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.

Kelly Czarnecki is a Teen Librarian at ImaginOn with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.  The following is from an email conversation in  September.

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In our last Teen Programming post, we outlined the importance of outreach and how to integrate it into your programming arsenal. Since “outreach” can translate to a wide range of ideas and actions, narrowing it down will help you take your next step towards effective methods of community engagement. This is where partnerships come in! This, however, opens a whole new can of worms. How does one establish positive community partnerships? How do you ensure that your goals aren’t lost in translation? How do I secure beneficial opportunities for teens through partnerships?

When I first began working in my position, I was immediately overwhelmed by the need my community has for the library and its community organizations. During my first few months, I had grand plans to “do it all” and open up so many more opportunity and learning experiences for my community’s teens. What actually happened was that I got burned out and became discouraged. I realized very quickly that I was not going to be able to accomplish many of my goals alone. I needed support from others who were positioned in the community to help me achieve what needed to be done.

So let’s break it down. YALSA’s Future of Library Services report states that today’s teens need libraries to connect them to other community agencies, but how do you establish these connections? Network, network, network! This may sound simple, but community leaders need to know who you are. Start by attending committee and board meetings to get a sense of the issues and climate of your community. PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) meetings are another community body that is important to engage with as they are directly connected to the teens that your services will affect. Are there task forces or coalitions that are specifically directed at alleviating a specific need? Don’t be hesitant to insert yourself into the community conversation because you have your library’s resources to back you up. As a library representative in the community, you are an integral voice in the larger network of organizations that are committed to improving the lives of teens. Pinpoint individuals whose resources are in line with your goals and begin a dialogue with them.

When starting this dialogue, how do you make sure that your goals don’t get lost in translation? Communication is so important when you are making efforts to partner with an outside agency. Before any communication begins, make sure that you have your goals and plans clearly defined. What is it that you want to accomplish? What role do you see this partnering organization offering? Additionally, offer your resources and begin a dialogue about how this partnership would benefit both organizations mutually.

How do you make sure that your partnerships bring beneficial opportunities to teens? Last month we discussed ways to discover your community through outreach. During this discovery process, locate areas that your community needs more from your library. Is there a group that’s being under-served? Who can help you bridge that gap? A few months ago, I recognized a gap in the services that we were offering. At the time, we had reached out to just about every group of teens to make sure that our programs and services were reaching our diverse teens’ needs. However, we hadn’t reached out to teen survivors of domestic violence. I made a connection with the director of a local organization that acts as a transitional agency for teens and families who are leaving abusive situations. They offer temporary housing, counseling, and resources to help them take control of their futures and I wanted the library to be a part of this transition. My goal in partnering with this organization was to bring enriching programs to the teens at this facility, as they might not have access to these opportunities during this transitional period of their lives. Upon meeting with the director, my goals were clearly defined and I listened as she described how our organization could benefit these teens. We agreed upon a plan and programs were implemented at their location. We also offered books from our collection that we had discarded. We wanted to give the teens that she serves the opportunity to continue reading since many of them were temporarily not in school. This partnership was a simple way of offering integral library services to a new demographic while still connecting to the larger community.

Ultimately, libraries must work with partners to alleviate their community’s needs. Start small, make connections, and be diligent about following through. YALSA’s Futures Report pinpoints the shift that libraries are experiencing in the 21st century. We have gone from quiet, solitary locations that provided relatively uniform services to spaces, both physical and virtual, that offer a broad range of resources that empower teens and grow their skills, interests, and goals. Partnerships are integral to meeting this standard because they allow us to continue to broaden the services we offer, bridge gaps in your community, and build a better future for teens.

What are your partnership success stories? How do you bridge the gap in your community with partnerships?

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.

Peggy Simmons is a Library Assistant for the Oakland Public Library at the Elmhurst Branch. The following comes from a phone call with her in August, 2015.

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Outreach seems to be the library word-of-the-year as library programs, articles and even job duties add terms like outreach, marketing and community engagement. This past year fellow YALSA bloggers even developed two blog series breaking down outreach in teen services and highlighting how our colleagues are providing outreach services, but how do we connect outreach to teen programming?

