Focus on the Child: Libraries and Literature

This short course is designed to give an understanding of the child and the child's world, and will provide a critical appreciation of the wide range of library collections available to the young. The contribution which public libraries make to the development of literacy amongst the young will be demonstrated and an insight offered into the range of services provided by libraries and other organisations for the young.

Since the nineteenth century, library services to children and young people have constituted one of the most important branches of the public library profession. Collections and services have evolved to support the emerging social, cultural, educational and recreational needs of young people as well as the fundamental requirement for literacy.

The promotion of reading and writing literacies has long been viewed as a fundamental tenet of the philosophy of children’s librarianship, and librarians must be apprised of the latest developments in education, reading and writing methodologies, as well as the reading habits of young people. In the past decade, as a consequence of the influence of the media and electronic publishing, especially e-books, and the emergence of social networking, significant electronic and virtual collections have been established, and access provided to networking systems and the Internet for young people. Consequently, public libraries have had to revaluate their understanding of the term ‘literacy’, and they are establishing broader definitions to include, among others, media and computer literacies; even our definition of ‘reading’ has been widened to embrace hypertext. In the twenty-first century, library collections and services are being shaped by these new literacies, and the development of electronic collection of formats, such as e-books, present the librarian with new and highly complex management and promotional challenges – all of which this short course aims to introduce and explore.


Hugh Preston BA (Hons), DipLib., DMS, FHEA, UkAISM — Senior Lecturer in Information Studies

Hugh’s information service experience began in a scientific research institute, later with the Consumers’ Association and then an educational research agency in London for three years and and its successor organisation in York. A keen interest in information management and systems provided a background to the post in Aberystwyth University, along with experience in specialist services. Broad research interests are based on information modelling and system evaluation. His publications include:

  • O'Dell, F., Preston, H.J. 2013. Exploring factors in non-use of hospital library resources by healthcare personnel. Library Management 34 (1/2) pp. 105-127. 10.1108/01435121311298315
  • Rogers, R., Preston, H.J. 2009. Usability analysis for redesign of a Caribbean academic library web site: a case study. OCLC Systems and Services 25 (3) pp. 200-211. 10.1108/10650750910982584
  • Broady-Preston, J., Preston, H.J. 2007. Blurring the boundaries? Information studies education and professional development in England and Wales. Globalization, Digitization, Access and Preservation of Cultural Heritage. 6th International Conference, Sofia, Bulgaria, 08/11/2006 - 10/11/2006., University of Sofia Press pp. 289-300.
  • Preston, H. 2005. Information management and technology strategy in healthcare: the story so far. E. Maceviciütè, T. Wilson (Eds.) Introducing Information Management: An Information Research Reader., Facet Publishing pp. 178-191. Cadair


A keen interest and/or working in school and young people’s librarianship or related fields.

Learning Outcomes

After completing this short course you should be able to:

  • describe the major influences in the world of the child
  • explain the meaning, forms and value of literacy
  • outline the major types of national and regional literacy projects currently in place in the UK
  • describe the reading habits of young people
  • summarise the influence which the media and electronic publishing have had on the development of the child, children’s print and electronic book publishing, and library provision
  • describe the structure and role of the British children’s public library service in supporting the social, educational and cultural needs of the young
  • outline some of the pressing professional and political issues facing children’s librarianship
  • outline the principles of managing the print and electronic collections of a children’s library
  • explain the nature and importance of partnership
  • discuss the value and range of promotional activities currently offered by children’s libraries


To apply please complete the Short Course Application Form. Return it - with your reference - to Aberystwyth Postgraduate Admissions Office on, before the application deadline date.

For further information, please contact the please contact Information Studies tel: (+/0)1970 622188; e-mail: