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.

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 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 Lainie Castle, Project Director, Public Programs Office American Library Association. Most specifically we talked about her work with the Great Stories Club.

1.How do you see theGreat Stories Club (GSC) as a way for librarians to work with underserved populations?

There are two important ways that we see the Great Stories Club (GSC) supporting librarians’ efforts to work with underserved young adults. First, we hope the grant opportunity provides an impetus for librarians to reach out to other community organizations that are deeply engaged with teens who are facing specific difficulties, such as detention or incarceration, homelessness, drug or alcohol treatment, or other disciplinary or academic challenges. Fostering and helping to sustain these outreach partnerships brings specialized literary programming services to young people who might not otherwise have that opportunity. Because the GSC is a national program, with the involvement of both ALA and the National Endowment for the Humanities, it can sometimes help make the case for new or reinvigorated outreach efforts.

Second, the GSC provides a tightly curated set of programming resources that are designed to support an in-depth reading and discussion experience grounded in humanities scholarship. Each series has been created to be more than just an average book club, going beyond more standard questions about characters and plot to facilitate readers’ personal exploration of universal humanities themes, like the role of art in making and coping with change. The program seeks to inspire teens to consider “big questions” about the world around them and their place in it and, by offering programming space in which they can work through these questions with their peers and caring adults, to have a positive impact on self-concept. We want GSC readers to view themselves not just as readers, but also as thinkers and creators with important contributions to offer to the world around them.

2. Do you have some success stories of libraries that began working with a particular population/organization for theGreat Stories Club (GSC) and they continue to work together?

We are fortunate to work with many libraries that developed a new partnership in order to participate in the Great Stories Club, and are still working with those community organizations to serve teens, either in between GSC grants or after their grant term ended. Other GSC library programs have expanded with local support, due to initial participation in the grant. A few examples* include:

  • Sequoyah Regional Library System in Canton, Georgia developed an ongoing partnership with the Department of Juvenile Justice.
  • Berkeley Public Library and Berkeley Technology Academy renewed a lapsed partnership because of the GSC, and now work together on a locally funded weekly book club that’s ongoing.
  • Athens-Clarke County Library in Athens, Georgia partnered with the local jail, and now facilitates a twice-monthly book club there, funded by a private individual donor.
  • Glen Carbon Library in Illinois began partnering with the Madison County Detention Center through a GSC grant in 2009, and continued through several rounds of GSC grants while also developing other specialized programming including STEAM sessions and visits with therapy dogs.
  • Antelope Lending Library in Iowa City, Iowa partnered with the John McDonald Residential Treatment Center for Girls for the GSC, and has been able to continue reading and discussion programming with support from a local used bookstore that donated materials, and a local women’s reading group that donated funds to support travel (since the facility is about an hour away from the library).
  • The Juneau Public Library’s program with the Johnson Youth Center in Alaska was so successful with the treatment side of the juvenile justice facility that the librarian was invited to expand programming to the detention side.
  • The Hastings Ninth Grade Center in Houston, Texas has done several successful GSC series with their alternative campus (the Campus Learning Center), and the librarian presented a proposal to the school board this month, for expansion of the program district-wide to 11 other campuses.

3.How do you see libraries doing more work outside of libraries with underserved and underrepresented populations and do you have any recommendations for doing so?

For those who are looking to do more work outside their library with underserved populations, there are some resources on the Great Stories Club website that might be helpful. We have complete information for three NEH-funded series and five Oprah’s Angel Network-funded series that include reading lists, framing essays, discussion questions, certificates of completion for teens, customizable posters and bookmarks, supplemental reading lists, and other general programming ideas such as tips on establishing an outreach partnership, a list of reference books about library service to at-risk teens, tips for managing challenges with reading levels and engagement, and more. In addition to our wonderful national project advisors (for current and future themes), ALA PPO is fortunate to have a closed discussion list with more than 100 librarians who work on GSC grants and are amazing sources of knowledge and experience. If you would like to pose a question to the group, please email it to publicprograms@ala.org and our staff would be happy to share it and return a response.

*With thanks to the GSC project directors who shared their stories for the post above, including Angela Glowcheski (Sequoyah Regional Library System), Andrea Mullarkey (Berkeley Public Library), Priscilla Lewis (Athens-Clarke County Library), Magi Henderson (Glen Carbon Library), Cassandra Elton (Antelope Lending Library), Amelia Jenkins (Juneau Public Library), and Charla Hollingsworth (Hastings Ninth Grade Center).

 

 

Books & Boot Camp: a YALSA Feel-Good Story

As librarians, one of our most basic goals is to get people reading. Here in Fresno County we have statistics thrown at us daily reminding us of what a challenge this basic goal can be. High school graduation rates? Some of the lowest in the state. Poverty levels? Some of the lowest in the country. And yes, we have more than your average number of teens incarcerated.

