The system of specialized young adult library services in Russia was developed in 1966. In that year, by order of the RSFSR Ministry of Culture, the Central Committee of Komsomol, and the Central Committee of Trade Unions, the State Republican Youth Library (since 2009 the Russian State Library for Young Adults (RSLYA) was opened. Today there is an all-Russia network of 45 specialized young adult libraries on the regional level, as well as libraries on the municipal and city level. Young adult spaces and zones are being created in all libraries. Public libraries are beginning to employ professional young adult librarians.
Since its establishment, RSLYA has been acting as federal methodology and research centre for young adult services in public libraries.
Our approach to young people as a social and age group of library users (14-25 years old) corresponds to the concept developed in the “Russian Federation Youth Development Strategy for the Period until 2025”: “Young people are the only social group whose characteristics directly and within a short period of time determine the characteristics of the country. Contemporary young people in 5-15 years objectively become the leaders of all initiatives, the decision-makers in all public spheres. At the same time, young people lack social stereotypes and therefore are a social group whose characteristics can be influenced, their patterns of behavior can be molded, and the correct type of social behavior established. Insufficient attention given to young people at the moment hinders the implementation of the country’s reform plan and questions its welfare in the medium-term perspective».
RSLYA’s work has always been based on a principle formulated in the Strategy: “Developing the individual and creating the right conditions for his or her self-actualization must be the state’s priority. This approach is mainly aimed at young people, whose development potential has the power to improve the economy, bring about rapid economic growth, and raise living standards in the country”.
In the short-term perspective, the Russian State Library for Young Adults is planning to focus its efforts on the following:
- Supporting and developing the existing network of specialized regional young adult libraries;
- Opening young adult departments (zones, rooms) in public libraries on all levels;
- Opening in accordance with the objectives of the state youth policy resource centers for young people’s issues in public, especially municipal, libraries;
- Further development of RSLYA’s role as model library and testing ground for popular and promising young adult services and methodologies;
- Promoting the image of a Russian public library as a sociocultural institution that is attractive to young people and most adequately meets their needs.
To organize a system for specialized young adult library services in the next five years the country needs to develop:
- A system for young adult services, including specialized libraries on different levels and public libraries with young adult zones on different levels;
- Online and mobile services for young people who face difficulties when visiting the physical space of the library;
- Online services for categories of young people who have little or no free time to visit the library;
- A system for attracting young people to the library as a safe space for communication, including transforming online communication into real-world communication.
The Russian Library Association’s , written in 2012 by RSLYA staff and based on our library’s innovative experience, were a significant step forward.
We take into account the fact that Russian library specialists, thanks to advanced communication technologies, have free access to new ideas and new practices, while their intellectual capabilities demand a relationship in the form of partnership, coordination, and consulting, not direct methodological influence.
Two long-running RSLYA projects facilitate communication with Russian librarians and readers. These are LIBRARY.RU the National Library Information and Reference Portal, and the international corporate project “The First Online Reference Service,” an online information and reference service for public libraries with 30 participants.
LIBRARY.RU appeared in 2003; for a long time it was supported by the Russian Ministry of Culture, was the winner of the All-Russia Open Internet Contest “Golden Website”. In the past years, it has been visited by over 29 million people.
“The First Online Reference Service» is the first of its kind on the Russian-language internet: since its launch in 2000 over 86,000 people have got answers to their questions.
RSLYA’s National Research, Innovation and Consulting Centre Library and Youth (NRICC) is responsible for:
- development, approbation, and implementation
- managing resources for young people’s issues
- analysis, consulting, coordination
- special projects
- young people’s projects
- international projects