, was overwhelmingly cited by teens as the main barrier to more frequent reading.58 Therefore, given the opportunity and a comfortable place to read, Krashen writes that “the first priority of reading promotion campaigns should be to help make reading possible by providing access to books. Once access to reading is taken care of, we can then deal with the small minority of potential readers who have access to reading material but do not read.”59 Krashen suggests that this can be accomplished by improving library spaces for teens and YA collections, a strategy that Ken Haycock also supports.60

Disconnect between Teens and Libraries

In contrast to the library’s long-standing focus on reading, teens within the past two decades report that what they want from the library is research and homework help, Internet/computer access, opportunities to volunteer, teen-friendly spaces where they can study and socialize, useful teen websites, access to technologies they value, as well as technology-driven services that include online personalized readers’ advisory and mobile apps.61 When teens did mention books, it was to report that YA collections were more often comprised of materials that librarians believed appropriate instead of the popular fiction they valued.62 In fact, respondents in the 2012 Pew survey said they wanted e-readers from their libraries; however, they specifically stated that these should be pre-loaded with the books they valued. Other critiques of services and resources were unfriendly librarians and unwelcoming, even hostile, library spaces; indeed, the spaces provided by libraries were cited as the most common barrier to teen services.63

These issues speak to a disconnect between teens and library culture, which is why teens perceive library services to be unsatisfactory and the library as uncool.64 It is not surprising, therefore, that teens prefer bookstores to libraries as they find bookstores more tolerant of their need to socialize.65 In an effort to better serve teens and support teen developmental needs, Kay Bishop and Pat Bauer conducted a study in 2002 that aimed to identify strategies and programs that attract teens to the library. Their findings showed that although some progress was being made, “public libraries continue not to provide equitable service to young adults.”66 Unfortunately, more than ten years later, the research findings are much too similar. Two recent, previously cited, studies confirm67 what LIS research has shown for years: that teens are generally dissatisfied with the public library services they are provided, as Anthony Bernier points out in his argument for praxis in YA research.68

The first is Vivian Howard’s 2011 mixed-method study, which shows that teens continue to find library services lacking.69 Almost 64 percent of survey respondents reported that they had an overall positive impression of the library, 21 percent were impartial, with only 16 percent stating dissatisfaction. However, focus groups revealed a much higher percentage of dissatisfaction across all aspects of the library. This inconsistency was found to be due to the participants’ overall low expectations and limited knowledge of libraries. Since teens did not have very high expectations of the library and were not very knowledgeable about programs and services, their responses to survey questions unwittingly appeared to be positive. However, when probed, the focus group participants revealed that they were unhappy with many aspects of the library. These included several long-identified barriers to teen services: poorly designed teen spaces; nonexistent relationships or collaborations with library staff; unappealing teen websites; as well as teens’ lack of knowledge regarding library programs, services, and collections. These barriers were posited as the reasons why only 13 percent of participants reported using the library weekly, even though 63 percent said they were satisfied with the library. The number of teens who used the library occasionally was significantly higher, with 83 percent reporting that they had visited the public library at least once in the past year. Howard concludes that public libraries need to be more responsive to teen needs to attract teens to use the library.70

The second study to substantiate teens’ negative perceptions of the public library is the most recent Pew Internet research on reading, which finds that although high school students rely more heavily on the library and are more likely to use library resources than other age groups, they did not necessarily like the library.71 Specifically, the findings show that in the previous year, 63 percent of sixteen- to seventeen-year-olds had borrowed books from the library and that 55 percent had used the library for research; however, 45 percent said that “the library is not important or not too important to them and their family.” According to Rainie, teens have specific ideas about the types of library services they would likely use.72 These include personalized online readers’ advisory services based on reading history; strategically located automated kiosks, similar to Redbox, where users can check out books, movies, and music; apps that allow access to library services; e-readers pre-loaded with books that teens value; classes on how to use e-readers and tablets; and a GPS app to help locate materials in the library. Rainie also predicts that teen behavior will be different in the future. He notes that teachers and others want libraries to make changes to accommodate these new behaviors as well.73

Notions of Teens

Another issue that seems to be at the root of the type of public library services for teens is the notion that they are unruly or difficult.74 However, Walter and Meyers challenge this stance and caution that YA librarians sometimes convey a disturbing core message, which seems to say that adults are not cool enough to relate to teens and teen culture. It is, therefore, up to YA librarians to demystify this exotic tribe in order to prevent their colleagues from undoing any progress previously made with this group. The authors caution that this view is overstated to make their point, but that it serves as inspiration for their new and more positive narrative that opposes this existing tenet and history of YA services.75

