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 Sophie Maier, Immigrant Services Librarian at the Louisville Free Public Library.

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

I am in the immigrant services librarian but I work with many, many teens. I visit schools. I have a cadre of teen volunteers who help with our English Conversation Club, Homework Help and programming.

If you have a moment to peek at this article:

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

Last Saturday I  had a program that brought together teens from Rwanda, Congo, Kenya, Burundi , Tanzania – the event was facilitated by the youth.   Music and dance and food from Africa. Teens talked about they needed support in offering alternatives to newcomers who struggle, to all teens.  Songs included voices of experience being exposed to violence in their home countries and HERE. This was followed by our English Conversation Club – teens volunteer and some come to learn! See below.

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

Get to know the young people, listen to them, take direction from them, let them lead.  Instill a respect of elders and the past while acknowledging all they have to offer.

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

These are interviews with some of our teens talking about why they engage with the library :

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