Every year in the United States, between 1.3 and 1.7 million youth, ages 12 to 24, experience homelessness. Up to 40% of these young people identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer/questioning (LGBTQ). The LAMBDA (Library Anchor Models Bridging Diversity Achievements) IMLS-funded pilot grant is now in its third and final year in working with public libraries on addressing LGBTQ youth homelessness. This grant has provided funds for training workshops, a website (LAMBDA.sis.utk.edu), a webinar (http://lambda.sis.utk.edu/node/36) and a Summit. Throughout these three years we’ve worked with San Francisco Public Library (SFPL), San Diego County Library (SDCL), Seattle Public Library (SPL) and two regional libraries in east Tennessee, Ocoee and Clinch River. The face-to-face trainings for library staff have included in-depth information about how to create welcoming and supportive library environments for these young people.
We end our final grant year with a Summit at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville on March 9, 2016. This Summit will be live-streamed, so those who are unable to attend in person can still participate in the conversation. The Summit brings together service providers, library staff and all others who are interested in working together to address youth homelessness. There will be four keynote speakers, representing both social services and public libraries. These speakers are:
Jama Shelton, Deputy Executive Director, True Colors Fund, NYC
Pamela Sheffer, Program Director, Just Us, Nashville
Kristy Gale, Teen Librarian, Seattle Public Library
Hayden Bass, Outreach Program Manager, Seattle Public Library
The goal of the Summit to bring together practitioners in both fields, as well as any others who are interested in creating solutions to this critical issue.