Even so, preexisting negative notions of teens are not exclusive to librarians and may simply be reflective of society’s view of teens as a whole. Many adults view teens with varying degrees of revulsion as undesirable members of society.76 This can manifest as ephebiphobia, which is not simply a dislike of teens, but an extreme irrational fear and repugnance. Even the “very word adolescent is almost always used in popular writing to characterize an immature, irresponsible, and undesirable individual or his or her behavior.”77 Included in this canon of behavior, at various times, are criminal activity, truancy, loitering or hanging out, sexual activity, drug use, and alcohol abuse. As Alexander Siegel and Lori Scovill ask: How did we get here? When did teens become the disease of society?78 In order to understand this phenomenon and its impact on the development of library services to teens, a brief history of adolescence is helpful.

History of Adolescence

In presenting one of the two conflicting schools of thought on the history of adolescence, Gerald Moran and Maris Vinovskis argue that adolescence–or, more specifically, the “problems of troubled youth”–had not only been recognized in premodern Europe and America but also that these societies “were sometimes as deeply preoccupied with youth as we are today.”79 In fact, contrary to Philippe Ariès’s claim that there was no concept of what we now term adolescence before the eighteenth century, Jerome Kroll and Barbara Hanawalt, among others, contend that evidence of some concept of adolescence can be traced back to medieval times.80 Very much an issue throughout the past, these historians claim that improving student reading skills was tied to the idea that adolescence was a period when individuals were more susceptible to crime and other social vices. However, they point out that while these societies were very much aware of the stage of development they referred to as youth, they did not possess a modern concept of adolescence.81 Our modern notion of adolescence can primarily be attributed to G. Stanley Hall (1904), the first psychologist to look at this phase of life scientifically and as a separate area of study, which he believed began between the twelfth and fourteenth years of life.82

From Defining to Demonizing: Attitudes about Teens

Influenced by the recapitulation theory, Hall believed that the empirical history of humans was embedded in the genetic makeup of each individual.83 In other words, each individual would actually relive the development of the human race, transitioning from the primitive stage toward maturity and the civilized stage. Hall likens adolescence to the German literary movement Sturm und Drang, which emphasized a passionate and revolutionary rejection of the older neoclassical style among young writers at the turn of the eighteenth century.’ He saw a correlation between the objectives of these young writers and the storm and stress of modern adolescents. Teens were emotionally unstable beings who wavered between contradictory thoughts and behaviors. Periods of happiness and high energy followed by periods of apathy and loathing were manifestations of storm and stress. In this uniquely Western view of adolescence, Hall contends that during this stage of development, there also is a need for authority that manifests as rebelliousness. The tragedy, as psychologist Robert Epstein points out, is that although the recapitulation theory was completely discredited in the 1930s, “psychologists and the general public never got the message. Many still believe . . . that teen turmoil is an inevitable part of human development.”84

Adolescence, therefore, became a problem that had to be fixed, and, as a result, a sort of demonization of teens occurred.85 Seigel and Scovill argue that this demonization did not take place “accidentally” or “incidentally,” and that it is not just a manifestation of present-day societal challenges.86 Adolescents, Seigel and Scovill assert, have been demonized since they were identified as being in a separate stage of life. The idea here is that although Hall’s work brought attention to the adolescent as a thing, it is also the reason adolescence quickly evolved from thing to disease. The mid-twentieth century also heralded new analyses of Freudian research on adolescence that dominated our understanding of young people.87 Hannigan cites the contributions of Anna Freud (1958), Peter Blos (1962, 1967), and Eric Erikson (1968), asserting that these works were rooted in Freudian thought and, as such, articulated a male view of adolescent development.88 Psychologists worked to find a cure for this disease. The treatment was to control the lives of young people during this time of stress; it was administered through education and social practices that also emphasized the dominant social norms.89

Teens Today

The fact is that teens in the United States, as well as several other Westernized nations, do show some signs of distress. Epstein points to the peak age of arrest for most crimes in the United States, long established at eighteen, as evidence.90 He further states that suicide is the third leading cause of adolescent death; drug abuse is high; and the high school dropout rate is nearly 50 percent among urban minorities. Considering the number of deadly school shootings, he observes that American high schools now seem like prisons, and he questions whether these problems are truly unavoidable.91

