May 27, 2022

Full Text Article: The History and Evolution of Library Services to Teens in the United States

The following article appears in the May 2014 issue of The Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults.


Beyond Books, Nooks, and Dirty Looks: The History and Evolution of Library Services to Teens in the United States


Shari A. Lee
Assistant Professor
St. John’s University


The Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults
Vol 4 (May 2014)
Published by Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)


Public libraries have had a long, though decidedly less than adequate, tradition of serving teens. While there have been encouraging transformations occurring in many of these institutions, a significant number continue to lag in their efforts to serve this group. Underlying this lag is not only the dearth of research that examines public library services to teens but also the quality of several recently published books about teen library services. Building on a background discussion of the purpose that U.S. public libraries were meant to serve, the development and provision of library services to teens is considered with specific focus on issues that have influenced and/or presented barriers to these services. Finally, using a model for inquiry that draws on William Scott, who posits that institutions are comprised of three pillars that enable them to keep order and provide meaning to individuals, the paper proposes that researchers look to the institution rather than at the community for new insights on serving and connecting with teens as a user group in a more meaningful way.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.