Digital Reference Services For Young Adults

By Maria-Elizabeth Vicente



Definition of Digital Reference

Who, exactly, are Young Adults?

A Day in the Life of Young Adults...What are the Information Needs of Young Adults?

Seek and Retrieve-The Information Seeking Behavior and Information Retrieval Behavior of Young Adults

Digital Reference Services For Young Adults and Relevant Sources

Concluding Remarks

Appendix A: Excerpt from Internet Filters: Library Access Issues in a Cyberspace World by Dr. Alvin Schrader

Appendix B: Excerpt from Internet Filters: Library Access Issues in a Cyberspace World by Dr. Alvin Schrader

Appendix C: Magazines For Young Adults

Appendix D: Magazines for Adults with Young Adult Appeal

Appendix E: Magazine Web Sites and E-Zines For Young Adults

Appendix F: The Online Homework Center Resources

Appendix G: Example of an Edmonton Public Library Pathfinder

Appendix H: Teen Issues Resources and Suggested 'Fun' Resources For Young Adults

LIS 600 Reflective Paper



          Young adults form a significant proportion of the population of

users that public libraries serve. In fact, according to Nichols and

Nichols, twenty-five percent of patrons that walk through the doors of

libraries are young adults (xi). There are many different reasons why

young adults come to the library. These reasons can include finding

reading material for fun and for completing assignments, to hang out

with their friends, to partake in the various library programs, and to use

the public access Internet terminals. With this in mind, two of the most

important services that the library provides to young adults are access

to information and access to Internet terminals. According to Hughes-

Hassell and Miller, “about 17 million youth aged 12 through 17 years

are Internet users”. For young adults who do not have Internet access at

home, the library is a safe place where they can gain access to this

important resource. Where access to information is concerned, Lesley

Farmer states that “probably the main service that adolescents need is

information and access to it” (5). Whether this includes providing

access to the Internet or help in order to complete an assignment, all

library staff must be prepared to help young adults find the information

they need. In order to do this successfully, library staff need to

understand what the information needs of young adults are, where

young adults go to find information and how they go about locating this

information. Once library staff arrive at an understanding of these young

adult behaviors, they can work towards organizing and creating digital

reference services that will be both useful and relevant for young adults.

This essay will address the information seeking behaviors and the

information retrieval behaviors of young adults. It will also seek to

describe how digital reference services for young adults should be

organized based on their information needs and uses. Prior to this

discussion, definitions of both digital reference and young adults will be



This essay was written for LIS 536, Digital Reference and Information Retrieval, taught at
the School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta.  It was designed as
a web site to fulfill the requirements of LIS 600, Capping Exercise.  Any questions or
comments may be directed to Maria-Elizabeth Vicente.

Web Site Updated On February 27, 2005.