Libraries’ Role In Adulthood Preparedness
Children and young adults create and experience a variety of memories at their local public libraries. These are places where they grow their reading and communication skills, learn about their interests and hobbies, and develop important social skills as well as connections to their communities. The library is a space that prepares young adults to face the challenges and tasks that adults experience like job searching, research skills, etc. They play a key factor in teaching “adulting” skills. The role that libraries play in the lives of young Americans is greater than we believe. Those that grow up being supported by their local libraries have an easier transition into adult life.
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Importance of Libraries in Younger Populations
Research surrounding younger Americans shows that there are three distinct groups of young people with different habits in reading, library usage, and attitudes. The surveys within this research reveal a lot about the younger population and emphasize the role that libraries play in their lives.These groups are usually divided by age and encompass older teenagers, college-aged adults, and adults in their late twenties.
Younger Americans in these populations overall show higher technology use, more frequent reading habits, and have more exposure to libraries. They are also more likely to have visited the library in the past year, picked up a book, or used library resources like computers and the internet than older Americans. These patterns show that libraries have access to a generation that is still learning and growing. By offering important resources and opportunities to these age groups, libraries can help ensure that they are equipped with skills needed to help them become successful as adults.
Access to Information
Libraries are well-known as important information centers in their communities. These institutions help equip children and young adults with skills to navigate information and the equipment to do so. Libraries house media centers with a variety of technologies as well as extensive print materials that help open the world to their young patrons. These open access organizations mean that children and young adults can freely explore a variety of ideas and learn while building important literacy skills that will support them as adults.
About 19 percent of the adult population in the United States were performing at the lowest level of literacy in 2017. Low literacy skills can make big impacts on a person’s life down the road. Literacy skills not only help enrich a person’s life but also help ensure that they are able to properly navigate a variety of tasks in the future from going over important documents like contracts and taxes or absorbing news and media around them. It has been shown that communities with high literacy rates have reduced crime and poverty levels as well as increases in democracy, civic engagement, and diversity. Beyond benefits to society, building literacy skills in children and young adults lead to personal benefits for themselves too. They will have higher self-esteems and more confidence in their abilities and, in turn, the choices they make and actions they take.
Adulting Related Programming
Libraries have even taken it a step further and implemented programming into their schedules that are geared towards teaching young adults the skills they need once they are living independently. Many public libraries have begun hosting Adult 101 classes. These cover basic skills like cooking, managing finances, or preparing for interviews.
The Forsyth County Public Library in Georgia is just one example of a library helping young patrons work towards full independence. They hosted a series of events centered around adult life that touched on topics like home buying and insurance. These sessions took place on a monthly basis and featured local businesses and community experts who taught about each topic. Examples of guest speakers included a local seamstress that taught basic sewing skills, a family and consumer sciences agent that taught couponing and budgeting for meals, and human resources staff that covered resume and interview skills.
Libraries have evolved over the years to fill the gap in education and resources for those who need it. Many adults struggle with everyday challenges like budgeting, eating healthy, or basic maintenance of their living environment. The programming that the local public libraries offer are beneficial to their communities because it helps prepare kids and teens for the next steps. These events are open to anyone who is curious and willing to learn and usually offered on multiple occasions. By opening up access to information, libraries are ensuring that the young generation is ready for common obstacles they may come across in their adult lives.