Jean Piaget attributed adolescent behavior to increased cognitive abilities that gave teens the ability to reason, dispute, and theorize on an adult level, which could cause conflict.92 More aligned with Epstein, Margaret Mead attributed this behavior to culture, noting that Samoan adolescents did not experience the same turmoil that Western teens experienced.93 Citing a 1991 study, which found that 60 percent of 186 pre-industrial societies had no word for adolescence, Epstein notes that teens in these countries exhibited no psychopathology, and that there were no signs of antisocial behavior among adolescent males in more than 50 percent of these societies.94 A more significant finding, Epstein observes, comes from a series of long-term studies that began in the 1980s. The studies suggest “that teen trouble begins to appear in other cultures soon after the introduction of certain Western influences, especially Western-style schooling, television programs and movies.”95 Epstein believes that the problem in present-day Western society stems from the fact that teens are consistently isolated from adults and are forced to learn about the world from peers rather than adults. Since they are wrongly treated like children, teens inevitably claim adult status through irresponsible behavior. Epstein concludes:

Fortunately, we also know from extensive research both in the U.S. and elsewhere that when we treat teens like adults, they almost immediately rise to the challenge. We need to replace the myth of the immature teen brain with a frank look at capable and savvy teens in history, at teens in other cultures, and at the truly extraordinary potential of our own young people today.96

Epstein’s observations align with much of what research on teens and libraries show: public libraries are in a position to, and need to, support teen developmental needs. Here we have echoes of Walter and Meyers, who find that when teens are supported by their communities, they in turn support their communities, and that public libraries are perfectly positioned to contribute to this cycle of mutual support.97 However, this requires supporting the needs of the entire person instead of primarily focusing on homework and pleasure-reading needs, which is the model to which many libraries still subscribe.98

Lack of Research on Teens and Libraries

More than a decade ago Christine Jenkins remarked, “In considering the historiography of youth services librarianship, one is struck by how often a call for further research in this area has been sounded and how limited the response to that call has been.”99 Unfortunately, this observation is as relevant today as it was in 2000. Since that time several other researchers have acknowledged this enduring gap in LIS literature. For example, in commenting on the missing years of undocumented accounts of library services to children, Walter notes that services to young adults “is even more lacking in rigorous historical analysis and documentation,” specifically:

What is largely missing from the history of young adult services is an understanding of its development since the 1940s. Why did public libraries apparently retreat from targeting high school students at precisely the moment in American history when teenagers were being defined? Why was there an apparent resurgence of interest in young adult services within the American Library Association in the mid-1980s?100

In 2006 Agosto and Hughes-Hassell highlight an additional gap in the literature, noting that “little youth-centered research exists that examines either the basic information-seeking behavior of teenagers, or reference and information services for young adults,” which leaves information service providers with little knowledge of the types of services that teens need and limited methods of assessing if or how their everyday information needs are being met.101 A year later, Meyers et al. make the observation that despite “the progress made in youth studies to date, there is still need for additional research.”102 Consequently, it is not surprising that in 2010 Jenkins reiterates, “Several years ago I . . . noted that this history was wide-open for study. There has been some progress since then, but basically the history of youth services librarianship as a field of study is still as wide-open as ever.”103

No doubt, public libraries have had a long, though decidedly less than adequate, tradition of serving teens. While there have been encouraging transformations occurring in many of these institutions, a significant number continue to lag in their efforts to serve this group. Underlying this lag is not only the dearth of research that examines public library services to teens as well as the history of these services but also the quality of several recently published books. Mary K. Chelton observes that “a number of these have been poorly researched and/or presented inaccuracies.”104 As Bernier observes, “Thus, we continue on, blind to the more urgent and theoretically challenging questions of praxis about the library’s vision and role in the life of youth.”105

The Landscape Today: A New Research Agenda

In response to these long-standing issues, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) adopted a strategic plan in 2008 that proposed the following research objectives:

Objective 1. Increase member access to existing research relevant to library services to teens.

Objective 2. Increase opportunities for members, academics, and library professionals to direct original research that fills gaps in teen library services.