While reading YALSA’s Teen Programming Guidelines I noticed “outreach” wasn’t explicitly mentioned in the first two points about creating programming that reflects teens in your community and aligning these programs with the community’s and library’s priorities; but how do you do this? Through outreach!

Back up. What is outreach? Straight from The Future of Library Services Report, the “envisioned future” of outreach is the:

“Year-round use of a variety of tools, both digital and physical. Includes connecting with stakeholders throughout the community in order to develop shared goals and an implement a comprehensive plan of service that reaches all teens throughout the community.

Librarians 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.”

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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 like new and non-readers, LBGT teens, teens of color, poor and homeless teens, 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 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.

Ady Huertas is the Manager of Teen Services at the Pauline Foster Teen Center, San Diego Central Library

J:  What kind of outreach services do you provide for teens?

I work with the Lindsay School (a local school for teen moms) and conduct life skills courses through a State funded program called STEP (Skills for Teen Parents). We meet with approximately 40 teen moms on a weekly basis and we focus on different topics each week.

I work with Southwest Key which is an organization that provides temporary housing and services for recent unaccompanied migrant youth coming to the United States. I conduct regular tours in Spanish to introduce the library as a friendly and welcoming place and work with the Reforma Children in Crisis Taskforce to provide free books for all of the youth in these facilities.  Working with REFORMA on a national level for me has really helped support and expand this partnership with Southwest Key into the great partnership that it is. The youth in Southwest Key could be in the shelter for a week or up to three months.  The San Diego Public Library provides twice monthly 2 hour tours for the youth at Southwest Key to introduce them to the library.  90% of the youth may not have ever used libraries so it is really a chance to highlight all of the great things the library can provide.  This year we also registered the entire center for our Summer Reading Program. 

I serve as an advisor for our SPECTRUM Youth LGBTQ+ group and host weekly meetings for the group and provide a space for community youth to meet and share their experiences as well as plan activities to reach other youth in the community and raise awareness. Our current focus is services to transgender and queer youth.  Right now the teens have been very busy in planning their involvement with the San Diego Trans Pride https://www.facebook.com/SDTransPride  and the San Diego Pride Parade in which they march as well as have a high profile visibility assisting at booths where they are able to share with others the work they are doing in the library for and with LGBT youth.

I also work with libraries in Tijuana Mexico and collaborate with librarians internationally to exchange best practices and ideas by hosting a yearly conference titled Creando Enlaces

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smartestcardLibraries and schools across the country collaborate to promote library card sign-ups at the beginning of each school year. Annual efforts include blog posts, official proclamations, and lists of schools supplies sent out to parents. Last year, Philadelpha City Schools and Free Library merged databases to give nearly 100,000 students library cards. In April of this year, President Obama announced the ConnectED Library Challenge with the lofty goal of putting a public library card into the hand of every school student. As of August 5, nearly 50 communities had adopted the initiative.

Accomplishing this will be no easy task. When you live in an area (as I do) where one school district serves multiple library districts and vice versa, knowing where to go to get a public library card can be confusing. Unincorporated areas, which often aren’t served by any public library, compound this. At least one nearby library has mitigated that issue by signing contracts with local schools that allow students who live in the unincorporated areas to receive a card for use during the school year.

One neighboring community, Skokie, has adopted the ConnectED Library Challenge. The Village of Skokie is a northwest suburb of Chicago, and is home to a little over 64,000 people. The village straddles two different townships, and so public high school students attend one of two different districts. One township, Niles, is also home to a portion of the Village of Niles, which makes up a significant portion of the Niles Public Library District. Confused yet? Students from four different library districts all attend Niles Township High School District 219.

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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 like new and non-readers, LBGT teens, teens of color, poor and homeless teens, 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 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.

Rekha Kuver,Teen and Children’s Services for the Central Library Seattle Public Library

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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 like new and non-readers, LBGT teens, teens of color, poor and homeless teens, 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.

Each month I will profile a library staff person who’s 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.  For further information and resources on reaching underserved and underrepresented teen populations, visit YALSA’s wiki.
Nick Franklin is the Coordinator of Transitional Services for the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL)  Transitional Services focuses on providing services and programs for people who are homeless, people who are incarcerated and people who were previously incarcerated (re-entry).

