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wiiPublic and school libraries have always contained a wide variety of resources for children and young adults. Over the past century, libraries have increasingly provided access to nonprint materials such as maps, photographs, slides, and kits.

The past few decades have seen a tremendous increase in electronic materials for children and young adults. These kinds of materials include computer software, audio CDs, DVDs, mobile apps, and Internet resources.

Increasingly, libraries are being designed with electronic materials and gaming areas in mind.

The Wikimedia Commons image on the left shows two boys playing wii tennis.

Read Ahead of the Game focusing on librarian Kelly Czarnecki's focus on gaming, computer programming, and multimedia production in the library. Think about how both the resources and spaces of libraries are changing.

Read Tripp, Lisa (2011). Digital Youth, Libraries, and New Media Literacy. The Reference Librarian, 52, 329-341.

SATTechnology and Today's Youth

In the past, students preparing for the SAT or ACT carried around heavy books for study. Today, they use a smartphone app such as SAT Challenge by Princeton Review.

Read the Pew Internet: Teens, Teens and Technology Report and Younger Americans' Library Habits and Expectations from the PewResearchCenter. How do these data and statistics impact young services in public and school libraries?
Check out the infographic Are the Millennials Using Technology for Good?

Publishers are beginning to address the changing needs, interests, and desires of young consumers by providing new resources and services.

try itTry It!
Go to Penguin Young Readers. Notice the options for downloading apps, exploring discussions, visiting book websites, and following with social technology. Also, explore the Scholastic Media Room for the many ways this publisher is using social media.

Over the past decade, the introduction of mobile apps and e-book readers have had a major impact on the lives of young people. Many youth have never known life without these devices.

Watch the following YouTube video titled Kristiena and Meagan Share Thoughts on Reading, Choice, and Kindles YouTube showing two teens discussing use of Kindle e-book readers.


Electronic Materials Defined

Electronic materials are much less tangible than traditional materials such as books or paper maps. The data itself is stored electronically and requires some kind of device to display information. For example, a compact disc can be played on an audio player or computer.

How many times have you read the story Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss? When you think of the book, you might think of the traditional print version. However there are many ways to experience this story. Did you know there's even an iPhone App? Learn more able Dr. Seuss apps at Oceanhouse Media.

green eggs

CDs and DVDs

CDs and DVDs are used to store all kinds of information and learning resources. Although the introduction of web-based resources and mobile apps has reduced their popularity, they are still available in most libraries. Keep in mind that some families may still not have Internet access, but they may have an older computer with a disc drive. In schools, older computers are often used for remediation and practice using software programs on CDs and DVDs.

Many educational software programs combine informational, instructional, and creativity resources. The software may include background information on the topic, contain practice questions, and also encourage students to develop projects using information from the software. For example, WiggleWorks by Scholastic focuses on early literacy by having students listen to narrated stories, practice reading concepts, record their voices, and write and illustrate their own stories.

An increasing number of software packages provide web-based support, downloads, and extra games. Building Cars with Gary Gadget is an example. Participants help Gary by choosing parts of the cars and correctly positioning them on an empty chassis. In addition, users solve problems and complete tasks.


Internet and Websites

The Internet has dramatically changed the way people access information. A web page is viewed using a web browser on the computer or other devices such as a smartphone or iPad.

The benefit of electronically stored materials is their flexibility. Rather than walking or driving to the library, patrons can access electronic materials anywhere, anytime through the Internet. Although some materials are still stored on CDs or DVDs, an increasing number are shared digitally through the Internet.

Beyond the informational materials found on the web, a growing number of young people use the Internet as a integral part of their social life.

Although some people have expressed concern that digital content will replace paper-based materials such as books, others feel that all materials can co-exist. Increasingly, web-based content and print content are intermingling. The article Crossover Dreams: Turning Free Web Work Into Real Book Sales by Motoko Rich in The New York Times (12/13/2007) discusses how a web-based comic became a printed book. Read other examples of web-based comics for mature readers that became print books such as A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge and Shooting War.

