A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

During my first week as the new teen librarian, I observed a pair of Muslim men studying in the back corner of our adult nonfiction stacks. After a while, they took a short break to carefully roll out their rugs and pray. Nearby, a group of teens were working on a class presentation. They watched the two men curiously for a few seconds, then went back to their work without comment. I felt fortunate to be a part of this moment– to witness tolerance in action in this small gesture.

Last month’s book displays and library programs in celebration of African-American History Month demonstrate our long standing efforts to promote cultural awareness in our communities, and highlight our country’s path from slavery toward a more open and equitable society. As our youth population becomes more diverse, we have more opportunities to offer collections and services that best reflect our communities.

Dr. Carla Hayden’s nomination as Librarian of Congress, Simon & Schuster’s announcement of a new line of children’s and YA books featuring Muslim characters, and plans to offer more diversity-specific book sales flyers to schools are welcome changes. Meanwhile, The Future of Library Services for and with Teens highlights the dramatic shift in the demographics of our youth and the challenges they face. More than 16 million, or 1 in 5, live in poverty. African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely to drop out of school, and jobless rates for African-American and Hispanic youth are rising. The report indicates that our collections and services need to shift toward being centered on relationships, provide more access to educational and career resources, and continue to be mindful of the significance of our patrons’ racial, cultural, and social backgrounds in meeting our teens’ needs.

The current issue of Young Adult Library Services (YALS) Resource Roundup by Crystle Martin highlights several tools to assist with reaching diverse populations outside of the library.

For more information about diversity and equity of services, please see the ALA’s Diversity webpage, YALSAblog’s archived posts, and the following resources from YALSA: the Diversity Map, Cultural Competence and Serving Diverse Teens wikis, and the Teen Demographics Infographic.



About Aimee Haley

I am the Teen Services Librarian for Henrico County Public Library, Tuckahoe Branch, in Richmond, Virginia. I blog regularly for our library's teen page at http://hcplteenscene.org.

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