For immediate release | May 13, 2016

ALA announces 75 libraries to receive Great Stories Club programming grants for at-risk youth

CHICAGO – Seventy-five libraries have been selected to receive training and support to host book club programs with at-risk youth as part of the Great Stories Club program, the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office announced.

Created in 2006, the Great Stories Club strives to introduce young adults to accessible and thought-provoking literature selected by humanities scholars to resonate with reluctant readers struggling with complex issues like incarceration, violence and poverty.

The 2016 theme is “The Art of Change: Creation, Growth and Transformation.” Working with small groups of six to 10 teens, grantees will host reading and discussion events for each of three book titles: “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie; “Buck: A Memoir” by M.K. Asante and “The Complete Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi.

The grantees represent 61 public libraries, 11 school libraries, two academic/college libraries and one prison library. View a full list of grantee libraries and their partner organizations at

Grantees will receive 11 paperback copies of each of the three book selections (10 to gift to participants; one for discussion leader/library collection); travel and accommodation expenses paid for attendance at a project orientation workshop held during the 2016 ALA Annual Conference & Exhibitions in Orlando, Florida; and other resources and support.

Johnson County Library (JCL) in Leawood, Kansas, was selected to offer the Great Stories Club model in partnership with a local substance abuse treatment center for adolescents.

“Serving at-risk populations is a priority for JCL,” said Theresa Britt-Lewis, youth care manager at the Adolescent Center for Treatment. “One of the library’s values states: We ensure access to information for people of all ages, abilities and means. Meeting at-risk teens where they are in order to serve them demonstrates to them their importance in the community.”

An additional round of Great Stories Club grants will be awarded in 2017 with the theme “Nature vs. Nurture: Origins of Teen Violence and Suicide.” Libraries may participate in more than one round but must apply separately for each.

The grant will be administered by ALA’s Public Programs Office in partnership with the Association for Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA), including the Library Services for Youth in Custody and Library Services to the Incarcerated and Detained interest groups. The Great Stories Club has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence.

First offered as a pilot in 2006, ALA’s Great Stories Club has reached more than 700 libraries and more than 30,000 young adults (ages 12 to 21).

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 58,000 members in academic, public, school, government and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

About ALA’s Public Programs Office

ALA’s Public Programs Office provides leadership, resources, training and networking opportunities that help thousands of librarians nationwide develop and host cultural programs for adult, young adult and family audiences. The mission of the ALA Public Programs Office is to promote cultural programming as an essential part of library service in all types of libraries. Projects include book and film discussion series, literary and cultural programs featuring authors and artists, professional development opportunities and traveling exhibitions. School, public, academic and special libraries nationwide benefit from the office’s programming initiatives.

About the Association for Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies

The Association for Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA)is the premiere destination for ALA members to find information and build capacity to serve populations that are served by state library agencies, specialized libraries, library cooperatives and library consultants. ASCLA enhances the effectiveness of library service by advocating for and providing high quality networking, enrichment and educational opportunities for its diverse members, who represent state library agencies, libraries serving special populations, library cooperatives, and library consultants. Please visit our website at

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at


Sarah Ostman

Communications Manager

ALA Public Programs Office