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 President of YALSA, Candice Mack, is focusing her year as President with an initiative, “3-2-1 Impact: Inclusive and Impactful Teen Services,” which will focus on building the capacity of libraries to plan, deliver and evaluate programs and services for and with underserved teen populations.  Visit YALSA’s wiki to find and share information about serving diverse teens and building cultural competence.

Each month I will profile a teen librarian or staff working in teen services providing outreach services and programs outside the walls of the library to underserved and underrepresented teens. The purpose is for us to learn, connect, network and share with each other the crucial work we are doing in this area.

John Huth is the Librarian for teens and young adults with disabilities for The Child’s Place of the Brooklyn Public Library.  The following comes from a phone call on October 13, 2015.

  • What kind of outreach services do you provide for teens?

I work with teens with physical and/or mental/cognitive disabilities, teens and young adults who are incarcerated, teens who are or were homeless and teens who are in foster care.  I go everywhere in the borough of Brooklyn.  We work closely with the My Library NYC librarians however my Library NYC is a new program (past three years) and The Child’s Place has been providing accessible services to schools in Brooklyn for many years.  The Child’s Place was established before we had an outreach department and before My Library NYC both of which were established in the past 3 years. I cover a large amount of special education schools providing books as well as adaptable video gaming equipment programs in schools.  I really try and bring the books to life to engage with the teens to their interests as well as engaging with them with gaming.  Some of the teens I see may have limited mobility so I have equipment that is adaptable and able to be put on their bodies so they can use the mobility they do have and still engage with gaming.  So much of their school is so structured and doesn’t necessarily focus on developing social skills and sharing but through the gaming they are learning a lot of these skills. Read More →

The Inspire USA Foundation, the non-profit organization behind the youth mental health site, is releasing a list of recommended young adult fiction titles dealing with a range of issues like depression and eating disorders. Inspire USA is also announcing a schedule of live YA author chats on Ustream throughout the month of May, which is Mental Health Awareness month. The chats and books are listed at

The goal of this campaign is to promote positive mental health and build awareness of a resource for teen and young adult readers of popular YA fiction.’  The list of books was developed by YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services Association, and has been reviewed by Inspire USA staff for positive mental health content.

You might not know it, but you have teens with special needs in your community, and your library can provide vital services to them!’  The Outreach to Young Adults with Special Needs committee is excited to be transitioning to an Interest Group so that librarians from all over can share their experiences and ideas for working with this population!

As a committee, our stated function is to “address the needs of young adults who do not or cannot use the library because of socioeconomic, legal, educational, or physical factors; to serve as a liaison between these groups and their service providers; and to identify and promote library programs, resources and services that meet the special needs of these populations.”’  What that practically means is that we help YALSA with such tasks as varied as the Great Stories CLUB and Operation Teen Book Drop.

Opening up to the entire membership as an interest group will allow our focus to become even wider.’  Do you work with teens who are incarcerated and want to share your successes and frustrations?’  Do you have ideas on providing service to disabled teens?’  Are there groups in your community that serve these young adults who you would like to partner with?’  The special interest group will be a place to share ideas and, hopefully, create new opportunities for outreach to this population group.

If you are interested in how we can serve these “special needs” teens and make more librarians aware of their presence in our community, please feel free to contact me with your questions and suggestions.’  You’ll also soon be able to join our ALA Connect group.’  (which will be opened to the public later today, as soon as I get it switched over! ^__^) If you would like to be the convener, or co-convener, please submit your name to me at by Monday May 3, 2010.’  Elections will be held the week of May 24, 2010.

During the all committee meeting, I attended the Outreach meeting. The purpose of this committee is:

To address the needs of young adults who do not or cannot use the library because of socioeconomic, legal, educational, or physical factors.

More information can be found here.
Victoria Vogal of the Rocky River Public Library is the incoming chair. Lisa Youngblood from the Harker Heights Public Library will continue to be involved in many initiatives of the group and was the former chair who dynamically led the committee previously.

The committee is preparing for a program in Annaheim that will address using the net as outreach to teens; specifically those that are unable to get to the library. We were also asked to serve as a resource for the Department of Library and Information Studies in Buffalo, NY for a project an Assistant Professor is working on.
Stay tuned to the committee and share what your committee is doing.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki