YALSA Professional Learning Series: The Future of Library Services for and with Teens –Working with At-Risk Teens

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Last week in the first post in this month’s YALSAblog Professional Learning series on working with teens at risk, I posted a set of resources to read, listen to, and view. This week it’s time to start a discussion about working with teens at risk AND steps to take in order to work with teens at risk.  

One of the barriers I hear from teen librarians is they feel they don’t have the support from their libraries to go outside of the library and provide library services and services and programs to teens at risk, nor do some of the libraries have in their strategic plan or priorities to focus on providing services/programs to these populations.  Reading and learning more about what the Madison Public Library is doing specifically with teens who are incarcerated with the Making Justice program really made me think how a library is recognizing a marginalized population that is limited to services and programming and bringing those services and programs in.  With the institution as a whole acknowledging and focusing services and programs specifically to this population says a lot about how it feels about working with teens at risk as well as promoting and using this program as a model.

This week let’s talk about this:

  • What barriers might you face within your library to focus services on working with teens at risk either in the library or outside the library? Maybe your barrier is that you are interested in working with working with teens at risk and don’t have administrative support or don’t know even where to start.
  • What did the resources from last week get you thinking about in relation to those barriers?
  • What are some examples of work people are doing in their libraries with teens who are at risk? Is it something that your library acknowledges, recognizes and supports (is outreach and working with teens at risk in your library’s strategic plan for example or a specific focus for your library?)
  • What questions or comments do you have from what others are writing?

It would be great to have a discussion on this topic, so feel free to post your own thoughts as well as replying to others.

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2 Comments

  1. Kim Farnsworth

    I’m a new librarian in my system and in my city, so I think my biggest barrier is that I don’t even know where to start. I have a really supportive branch manager and administration that’s forward thinking, so I think I’d have the support needed.
    The resources from last week really got me thinking about the different venues I could work with to help kids and teens at risk. It also really got me thinking about my community and what resources I could use.
    My system recognizes and supports outreach in our strategic plan, but it doesn’t really specify anything specific to teens. We were part of the STeP: Skills for Teen Parents

    Program, but I wasn’t part of the system for most of it, so I really know how it went.
    I think what I’ve learned most so far from that comments is that there are many who don’t know where to start either, which is comforting to me. I am curious how others have started their journey past wanting to help and actually helping. Like Jessica, I have worked with teens who are considered at risk outside of the library, but I never really connected those two worlds. What are some ways others have approached it, maybe those who are a little shyer or introverted. Reaching out is the hardest part for me. How do others get past this?

  2. Hi Kim
    Thank you for your thoughtful comments and questions. That’s great and HUGE you have the support from administrative as well as some examples of some of the outreach that your library system has done and maybe continuing to do. Sounds like a little of getting started at who is in your community as well as being more comfortable getting out and doing the outreach. Some thoughts about who is in your community might be a good start. Looking at census records as well as this resource Youth.gov is good in that you can type in your zipcode and get a sense of populations as well as organizations in your communities and the work they are doing, you can think about trying to connect with some of those organizations and ways in which the library can be a service. Also thinking about your time commitment is helpful before getting started with outreach to be able to share this with your administration as well as the organization/population you are looking to work with. There are great ALA and YALSA listservs and offices to connect you with of librarians doing outreach and working with teens at risk like YALSA lockdown or the ALA Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services Advisory Committee http://www.ala.org/groups/committees/ala/ala-olos connecting and learning what others are doing and then thinking about your own community is sometimes a good start. Also important is sharing the resources of the library to give a sense of what there is but getting that input from teens themselves and those organizations that work with teens and finding out what their needs are. What do others think in terms of getting started in working with teens at risk and ways to feel comfortable?

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