In 2006, the first student group dedicated to issues involving children and youth was launched as YPFIS. Their mandate was the following:
YPFIS is a brand new group formed in 2006 in the hopes of engaging an extracurricular presence, within the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information Studies, for careers in librarianship for young people. We aim to increase awareness of this option, and by extension, the importance of public and school libraries.
Participants worked on:
- attracting guest speakers,
- arranging tours of relevant facilities,
- organizing a children and youth literature focused book club,
- collecting print and electronic resources,
- investigating professional associations, and
- coordinating film screenings.
YPFIS hoped to serve as a means to share knowledge amongst peers, allow for networking with individuals currently working with youth, promote enthusiasm for this career path, and instill an ethic of professional development among participants. Their long-term goal is to implement a program whereby FIS students can gain practical experience serving young people.
Faculty name changes lead to the group adapting their name to the Children & Youth Advocacy Organization or CYA. Over the 2008-2009 academic year, CYA members organized a campaign to address the lack of availability in courses that dealt specifically with children & youth issues in terms of information studies.
In November 2008, a course request was submitted to the Dean asking for the two courses listed on the curriculum to be reinstated in the course time tables. (FIS2140H Young People: Current and Emerging Information Practices & FIS2139H Young People: Collection Development). The research and discussions prompted by this request encouraged Wendy Newman to create (very quickly!) a brand new course, INF2303H Issues in Children's and Young Adults' Services, that is being offered for a second time in Winter 2010.
To keep things moving, CYA members formally approached the Dean and the Faculty of Information with a report addressing the lack full-time faculty to teach children's and young adult services to the Library, Archives, Information Systems and Museum Studies students.
The goal of the report was to:
- Express the concerns of and testimonials from the student body and current information professionals
- Offer research on current issues and scholars in children's and young adult services
- Offer possible solutions to the current coursework shortfall
- Describe benefits to the Faculty of Information from implementing these solutions.
The CYA believe that if the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information wishes to be a true leader for other North American i-schools, it needed to consider strengthening its curriculum of academic programs or courses for information students on children and young adults.
It is exciting to see that the i-School is recognizing the importance of youth within information studies within the new course curriculum. Over the summer, Brenda Halliday returned to teach a Collection Development course for Children and Youth and INF2196H New Media and Information Practices of the Young is a great new addition to the curriculum.