Brief #3

Library 285

Susan Lee

The 90s articles on youth services that I located for this assignment were found through Jstor. Iulia P. Malent’eva’s “Youth Services in Russian Libraries in an Era of Social Change” and Leonard Kniffel’s “The Changing Face of Youth Services in China” focus youth services abroad as the titles suggest but in the specter of the country’s social and political climate. Both Russia and China created and maintained public libraries dedicated solely for the youth. Malent’eva’s traces the history of youth library in Russia and analyzes their approaches to services such as acquisitions and reference. Youth services is all-encompassing for Malent’eva – covering grade-school aged children to college students. Services were once uniform and monotonous but social and ideological changes have led to a new form of young adult library activity.

The article traces the developments that led to the change in youth services, both positive and negative, but does not use surveys, prior research, or direct interviews with young library users. Malent’eva concludes the article by stating that the new government-run youth libraries are a huge success but does not back this statement up with fact, statistics, quotes from youth users, or any specific research. The claim may be valid but there is nothing offered to reinforce it. Malent’eva argues against dismantling Russia’s young adult libraries, something not mentioned earlier in the article at all. The core question of the article is hard to discern.

Kniffel’s article is more thoroughly put-together, assessing how youth library users are adapting to changes in their library system due to socialism. Kniffel traveled to Beijing with a group of American librarians to speak directly with groups of Chinese students about their modern, new five-story West District Juvenile and Children’s Library, one of three in the country specifically dedicated to young people. The library featured its own playground and state-of-the-art movie theater which regularly ran Hollywood films.

Kniffel’s article is definitely more focused as he describes a building boom fueled by capitalism and a newfound emphasis on children. As well as briefly delving into history and politics, he provides the direct contact and more thorough look at youth subjects that Malent’eva as well as Carver and Vandergrift, were lacking. He offers statistics, direct testimony, and firsthand experiences. Kniffel speaks to Chinese librarians, Chinese educators, students, and young patrons in mainland China regarding their library knowledge and experience, in English so there is no language barrier or room for misinterpretation.

Although Kniffel does not cite prior scholarly research, he does cite American educators and librarians who had prior experience and visits to China’s schools and libraries. The Chinese government heavily influences every aspect of the library experience, including the restrictive access to certain materials and the Internet. Western influences slowly began permeating Chinese libraries in 1978. According to Kniffel’s observations, the Chinese youth libraries are roughly 15 years behind what U.S. public libraries are in terms of technology, experience, and services. Both Malent’eva and Kniffel provided informative looks at international youth library services through the veil of socio-economic and political influence – primarily Communism – but were lacking in thoroughness. Unlike Vandergrift, Kniffel and Malent’eva do not focus on specific subjects, or use surveys/questionnaires for direct study. They both mention informational or reference services, programming, as well as acquisitions but do not delve very deeply into services provided or improvements that could be made.


Craver, Kathleen. (1988). Social Trends in American Young Adult Library Service, 1960-1969. Libraries & Culture, 23 (1), 18-38.

Kniffel, Leonard. (1998). The Changing Face of Youth Services in China. American Libraries, 29 (11), 58-61.

Malent’eva, Iulia P. (1998). Youth Services in Russian Libraries in an Era of Social Change. Libraries and Culture, 33 (1), 69-75.

Vandergrift, K. E. (1989). Are children and teenagers second class users?. Library Resources & Technical Services, 33(4), 393-399.