Objective 3. Influence appropriate external research-focused organization to increase inclusion of library services to teens in their research agendas.106

The overall decision to focus on research, and these areas specifically, confirms YALSA’s commitment to the task of increasing the appeal and the importance of public library services to teens. In 2010 the association took a giant step toward becoming a research-sharing resource for members of the library community with the launch of the Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults, an open-source, peer-reviewed research journal. This was followed by YALSA’s newly formulated National Research Agenda on Libraries, Teens, and Young Adults 2012—2016, adopted in October 2011. As the chair of YALSA’s Research Committee, Don Latham, explains, “The Research Committee was charged with ‘survey[ing] the field to determine gaps in research and determine the questions that needed to be answered in order to fill those gaps’ (emphasis in original).”107 The document focuses on the following four priority areas:

1. Impact of Libraries on Young Adults

2. Young Adult Reading and Resources

3. Information-Seeking Behaviors and Needs of Young Adults

4. Informal and Formal Learning Environments and Young Adults

According to Kafi Kumasi, the agenda builds on Walter’s earlier call for more historical research; however, she advises that the work required for the future demands a critical approach rooted in action research.108 The question is will this new critical approach, even if it is rooted in action research, help libraries to connect more effectively with teens? To borrow from Michael K. Buckland, perhaps the question that should be asked is how can libraries achieve a deeper understanding of what makes the use of library services personally meaningful to teens?109


Could library services to teens be made more meaningful? As the literature shows, public libraries are in a position to, and need to, support teen developmental needs, but with a focus on the entire person rather than traditional services and objectives to which many libraries still subscribe. Considering the general disconnect between teens and libraries and the barriers to YA services that have been discussed–substandard collections, unwelcoming and poorly designed teen spaces, teens’ dislike and lack of knowledge of libraries, library staff’s negative notions of teens, as well as nonexistent relationships with library staff–one has to wonder if looking at this community would offer any new insights that could add meaning to the services that teens are now provided. Yes, there is a need for more research on teens as a user group, and there will always be. However, there is sufficient research to show that there are many existing and valid barriers to teen services. There is sufficient research to identify what teens value and want from the public library. However, the fact that this research has not resulted in any significant change in the way that teens view the library demonstrates that researchers in this area might need to think about things in a different way or, perhaps, from a different perspective. As Walter and Meyer assert, “A radical change is needed in our thinking about teens and libraries.”110

It might be beneficial for researchers to look to the institution rather than at the community for new insights on serving and connecting with teens as a library user group. According to Richard Scott, institutions are comprised of three systems or pillars–the regulative, normative, and cultural-cognitive–which function to stabilize, keep order, and provide social meaning to individuals.111 The regulative systems are concerned with rule-making and policy guidelines to which members of the institution have to conform. These can be formal or informal rules or laws that may be enforced either legally or through incentives.112 The normative systems are concerned with how norms and values function in the creation of expectations and obligations. In essence, they are concerned with values, with how things should be done, and with conceptions of appropriate actions; therefore, social obligations and expectations are at the core of the normative systems. Regarding the cultural-cognitive systems, Scott states that this “conception of institutions stresses the central role played by the socially-mediated construction of a common framework of meaning.”113 The cultural-cognitive systems, therefore, provide frameworks that offer meaning and internalized representations of the world. These are constructed ways of doing and being that operate within a shared notion of meaning.

“The core idea [here is] that organizations are deeply embedded in social and political environments [which suggests] that organizational practices and structures are often either reflections of or responses to rules, beliefs, and conventions built into the wider environment.”114 Scott suggests that scholars not only need to be mindful of the dimensions of these social structures, or pillars, and how they operate within the institution, but that they also must understand how the characteristics of each structure relate to one another.115 By examining how and why an institution operates as it does, why rules and policies are made, maintained, and/or abandoned, why members behave or act as they do, as well as how they make meaning of their social worlds, researchers will gain a better understanding of how the public library as an institution thinks, which could provide a starting point toward real change. As Mary Douglas proposes, institutions think.116 The aim would be to learn how this institution thinks in regard to teens, so that a more meaningful connection might be established with this user group. If people become aware of why they do certain things or even think a certain way, it opens up the possibility for change. And changing the way an institution thinks is really about changing the way people think.

