Each month I interview a teen services librarian or teen services staff to share their outreach services and/or programs they deliver to underserved and underrepresented teens. This type of work takes them outside the walls of the library and while some of the programs and services they present may be traditional like bringing books, poetry writing programs, etc. the populations they serve are often the marginalized-teens who may be incarcerated, youth in foster care, populations like new and non-readers, LBGT teens, teens of color, poor and homeless teens.

This month I thought it may be compelling to highlight some of the programs, services and resources you may want to look deeper into to inspire you into getting into some of this outreach yourself.

The YALSA Teen Programming HQ ran a month-long Top Ten Summer Learning Contest in May that focused on programs to the underserved and underrepresented. There were some great examples. Like this one; B-Town Teens, a teen-run, teen-created TV show where the topics related to to the LGBTQ+ community.

Or this one that was an HQ submission, (not part of the Top Ten Summer Learning Contest) Coding Camp in the Frozen North that was part of a grant that allowed Rebecca Webb, the school librarian, to reach out to the under served Alaskan Native population by purchasing the game: Never Alone which is a computer game that was designed in collaboration with Inupiaq tribal elders.

This article (also includes archives of webinars) from WebJunction, focuses on Serving Youth Experiencing Homelessness. Included is an interview with Rekha Kuver from the Seattle Public Library and the work she is doing with teens who are experiencing homelessness and she shares her training she has done with teen librarians to work with this population.

School Library Journal had a great article entitled Almost Home: How Public Libraries Serve Homeless Teenagers. From Queens, NY to San Francisco, CA libraries are addressing teen homelessness issues they are seeing in their cities by providing services and programs that focus on STEM, supplemental education services, programs/services inside and outside the walls of the library and more.


A lot of county library systems are mandated by the county to provide library services to youth and adults who are incarcerated and they will partner with the Department of Corrections (state agency). One great examples of partnering and outreach is the Hennepin County Library. Twice a month they bring in new and donated materials to the juvenile detention centers as well as provide programming too.

The Johnson County Library system Outreach Services provides a slew of services. One example is the service that focus on serving adults and youth who are incarcerated as well as their family through their Read To Me program which allows the incarcerated parent to read a book, have it recorded and then shared with the child.

The Madison Public Library’s Bubbler provides a program to teens who are incarcerated called Making Justice. It’s a community-based learning program for court-involved teens that includes weekly workshops and an artist-in-residence opportunity. The program addresses the nation’s widest black/white educational achievement gap and highest per capita black juvenile arrest and incarceration rate.

The book Serving At-Risk Teens: Proven Strategies for Bridging the Gap by Angela Craig and Chantell McDowell is a great resource to help you get started providing outreach services to underserved teens as well as helping you set up your outreach services with administration, identifying goals and outcomes and how to evaluate services. The authors show how to understand the needs of at-risk teens, including a discussion of the factors that place teens at risk, there are suggested ways to partner with youth facilities, with real-world examples of working with non-library personnel and caregivers and they provide guidance for collection and resource development.

Check out any of these past YALSA Blog outreach posts on some of the interviews I’ve conducted with amazing teen services librarians and staff providing some of these outreach services.

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