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 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 spoke to Carrie Rogers -Whitehead who was the Senior Librarian in Teen Services for the Salt Lake County Library System. She began the outreach program with the juvenile detention system in Salt Lake County.

carrie-headshot

1. What kind of outreach services do you provide for teens? How long has this program (or partnership) been in place?

Continue reading

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

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

I’m one of three School Outreach Librarians (plus our Coordinator), which means I am a liaison between Brooklyn PreK-12 school communities and Brooklyn Public Library.  Specifically, I focus on the eastern neighborhoods of Brooklyn (including East New York, Brownsville, Bushwick, and Canarsie).  A large part of my job is devoted to working with schools enrolled in the MyLibraryNYC program, a collaboration with the NYC Department of Education.

Our outreach to teens involves a variety of programs and services, including in-class lessons on research methods, booktalks, using digital and print resources, and accessing job and career assistance through the library.  I consider students, families/caregivers, and faculty to be part of the school community; taking a holistic approach to outreach is essential because outreach to one part of the community informs the whole.

I’ve been in my current role as School Outreach Librarian for only six months, but previously I was a Young Adult Librarian at Brooklyn Public Library’s New Lots branch in East New York.  My time there helped prepare me for school outreach, especially because I still work within that same and surrounding neighborhoods.  I love to build partnerships with other departments internally, as well as outside organizations.  While at New Lots, I hosted The Octavia Project’s inaugural free month-long summer workshop for young women (including trans*, genderfluid, and questioning folks, etc.) ages 13-18 that focused on STEAM skill-building.  I also programmed regular weekly visits from Protecting the East, (a project within the CBO, United Community Centers), that does outreach surrounding HIV education and prevention, and sexual health generally, in addition to training peer educators.  One of the last connections I forged before leaving the branch was with a local family shelter who hosted a weekly drop-in “teen summit” to provide general support to teens in and out of the shelter.  I also put together a deposit collection of books that were delivered to the shelter as a temporary collection to be used by shelter residents.

  1. Describe a day in the life of you providing outreach.

The stock answer is true: there is no typical day.  I could be teaching in-class workshops, training teachers during their professional development period, and representing our team at parent/teacher conferences and education fairs, to name a few common occurrences.  Specifically, here are a few snapshots of things I could be doing on any given day to provide outreach to teens:  visiting a non-secure juvenile detention facility to give a one-on-one consultation to a student who will soon be re-entering the community so he knows about the resources and services that Brooklyn Public Library can offer him; designing a workshop on comics and storytelling for middle schoolers with Interference Archive, for Cypress Hills Community School’s annual Write to Read Day; hosting a professional development workshop for educators on teaching LGBTQIA+ topics in the classroom and incorporating them into the school community.

  1. What resources would you recommend for someone new to outreach to look for ideas for inspiration as well as best practices?

The best way to learn about outreach is to jump in and do outreach.  But, there are certainly some great resources on which I rely.  Media scholar, danah boyd’s, blog and her book It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens are essential reading for anyone working with teens.  At the Intersections: A Collaborative Resource on LGBTQ Youth Homelessness report shines a light on the connection between youth homelessness and teens’ personal identities.  Finally, half of doing outreach is being knowledgeable about available resources and how they can be accessed, empowering teens by letting them know their individual rights and how to be their own advocates.  The US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights website is a go-to resource in this capacity. The department’s mission is “to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence through vigorous enforcement of civil rights in our nation’s schools.”  The site has information on students’ rights, as well as ways to file a discrimination/harassment complaint, and resources for community engagement.  They have materials in many languages.

  1. What are some of your favorite things you have heard from teens while providing outreach services?

One 9th grader told me my last name sounded like a creature from Harry Potter.  I received a thank you card from a reluctant reader who told me she was grateful for my recommendation of the graphic novel version of Coraline (by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Craig Russell) because she doesn’t like to read but she now reads it every day, and she was excited that I was able to determine what kind of book she would like to read based on her interests.  Many teens often tell me they had no idea the library had more than just books, and that always makes me feel like I’m doing my job.

bookriot_bkmatch_crop (3)

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

gameboard

Welcome to the second in YALSA’s new monthly professional learning series. Each month we’ll highlight a topic and give readers the chance to learn about it as well as discuss it with others. Here’s how it works:

  • On the first of each month the YALSA Blog will post an overview of the topic of the month. That overview will include links to resources to read, watch, listen to, etc.
  • If you are interested in participating in the learning during the month, comment on the initial blog post to say something like, “yes, I’m in.”
  • Each week the facilitator of the topic – that’s me this month – will check-in with participants with a post that poses questions and helps to focus conversation on the topic.
  • Participants can converse with others about the topic by commenting on those posts.

We hope this is a low-stress way to learn something new or expand your knowledge on a topic. There is no pressure, just a desire to learn and discuss your learning.