Notes and References

  1. Arthur W. Hafner and Jennifer Sterling-Folker, “Democratic Ideals and the American Public Library,” in Democracy and the Public Library, ed. Arthur W. Hafner (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993), 9.
  2. Patrick Williams, The American Public Library and the Problem of Purpose (New York: Greenwood Press, 1988).
  3. Virginia A. Walter and Elaine Meyers, Teens & Libraries: Getting It Right (Chicago: American Library Association, 2003), 3.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Boston Public Library, Upon the Objects to Be Attained by the Establishment of a Public Library, Report of the Trustees of the Public Library of the City of Boston (Boston: Boston Public Library, 1852), (accessed July 1, 2013).
  6. Ibid., 9.
  7. Ibid., 7—8.
  8. Williams, American Public Library, 9.
  9. Ibid., 5.
  10. David M. Levy, “Digital Libraries and the Problem of Purpose,” D-Lib Magazine 6, no. 1 (January 2000), para. 5, (accessed June 28, 2013).
  11. Williams, American Public Library, 27.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Levy, “Digital Libraries,” para. 7.
  14. Michael Harris, “The Purpose of the American Public Library: A Revisionist Interpretation of History,” Library Journal 98 (September 1973): 2509—14.
  15. Ibid., 2510.
  16. Public Library Association (PLA), Goals, Guidelines, and Standards Committee, A Mission Statement and Imperatives for Services: Guidelines for Public Libraries (Chicago: American Library Association, 1979); Public Library Association, “PLA Strategic Plan,” American Library Association (June 2010), (accessed June 28, 2013).
  17. PLA, Mission Statement, iii; Redmond K. Molz and Phyllis Dain, Civic Space/Cyberspace: The American Public Library in the Information Age (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001), 25.
  18. Robert H. Rohlf, “Standards for Public Libraries,” Library Trends 31, no. 1 (1982): 70; Jeanne Goodrich, “Staffing Public Libraries: Are There Models or Best Practices?” Public Libraries 44, no. 5 (September/October 2005): 280.
  19. American Library Association, “Public Library Standards,” Professional Tips Wiki, para. 1, (accessed January 29, 2013).
  20. Samuel S. Green, “Personal Relations between Librarians and Readers,” American Library Journal 1 (1876): 80.
  21. John V. Richardson Jr., “Open versus Closed Ended Questions in the Reference Environment,” (accessed November 22, 2013).
  22. Green, “Personal Relations between Librarians and Readers,” 74—76.
  23. Samuel S. Green, “Sensational Fiction in Public Libraries,” Library Journal 51, no. 9 (1879): 352.
  24. William I. Fletcher, “Public Libraries and the Young,” in Public Libraries in the United States of America, part 1, ed. U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Education (Washington, DC: Bureau of Education, 1876), 412.
  25. Caroline M. Hewins, “Reading of the Young” (1893), in Library Work with Children, ed. Alice I. Hazeltine (McLean, VA:, 41.
  26. Caroline M. Hewins, “Yearly Report on Boys’ and Girls’ Reading,” Library Journal 7, nos. 7—8 (July/August 1882): 182.
  27. Ibid.
  28. Ibid.
  29. Hewins, “Reading of the Young,” 39.
  30. Alice I. Hazeltine, Library Work with Children (New York: H. W. Wilson, 1917), 135.
  31. Christine Jenkins, “The History of Youth Services Librarianship: A Review of the Research Literature,” Libraries & Culture 35, no.1 (2000): 129.
  32. Jane A. Hannigan, “A Feminist Analysis of the Voices for Advocacy in Young Adult Services–Imagination and Scholarship: The Contribution of Women to American Youth Services and Literature,” Library Trends 44, no. 4 (1996): 851.
  33. Aase Bredsdorff, “Are Children Recognized in Library Legislation–Practical Aspects of School Library Legislation,” IFLA Journal (October 1980): 261.
  34. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, Libraries for Children and Young Adults IFLA Section, The Background Text to the Guidelines for Children’s Libraries Services (2003): 3, (accessed July 1, 2013).
