Student Nicole Branch Assists with Research on Public Library Space for Youth

Community Profile

Branch, who started her iSchool course work in fall 2008, is one of three student researchers and three professors working on the first systematic study of public library young adult spaces. Her assignment is to gather data and write analytical pieces regarding what’s being done at 40 libraries around the country, as the team investigates a variety of space design issues, such as the involvement of young adults in space planning and the proportion of young adult space as compared to overall library space. Her first article, co-written with Dr. Bernier and titled “Oakland TeenZone: Humming its own New Tune,” was recently published in the August 2009 issue of Voice of Youth Advocates journal.

“When people talk about young adult spaces, they’re frequently referring to programs,” Branch said. “Our research is focused on the actual space and what creating equitable space for youth means. One of the exciting things about this research is it applies not just to young adult services, but also to the issue of how we design library space in general.”

Branch comes to project with a background in youth services in nonprofits. She is currently the development director for the Oakland-based non-profit Youth Together, an organization that advocates for and has won several youth spaces on high school campuses and in the community.

Branch intends to focus on academic libraries during her iSchool studies. Her involvement in the research project has helped strengthen her ties with faculty members and given her research experience that will be helpful in pursuing the academic library track. “Writing an article for publication in a journal has been a huge benefit for me, as has working with Dr. Bernier and learning from him throughout this project,” she said.

The “Making Space for Young Adults in Public Libraries” project is funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. Dr. Bernier’s research team includes two other youth studies scholars, Dr. William Armaline, assistant professor with the Justice Studies Department at San Jose State University and Dr. Mike Males, senior researcher with the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice in San Francisco.