J: What kind of outreach services do you provide for teens?

Nick: Outreach Services here at Brooklyn serves a wide range of marginalized men and women of varying ages and we focus on bringing a wide mix of books both hi and lo, adult books that would appeal to teens, urban books both adult and teen and classics to the jails and shelters that we work with.  Brooklyn operates four mobile satellite libraries located at the Brooklyn Detention Complex, OBCC, AMKC and VCBC facilities. BPL partners with The New York Public Library’s Correctional Services to assist their library services at four additional jails. Each week librarians visit these facilities to hand deliver recreational and educational books, magazines and newspapers to hundreds of men and women.  Brooklyn also works closely with New York Public Library (NYPL) in their jail and juvenile justice centers work and we partner on the visits to the juvenile facilities as well.

J: Describe a day in the life of you providing outreach

Nick: If it is a day that I’m going to the jails I wake up early, pack up my two bags filled with books and make sure they are in a clear plastic bag to be seen by security going in, I get on a bus and then transfer to another bus that goes directly to Rikers Island.  The books I bring in are recreational and are most often direct requests from the inmates.  Brooklyn has a program called TeleStory where dads who are in Rikers can read stories or have their children read stories to them through a live video feed set up in the Central Library to a feed at Rikers, so I will also bring in children’s books for some of those dads.  I will spend about 3 hours a week when I go to Rikers sharing the books and engaging with the inmates.  Some of the inmates we serve are teens and also through our work with NYPL we work with teens in Passages Academy.  Passages provides educational instruction and counseling to teens ages 18 and younger in secure and non-secure placement settings.  If it’s a different day I may be meeting with shelter organizations to talk about setting up mini libraries in their shelters and going there to stock the books and meet and engage with families and teens in these shelters.  One of the big things we do when we do this outreach work is collaborate with the Brooklyn Public Library librarians in the neighborhoods of the shelters we are working with and have those librarians come out for visits to further connect the families to their libraries.  It’s important for the families to have a face they meet that they will then see in their library.  We are also doing the summer reading program in the shelters we work directly with.  Another thing BPL is doing is training the public services staff to understand sociological ramifications of poverty, incarceration and homelessness so we as a system can better understand and serve these populations.  We work with the Center for Urban Community Services to help provide some of these trainings, they are a team of social workers that are really able to provide context and a comprehensive understanding of the ramifications of homelessness and incarceration.

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

Nick: Working in New York City I feel my resources are very New Yorkcentric.  One of the big ones I use frequently is the New York Connections Guide and it focuses on providing a guide for formerly incarcerated people in New York City.  Another is the new book by Marybeth Zeman Tales of Jailhouse Librarian and the other is the New York Reentry Education Network

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

Nick: It is always so great to hear people say they are lifelong library users and they are so happy to see me and the other librarians providing these services.  It’s also great to hear someone learn about all the great things the library has and now that person wants to be a regular library user.  I’ve heard things like “seeing you is the highlight of my week” “I have been counting down the days till I see the library next”.  Another has been when guys will have their friends go in line to get them more books and those friends see things they want to read.

Nick

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 like new and non-readers, LBGT teens, teens of color, poor and homeless teens, 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.

Each month I will profile a teen librarian 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.

Amanda Bressler is the Youth Outreach Librarian for the Boston Public Library.  Amanda provides outreach to youth; children and teens for the Boston Public Library system.

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

I work primarily with two organizations that serve teens; an alternative high school for teens in drug and alcohol recovery called Ostiguy High School and the agency Department of Youth Services (DYS) that serves teens who are incarcerated in seven units in the Metro Boston region.  I’ve also begun a relationship with a program at Children’s Hospital called the Young Parents Program that serves young parents and their children, but this is still forming.  For DYS and Ostiguy the program is similar; I provide monthly outreach by bringing in a collection of high interest and wide variety of books, booktalk them to engage with the teens and talk about library services and programs for teens in the Boston Public Library locations.  We also provide supplemental or one off programs with the teens like last year the author Patrick Jones came and spoke to three of the DYS units about his books and his writing process.  The library purchased books for the teens participating in the visits so they had read one of his books and then they were able to ask him questions.  Each year we also provide a summer reading program for teens in DYS to read a book and write a review and they can receive a movie pass.  For the Young Parents Program it’s structured differently; it’s a clinic setting and I bring in free children’s and teen books and give them away to the young parents and kids, provide library card signups and try and connect them to library programs and services in their neighborhoods.  As this is a newish program I’m still in the process of developing this relationship.

