Serving Military Families in the Public Library

Jan Marry


Military families have unique, and perhaps hidden, needs that public libraries are well positioned to meet. Virginia has many military families and they live all over the state.  Librarians can serve military families by considering the unique needs of military families in their regular services or by specific military family programming. For more than a decade the author has provided and observed many programs and services for military families in public libraries. This paper aims to help public librarians in Virginia design a variety of library services, programs, and collection development strategies to better serve military families. It concludes with: discussion questions to generate ideas for program planning for this audience at your library, and is followed by two appendices: (Appendix I) a sidebar with examples of the value of libraries for military families from my own military family’s experience and (Appendix II) a comprehensive list of children's and teen books featuring military children. 


Military Families, Public Libraries, Readers Advisory, Programming, Youth Services

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B. Rose Huber. 2013, Military Children and Their Families Remain an Invisible Subculture (2013),

Mary Edwards Wertsch, Military Brats: Legacies of Childhood Inside the Fortress. (New York: Harmony Books, 1991).

Z. Sutherland. Children and Books. (New York. Addison Wesley Educational Publishers, 1997), 18.

Ibid., 17.

Department of Defense (DoD), Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy. 2015 Demographics: Profile of the Military Community., 33.

Reference for Virginia's total Population: United States Census Bureau. Quick Facts: Virginia.

DoD, 33.

Ibid., 88.

National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics. Population Tables. Table 6L: VetPop2016 living veterans by state, age group, gender, 2015-2045.

DoD, 188.

National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics. Population Tables. Table 6L: VetPop2016 living veterans by state, age group, gender, 2015-2045.

DoD, 125.

Ibid., 121.

Ibid., 9.

Ibid., 121.

Ibid., 134.

Janie-Lynn Kang and Lisa Williamson, "Unemployment rate nears prerecession level by end of 2015," Monthly Labor Review, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 2016,

DoD, 134.

Jennifer Taft and Cynthia Olney. “Library Services for the “New Normal” of Military Families.” Public Libraries Online Nov/Dec 2014.

DoD, 119.

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Ellen R. DeVoe and Abigail Ross. “The parenting cycle of deployment.” Military Medicine. 177(2) 2012:184-90.

P. Lester, Judith A. Stein, William Saltzman, Kirsten Woodward, Shelley W. MacDermid, Norweeta Milburn, Catherine Mogil, and William Beardslee, “Psychological health of military children: Longitudinal evaluation of a family-centered prevention program to enhance family resilience,” Military Medicine 178 (August 2013): 838-45, doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-12-00502.

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DoD, 189.

Wertsch, Military Brats.

DoD, 2015 Demographics. iii.

Ibid., iii.



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