One place where incarcerated young men are sent is the Elkhorn Correctional Facility Boot Camp. The cadets there must embrace a traditional military lifestyle, including physical training, discipline and drill; but it also acts as a school, featuring stress education, leadership building courses, positive decision making and self-accountability. We also have a library there. Continue reading

The YALSA Update: Valentines & Deadlines

Tell Your Librarian You Love Them

This Valentine’s Day, have your teens, parents, children and library supporters flood federal elected officials’ district offices with Valentines that express love for your library and its staff and ask for support for important legislation.

The ALA Youth Divisions – AASL, ALSC and YALSA – are sending out a call to action to library workers to have teens, children, parents and library supporters in their community send “I Love My Teen Services Librarian” or “I Love My School Librarian” Valentine cards to their U.S. Senators and Representatives, and to ask their elected officials to co-sponsor the SKILLS Act &/or support LSTA funding for libraries.

Learn more on how to participate at the I Love My Librarian Campaign Wiki.

Great Stories Club Applications Due Next Week!
Apply by February 15 for a Great Stories Club program grant!

The Great Stories CLUB (Connecting Libraries, Underserved teens, and Books) is organized by the American Library Association Public Programs Office (PPO), in cooperation with YALSA. Major funding for the Great Stories CLUB has been provided by Oprah’s Angel Network.

Connect with hard-to-reach, underserved teens by conducting a Great Stories Club reading and discussion program in your library. All libraries located within or working in partnership with facilities serving troubled teens are eligible to apply.

For a list of the titles included, guidelines and the online application, visit www.ala.org/greatstories. You may also wish to review the Great Stories Club Resource Guide posted on this site as you plan your library’s application.

With questions, please contact the ALA Public Programs Office, publicprograms@ala.org.

Be A 2008-2009 Spectrum Scholar!
Starting in fiscal year 2008, YALSA will support one Spectrum Scholar! Applications for 2008-2009 scholars are due at ALA by March 1. To learn more about requirements and how to apply, visit the Spectrum Web site!

Established in 1997, the Spectrum Scholarship Program is ALA’s national diversity and recruitment effort designed to address the specific issue of under-representation of critically needed ethnic librarians within the profession while serving as a model for ways to bring attention to larger diversity issues in the future.

Want to Get Involved? Join a YALSA Process Committee!
President Elect Sarah Cornish Debraski will begin appointing process committees (such as Teen Read Week, Intellectual Freedom, YA Galley and 25 others) and award juries (such as the BWI/YALSA Collection Development Grant and six others) this spring. So if you want to get involved, make sure to fill out a Committee Volunteer Form and submit it to the YALSA Office by March 1.

To learn more about YALSA committees, juries, and task forces, check out the committee descriptions or reread a few helpful blog posts about this very topic.

Early Registration & Housing for Annual
Annual Conference is just four months away! Make your plans to join us in Anaheim. Registration and housing for ALA Annual Conference 2008 is now open; for the best pricing, register by March 7.

What does YALSA have planned for Annual? Plenty! We’ll offer two preconferences—Got Tweens? Serving Younger Teens and Tweens and Turn Teens on to Reading through Booktalks—as well as the Edwards Award Luncheon, the Printz Awards Reception, and the Young Adult Authors Coffee Clatch. Find out about our special events at the Special Events page at ALA’s Annual Conference Web site.

Save the Date for the First Young Adult Literature Symposium
YALSA’s first biennial Young Adult Literature Symposium, How We Read Now, will be Nov. 7-9 in Nashville! Details on registration and more will be posted later, but you can find out the program slate now (and see the papers to be presented) by visiting the Young Adult Literature Symposium Web site.

Deadline Extended! Apply for Great Stories Club Grants

Apply by February 15 for a Great Stories Club program grant!

The Great Stories CLUB (Connecting Libraries, Underserved teens, and Books) is organized by the American Library Association Public Programs Office (PPO), in cooperation with YALSA. Major funding for the Great Stories CLUB has been provided by Oprah’s Angel Network.

Connect with hard-to-reach, underserved teens by conducting a Great Stories Club reading and discussion program in your library. All libraries located within or working in partnership with facilities serving troubled teens are eligible to apply. Online applications will be accepted through February 15 (extended deadline) at www.ala.org/greatstories.

The Great Stories Club program reaches troubled teens through books that are relevant to their lives, inviting them to read and keep the books, and encourages them to consider and discuss each title with a group of their peers. By demonstrating that reading can be a source of pleasure, a tool for self-exploration and a meaningful way to connect to the wider world, the program will inspire young adults who face difficult situations to take control of their lives by embracing the power of reading.

Successful applicants will receive 11 sets of three theme-related books to provide to members of the book club to keep, along with online resources to plan and implement the program. To assist with program-related expenses, some libraries will also receive a small cash grant.

For a list of the titles included, guidelines and the online application, visit www.ala.org/greatstories. You may also wish to review the Great Stories Club Resource Guide posted on this site as you plan your library’s application. It includes helpful information about establishing partnerships with juvenile detention centers, residential treatment facilities, alternative high schools, and other youth outreach organizations.

With questions, please contact the ALA Public Programs Office, publicprograms@ala.org.