Onto this month’s theme – Working with teens who may be at risk

In 2013 YALSA published the Future of Library Services For and With Teens: A Call to Action. That report, based on a year of research, prodded library staff working with teens to think differently about the teens they serve (and don’t serve) and think more broadly about who they are, where they are and what their needs may be.  Like the Future’s Report itself, this isn’t something that just happens, it takes time, conversations with your colleagues, really looking at your community and also thinking outside the box. 

The resources below should help you to begin thinking differently about your services for and with teens. It’s up to you what you read and/or watch. Pick and choose from the selections as a way to get started and to focus on what you think is most useful. You may make your way through them all, you may not. I’ve included some ideas of what to consider while you read or view so as to help provide context and focus.

Definition of “at risk youth” There are a lot of definitions of “at risk” youth and they can be loaded as well as sounding negative toward youth.  A broad definition can be that at risk teens can be at risk for not completing high school, may struggle socio economically, homeless, involved in drugs and/or alcohol, in foster care, court involved and each of these can put them at further risk and trauma.

Continue reading

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 President of YALSA, Candice Mack, is focusing her year as President with an initiative, “3-2-1 Impact: Inclusive and Impactful Teen Services,” which will focus on building the capacity of libraries to plan, deliver and evaluate programs and services for and with underserved teen populations.  Visit YALSA’s wiki to find and share information about serving diverse teens and building cultural competence.

Each month I will profile a teen librarian or staff working in teen services providing outreach services and programs outside the walls of the library to underserved and underrepresented teens. The purpose is for us to learn, connect, network and share with each other the crucial work we are doing in this area.

This month will be a different focus where I interview Kim Dare who was the YALSA Cultural Competence Task Force Chair 2014-2015. How can the priorities of the YALSA Culural Task Force be brought into the conversation of outreach and are there things that can be helpful when thinking about working with underserved and underrepresented populations?

What does the Cultural Competence Task Force focus on? What are its priorities?

The idea for the Cultural Competence Task Force was born in March 2014 based on findings from The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action. The YALSA Board of Directors realized that as our teen patrons reflect increasingly diverse backgrounds, librarians must be able to meet their needs in ways that go beyond traditional programming and collection development. The task force was created in September 2014, and during the year that we worked together, we were charged with bringing together resources that would assist librarians in developing their cultural competence.  The term may have different connotations to different people. There are several good definitions out there: our task force sees cultural competence as the recognition that each of us is shaped by our culture, and an appreciation of diverse cultural backgrounds through our interactions with others. It is the welcoming and integration of diverse ethnicities, sexualities, cultures, incomes, and education levels into the services we provide, with an ultimate goal of enhancing the lives of our patrons and our own professional growth.

Continue reading

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 President of YALSA, Candice Mack, is focusing her year as President with an initiative, “3-2-1 Impact: Inclusive and Impactful Teen Services,” which will focus on building the capacity of libraries to plan, deliver and evaluate programs and services for and with underserved teen populations.  Visit YALSA’s wiki to find and share information about serving diverse teens and building cultural competence.

Each month I will profile a teen librarian or staff working in teen services providing outreach services and programs outside the walls of the library to underserved and underrepresented teens. The purpose is for us to learn, connect, network and share with each other the crucial work we are doing in this area.

Kelly Czarnecki is a Teen Librarian at ImaginOn with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.  The following is from an email conversation in  September.

Continue reading

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 President of YALSA, Candice Mack, is focusing her year as President with an initiative, “3-2-1 Impact: Inclusive and Impactful Teen Services,” which will focus on building the capacity of libraries to plan, deliver and evaluate programs and services for and with underserved teen populations.  Visit YALSA’s wiki to find and share information about serving diverse teens and building cultural competence.

Each month I will profile a teen librarian or staff working in teen services providing outreach services and programs outside the walls of the library to underserved and underrepresented teens. The purpose is for us to learn, connect, network and share with each other the crucial work we are doing in this area.

Peggy Simmons is a Library Assistant for the Oakland Public Library at the Elmhurst Branch. The following comes from a phone call with her in August, 2015.

Continue reading

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 like new and non-readers, LBGT teens, teens of color, poor and homeless teens, 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 President of YALSA, Candice Mack is focusing her year as President with an initiative, “3-2-1 Impact: Inclusive and Impactful Teen Services,” which will focus on building the capacity of libraries to plan, deliver and evaluate programs and services for and with underserved teen populations.  Visit YALSA’s wiki to find and share information about serving diverse teens and building cultural competence.

Each month I will profile a teen librarian providing outreach services and programs outside the walls of the library to underserved and underrepresented teens.  The purpose is for us to learn, connect, network and share with each other the crucial work we are doing in this area.

