iSchool Awarded Federal Grant to Study Library Space for Young Adults


Although young adults comprise nearly 25% of the nation’s public library users, libraries have only recently started considering how to design spaces to meet their needs.

Photo of Anthony BernierDr. Anthony Bernier, an associate professor with the San José State University School of Library and Information Science and the profession’s expert on Young Adult (YA) library spaces, will conduct the first in-depth scholarly research regarding YA space practices in libraries.

Thanks to a $335,156 National Leadership Grant award from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Bernier will conduct a three-year study analyzing current space design patterns. Making Space for Young Adults in Public Libraries will involve collecting and analyzing national data from more than 700 public libraries.

In addition, the team of investigators will pilot a new approach to studying library space design. They will create replications of physical library spaces in Second Life’s three-dimensional virtual world, and then collect data regarding perceptions of the replicated physical space.

Dr. Jeremy Kemp, a faculty member with the San José State University School of Library and Information Science, is an internationally recognized expert in use of immersive environments for learning. Kemp will serve as the project’s expert regarding analysis of YA spaces in the immersive world of Second Life.

The ultimate goal of this research is to improve library utilization by youth through creating equitable and engaging spatial resources. Research results will help library and design professionals assess, prioritize, and evaluate current spaces and involve young people in future redesigns. Results will also help library leaders better envision the connections between space design and the institution’s ability to engage young people in the 21st century.

Other research team members include Dr. Michael Males, an expert demographer and quantitative researcher, who currently serves as senior researcher for the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, a San Francisco advocacy group, and Dr. Denise Agosto, a leading qualitative researcher in YA services and associate professor with the College of Information Science and Technology at Drexel University. Two architecture firms will also participate in the study, helping ensure that the findings are relevant to design professionals.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services, the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums, announced the award on September 27, 2010.