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Rethinking education of youth and children’s librarians

Guest post by Mega Subramaniam and Amanda Waugh*

Recent reports from a wide variety of sources including the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Joan Ganz Cooney Center (leading researchers on media and young children), and the Young Adult Library Services Association are a clarion call to think differently about the education of youth and children’s librarians. The findings of the report outlined several areas for growth, including that libraries should “bridge the growing digital and knowledge divide,” “leverage teens’ motivation to learn,” “provide workforce development training” and “serve as the connector between teens and other community agencies.”

library professionals demonstrating coding in a public library computer lab
Photo credit: Los Angeles Public Library

Working with partners such as ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) and YALSA, a group of faculty and researchers from the University of Maryland came together to develop a continuing education program for youth librarians serving young people from birth to 18.

With the goal of answering this call to action, a new, online Graduate Certificate of Professional Studies in Youth Experience (YX) will be offered at the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland (UMD) in May 2017.

The YX Certificate will train librarians working with children and teens to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of the issues, concepts and policies related to youth-led learning and programming through libraries;
  • implement best practices to be inclusive of all youth’s needs, in particular youth from disadvantaged populations;
  • apply core theories and models from information science and learning sciences to address needs of youth; and
  • partner with other cultural institutions and community organizations to help with youth programming, education and other projects related to youth development.

There are several events coming up in January 2017 that are relevant to anyone interested in this certificate:

Online information session on January 10, at 1 p.m. EST

YX faculty will describe the courses in this certificate that will enhance librarians’ skills to incorporate design thinking, participatory design, and connected learning into their programming, as well as provide details on the application process. The session will be recorded and the link made available after the session. To participate, please complete the following form either to attend the session or to receive the recording of the session:

ALA Midwinter Conference in Atlanta, January 22-23

The YX faculty will conduct participatory design/information sessions with public librarians working with children and teens. This interactive session will help guide the development of post-MLIS continuing education for youth, teen and children’s librarians, as well as learning more about the Graduate Certificate of Professional Studies in YX. Public librarians working with children and teens are invited to join this session with a team of researchers and library educators to re-envision the next generation of professional education (light refreshments included). Sessions will be on Sunday, January 22 (Room: GWCC A410) and Monday, January 23 (Room: GWCC A406) from 10:30 am to noon. If you would like to participate, please follow this link to register:

And most importantly, applications for the first cohort of Graduate Certificate of Professional Studies in Youth Experience (YX) offered by the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland will open on January 9, 2017. Substantial tuition support is available through the generosity of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. More information about the certificate and the application process is available at:

We are excited to share information about this program with you. If you have any questions, send an email to the YX team at


Mega Subramaniam (@mmsubram) is an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies, studying young adults’ use of libraries for their development of digital literacies and information practices. She led the development of this certificate, and serves as the certification Director.

Amanda Waugh (@amandainmd) is a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies studying the information practices of teens in online communities. She is a certified school librarian with experience in elementary schools. Amanda provides administrative support to the YX Certificate.

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