  35. For example, Sheila B. Anderson, ed., Serving Young Teens and ‘Tweens (Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2007); Crystal Faris, “Betwixt and Between: Tweens in the Library,” Children and Libraries 7, no. 1 (2009): 43—45; and Erin Helmrich and Elizabeth Schneider, Create, Relate, and Pop @ the Library: Services and Programs for Teens & Tweens (New York: Neal-Schuman, 2011).
  36. For example, Eric M. Meyers, Karen E. Fisher, and Elizabeth Marcoux, “Studying the Everyday Information Behavior of Tweens: Notes from the Field,” Library & Information Science Research 29, no. 3 (2007): 310—31; and Jamie C. Naidoo and Luis F. Vargas, “Libraries Bridging the Borderlands: Reaching Latino Tweens and Teens with Targeted Programming and Collections,” Young Adult Library Services 9, no. 4 (2011): 13—20.
  37. Miriam Braverman, Youth, Society, and the Public Library (Chicago: American Library Association, 1979), 17.
  38. Holly G. Willett, Public Library Youth Services: A Public Policy Approach (Englewood, NJ: Alex, 1995), 90—91.
  39. Ibid., 91.
  40. Ibid., 92.
  41. Walter and Meyers, Teens & Libraries, 17—19.
  42. Ibid., 19.
  43. Rudolph F. Flesch, Why Johnny Can’t Read: And What You Can Do about It (New York: Harper & Row, 1955).
  44. Robert A. McCracken, “Initiating Sustained Silent Reading,” Journal of Reading 14, no. 8 (1971): 583.
  45. See, for example, Cathy C. Block and John N. Mangieri, “Recreational Reading: 20 Years Later,” Reading Teacher 55, no. 6 (2002): 576—80; Stephen Krashen, The Power of Reading: Insights from the Research (Westport, CT: Heinemann, 2004); Stephen Krashen, “Free Voluntary Reading: Still a Great Idea,” CEDER Yearbook (2008): 1—11; and Elfrieda H. Hiebert, S. Jay Samuels, and Timothy Rasinski, “Comprehension-Based Silent Reading Rates: What Do We Know? What Do We Need to Know?” Literacy Research and Instruction 51, no. 2 (2012): 110—24.
  46. Gay Ivey and Douglas Fisher, “Learning from What Doesn’t Work,” Educational Leadership 63, no. 2 (2005): 9.
  47. Lyman C. Hunt, “Effects of Self-Selection, Interest, and Motivation on Independent, Instructional, and Frustration Levels,” Reading Teacher 24 (1970): 146—51; Hiebert, Samuels, and Rasinski, “Comprehension-Based Silent Reading Rates,” 121.
  48. Stephen Krashen, “Do Teenagers Like to Read? Yes!” Reading Today 18, no. 5 (2001): 16.
  49. Jessica E. Moyer, “‘Teens Today Don’t Read Books Anymore’: A Study of Differences in Interest and Comprehension Based on Reading Modalities: Part 1, Introduction and Methodology,” Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults 1, no. 1 (November 2, 2010): para. 2, (accessed November 18, 2013).
  50. Lee Rainie, “Teens and Libraries,” speech presented to YALSA Teens and Libraries Summit at the annual meeting of the Association of Library and Information Science Educators, Seattle, WA, January 23, 2013, (accessed December 6, 2013).
  51. SmartGirl and Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), “Teen Read Week Survey,” (1999): para. 9, (accessed March 28, 2013).
  52. Scholastic, Kids and Family Reading Report, 4th ed. (Scholastic and Harrison Group, 2012): 22—23, (accessed December 5, 2013).
  53. Vivian Valberg, “Fitting into Their Lives: A Survey of Three Studies about Youth Media Usage” (Newspaper of America Foundation, Spring 2010): 3, (accessed December 5, 2013).
  54. Stephen Krashen, “Reading for Pleasure,” Language Magazine: Journal of Education and Communication, January 2012, para. 6, (accessed July 3, 2013).
  55. Colette M. Bennett, “Today’s Teen Reads for Pleasure, Just Like Grandma Used to’ Read,” para. 3, Used Books in Class (blog), January 21, 2012,
  56. Tiffany Marra and April Witteveen, “Survey Says: Trends in Teen Reading 2001—2003,” Young Adult Library Services 4, no. 1 (2005): 20.
  57. Ibid., 21; Scholastic, Kids and Family Reading Report, 2; Sandra Hughes-Hassell and Pradnya Rodge, “The Leisure Reading Habits of Urban Adolescents,” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 51, no. 1 (2007): 28; Stephen Krashen, “Protecting Students against the Effects of Poverty: Libraries,” New England Literacy Association Journal 46, no. 2 (2011): 17; Vivian Howard, “Most of the Books I’ve Read, I’ve Found on the Floor,” Voice of Youth Advocates 32, no. 4 (2009): 300.
