"It's all about relations" - an investigation into the youth librarian’s role and proficiency

  • Sunniva Evjen Department of Archivistic, Library and Information Science, Oslo Metropolitan University
  • Tonje Vold Department of Archivistic, Library and Information Science, Oslo Metropolitan


Developing library services for children and youth is a challenge for the library community. Statistics show that while younger children are avid library users, their usage often wanes as they grow older. Norwegian children between the ages 9 and 15 visited the library half as much in 2017 as they did in 1991 (SSB 2017). One exception is Biblo Tøyen, Norway’s only library dedicated to children between the ages 10-15. Recently named Library of the Year, the library provides a very popular space for its target group. Based on a qualitative study consisting of participant observation and interviews with members of the library staff, who are not trained librarians, this paper highlights the staff’s varied contributions to establishing Biblo as a third place and developing the participatory elements of the library. We look at what guides the staff in facilitating specialized programming for the users and how they perceive their own their role as library staff by exploring in what ways they have interacted with, learnt from, guided and “policed” the target group in developing a participatory, third-space atmosphere.Our findings suggest that the staffs’ relational capacity is vital for creating a successful library space for this age group. From our study, we propose that the multi-aspect role of the youth librarian as teacher, confidante, inspirer, parent, and guardian needs to be taken into serious account in the future education of librarians and for the development of future youth libraries.


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Evjen, S., & Vold, T. (2018). "It’s all about relations" - an investigation into the youth librarian’s role and proficiency. Nordisk Tidsskrift for Informationsvidenskab Og Kulturformidling, 7(3), 59-73. https://doi.org/10.7146/ntik.v7i3.111487