Did you know that popular book Diary of a Wimpy Kid started out as a Fun Brain Comic? Check out the original book online at Diary of a Wimpy Kid. You can also read other comics such as On the Rocks, Skullduggery Island, and Tess's Tree.

Browse the research at Scholastic's Research and Reports page. Think about how digital resources are being using by young people.

E-Books Readers and Tablets

ipadAn e-book is a book delivered as an electronic file. Software is needed to run your e-book on your computer or your mobile device. Some books are produced in special e-book formats that can be viewed on a computer or a special e-Book reader such as the Kindle. Learn more about the Kindle and the Nook.

This technology has been in the news over the past few years. Some have predicted that e-books will replace print books, while others say e-books will never have large scale adoption. Recently sales indicate that e-book readership is increasingly quickly including the youth market.

A new wave of tablet technology is changing how people think about screen reading. More than e-books, these tools allow users to run mobile technology apps and multimedia in addition to e-books. Explore examples at iPad.

Read Tablet and E-Reader Ownership Update from PewInternet.
Think about the children, young adults, and adults you know. What devices do they own and use?

Mobile Technology

yalsaappFor many generations, teens have been obsessed with using the telephone. However today's young people have much more than a rotary phone for communicating with friends, many have mobile technology tools with texting options, cameras, GPS, and web access.

Many libraries are creating mobile versions of the websites. For instance, check out the Topeka Library mobile version. In addition, the Academy of American Poets has launched a mobile version of their archives from

Application software is a computer program designed to help the user perform specific tasks. Mobile applications are often called "apps". These resources can be downloaded directly to the device. Many websites are designing mobile apps to complement their websites. For instance, try downloading YALSA's Teen Book Finder app.

Although Apple's iTune Apps are the best known, there are many other mobile devices with specialized apps. Tools such as Appitalism and AppShopper allow users to search for apps for particular devices such as the Android and Blackberry smartphones and Facebook and Twitter websites. While many apps are free, others are available for a small charge. Some games are available for free as a "lite" version with the option to pay for the full version or a subscription.

try itTry It!
Explore the education apps available for the iPhone and iPad.
Consider how you might make parents and youth aware of apps for their personal devices. Also, think about the logistics of loading apps on iPads for youth use.

leappadSome mobile devices are stand-alone tools for specific information or learning needs.

For example, there is an increasing demand for hand-held devices such as the SkyScout Personal Planetarium that can be used outdoors at night while viewing the night sky.

Companies such as LeapFrog produce popular lap size and handheld learning devices. Some libraries now check out these kinds of devices.

GPS devices are an example of another stand-alone device that are often checked out of the library in class sets. Geocaching has become a popular leisure activity as well as a project associated with science, history, and geography classes.

Read Suarez, Priscilla & Dudley, Jennifer (Winter 2012). Finding their way how geocaching is an adventure for all, including teens. Young Adult Library Services, 10(2), 32-34. Available through IUPUI.

During the early 2000s laptops became the norm in schools. Some schools and libraries even check-out laptops. However, increasingly these computers are being replaced with tablets such as the iPad.

Many school libraries check out laptop, netbooks, or tablet carts for use in classrooms. They often contain a standard set of software for student use.

Over the next few decades the technology will become even more transparent as files are shared at high speed through wireless systems. As the human interfaces such as computers, headphones, and mice become even more "human-friendly," electronic media will become as common as books in libraries.

teenreadWith all of the changes, will libraries and librarians survive? Yes! They'll survive and thrive by embracing emerging technologies!

Special Needs

Many resources are available to accommodate the needs of people with challenges such as the visually impaired.

For example, Dragon Naturally Speaking is a speech recognition software solution that send emails and instant messages, helps surf the Web, creates documents and more by simply speaking.

Technology has become an important tool in providing access for children and young adults with disabilities.

To learn more, consider enrolling in LIS S622 Resources and Service for People with Disabilities.

Read McGrath, Renee (January 1, 2013). Autism? There's an app for that. Young Adult Library Services, 11(2), 20-24. Available through IUPUI.

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