  58. SmartGirl and YALSA, “Teen Read Week Survey,” para. 10; Marra and Witteveen, “Survey Says,” 21; Krashen, “Reading for Pleasure,” para. 8; Howard, “Most of the Books,” 300; Vivian Howard, “What Do Young Teens Think about the Public Library?” Library Quarterly 81, no. 3 (July 2011): 334.
  59. Krashen, “Do Teenagers Like to Read?,” 16.
  60. Ken Haycock, “Support Libraries to Improve Teen Reading,” Teacher Librarian 30, no. 3 (2003): 35.
  61. Marjorie R. T. Waters, “From the Mouths of the Young: What Children and Young People Think about the Public Library,” Public Library Quarterly 15, no. 4: (1996): 4—15; Elaine Meyers, “The Coolness Factor: Ten Libraries Listen to Youth,” American Libraries 30, no. 10 (1999): 43—44; Meyers, “The Coolness Factor,” 46; Howard, “What Do Young Teens Think,” 342; Rainie, “Teens and Libraries”; Samuel P. Whalen and Joan Costello, Public Libraries and Youth Development: A Guide to Practice and Policy (Chicago: Chapin Hall Centre for Children at the University of Chicago, June 2002), 25, (accessed December 6, 2013).
  62. Waters, “From the Mouths of the Young,” 12; Meyers, “The Coolness Factor,” 44; Hughes-Hassell and Rodge, “The Leisure Reading Habits,” 25; Whalen and Costello, Public Libraries and Youth Development, 33—34; Howard, “What Do Young Teens Think,” 342.
  63. Anthony Bernier, “YA Space: The Final Frontier?” in Young Adult Services Institute: Serving San Joaquin Valley Teens in the 21st Century, ed. K. Worman (San Joaquin Valley Library System, 2003), 163—77; Whalen and Costello, Public Libraries and Youth Development, 27—28; Nicole Yohalem and Karen Pittman, Public Libraries as Partners in Youth Development: Lessons and Voices from the Field (Washington, DC: Forum for Youth Investment, 2003), (accessed June 13, 2013).
  64. Meyers, “The Coolness Factor,” 42; Kay Bishop and Pat Bauer, “Attracting Young Adults to Public Libraries,” Journal of Youth Services in Libraries 15, no. 2 (Winter 2002): 43; Yohalem and Pittman, Public Libraries as Partners, 12; Joan K. Lippincott, “Net Generation Students and Libraries,” in Educating the Net Generation, ed. Diana G. Oblinger and James L. Oblinger (Boulder, CO: Educause, 2005), 2, (accessed December 6, 2013).
  65. Michael G. Farrelly, “Does Your Space Appeal to Teens?” Public Libraries 45, no. 3 (May/June 2006): 40; Kimberly Bolan Taney, Teen Spaces: The Step-by-Step Library Makeover (Chicago: American Library Association, 2003), 340.
  66. Bishop and Bauer, “Attracting Young Adults,” 43.
  67. Walter and Meyers, Teens & Libraries.
  68. Anthony Bernier, “An Agenda of Praxis for Young Adult Librarianship,” Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults 2, no. 2 (February 15, 2012).
  69. Howard, “What Do Young Teens Think,” 342.
  70. Ibid., 342—43.
  71. Rainie, “Teens and Libraries.”
  72. Ibid.
  73. Ibid.
  74. Whalen and Costello, Public Libraries and Youth Development, 27.
  75. Walter and Meyers, Teens & Libraries, 34.
  76. Ibid.
  77. Robert F. Hill and J. Dennis Fortenberry, “Adolescence as a Culture-Bound Syndrome,” Social Science & Medicine 35, no. 1 (1992): 73; Hugh Matthews, Mark Taylor, Barry Percy-Smith, and Melanie Limb, “The Unacceptable Flaneur: The Shopping Mall as a Teenage Hangout,” Childhood 7, no. 3 (2000): 281; Ruby Takanishi, “Changing Images of Adolescents: Rethinking Our Policies,” in Children, Families and Government, ed. Edward F. Zigler, Sharon Lynn Kagan, and Nancy W. Hall (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 256.
  78. Alexander W. Siegel and Lorie C. Scovill, “Problem Behavior: The Double Symptom of Adolescence,” Development and Psychopathology 12 (2000): 763.
  79. Gerald F. Moran and Maris A. Vinovskis, “Troubled Youth: Children at Risk in Early Modern England, Colonial America and 19th Century America,” in Adolescent Problem Behaviors: Issues and Research, ed. Robert D. Ketterlinus and Michael E. Lamb (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1994), 1—2.