Ady Huertas is the Manager of Teen Services at the Pauline Foster Teen Center, San Diego Central Library

J:  What kind of outreach services do you provide for teens?

I work with the Lindsay School (a local school for teen moms) and conduct life skills courses through a State funded program called STEP (Skills for Teen Parents). We meet with approximately 40 teen moms on a weekly basis and we focus on different topics each week.

I work with Southwest Key which is an organization that provides temporary housing and services for recent unaccompanied migrant youth coming to the United States. I conduct regular tours in Spanish to introduce the library as a friendly and welcoming place and work with the Reforma Children in Crisis Taskforce to provide free books for all of the youth in these facilities.  Working with REFORMA on a national level for me has really helped support and expand this partnership with Southwest Key into the great partnership that it is. The youth in Southwest Key could be in the shelter for a week or up to three months.  The San Diego Public Library provides twice monthly 2 hour tours for the youth at Southwest Key to introduce them to the library.  90% of the youth may not have ever used libraries so it is really a chance to highlight all of the great things the library can provide.  This year we also registered the entire center for our Summer Reading Program. 

I serve as an advisor for our SPECTRUM Youth LGBTQ+ group and host weekly meetings for the group and provide a space for community youth to meet and share their experiences as well as plan activities to reach other youth in the community and raise awareness. Our current focus is services to transgender and queer youth.  Right now the teens have been very busy in planning their involvement with the San Diego Trans Pride https://www.facebook.com/SDTransPride  and the San Diego Pride Parade in which they march as well as have a high profile visibility assisting at booths where they are able to share with others the work they are doing in the library for and with LGBT youth.

I also work with libraries in Tijuana Mexico and collaborate with librarians internationally to exchange best practices and ideas by hosting a yearly conference titled Creando Enlaces

Continue reading

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 like new and non-readers, LBGT teens, teens of color, poor and homeless teens, 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 President of YALSA, Candice Mack, is focusing her year as President with an initiative, “3-2-1 Impact: Inclusive and Impactful Teen Services,” which will focus on building the capacity of libraries to plan, deliver and evaluate programs and services for and with underserved teen populations.  Visit YALSA’s wiki to find and share information about serving diverse teens and building cultural competence.

Each month I will profile a teen librarian providing outreach services and programs outside the walls of the library to underserved and underrepresented teens.  The purpose is for us to learn, connect, network and share with each other the crucial work we are doing in this area.

Rekha Kuver,Teen and Children’s Services for the Central Library Seattle Public Library

Continue reading

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 like new and non-readers, LBGT teens, teens of color, poor and homeless teens, 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.

Each month I will profile a library staff person who’s providing outreach services and programs outside the walls of the library to underserved and underrepresented teens.  The purpose is for us to learn, connect, network and share with each other the crucial work we are doing in this area.  For further information and resources on reaching underserved and underrepresented teen populations, visit YALSA’s wiki.
Nick Franklin is the Coordinator of Transitional Services for the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL)  Transitional Services focuses on providing services and programs for people who are homeless, people who are incarcerated and people who were previously incarcerated (re-entry).

J: What kind of outreach services do you provide for teens?

Nick: Outreach Services here at Brooklyn serves a wide range of marginalized men and women of varying ages and we focus on bringing a wide mix of books both hi and lo, adult books that would appeal to teens, urban books both adult and teen and classics to the jails and shelters that we work with.  Brooklyn operates four mobile satellite libraries located at the Brooklyn Detention Complex, OBCC, AMKC and VCBC facilities. BPL partners with The New York Public Library’s Correctional Services to assist their library services at four additional jails. Each week librarians visit these facilities to hand deliver recreational and educational books, magazines and newspapers to hundreds of men and women.  Brooklyn also works closely with New York Public Library (NYPL) in their jail and juvenile justice centers work and we partner on the visits to the juvenile facilities as well.

J: Describe a day in the life of you providing outreach

Nick: If it is a day that I’m going to the jails I wake up early, pack up my two bags filled with books and make sure they are in a clear plastic bag to be seen by security going in, I get on a bus and then transfer to another bus that goes directly to Rikers Island.  The books I bring in are recreational and are most often direct requests from the inmates.  Brooklyn has a program called TeleStory where dads who are in Rikers can read stories or have their children read stories to them through a live video feed set up in the Central Library to a feed at Rikers, so I will also bring in children’s books for some of those dads.  I will spend about 3 hours a week when I go to Rikers sharing the books and engaging with the inmates.  Some of the inmates we serve are teens and also through our work with NYPL we work with teens in Passages Academy.  Passages provides educational instruction and counseling to teens ages 18 and younger in secure and non-secure placement settings.  If it’s a different day I may be meeting with shelter organizations to talk about setting up mini libraries in their shelters and going there to stock the books and meet and engage with families and teens in these shelters.  One of the big things we do when we do this outreach work is collaborate with the Brooklyn Public Library librarians in the neighborhoods of the shelters we are working with and have those librarians come out for visits to further connect the families to their libraries.  It’s important for the families to have a face they meet that they will then see in their library.  We are also doing the summer reading program in the shelters we work directly with.  Another thing BPL is doing is training the public services staff to understand sociological ramifications of poverty, incarceration and homelessness so we as a system can better understand and serve these populations.  We work with the Center for Urban Community Services to help provide some of these trainings, they are a team of social workers that are really able to provide context and a comprehensive understanding of the ramifications of homelessness and incarceration.

