Youth Services


Youth Services — MLIS Career Pathway

The Youth Services career pathway is designed to prepare students for positions as children’s and/or young adult (YA) librarians or coordinators in public libraries, youth specialists on a regional or state level, or as information professionals in organizations principally serving youth, as well as to offer library generalists appropriate coursework to prepare for serving a public that includes youth.

Students who want to become school librarians or school district library coordinators will be taking some of the courses from this specialization, but they should follow the Teacher Librarianship career path.

This career pathway focuses on the intersection of youth culture, society, libraries, and information for youth ages 0-18.

See also: Association for Library Service to Children: Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Libraries (2020) and Young Adult Library Services Association: Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff (2019)

Employment Opportunities

Employment opportunities for students in this career path include appointments in public libraries, academic libraries with special collections in materials for youth, private schools, public schools (with appropriate credential), and other institutions designed to either provide direct or indirect support to youth (for example, librarians embedded in community agencies serving foster youth and juvenile detention centers.) Positions titles might include:

  • Youth Services Librarian or Coordinator
  • Children’s Librarian, Specialist, or Coordinator
  • Young Adult or Teen Librarian, Specialist, or Coordinator
  • Youth Outreach Specialist or Librarian
  • Regional or State Youth Specialist
  • Reference Librarian (with responsibilities for YA Services)

MLIS Skills at Work

The MLIS Skills at Work includes important trends and data that are needed to prepare for career advancement within the information professions. The following information within the report relates directly to the Youth Services career path. However, slides #14, #15, #16 and #17 showcase/highlight the skills most valuable to employers.

  • See the MLIS Skills at Work report, slides #5 through #11 for more detailed information about hiring trends and slide #22 for representative job titles
  • See slide #43 to view sample job titles, job duties, job skills, and technology/standards for public libraries, which include youth services
  • See also slides #27 (Collection, Acquisition and Circulation), #26 (Cataloging and Metadata), #34 (Reference and Research), and #33 (Outreach, Programming and Instruction) for additional roles within this career pathway

Core Theory and Knowledge

Recognition of the ways in which youth services both collaborates and competes with other service units.

Demonstration of comprehensive knowledge of youth services operations and resource management, including but not limited to the following:

  • Knowledge of developmental needs and processes, leading to an understanding of the behaviors exhibited by youth
  • Ability to create a comfortable space appropriate for children or for young adults
  • An understanding of the principles of intellectual freedom, including how to prepare for and deal with challenges of all kinds

Ability to create, manage, and evaluate a coordinated plan for youth services, including but not limited to the following:

  • Create a coordinated plan for programming and outreach to youth
  • Evaluate and select materials for youth, in order to build a collection that includes a variety of topics, media and formats
  • Presentation skills relevant to a youth audience, including but not limited to reading aloud, storytelling and booktalking
  • Skill with a variety of technologies used by youth, such as current and new social media
  • Acknowledgement of the importance and responsibility of professional self-advocacy, career development, and leadership

MLIS Requirements

The MLIS program requires 43 units for graduation. Within those units, six courses (16 units) are required of all MLIS students and must be taken as part of all career pathways: INFO 203, INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204, INFO 285, and either INFO 289 or INFO 299. Beyond those six courses, a student is free to select electives reflecting individual interests and aspirations. See: MLIS Information.

If you are interested in this career pathway, you may choose to select from the foundation and recommended course electives listed below. Foundation courses form the foundational knowledge and skills for this pathway. The Youth Services pathway requires that one of the two listed foundation courses must be taken as a pre-requisite to any of the recommended elective courses.

The Career Pathway described here is provided solely for advising purposes. No special designation appears on your transcript or diploma. All students get an MLIS degree.

Recommended Coursework

Required Courses:

Pre-requisite Foundation Course (one of these must be taken as a pre-requisite to the Youth Services Recommended Materials elective courses and INFO 267 in the Services and Programming electives):

Recommended Courses:

The youth services faculty has recommended possible course work in four areas: Materials, Services and Programming, Management and Administration, and Emerging Information and Communication Technologies. This is a suggested course of study but students are welcome to a deeper exploration of a focus area.

We recommend a minimum of 2 courses.

Services and Programming
We recommend a minimum of 2 courses.

Management and Administration
We recommend a minimum of 1 course.

Emerging Information and Communication Technologies
We recommend a minimum of 1 course.

It is also highly recommended that you participate in INFO 294 — Professional Experience: Internships

Effective leadership and management (of people and information) is critically important for all types of work environments and clients. We recommend that students also consider selecting courses from the Leadership and Management career path to complement or supplement core skills in other areas.


Faculty pathway advisors are available to help guide you and answer questions about planning a career in their area of expertise.

Learn More

  • Read Community Profiles of students and alumni pursuing this career pathway.
  • Browse presentations by professionals working in youth librarianship.
  • Search the Alumni Career Spotlights for alumni working in this field. Consider contacting alumni for an informational interview.