Guest Blogger, Technology

Young Children, New Media & Libraries Survey: The Results Are In!

Have you heard that librarians are using new media in their programming for young children? Are you perhaps one of these trail-blazers? Do you ever wonder what else is happening in the library world with respect to new media? For the first time, we have some answers to these questions and more, and we are going to share some teasers with you. The full results will be published in Children & Libraries in 2015. Many thanks to everyone who responded to the survey.

Between August 1 and August 18, 2014, 415* children’s librarians responded to a survey of 9 questions concerning the use of new media with young children in libraries. The survey was created as a collaborative effort between Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), LittleeLit.com, and the iSchool at the University of Washington, and was partially inspired by a similar survey created by Karen Nemeth, Fran Simon, and Dale McManis in the early childhood education world. They investigated technology use in the classroom and published and presented their results at a number of NAEYC-related events.

Cen Campbell and the LittleeLit.com community had been developing promising practices for the use of technology with young children in public libraries, but had no statistics on how widespread and varied this use was in the United States. So a team that included Cen, Joanna Ison, Liz Mills, and Amy Koester–in partnership with ALSC–designed the first survey of public libraries to find out about emergent technology access and programming for children. The survey was then pilot-tested with public libraries in Washington and California, refined and administered through SurveyMonkey.com, and disseminated through the ALSC listserv, the Little eLit Google group, Storytime Underground, and all parties’ respective social media accounts.

Pie chart of the respondents by legal service area population.
Pie chart of the respondents by legal service area population.


Here is some of what we learned:

How is new media being used?

  • More than 70% of respondents are using some kind of new media in their programming for young children. 40% are using devices in storytime; 31% are using devices in other programs that are not storytimes.
  • More than 20% of respondents are offering device mentoring in some form (e.g., appointment with librarian, office hours for devices, etc.). Of that number, 2% are offering mentoring for devices that are multilingual for non-native English speakers.

Who do our respondents represent?

  • 22% of respondents are serving a legal service area population of less than 5,000; 40% of those respondents are planning to increase their availability and use of new media devices in library programs and services.
  • 18% of total respondents serve the 25,000-49,999 legal service area population; 60% of those respondents are planning to increase their availability and use.

What types of new media are being used and how were they acquired?

  • Respondents indicated quite an array of devices being used: Tablets (iPads, Samsung Galaxies, Nexus 7), Kindles and Nooks, digital cameras and MP3 players, AWE stations and Playaways, as well as LeapPads, Nabis, Tumblebooks, and others.
  • 58% consulted some kind of outside source when acquiring their new media: personal experience, recommendation from colleague, training, professional journals, and others.

Is there another viewpoint?

  • 14% of total respondents indicated that no devices are present in their libraries either because of a lack of community need or because of budgetary constraints.

Thank you to everyone who responded to the Young Children, New Media, and Libraries survey. We greatly appreciate your collaboration to help us gain a better understanding of what is taking place in your libraries around the country. Stay tuned for further data analysis and an explanation of methods coming soon!

A map of where survey respondents are from.
A visual map of where survey respondents are from.

*The total of 415 respondents includes five duplicate submissions–that is, five libraries submitted two copies of the survey, each with different responses (presumably by two different staff members). These duplicates are included in our data and will be discussed as a possible contributor to margin of error in the comprehensive write-up of this study.


Our guest blogger today were Cen Campbell and Liz Mills. Cen is a children’s librarian and founder of LittleeLit.com. She is currently co-chairing the Evolving the Carnegie Award Task for ALSC. Liz received her MLIS in 2013 and is now a second-year PhD student at the iSchool. she is interested in studying how storytimes of all kinds are planned and designed with respect to learning theory and connected learning.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

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