J: What resources would you recommend for someone new to outreach to look for ideas for inspiration as well as best practices?

Nick: Working in New York City I feel my resources are very New Yorkcentric.  One of the big ones I use frequently is the New York Connections Guide and it focuses on providing a guide for formerly incarcerated people in New York City.  Another is the new book by Marybeth Zeman Tales of Jailhouse Librarian and the other is the New York Reentry Education Network

J: What are some of your favorite things you have heard from teens while providing outreach services?

Nick: It is always so great to hear people say they are lifelong library users and they are so happy to see me and the other librarians providing these services.  It’s also great to hear someone learn about all the great things the library has and now that person wants to be a regular library user.  I’ve heard things like “seeing you is the highlight of my week” “I have been counting down the days till I see the library next”.  Another has been when guys will have their friends go in line to get them more books and those friends see things they want to read.

Nick

Outreach Services for Teen Librarians: What some Teen Librarians 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 like new and non-readers, LBGT teens, teens of color, poor and homeless teens, 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.

Each month I will profile a teen librarian providing outreach services and programs outside the walls of the library to underserved and underrepresented teens.  The purpose is for us to learn, connect, network and share with each other the crucial work we are doing in this area.

Amanda Bressler is the Youth Outreach Librarian for the Boston Public Library.  Amanda provides outreach to youth; children and teens for the Boston Public Library system.

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

I work primarily with two organizations that serve teens; an alternative high school for teens in drug and alcohol recovery called Ostiguy High School and the agency Department of Youth Services (DYS) that serves teens who are incarcerated in seven units in the Metro Boston region.  I’ve also begun a relationship with a program at Children’s Hospital called the Young Parents Program that serves young parents and their children, but this is still forming.  For DYS and Ostiguy the program is similar; I provide monthly outreach by bringing in a collection of high interest and wide variety of books, booktalk them to engage with the teens and talk about library services and programs for teens in the Boston Public Library locations.  We also provide supplemental or one off programs with the teens like last year the author Patrick Jones came and spoke to three of the DYS units about his books and his writing process.  The library purchased books for the teens participating in the visits so they had read one of his books and then they were able to ask him questions.  Each year we also provide a summer reading program for teens in DYS to read a book and write a review and they can receive a movie pass.  For the Young Parents Program it’s structured differently; it’s a clinic setting and I bring in free children’s and teen books and give them away to the young parents and kids, provide library card signups and try and connect them to library programs and services in their neighborhoods.  As this is a newish program I’m still in the process of developing this relationship.

  1. Describe a day in the life of you providing outreach-

There really isn’t an average day.  There is a lot of time that is spent cultivating the list of books I bring into DYS and Ostiguy each month, I want to bring in books the teens want and provide them with a variety.  I spend time prepping for those visits by writing booktalks and then also doing the backend stuff like checking the books out, making sure those accounts are updated.  I also try and connect with outside organizations and foster those relationships whether it’s a connection for the library as a system-wide connection or I may be connecting the organization to a branch library.  Then I’m out in the community, connecting with those organizations and those teens.  For each of these organizations I meet with them each month.

  1. What resources would you recommend for someone new to outreach to look for ideas for inspiration as well as best practices? I follow The Outreach Librarian blog which is a mix of public and academic library outreach. I also like to read books about underserved populations, not necessarily library related, so that I can learn more about those populations and their needs. Recently I have read a couple of Nell Bernstein’s books about incarceration – Burning Down the House and All Alone in the World – as well as True Notebooks by Mark Salzman about a teacher volunteering in a juvenile detention center. Knowing the populations you serve and the adversity they face can help you serve them better, and I find that these stories inspire me in my outreach work.  I would also say that there isn’t enough written about outreach services.  I also try and consult other librarians doing this type of work.
  1. What are some of your favorite things you have heard from teens while providing outreach services? We do a survey each year for the teens in DYS to get direct input from them what they think of the booktalks and the books we bring in for them.  Some of the feedback from the teens has been really helpful in shaping the booktalks as well as the type of books we bring in.  I think a lot of what I have heard from teens has been things like they didn’t know the library provided services like this or they are extremely grateful for the library providing them with the books they want.

Amanda DYS