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 spoke with Jesse Vieau, Teen Services Librarian at the Madison Public Library, Central Library

What kind of outreach services do you provide for teens?

Making Justice focuses on the community as a resource. You can see a range of projects and resources we cover on the TeenBubbler.org website. Making Justice is a community-based learning program for at-risk and court-involved teens that includes weekly workshops and an artist-in-residence opportunity. Offered in collaboration with a diverse spectrum of artists, educators and activists, Making Justice fosters community engagement and self-expression via graphic and 3D art, photography, spoken word, performance, video and life skills projects. While teen participants are often focused on creating a final product, Making Justice workshop leaders are more concerned with relationship building, basic skill development and connection to the community. The hands-on pop-up workshops introduce participants to a variety of creative outlets by collaborating with local people who want to share their talents and physical resources. Our continuous efforts to connect with potential partners is what keeps the experiences current and dynamic, allowing the library to facilitate a wide range of hands-on workshops in all nine libraries and at partner locations around the city.

making-justice

Describe a day in the life of providing outreach

Today started like every Thursday — I met the guest artist/presenter at Central Library to go over supplies and room setup, and the workshop outline that will be run with two teen classrooms today. The Shelter Home classroom takes their van to Central Library each week for a 90-minute hands-on workshop in the Media Lab or the Bubbler Room. An hour after they leave we are already setup and starting the second workshop five blocks away inside the Juvenile Detention Center classroom. I walk to and from the detention center with the artist and our university intern/s, and we get to break down what just happened, vocalize observations and suggest alternative ideas all while pushing a cart of laptops or a flatbed stacked with several large painting canvases around the Wisconsin state capitol building. After arriving back to Central Library in the afternoon today, I then met two artists who needed to prep the silk screens for tomorrow’s tee-shirt design workshop in the Bubbler Room with an at-risk high school classroom under the local school district’s innovative ed department. After ensuring they had all of the supplies they needed for tomorrow’s workshop I was walking to another meeting when, luckily, I ran into our favorite rap artist and part-time library security monitor who needed to make sure I had the set of MacBooks with LOGIC installed on them packed up and ready to go so he was all set when he gets picked up by the beat producer tomorrow morning for their “Rap Sessh” workshop on-site at a different at-risk high school classroom. After adding that to my small list of things I still need to do before I leave today, I went into a 2 hour meeting with one of my mentors who was in town and was able to fit me into her crazy schedule in order to get updated on all things Teen Bubbler, exchange several new ideas, and discuss further edits to the Making Justice project permissions form to ensure it covers the playing of teen audio content on the new youth radio station on the city’s West side. We hugged, I ran through the 5-story building to check off my to-do list, and I walked out into the warm December night just as my wife and three kids pulled up to the curb across the street. And then there was a lot of email tonight after everyone went to bed.

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

Connect with people in your service area. Go to meetings already happening in the community and request meetings with anyone who serves youth. Create your own database by asking people questions about what they do, what resources they have and what they are passionate about. Make note of common goals. Networking has been key for me to understand how to connect Madison teenagers to resources outside of the library’s walls.

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

“You mean I don’t have to illegally download LOGIC anymore?” (after hearing of several options to use the library’s copies for free)

“Its so nice to take a break from learning.” (after just having created her first ever stop-motion video)

“I’m actually happy I’m in jail right now.” (while in the middle of a black-light chalk workshop at the juvenile detention center)

“Hey guys, we’re going to Bubbler today!” (using Bubbler in the form of a verb)

Yesterday over 40 YALSA members met online during the YALSA virtual town hall to discuss ways that we can support youth in our community during turbulent times.  The outcome of the recent election has caused many young people to feel anxious and uncertain about the future of their rights and of our country, and we know that many incidents of bullying, hazing, harassment, and hate crimes have been reported in the past week. Because of this, the focus of the town hall was changed to focus on what we can do create safe spaces for our youth, how to create empathy, and how to empower teens to promote positive change in our community.

Why do need to offer these types of services to our youth? Because it’s our job.  Last year, the YALSA Board approved a document called Core Professional Values for the Teen Services Profession that focuses on nine core values that define professionalism for those who work for and with teens through libraries. Three of those nine are compassion, inclusion, and social responsibility–values that have been extremely important in the past few weeks.

