OUTREACH SERVICES FOR TEEN LIBRARY STAFF: WHAT SOME STAFF ARE DOING OUTSIDE THE WALLS OF LIBRARIES

The American Library Association (ALA) defines outreach as providing library services and programs outside the walls of the library to underserved and underrepresented populations; populations such as new and non-readers, LBGT teens, teens of color, poor and homeless teens, and teens who are incarcerated. As these populations are often marginalized and underserved, it is crucial for libraries to recognize these populations and provide services and programs to them where they are.

The YALSA Futures Report calls out the importance of outreach to underserved populations and ways in which library staff can think about ways to work with targeted communities of teens (e.g. those who are incarcerated, homeless, in foster care, or in classrooms and other inschool locations) and where they are, rather than waiting for teens to find a way to get to the physical library space.

This month I interviewed April Witteveen, Community and Teen Services Librarian with the Deschutes Public Library in Central Oregon.

  1. What kind of outreach services do you provide for teens?

My outreach is currently pretty simple and straightforward—but very, very consistent, which is so important. Most of these relationships have existed for longer than the 12 years I’ve been with my library system.

I currently visit our Juvenile Justice facility every other week. The building holds two populations in separate “pods”: teens that are serving short criminal sentences or are awaiting trial (the general “locked down” juvenile justice population,) as well as a program for court-involved teen males who enter a non-profit therapeutic program called J Bar J. The J Bar J teens in the secure facility are either working their way up, behaviorally, to get placed at a residential facility (J Bar J Boys Ranch) or have been removed from the Ranch due to behavior to spend time in the secure facility.

I do booktalks year-round to the juvenile justice students when they are in their classroom time, and I try to read the room while doing so to see if I think a discussion of what they’re reading right now could work—it doesn’t every time and I’ve had to cut and run. I also offer the summer reading program, in a modified format, to these teens. They have the opportunity to earn free books with reading time, and many of them are surprised these are books they get to keep and take home when they are released. I’ve seen some incredible generosity here too—“I’m picking something for my sister, it’s her birthday next week,” “can I donate this to the classroom for others to read when I’m done?” etc.

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OUTREACH SERVICES FOR TEEN LIBRARY STAFF: WHAT SOME STAFF ARE DOING OUTSIDE THE WALLS OF LIBRARIES

The American Library Association (ALA) defines outreach as providing library services and programs outside the walls of the library to underserved and underrepresented populations; populations such as new and non-readers, LBGT teens, teens of color, poor and homeless teens, and teens who are incarcerated. As these populations are often marginalized and underserved, it is crucial for libraries to recognize these populations and provide services and programs to them where they are.

The YALSA Futures Report calls out the importance of outreach to underserved populations and ways in which library staff can think about ways to work with targeted communities of teens (e.g. those who are incarcerated, homeless, in foster care, or in classrooms and other inschool locations) and where they are, rather than waiting for teens to find a way to get to the physical library space.

This post will be a roundup of some of 2016’s posts to highlight the outreach work some teen services librarians are doing as as well potentially inspire YOU to try and replicate some of this work in your own libraries and communities.

December’s post introduced us to Jessie Vieau, Teen Librarian and the work he is doing at the  Madison Public Library, Central Library with Making Justice, a community-based learning program for at-risk and court-involved teens that includes weekly workshops and an artist-in-residence opportunity.

September’s post focused on the work Courtney Saldana, Youth Services Supervising Librarian at the Ovitt Family Community Library in Ontario, California does with the STeP program. Courtney created the STeP program or Skills for Teen Parents, an innovative library services model aimed at connecting pregnant and parenting teens with the resources and services they need to succeed as adults and as parents.

July’s post introduced us to the work of Hayden Bass, Outreach Program Manager, for the Seattle Public Library and her work in outreach and priorities she focuses on.

May’s post introduced us to Leigh Hurwitz, School Outreach Librarian with the Brooklyn Public Library and the work she does between Brooklyn PreK-12 school communities and Brooklyn Public Library.

March’s post focused on Kim Dare who was the YALSA Cultural Competence Task Force Chair 2014-2015. She talked a lot about the priorities of the YALSA Cultural Task Force be brought into the conversation of outreach.

January 2016’s post introduced us to Kate McNair, the Teen and Outreach Librarian for the Johnson County Library, Kansas, Antioch Branch.  Kate’s position focuses half of her time working directly on outreach, working with partners outside of the library.

What about some resources to help, these resources are culled from some of the posts throughout the 2016 year.

Vancouver Public Library’s Community-Led Libraries Toolkit. ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services has a whole slew of resources. Hayden Bass led a webinar at WebJunction—there are lots of other great resources linked there, too.

From Kristy Gale, Young Adult Services Librarian at the Seattle Public Library, University Branch November 2016 YALSA Blog post

  • Talk to youth and young adults that may be experiencing homelessness that use your library. They will have valuable input!
  • Check-in with library staff that are already doing this work. If you have community engagement and outreach service staff at your library, tap into them.
  • Seek out service providers at local agencies that reach out to teens and young adults experiencing homelessness along with other populations in your community that have inequitable access to resources and opportunities.
    • Connecting and volunteering with organizations that focus their work on helping young adults experiencing homelessness and LGBTQ YA has been a great way for me to learn more about the needs of the young adults I serve. Go on outreach with these organizations and learn as they model best practices!
  • The LAMBDA Summit was earlier this year, and Dr. Julie Winkelstein a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is a Postdoctoral Researcher and nationally known advocate for those experiencing homelessness, is a powerhouse of knowledge on the topic.

There are a lot of resources that I use on a regular basis that may be helpful to people coming to outreach.  Some books that I look at; (from Pamela McCarter, Outreach Specialist, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, April YALSA Blog post )

Books:

*          Hurt 2.0: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers (Youth, Family, and Culture)

*          Speaking to Teenagers: How to Think About, Create, and Deliver Effective Messages by Doug Fields

*          The Youth Worker’s Guide to Helping Teenagers in Crisis by Rich Van Pelt

*          The Romance of Risk: Why Teenagers Do the Things They Do by Lynne E. Ponton, M.D.

*          Ask Me if I Care: Voices from an American High School by Nancy Rubin

*          LOST and FOUND: HEALING TROUBLED TEENS IN TROUBLED TIMES by Jan Elise Sells

*          At Risk Youth, 5th Edition 5th Edition by J. Jeffries McWhirter

*          Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers by Cris Beam

Organizations:

TimeOut Youth Time Out Youth Center serves LGBTQ youth ages 11-20.

Mayor’s Mentoring Alliance The Mayor’s Mentoring Alliance connects Charlotte mentoring organizations for the purpose of promoting best practices through providing workshops, resources and standards for quality service delivery.

The Relatives  The Relatives is a system of resources that helps children, youth and young adults find safety, stability and pathways to successful futures.

Websites:

Library Services for Youth in Custody

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

Serving At-Risk Teens Topic of New Publication

As a Teen Library Services Specialist in an urban library branch, I’m always on the look-out for resources on serving at-risk teens.’  Recently one of my own coworkers here at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Teen Services Manager Angela Craig, published Serving At-Risk Teens: Proven Strategies and Programs for Bridging the Gap with Chantell L. McDowell.

Serving at-risk teens

I sat down with Angela Craig and asked her a few ‘ questions about her book and her work with at-risk teens.

MH: Tell me just a little bit about yourself and your background working with at-risk teens both in and out of the library.’  I understand you have also served teens through the YMCA and as a camp counselor.

AC: I’ve worked with at-risk teens since college.’  I started with a therapeutic horseback riding program called AWARE, which stands for Always Wanted a Riding Experience.’  I took teens who had been in abusive situations and helped them connect with horses.’  It was fantastic.’  Later I took that experience with me to the YMCA where I facilitated outdoor education to teens and school aged children.’  These experiences served me well when I started at the Public Library in 2005.’  I never associated working with at-risk youth and library services, but everything I learned as a camp counselor came in to play later when I was a librarian. Continue reading