  1. Describe a day in the life of you providing outreach-

There really isn’t an average day.  There is a lot of time that is spent cultivating the list of books I bring into DYS and Ostiguy each month, I want to bring in books the teens want and provide them with a variety.  I spend time prepping for those visits by writing booktalks and then also doing the backend stuff like checking the books out, making sure those accounts are updated.  I also try and connect with outside organizations and foster those relationships whether it’s a connection for the library as a system-wide connection or I may be connecting the organization to a branch library.  Then I’m out in the community, connecting with those organizations and those teens.  For each of these organizations I meet with them each month.

  1. What resources would you recommend for someone new to outreach to look for ideas for inspiration as well as best practices? I follow The Outreach Librarian blog which is a mix of public and academic library outreach. I also like to read books about underserved populations, not necessarily library related, so that I can learn more about those populations and their needs. Recently I have read a couple of Nell Bernstein’s books about incarceration – Burning Down the House and All Alone in the World – as well as True Notebooks by Mark Salzman about a teacher volunteering in a juvenile detention center. Knowing the populations you serve and the adversity they face can help you serve them better, and I find that these stories inspire me in my outreach work.  I would also say that there isn’t enough written about outreach services.  I also try and consult other librarians doing this type of work.
  1. What are some of your favorite things you have heard from teens while providing outreach services? We do a survey each year for the teens in DYS to get direct input from them what they think of the booktalks and the books we bring in for them.  Some of the feedback from the teens has been really helpful in shaping the booktalks as well as the type of books we bring in.  I think a lot of what I have heard from teens has been things like they didn’t know the library provided services like this or they are extremely grateful for the library providing them with the books they want.

Amanda DYS

 

“What?  I need to do what?  But what does that mean?”  These are exactly the words that flashed through my mind when I attended my first annual conference and heard a keynote speaker say,  “It is our responsibility to advocate for our students, our programs and our profession.”  After what I consider a compulsory moment of internal panic, [inside voice:  I have a new responsibility.  No one told me about it.  I don’t even know how!  This did not happen in library school. What?]  I began to calm myself.  [It is a brand new day and I can do this, I think.  Ok, but first, I will read the new Neal Shusterman book.]

Now, several years later, as I stare at the four stools behind my circulation desk and feel their lonely state, I now understand that is is my responsibility to advocate for my students, my program, and my profession.

AASL provides the best definition:

Advocacy is the ongoing process of building partnerships so that others will act for and with you, turning passive support into educated action for the library program.

WHY ADVOCATE

When we advocate, we are building partnerships and educating others to act on behalf of our students and programs.  I don’t know about you, but I can always use the extra help. Part of being effective is seeking the resources needed for your program.  If you want help, you must ask.  (It is not WWII, the volunteer generation has left the building.)  Trust me, relying on the collective memories of library experiences from your stakeholders to drive them to act is a bad idea.  You must share your vision in order to offer opportunities for investment.  Get some great advocacy resources from YALSA at ala.org/yalsa/advocacy

WHAT I CAN DO NOW

  1. STAY POSITIVE.  No one likes to hear about the downfall of the library or your fear about losing your job or your program.  This is negative branding and you let them know you are expendable.  Worse, no one is comfortable, so they avoid the media center.  Post your positive message where you can see it every day, the message you will share when others ask how are things are going.

Exa.  “Hey, did you know the new Florida Teens Read List was just announced.  So many of the books look so good!  I can’t wait to read them.”

Exa.  “I am just arranging the new college and career section!  Isn’t it great!”

Exa.  “Oh, these kids are keeping me busy, busy, busy!” Read More →