Making a Positive Difference in Children’s Lives: YA Librarians are “Growing Young Minds”
The Institute of Museums and Library Services (IMLS) recently released the report, “Growing Young Minds: How Museums and Libraries Create Lifelong Learners.” Dr. Mary Ann Harlan, lecturer and Teacher Librarian program coordinator at the San José State University School of Library and Information Science (SJSU SLIS), shares her viewpoint.
As someone with a deep interest and commitment to providing space and opportunity for youth to explore their own interests and engage in learning opportunities, I was excited to see the June 2013 IMLS report “Growing Young Minds.”
The report highlights the role of museums and libraries in early childhood education. Museums and libraries “form an extensive, diverse infrastructure of informal learning that is equipped to deliver critical early learning resources to young children and families.” This is perhaps the most exciting opportunity for youth service librarians. The report is a call to seize the opportunity and improve the ways in which we reach out to our communities and collaborate to meet early learning challenges.
Research has identified the power of a hands-on, experimental learning that can occur in museums and libraries (cited in IMLS report). Unfortunately, there is also a gap in experience for children from low-income families. Libraries, in particular, are democratic spaces in that they provide resources and programs for free, which removes barriers to access. This suggests libraries have the capacity to address this gap, playing a stronger role in early childhood education. The report highlights 10 innovative programs that museums and libraries can model to “create lifelong learners.” View full report: “Growing Young Minds”
In reading the IMLS report “Growing Young Minds,” it became apparent that the role of a young adult librarian is evolving. While youth librarianship is a traditional career pathway, innovative approaches to youth service can provide new opportunities.
For instance, the “Champions of Change,” highlighted by the White House for “reaching young children and their families with early learning opportunities,” exemplify the positive difference youth service librarians can make in our communities. They serve as role models for students pursuing their Teacher Librarian services credential and/or Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree at the San José State University School of Library and Information Science.
About the Author
Dr. Mary Ann Harlan has a more than a decade of experience serving as a teacher librarian. She is a recent graduate of the San José Gateway Ph.D. program, an international doctoral program offered in partnership between the San José State University School of Library and Information Science and Queensland University of Technology. Her doctoral research examined how teens create and share online content, including films, visual artwork, music, and websites. Harlan is a lecturer at the San José State University School of Library and Information Science. She teaches courses in the fully online Teacher Librarian program and the fully online Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program. She is also a San José State University School of Library and Information Science alumna, with a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science.