Can Library Services Reduce Youth Crime?

As the Boston Public Library struggles to come up with a 3 million dollar shortfall by June 2010, proposals include cutting hours and closing branches. BPL president Amy Ryan appeared on WBUR Saturday March 13, 2010 for a short interview, which included calls from the public. One caller expressed his worry over the loss of what he called “a babysitting service,” noting that the branch was filled with youth in the after school hours, and wondering where they would all go. While his primary concern that he didn’t want teens out on the street came from a fear that hanging around in the neighborhood would potentially (negatively) affect his business, mine is that kids who don’t have a place to go and something to do are more likely to get into trouble. Ryan addressed this by talking about potential partnerships and trying to be creative with staffing at peak hours. I’m wondering: do strong library services serve to reduce or even prevent youth crime? Luckily, Advocacy Task Force Member Ma’lis Wendt has done some sleuthing.

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