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Nebraska Guidelines for Young People's Library Service


The Nebraska Guidelines for Young People's Library Services were revised during 2001-2002 by the Nebraska Library Commission's Youth Advisory Board. They were approved by the School Children's and Young People's section at the Nebraska Library Association October 2003 convention and Nebraska Library Commission.

Introduction: The purpose of these guidelines is to assist public libraries in Nebraska as they assess the quality of library service they offer to young people and as they plan for program improvement or expansion. Unlike the Public Library Guidelines, they are recommendations for standards of service and not required standards themselves.

While realizing that there is overlap between the ages and grades of children and young adults, we have chosen to use the following terms in this document:

Youth/Young People: generic terms indicating any age or grade level from infants
through high school or age 17.

Children : all youths through 5th grade.

Young Adults: all youths ages 12-17 or from 6th grade through high school.

Public Library Access for Young People

Young people deserve the same respect from the library as adults and should be accorded commensurate privacy, responsibilities and rights. The Library Bill Of Rights applies to children as well as to adults. (See the appended Free Access to Libraries for Minors)

A. The library provides young people with full access to library materials and services. Electronic resources are available to young people as well as adults according to the library's technology plan and policies.

B. Materials for young people are included on the Nebraska State Data Base.

C. Young people's library areas are open the same hours as areas serving adults and are staffed by qualified service providers; the library's hours of service reflect the needs of young people as well as adults.

II. Finances

A financial commitment is necessary for a library to develop and maintain a strong young people's program. A sound planning process for the library will ensure that appropriate financial support for youth services is budgeted.

A. The young people's librarian has input into the planning and preparation of library budget and is proactive in submitting budget requests.

B. The young people's librarian develops a budget for the young people's department which includes funds for personnel, continuing education, books and other media, supplies, program expense and public relations.

C. Budget allocations for youth services reflect the use and cost of materials and participation in programs offered. Budget allocations are sufficient so that children or their families are not charged for program participation or for materials used in programs.

D. Libraries seek partnerships with other community agencies, groups and organizations for youth programming, funding and services.

E. The youth librarian undertakes study and action to improve library funding. Children's and youth librarians write grant applications for funds available from ALA, the Nebraska Committee for the Humanities, the Nebraska Library Commission's Children's Grants for Excellence, LSTA, and other sources.


(note: When the Library Board's function is advisory, those guidelines marked with an asterisk * may not apply.)

Role of the Library Board in young people's services:

*1. The library board has the final responsibility for developing and providing quality public library service to youth.

2. A cooperative staff and board plan, which includes goals, objectives, and an annual review of youth services is developed and implemented.

B. Adequate records and statistics should be maintained for yearly evaluation purposes. The publication, Output Measures for Public Library Service to Children, available from the Nebraska Library Commission, may be consulted in developing evaluation techniques.

C. Adequate work time is provided for youth services program planning, materials selection and interaction with children.

D. Young people's librarians have access to Internet and the World-Wide Web.

IV. Programming

Youth Services programs enhance library experiences of young people, attract non-users and contribute to the development of life-long library users.

A. A variety of programs, both outreach and in-house, at all age levels is a basic ingredient in the public library's plan of service. Age levels to consider are infants, preschoolers, kindergarten to fifth-graders and young adults. Programs are a joint staff effort (both adult and youth staff).

B. Program funding is a budget item.

C. Public libraries seek partnerships with other community agencies, groups and organizations in planning programs for young people. The public library develops a policy delineating the kinds and amounts of advertising that accompany corporate sponsorship and donations.


The young people's librarian should serve the young people of the community and youth-related needs of parents and other adults. Every public library staff should include a person whose responsibility is coordination of library service for youth. A basic responsibility of the young people's librarian is to advocate on behalf of all young persons in the community. It is recognized that in smaller libraries this person may be the only staff member. In these cases, the librarian's duties would also include adult services and other aspects of library operation.

Responsibilities of the Young People's Librarian:

A. The young people's librarian helps young people select materials that will expand their
interests and fulfill their information and recreation needs.

B. The young people's librarian creates a safe, pleasant and inviting area for children, adults and families.

C. The young people's librarian aids parents and other adults in obtaining youth-related
materials and library services.

D. The young people's librarian selects, evaluates, weeds and merchandises the collection.

E. The young people's librarian proposes, develops and implements plans and policies for the library's youth services

F. The youth librarian plans, implements and evaluates programs for children and young adults; such programs would include introductions to reference and information tools and techniques when appropriate.

G. The youth librarian participates in planning, evaluating and budgeting for youth service purchases.

H. The youth librarian seeks continuing education and professional development:

1. Attains and maintains Nebraska public librarian's certification.

2. Attends the Children's Institute for enhanced certification endorsement.

3. Belongs to and participates in local and state library/media professional associations.

4. Attends state and system workshops and training.

The budget for young people's services includes funds for the expense of continuing
education events.

I. The youth librarian supervises staff and volunteers working with the library's youth

J. The youth librarian promotes the library's youth services through outreach and public relations activities.

K. The young people's librarian communicates and collaborates with schools and community agencies on services, programs, collection development and reading promotions.

L. The young people's librarian participates in comprehensive planning for all library
services including both youth and adults.