YALSA has created a list of resources on this topic–Supporting Youth in the Post-2016 Election Climate.  We hope that you will find the information useful and share it widely with colleagues and co-workers.  In addition, ALA has created a Libraries Respond web page with further resources.  If you weren’t able to participate in the town hall, you can listen to the audio recordingread through the comments that were posted in the chat, and check out the tweets with the hashtag #yalsachat.  Many members shared what they are doing inside and outside of their libraries, and it was also great to hear what people were thinking about doing in the future.  As a result of the town hall, a YALSA Interest Group hopefully will soon be forming around ideas to help teens understand and empathize with our changing world, as well as to empower them to advocate for change in a positive manner.  Look for more information on that coming soon.  Also, if you’re interested in this topic, watch your YALSA eNews for information about the January YALSA webinar led by Renee Hill on the topic of helping youth recognize their ability to engage in social justice and equity activities.

Yesterday’s conversation was energizing and hopeful–thank you all for caring for the teens in your community!

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 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 spoke with Kristy Gale, Young Adult Services Librarian at the Seattle Public Library, University Branch.

What kind of outreach services do you provide for teens?

  • I should first explain that while I am a teen services librarian, I focus a lot of my efforts on serving older young adults experiencing homelessness, as the U-District in Seattle (the neighborhood I work in) hosts a high number of these young adults. Some of them are teens, but the outreach and programming that I provide centers around young adults in their teens through age 26.
  • I’ve applied for and have been awarded ALA’s Great Stories Book Club grant for the past two years (the application for the 2017 grant is now live!). It’s an amazing reading and discussion program that targets underserved teen populations by providing three sets of books, intensive training, and book discussion guides and support materials. I work with the local alternative high school, and we formed a book club. We have monthly discussions using books that are relevant and engaging, giving teens the opportunity to talk about issues that impact their lives. We also have a guest speaker either representing a local service agency or an expert in a career field join us for the discussion. Afterward, the guest presenter shares information on the services and resources they provide or information about their career. When we read the graphic novel March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell, we had a local comic book artist join us. When we read Something Like Hope by Goodman, we had a case manager that works with at-risk YA as our guest. Here’s a blog I’ve been using to document our book club meetings. https://teenbookclubtpl.wordpress.com/
  • I do street outreach with the organization Teen Feed 1 – 2 times a month. Teen Feed provides case management, healthcare coordination, street outreach, and nightly meals for young adults ages: 13 – 25. I join a small team of staff and peer outreach interns and we meet youth and young adults in the streets, parks, and alleys where they spend most of their time. We make positive contacts with them on the streets, and offer socks, hygiene items, food, referrals to resources, and a relationship with a caring adult. I usually bring paperback book giveaways and flyers promoting the weekly young adult drop-in that I host at the library.

homeless

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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 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 spoke to Carrie Rogers -Whitehead who was the Senior Librarian in Teen Services for the Salt Lake County Library System. She began the outreach program with the juvenile detention system in Salt Lake County.

carrie-headshot

1. What kind of outreach services do you provide for teens? How long has this program (or partnership) been in place?

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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 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 spoke with Courtney Saldana, Youth Services Supervising Librarian at the Ovitt Family Community Library in Ontario, California. Courtney created the STeP program or Skills for Teen Parents, an innovative library services model aimed at connecting pregnant and parenting teens with the resources and services they need to succeed as adults and as parents. Teen parents face multiple, difficult challenges for which they are often woefully unprepared. STeP is making a difference for these teens and changing lives across the state. So far there have been 10 libraries selected throughout California to provide these programs. You may want to watch this Vimeo on a webinar presented on the STeP program

STeP Logo PNG

What kind of outreach services do you provide for teens?

In my experience, outreach is less about the service, and more about the fact that you’re present.  .  While we do try and highlight our major programs and services which would be of interest to teens, we are more likely to just be there.  So, we are present at many things.  Our most successful outreach tends to be those outside of the library.  For instance, we recently started visiting a popular local restaurant within walking distance to our library.  I believe, meeting them there, outside of the library, makes us “less” librarian, and more approachable.

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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.

