Blank gif
An Educator's Guide to Technology and the Web
Search Internet@Schools
Subscribe Today!

View Current Issue
View Past Issues

Internet @ Schools

IMLS Issues Study on Youth Programs in Museums and Libraries

Posted Jan 2, 2008
Bookmark and Share

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has announced the release of Museums and Libraries Engaging America’s Youth: Final Report of a Study of IMLS Youth Programs, 1998-2003 . The study, which is part of IMLS’s initiative, Museums and Libraries Engaging America’s Youth, examined Institute-funded programs for youth aged 9-19 and surveyed nearly 400 museum and library programs about their goals, strategies, impact, and outcomes.

The year-long study was conducted for IMLS by the Institute for Learning Innovation (ILI), a nonprofit learning research organization based in Edgewater, MD, that focuses on understanding informal learning. Workshops were held at IMLS offices with a Youth Action Committee and representatives of select grants to develop a set of case studies to illustrate effective practices. Companion publications in the Nine to Nineteen: Youth in Museums and Libraries series include a practitioners’ guide and a policy brief set for release in 2008.

Museums and libraries bring unique assets to youth development, according to the study. They include dedicated, knowledgeable staff; authentic objects, artifacts, and information resources; opportunities for personalized, hands-on learning; support for cognitive and social development; and experiences to help parents, families, and caregivers make learning fun and rewarding. According to the study, the most effective youth programs:

--include long-term, trusting, supportive relationships between and among youth, staff, and other adults;
--partner with community-based organizations and other cultural institutions;
--substantively involve youth in program design and decision making; and,
--regularly assess or evaluate, using what’s learned to improve the program and strengthen other youth development efforts.

IMLS has a long-standing commitment to funding grants and sponsoring research on the subject of how both preschool and school-age children learn, and how museums and libraries support such learning. Grants are awarded through two programs: discretionary and state programs. Between 1998 and 2003, through its discretionary grant programs, IMLS funded an estimated $25 million in grants that engaged youth aged 9–19 in productive educational activities that improved their skills and relationships. For the same period, through its state program, IMLS funded an estimated $214 million in programs to support youth services.

To read the complete study, please go to

Source: The Institute of Museum and Library Services,

Blank gif