Two Pioneers of Young Adult Library Services

Stuart Hannabuss (The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 1 April 2000




Hannabuss, S. (2000), "Two Pioneers of Young Adult Library Services", Library Review, Vol. 49 No. 3, pp. 139-156.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

This is the second in this series of short books (the first is on young adult library selection and sex), and is named after the journal Voice of Youth Advocates which Mary K. Chelton co‐founded, and which, along with other journals such as School Library Journal and Top of the News, provided an important mouthpiece advocating reading and library services for young adults in the USA in the 1970s and afterwards. Campbell won the Grolier Award in 1989 for her services to librarianship, and has been a librarian in Los Angeles and a contributor to The Horn Book.

There are two short reminiscences in this work: the first is based on an interview Mary Chelton had in 1975 with the pioneer of young adult services, Mabel Williams. Williams worked with the legendary Anne Carroll Moore (on whom Frances Clarke Sayers wrote a memorable biography in 1972) and, with her, developed children’s and young adult library services in New York and elsewhere. Chelton collaborated with James Rosinia on Bare Bones: Young Adult Services (Public Library Association/American Library Association, 1993), a work of enthusiastic advocacy worth comparing with the more sardonic Connecting Young Adults and Libraries (Neal‐Schuman, 1992) by Patrick Jones.

The other reminiscence is of Margaret Edwards, another determined pioneer, whose book The Fair Garden and the Swarm of Beasts: the Library and the Young Adult (originally published in 1969 has been edited by Campbell and republished by the ALA, 1994). Readers will get from this not only a warm set of memories: they will see the work and attitudes of dedicated children’s specialists, and this, from today’s perspective of a generalist emphasis on information and demand‐driven learning, and at a time when “book talk” and “book advocacy” seems old‐fashioned, is a message worth remembering. The transformation power of reading has been said so often that it has almost become invisible in a world where library use equates to utilitarian information, or boredom, or both.

Related articles