Serving YAs in Large Urban Populations

Urban teens are different. They have a million things going on around them all the time. They have incredible ranges of options. Indeed, all too often it seems as if they have altogether too many options. For all of this surface sophistication they can be stunningly provincial, never leaving their neighborhood niches and filled with all the fears and frailties of any teen anywhere. Urban teens, particularly in the inner city, can come across as really world weary and tough yet scratch a little below the surface and these bangers, ballers, and babies havin’ babies are much like any teen anywhere. YA librarians in these neighborhoods have incredible challenges to be sure, at the same time they have amazing opportunities. The library can be a sanctuary, a wellspring, indeed even a beacon for young people in the city.

The Serving YAs in Large Urban Population discussion group is dedicated to those keepers of the light. It is a place to swap strategies, share stories, and show scars of service in the cause of educating and enlightening the youth of the city. The group of us who met in Boston were a small but scrappy bunch of librarians who want this discussion to grow to include many more members.

We are on ALA Connects and we would like to use it as a platform for bibliographies and programming ideas. We invite dialogue with other groups and with various minority and ethnic caucuses and roundtables in ALA. We reach out to our colleagues who are working the desk and pounding the floor in city libraries. We invite students to discuss careers in YA services in urban centers. We need leadership and membership and call for nominations for convenor and for activists to help carry the load. We finally hope for, work for, sweat for, and slave for the kids who are living their lives and chasing their dreams in the cities of today.

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