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Children's Librarians

History

Since ancient times, libraries have been centers where adults could learn, read, and access information. But until the 19th century, no libraries devoted sections to the specific needs and interests of children.

Library historians disagree on when the first public library in the United States that featured resources for children was founded. In 1837, the Arlington (Massachusetts) Public Library became one of the first libraries to offer access to children, according to Library Work with Children by Alice Hazeltine. Families could check out as many as three books and keep them for 30 days. They were even allowed to pull books from the shelves until a change in the library's charter stated that "no person except the librarian shall remove a book from the shelves."

During the 1830s, school district libraries also began to appear in New York and New England and eventually spread throughout the country. Materials in these libraries were typically geared toward assisting students write papers and study for tests.

By the late 1890s and early 1900s, public libraries with children's sections were founded in several major U.S. cities. The Children's Librarian Section of the American Library Association was founded in 1901 to support this new library specialty. During these years, school districts and individual schools also continued to improve their library services. The American Association of School Librarians was founded in 1951, but traces its origins to the early 1910s via various children-oriented discussion groups and roundtables facilitated by its parent organization, the American Library Association.

Today, children's libraries feature not only books, but also periodicals, videos, DVDs, films, maps, photographs, music, toys, games, puzzles, and a variety of other useful resources for children.