  80. Philippe Ariès, Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of Family Life (New York: Random House, 1962); Jerome Kroll, “The Concept of Childhood in the Middle Ages,” Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 13, no. 4 (1977): 384—93; Barbara A. Hanawalt, The Ties that Bound: Peasant Families in Medieval England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989).
  81. Moran and Vinovskis, “Troubled Youth,” 2.
  82. Ibid., 11—12.
  83. G. Stanley Hall, Adolescence: Its Psychology and Its Relations to Physiology, Anthropology, Sociology, Sex, Crime, Religion and Education, vols. 1—2 (New York: Appleton, 1904).
  84. Robert Epstein, “The Myth of the Teen Brain,” Scientific American Mind 18, no. 2 (2007): 58, (accessed December 6, 2013).
  85. Siegel and Scovill, “Problem Behavior,” 767.
  86. 86.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘  Ibid.
  87. Hannigan, “A Feminist Analysis,” 852.
  88. Ibid.; Anna Freud, “Adolescence,” Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 13 (1958): 255—78; Peter Blos, On Adolescence: A Psychoanalytic Interpretation (New York: Free Press, 1962); Peter Blos, “The Second Individuation Process of Adolescence,” Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 22 (1967): 162—86; Erik H. Erikson, Identity, Youth, and Crisis (New York: Norton, 1968).
  89. Siegel and Scovill, “Problem Behavior,” 767—68.
  90. Epstein, “The Myth of the Teen Brain,” 58.
  91. Ibid.
  92. Jean Piaget, “Intellectual Evolution from Adolescence to Adulthood,” Human Development 15 (1972): 1—12.
  93. Epstein, “The Myth of the Teen Brain,” 58; Margaret Mead, Coming of Age in Samoa (New York: Morrow, 1928).
  94. Epstein, “The Myth of the Teen Brain,” 58—59.
  95. Ibid., 60.
  96. Ibid., 63.
  97. Walter and Meyers, Teens & Libraries, 33.
  98. Denise E. Agosto and Sandra Hughes-Hassell, “Toward a Model of the Everyday Life Information Needs of Urban Teenagers, Part 1: Theoretical Model,” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 57, no. 10 (2006): 1401.
  99. Jenkins, “The History of Youth Services Librarianship,” 103.
  100. Virginia A. Walter, “Public Library Service to Children and Teens: A Research Agenda,” Library Trends 51, no. 4 (2003): 574.
  101. Agosto and Hughes-Hassell, “Toward a Model,” 1394.
  102. Meyers, Fisher, and Marcoux, “Studying the Everyday,” 326.
  103. Anthony Bernier, Mary K. Chelton, Christine A. Jenkins, and Jennifer Burek Pierce, “Two Hundred Years of Young Adult Library Services History: The Chronology,” Voice of Youth Advocates, March 2010, para. 2, (accessed December 7, 2013).
  104. Ibid., para. 6.
  105. Bernier, “An Agenda of Praxis,” para. 6.
  106. Young Adult Library Services Association, “Strategic Plan” (2008): 10, (accessed November 13, 2013).
  107. Don Latham, “Research for the Next Generation,” Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults 2, no. 1 (November 2, 2011): para. 3, (accessed December 8, 2013).
  108. 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 (November 15, 2011), para. 1, (accessed December 8, 2013).
  109. Michael K. Buckland, “Research Questions for the Twenty-First Century,” Library Trends 51, no. 4 (2003): 675.
  110. Walter and Meyers, Teens & Libraries, 3.
  111. W. Richard Scott, Institutions and Organizations (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2001).
  112. Ibid., 55.
  113. Ibid., 58.
  114. Walter W. Powell and Jeannette A. Colyvas, “New Institutionalism,” in International Encyclopedia of Organization Studies, ed. Stewart R. Clegg and James R. Bailey (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2008), 976.
  115. W. Richard Scott, “Approaching Adulthood: The Maturing of Institutional Theory,” Theory & Society 37, no. 5 (2008): 429.
  116. Mary Douglas, How Institutions Think (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1986).
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