Youth Services
Librarians Roles and Competencies


  1. Information Provider - Offers reference service, readers' advisory service, information and referral services to children, teens and to adults who care for youth.


  1. Program and Events Coordinator - Provides recreational and informational programs for youth and adults associated with them. Provides learning opportunities. Promotes the value and joy of reading to children and others.


  1. Learning Facilitator - Aids development of others by teaching and by modeling and demonstrating for individuals and for group, library skills, appreciation of books and reading, information seeking and evaluating techniques. Teaches and, by example, demonstrates the process of finding, integrating, using and sharing information. Demonstrates to colleagues that library users of all ages are learners and patrons. Creates environments that help patrons become learners.


  1. Adviser - Provides resources for problem solving. Refers individuals to other resources in community or area.


  1. Collection Developer - Develops and maintains a collection in a variety of formats, to serve current needs and in anticipation of future needs of youth, parents and other adults who care for youth.


  1. Networker - Brings together others in the community who serve and care for youth. Establishes an institutional relationship with schools, social service agencies, public health departments and other organizations serving youth and their families.


  1. Partner/Collaborator - Cooperatively designs, plans and executes programs or projects with personnel of one or more other agencies to meet a need, address an issue, or adopt an initiative that focuses upon youth and their families in a community.


  1. Advocate - Acknowledges and upholds the rights of all youth to library materials and services that meet their needs. Protects the rights of youth.


  1. Manager - Plans, budgets, directs, coordinates, supervises and trains other at various levels. Integrates collections and services for youth into the library as a whole.






As information provider, a youth services librarian offers reference service, reader's advisory service, and information and referral service primarily to children, teens and adults who care for youth. A youth services librarian is a teacher, as well as an information provider when leading people through the process of searching for information in a variety of formats. The youth services librarian must be innovative and resourceful in providing information service to children, teens and adults.


At the Basic Level, the staff person performing the information provider role is able to:

Provide individuals with appropriate information sources and formats

Be approachable

Use interviewing techniques for determining an individual's information needs and interests, reading ability, and comprehension level (see also Communication-K)

Provide quality youth and adult reference service in a non-biased, non-judgmental



At the Enhanced Level, the information provider is able to:

Provide appropriate materials and services to youth with diverse needs based on knowledge of human development and current trends

Guide individuals through the process of searching for and evaluating information in a variety of formats

Refer individuals to related services, programs and resources

Demonstrate current knowledge and appreciation of materials for youth (see also: Collection Developer)

At the Exemplary Level, the information provider is able to:

Evaluate information resources




Programming is integral as an introduction and ongoing link to library services and resources that provide for recreational, informational and educational needs. The youth services librarian promotes the value and joy of reading, a love of libraries, and lifelong use of library materials to persons of all ages.


At the Basic Level, the staff person as program and events coordinator, is able to:

          Be aware of trends I popular culture

          Provide programs that meet the library's mission, goals and objectives

          Develop an informal learning and recreational environment


At the Enhanced Level, the program and events coordinator, is able to:

          Develop networks with community/area organizations

          Plan programs that are responsive to community/area demographics and developmental needs

          Demonstrate effective public relations skills


At the Exemplary Level, the program and events coordinator, is able to:

Plan, develop, promote, implement, and present a wide range of appropriate activities for diverse populations.




The youth services librarian teaches individually and in group settings. Staff teaches, models, demonstrates and facilitates the process of finding, integrating, using and sharing information as well as enjoying literature and reading. The youth services librarian serves not only youth, but also adults who work with youth. These include parents, grandparents, child care providers and other caregivers, social and health care workers, educators, students and other library staff. Teaching can range from explaining to new parents the advantages of reading to their children, to what to look for when selecting books, to a read-aloud workshop for classroom teachers. The youth services librarian also makes other library staff aware of special characteristics/information needs of young library users and adults who work with youth. The youth services librarian demonstrates to colleagues that library users of all ages are learners and patrons.


At the Basic Level, the staff person, as a learning facilitator:

Promotes reading for self help, information and enjoyment, and for developing higher level (critical) thinking skills.


At the Enhanced Level, the learning facilitator:

Has in-depth knowledge of children's and young adult literature

Understands how to use children's and young adult literature for various purposes

Is familiar with issues, trends and research relating to infant, child and adolescent development, reading, library services, literacy, etc.

