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IMLS Issues Study on Youth Programs in Museums and Libraries

Posted Jan 2, 2008
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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 http://www.imls.gov/pdf/YouthReport.pdf.

Source: The Institute of Museum and Library Services, www.imls.gov


 
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