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YALS-Summer-2016-CoverWhen initially looking at the Pew Research Report statistics Crystle Martin referred to in her YALS article, A Library’s Role in Digital Equity, one may assume the digital divide is coming to a close with the rise of teen’s access to technology. According to the 2015 study:

87% of teens have access to a desktop/laptop computer
73% of teens have access to a smartphone
58% of teens have access to a tablet computer

The report also shares the primary way teens access the internet with 91% of them using mobile devices at least occasionally. This means if a teen has a mobile phone with internet access they are adequately connected to the digital world, right? Martin counters this argument by throwing down more facts such as, “one-quarter of those earning below the median income and one-third of those living below poverty level accessed the Internet only through their mobile devices.” Resulting in a significant part of the population being under-connected according to the “Opportunity For All?” findings.

What does this have to do with libraries, though? In the current trend of libraries increasingly adding “innovation” to mission statements and “technology skills” to job descriptions while working towards increasing access we may be missing the key element in creating digital equity, or equal access and opportunity. Giving teens school tablets or providing free library wifi is a great start, but what happens when that teen lives in a home without an internet connection or lives too far away from the library to attend on weekends? When used correctly technology can be a valuable tool in fostering digital participation, but our approach as educators is the most important action to take.

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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 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.

I spoke with Hayden Bass, Outreach Program Manager, for the Seattle Public Library about her work in outreach and priorities she focuses on.

What kind of outreach services do you provide for teens?

I was a Teen Services Librarian for about 10 years, and in that role I provided all kinds of outreach for teens. I visited youth shelters and drop-in centers, job training and readiness programs, youth arts and technology programs, schools and alternative schools, and lots more. The kinds of programs and services I provided depended on the needs and interest of each partner organization. I might lead resume or library resource classes, table at a job fair, provide onsite library card registration, or connect youth with books.

In my current role as Outreach Program Manager, I am a point person for outreach to patrons of all ages system-wide. My focus is on eliminating barriers for patrons who might otherwise not have access to library programs and services, especially those who are face barriers around income, housing status, language, etc. I still do direct outreach and create community partnerships, but a lot of my work involves providing support for the librarians who are doing this work all over the city.

Describe a day in the life of you providing outreach.

I think the most important thing to remember about outreach is that it’s a two-way street. If you’re just focused on marketing library services, and don’t take the time to understand the partner organization or the community they are working with, you’re missing a huge opportunity. All good outreach should start with listening.

When I’m getting to know a community contact or an organization, I try to start by having at least one or two meetings that are dedicated to getting to know each other. I want to have a holistic understanding of what their work is all about, the services they provide, what’s going well for them (and what isn’t), and the important issues they are hearing about from their community. And of course, I also make myself available to answer questions about the library. Often, our community partners have limited knowledge of the resources that the library can provide; those initial, open-ended conversations help partners understand that while we do have books, we can also offer a lot more.

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CC: SJPL Pop-Up Mobile Maker's Space by San Jose Library

CC Image courtesy of San José Library on Flickr

Just over a month ago I became the first STEAM Librarian at the San José Public Library, located in the heart of Silicon Valley. While my title is new, STEAM programming is far from new to my urban library system. Surrounded by so many technology resources and partners, we are lucky to have passionate library staff leading STEAMstacks programs and participating in worldwide events like Hour of Code.

Before my position was even created our Innovations Manager brainstormed ways to extend STEAM programming to the city’s underserved neighborhoods. Part of the envisioned future stated in The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action is for library staff to “leave the physical school library or public library space regularly and provide services to targeted communities of teens (e.g. those who are incarcerated, homeless, in foster care, or in classrooms and other in school locations) where they are, rather than waiting for teens to find a way to get to the physical library space.” The Maker[Space]Ship, a mobile makerspace, is designed to do just that.

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gameboard

In last week’s post  on working with teens who may be at risk we started to discuss what barriers people may face in working with teens who may be at risk as well as some examples of work people are doing in their libraries.

This week in discussion related to working with teens who may be at risk, let’s talk about successes that people have had with working with teens who may be at risk. Thinking about what you’ve read related to this topic, and what you’ve been able to accomplish, let us know:

  • A success you’ve had in your library implementing YALSA Futures Report related ideas that helped make change in your work with and for teens who may be at risk
  • What you think helped to make that success possible
  • Ideas and suggestions you have for others who are also working with teens who may be at risk
  • Questions you have about implementing some of the ideas in your work with and for teens who may be at risk

Here is the first post in this series if you would like to be part of the discussion and share some of your thoughts. Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments section and feel free to comment/question on anyone else’s. Feel free to reach out directly to me if you have any questions about any of the posts jsnow@bpl.org