Understands the learning process and varied learning styles in youth and adults

Is familiar with techniques for teaching youth and adults

Is able to identify learning needs of target groups

Is able to develop measurable learning goals and objectives

Is able to design, plan and organize learning units

Is able to select and use appropriate aids for teaching

Is able to adapt content and teaching technique to target individual or group needs, knowledge and comprehension level

Is able to use appropriate evaluative measures




The youth services librarian provides resources for problem solving by individuals, refers to other resources in the community or area, and provides information on accessing appropriate community resources. The advisor offers strategies and appropriate referrals in a nonjudgmental and supportive manner. The adviser treats all individuals with respect and in a caring way.


At the Basic Level, the staff person as an adviser:

Is able to help an individual define a problem

Demonstrates and promotes tolerance for persons with problems

Listens empathetically without encouraging individuals to become dependent


At the Enhanced Level, the adviser:

Is able to identify community resources and contacts appropriate for personal assistance or problem solving

Understands when and how to refer an individual to other human services and resources


At the Exemplary Level, the adviser:

Is able to distinguish between facilitating a problem solving process and solving a problem for an individual.




When selecting materials, the youth services librarian serves current needs and anticipates future needs of the library's clientele - children, teens parents and child care givers. That person develops and uses unbiased selection policies. The youth services librarian provides a variety of quality and popular materials in several formats and in sufficient quantity to fill needs of all age groups. The collection developer regularly uses weeding procedures a well as appropriate selection procedures to develop and maintain a well balanced collection.


At the Basic Level, the staff person, as collection developer:

Applies principles and policies related to collection development on a continuous basis

Uses appropriate review sources

Selects resources in various formats for appropriate ages and developmental stages

Uses appropriate assessment and weeding techniques to maintain the vitality of the collection

Reads widely

Is information literate


At the Enhanced Level, the collection developer:

Applies various techniques to evaluate and select print, on-line and media resources

Selects materials that reflect both community and global diversity

Is aware of popular culture

Prioritizes collection development based on budget constraints and community needs


At the Exemplary Level, the collection developer:

Assesses and revises the library's collection development policy on a continuous basis

Influences editors, publishers and vendors to better respond to community needs

Develops and implements intellectual freedom and collection development policies related to youth access to library resources




The youth services librarian plays a key role in bringing together others in the community who work with youth and their families, as well as provides resources and information to agencies and individuals who care for and serve youth. Networking is defined as establishing relationships, mutually promoting programs/services, and assessing needs. An outcome of networking is the development and implementation of collaborative programs. See also Partner-G, Advocate-H, Program and Events Coordinator-B.


At the Basic Level, the staff person, as a networker:


Is aware of and promotes services and programs available to and designed for youth and their families;

Is able to work in and with a group.


At the Enhanced Level the networker:


Participates I community literacy initiatives with agencies working in areas of literacy

Is committed to school/public library cooperation

Networks with professional colleagues at local, state and national levels


At the Exemplary Level, the networker:

Works with social services staff, health care providers, educators and others;

Participates in regional, state and national organizations (both library and youth service related.




As a partner* (or collaborator), a youth services librarian cooperatively designs, plans, executes and evaluates a program or project with personnel of one or more other agencies to meet a need, address an issue, or adopt an initiative I a community. As a partner, a youth services librarian is a decision maker with others I a community, o within an organization or government agency, to foster community well being, organizational goals, initiatives at various governmental levels, etc. Such activities may include, but are not limited to, co-sponsoring programs with community agencies, organizations or schools that serve youth and/or adults; establishing or participating in an advisory committee to plan and design projects that serve youth and their families or caregivers; contracting services; and developing and implementing joint grant writing projects. The partner is also an active networkers (see Networker-F).


At the Basic Level, the staff person, as a partner or collaborator:


Assesses targeted audience and their needs

Communicates effectively

Articulates the library's mission and goals

Exhibits an attitude of mutual respect and cooperation

At the Exemplary Level, the partner or collaborator:


Builds consensus using group process techniques appropriate to a situation;

Cooperates with persons from other agencies or organizations with diverse goals.


*Partner, Partnership - used for any of the following levels of cooperative effort:

Cooperation - collective action for common well being or progress

Coalition - a temporary alliance of distinct parties or persons for joint action or to achieve a common purpose

Collaboration - a work jointly with an agency or group with which one is not immediately connected often in some political or economic effort


Partnership - a relationship which may be legal and which usually involves close cooperation between parties having specified and joint rights and responsibilities (as in a common enterprise)




The youth services librarian respects all youth and acknowledges their rights to library materials and services to meet their needs and interests. The youth services librarian respects diversity in cultures, situations and abilities of youth and their families. To protect these rights, this person speaks for youth within the library and the larger community and is willing to participate with others in advocacy.


At the Basic Level, the staff person, as advocate:


Advocates for youth services within the organization

Supports equal access to material and services for youth

Demonstrates that youth are patrons and learners

Promotes the rights of youth

Understands organizational structures and political processes

Articulates issues and strategies clearly and tactfully

Promotes levels of parental involvement in youth selection and use of materials

Uses public relations techniques


At the Enhanced Level, the advocate:

Represents the library in youth advocacy concerns

Observes ad understands trends and patterns in issue development


At the Exemplary Level, the advocate:

Understands which decision makers are involved in an issue or situation

Uses various and effective strategies to build recognition and support for youth issues

>Is familiar with coalition building techniques

Is knowledgeable about legal issues affecting youth and families




All youth services staff perform some managerial functions, such as planning services, operating within a budget, supervising and training others.


At the Basic Level, the staff person, as manager is:


Able to use appropriate planning processes

Able to organize a project from planning through implementation and evaluation

Able to develop and work within a budget

Able to supervise, train and encourage others

Able to use appropriate measurement and evaluation methods

Able to work with individuals, local media, and other groups, using appropriate techniques, to promote youth services

Knowledgeable about the organizational structure and operations (see J)


At the Enhanced Level, the manager is:

Able to develop policies, guidelines and standards

Familiar with financial management theories and methods

Able to develop grant proposals

Familiar with personnel management and human resource development principles and Practices




Youth services staff should have appropriate technical and organizational knowledge for the assigned job. If each library staff member has this knowledge, library operations are likely to be efficient and patrons are more assured of receiving quality service.


Every youth services staff person demonstrates knowledge of:

The library's mission, goals and objectives

The library's philosophy of service

The library's policies and procedures;

The library's structure, governance and funding

The functions of the various library departments and/or services

The library's materials and collections

The influence of architecture, traffic patterns, signage, displays, etc. on library atmosphere

Laws currently affecting libraries and pending legislative changes

Budgeting methods and processes

Various techniques for assessing individual or community needs




Listening skills and the ability to communicate with the public and with other staff are fundamental to respect and understanding. Staff dealing with youth must be especially aware of these skills so they project the appropriate demeanor to children and youth.


Every youth services staff person:

Communicates appropriately with the user

Speaks clearly and effectively one-to-one, within groups, and in presentations to groups

Uses appropriate interviewing techniques for determining an individual's needs

Approaches others with poise, confidence and self control

Is comfortable with a diverse community of individuals and audiences

Writes clearly and effectively

Is approachable

Listens effectively

Recognizes nonverbal communications

Responds to all tactfully




Youth services staff demonstrates positive personal characteristics and traits. Every youth services staff person:

          Is tactful

          Is assertive

          Has a sense of humor

          Is able to make appropriate decisions, i.e., initiates and uses effective problem solving techniques

          Is able to use calm, logical approaches to problems

          Admits the need to confer with, or refer a patron to, another person or agency

          Is able to set priorities

          Is flexible

          Is innovative

          Is enthusiastic

          Likes children and teens

          Takes responsibility for her or his actions

          Is trustworthy

          Is accurate and pays attention to detail




A youth services staff person develops and demonstrates professional attitudes, as well as understands the functions of library service to youth in both public library and school settings. This person is committed to equal service for all patrons, to high standards of personal and professional ethics, and to the protection of patrons' privacy and their rights to intellectual freedom in their pursuit of knowledge. This person also is willing to participate in activities to improve job performance and to grow professionally.


          Every youth services staff person:

                   Understands the purpose of library service in society;

                   Is committed to equal service for all patrons;

                   Is committed to protecting patrons right to privacy in their search for information;

                   Defends the right of children and teens to access of information;

                   Maintains a high standard of personal and professional ethics;

                   Participates in professional activities;

                   Participates in continuing education activities;

                   Keeps informed concerning trends, topics, research and issues in librarianship, youth services, youth development, reading, library materials, literacy and education.

More information about the Youth Services Workbook.

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