Student Antonia Krupicka-Smith is contributing her knowledge of youth development and teen culture to a grant-funded study on public library spaces for young adults.
The Making Space for Young Adults in Public Libraries project is a three-year study directed by SLIS faculty member Dr. Anthony Bernier, an expert on Young Adult (YA) library spaces. It is funded by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
The research team is currently developing survey questions and collecting data on hundreds of public libraries to discover how YA spaces are designed and how libraries can work to create equitable spaces for teens.
“For youth, libraries are not just a place for books and materials,” Krupicka-Smith explained. “After home and school, the library is the third place for young adults to go to be with their friends, discuss topics, and feel comfortable.”
Krupicka-Smith joined the research team in January 2011. “I was excited to work on the project,” she said. “I think young adults are really important, and we should do our best to figure out what they need, because they are part of the library’s community too.”
In addition to supporting the project’s research goals, Krupicka-Smith is also working with the professional YA library journal Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) to create a scrapbook of articles on “YA Spaces of Your Dreams.” She is reviewing VOYA articles from the past ten years and following up with featured libraries to provide an updated description of their YA spaces. The data will eventually be compiled into a book and published by VOYA Press.
“Working as a research assistant has benefited me in more ways than I could ever have imagined,” said Krupicka-Smith. “During the Spring 2011 semester I was also taking LIBR 285 Research Methods in Youth Services, and as I learned research concepts and basic principles in class I was able to implement them in a real-world research environment. It helped me develop professionally and understand how primary research plays into the bigger picture of librarianship.”
As an undergraduate at Cornell College, Krupicka-Smith spent four years working at the combined academic-public library in Mount Vernon, Iowa. She focused her BA studies in psychology and sociology on youth development and teen culture, and when she moved to Colorado her experiences helped her land a job as a teen center information specialist with the Pikes Peak Library District.
“I realized that this was the perfect platform for me,” Krupicka-Smith explained. “I knew I wanted to help young adults and connect them with resources, and three months after I started the job I was looking for schools where I could earn my MLIS degree.”
Krupicka-Smith enrolled at SJSU SLIS in Spring 2010. She learned how to develop the best programs and materials available for youth as part of her coursework in Programming and Services for Young Adults (LIBR 261A with Jennifer Velasquez), Materials for Tweens (LIBR 264) and Materials for Young Adults (LIBR 265).
“I feel like I’ve had the same learning experience as an on-campus program through all the technology tools that SLIS encourages students to use, and I feel like it’s a much more practical degree,” Krupicka-Smith said. “For example, I know how to run a project using Google Docs, and this past semester I had to learn to manage four blogs. I don’t feel scared at all in trying new technologies. That’s definitely something I think is unique about SLIS, and it makes me much more marketable, as well as a better librarian and community service provider.”
Krupicka-Smith was recently hired as a Youth Librarian for the North Olympic Library system in Clallam County, Washington, and plans to graduate from SLIS in December 2011.