M. The youth librarian thinks and acts as an advocate for all youth.

N. The young people's librarian encourages youth to be self-sufficient information seekers
providing both formal and informal instruction and modeling easily adaptable search
skills. The librarian also helps adults to understand the arrangement of materials in the
children's collection and its relationship to children's intellectual/thinking development.

VI. Materials

It is important that the children's collections be attractive, of high quality and appealing to contemporary children.

A. Young people's materials meet criteria established in the library's written collection management policy.

B. A variety of materials should be available in the young people's area.

1. The young people's collection reflects the current needs and interests of young people in the community; material on key topics is available in varied formats appropriate for different age groups

2. Current reference materials, professional tools and materials needed by adults working with young people are part of the collection.

C. Selection, withdrawal, processing and maintenance of the young people's collection is considered as important as the application of these processes to adult materials.

D. Each year a minimum of 5% to 10% of the total young people's materials budget is spent for specific titles, topics or authors to replace outdated or damaged materials and to strengthen the basic collection.

E. Decisions about the proportion of total library materials budget allocated for young people's materials is based on circulation and use of the materials - - e.g., if children's materials represent 40% to 50% of the circulation, 35% to 45% of the total materials budget is used to purchase children's materials. The rate of turnover in children's materials is also factored into the budget base.

F. If a public access computer is available in the library, materials for children as well as adults are accessible via the computer.

G. Materials are deselected according to wear, obsolescence and circulation. 7% to 10% of the young people's collection is deselected annually.

VII. Physical Facilities

Comfortable inviting areas for young people are an essential part of service. Attention to lighting, seating, noise and arrangement is important as is care to avoid a crowded feeling. Attractive colors and decorations are also important in making the library an inviting place for young people.

A. The public library has space designated for young people's services

B. The young people's space is flexible and divided into various environments to
accommodate different interests and activities; space and provision for electronic
resources are included.

C. Furnishings are suitable in style and of appropriate size for the age groups using them.

1. There is adequate seating.

2. Shelving and furniture are scaled to fit young people.

3. Some lounging furniture is desirable

D. A work area with adequate storage, separate from the public area, preferably adjacent to the young people's areas is provided for the young people's staff.

E. The young people's area is distinct from other areas of the library, but there are no barriers, or as few as possible between the different library areas.

F. Signage in the young people's area is large and clearly written to direct users to categories of material. The language used is appropriate for the age of the user group.


Services for young people can be enhanced when the local library takes advantage of the support available from the library system, the state library agency and state and local library associations. Available support includes:

A. A full-time consultant for young people's services is employed by the Nebraska Library Commission

B. At least one children's librarian serves on the regional system board

C. Resources and professional materials concerning young people's services are available from both the system office and the Nebraska Library Commission.

D. Continuing education workshops and training are offered regionally by the systems and statewide by the Nebraska Library Commission and the Nebraska Library Association



Some library procedures and practices effectively deny minors access to certain services and materials available to adults. Such procedures and practices are not in accord with the LIBRARY BILL OF RIGHTS and are opposed by the American Library Association.

Restrictions take a variety of forms, including, among others, restricted reading rooms for adult use only, library cards limiting circulation of some materials to adults only, closed collections for adult use only, collections limited to teacher use or restricted according to a student's grade level, and interlibrary loan service for adult use only.

Article 5 of the LIBRARY BILL OF RIGHTS states that, "A person's right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views" All limitations on minors' access to library materials and services violate that Article. The "right to use a library" includes use of, and access to, all library materials and services. Thus, practices which allow adults to use some materials which are denied to minors abridge the use of libraries based on age.

Material selection decisions are often made and restrictions are often initiated under the assumption that certain materials may be "harmful" to minors, or in an effort to avoid controversy with parents. Libraries or library boards who would restrict the access of minors to materials and services because of actual or suspected parental objections should bear in mind that they do not serve in loco parentis. Varied levels of intellectual development among young people and differing family background and child-rearing philosophies are significant factors not accommodated by a uniform policy based upon age.

In today's world, children are exposed to adult life much earlier than in the past. They read materials and view a variety of media on the adult level at home and elsewhere. Current emphasis upon early childhood education has also increased opportunities for young people to learn and to have access to materials, and has decreased the validity of using chronological age as an index to the use of libraries. The period of time during which children are interested in reading materials specifically designed for them grows steadily shorter, and librarians must recognize adjust to this change if they wish to serve young people effectively. Librarians have a responsibility to ensure that young people have access to a wide range of informational and recreational materials and services that reflects sufficient diversity to meet the young person's needs.

The American Library Association opposes libraries restricting access to library materials and services for minors and holds that it is the parents/legal guardians -- and only parents/legal guardians -- who may restrict their children -- and only their children -- from access to library materials and services. Parents or legal guardians who do not want their children to have access to certain library services, materials or facilities, should so advise their children. Librarians and governing bodies cannot assume the role of parents or the functions of parental authority in the private relationship between parent and child. Librarians and governing bodies have a public and professional obligation to provide equal access to all library resources for all library users.

Librarians have a professional commitment to ensure that all members of the community they serve have free and equal access to the entire range of library resources regardless of content, approach, format, or amount of detail. This principle of library service applies equally to all users, minors as well as adults. Librarians and governing bodies must uphold this principle in order to provide adequate and effective service to minors.

The word "age: was incorporated into Article 5 of the LIBRARY BILL OF RIGHTS because young people are entitled to the same access to libraries and to the materials in libraries as are adults. Materials selection should not be diluted on that account.