The newest issue of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults (JRLYA) is now published and freely available online at: It includes two award-winning papers from YALSA’s Midwinter Paper Presentation series and two additional research papers describing recent research related to teens and library services.

Mega Subramaniam’s paper “Designing the Library of the Future for and with Teens: Librarians as the ‘Connector’ in Connected Learning” won the 2015 YALSA Midwinter Paper Presentation award. In her paper, Prof. Subramaniam describes the basic concepts of connected learning and discusses five cooperative inquiry techniques that librarians can adapt for use in working with teens to design library programs and services. Each technique creates design partnerships between adults and teens, building on the concept of connect learning and enabling teens to take active roles in their own learning and library programming. The five design techniques include: “bags of stuff,”  “mission to Mars,” “layered elaboration,” “big paper,” and “sticky noting.”

Kyungwon Koh and June Abbas received the 2016 YALSA Midwinter Paper Presentation award for their paper entitled: “Competencies Needed to Provide Teen Library Services of the Future: A Survey of Professionals in Learning Labs and Makerspaces.” They discuss their survey of information professionals who manage makerspaces and other learning spaces in libraries and museums. The survey results reveal common job responsibilities and the major skills and knowledge needed for effective management of these spaces. The survey findings have much to teach us as the field of teen librarianship moves toward continued broadening of the role of libraries as informal education institutions.

In the first of the two other papers in this issue, Anthony Chow, Rebecca Morris, Karla Regan, Samantha Lam, and Jessica Sherard present “How Usable Are School Library Websites? A Random Sample from All Fifty States.” For the study, the authors examined the layout, content, and usability of 300 school library websites and surveyed 102 school librarians about their school library websites. They found the sites to be largely static information resources with limited design features suited to maximizing students’ cognitive, affective, and general interests. The paper concludes with suggestions for improving school library website design and a checklist that school librarians can use to make their websites more age-appropriate.

Lastly, in “The Impact of Social Media on Ghanaian Youth: A Case Study of the Nima and Maamobi Communities in Accra, Ghana,” Evelyn Markwei investigates young adults’ use of social media at Internet cafés in the Ghanaian capital city. She worked with 150 young people between the ages of 11 and 19, all of whom lived in economically and educationally disadvantaged urban communities. She found these youth to rely on Internet cafes as well as mobile phones for Internet access due to limited home access and limited knowledge of available public library Internet services. She concludes the paper with recommendations for better educating youth across Ghana about best practices for social media use, and with suggestions for policy and educational interventions to improve Ghanaian youths’ Internet use practices and educational opportunities.

Note: Feeling inspired to conduct some research on libraries and teens? Consider applying for a future YALSA Midwinter Paper Award, which comes with a $1,500 stipend to cover Midwinter travel, registration, and hotel fees. Applications are due June 1 each year.

Submitted by: Denise E. Agosto, editor, JRLYA


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