For immediate release | February 26, 2013

Free webinars to Engage! young adult audiences through visual arts programming

CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office and are pleased to announce a free, three-part series of webinars for school and young adult librarians that introduces the Engage! programming model. Developed by ALA and piloted in ten Illinois libraries in 2010, “Engage! Teens, Art, and Civic Participation” introduces young audiences to themes of civic participation using the visual arts as a springboard for discussion and action. This project is funded by the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

During these three free webinars, participants will:

  • Hear from librarians who participated in the Engage! pilot program, who will share what worked and what didn’t with teens.
  • Be introduced to a free PDF guide to the Engage! model, featuring detailed instructions on how to get started.
  • Learn how to formulate effective “looking questions” that will elicit participation and engagement with art and thematic content.
  • Learn how to select images that will illuminate relevant civic participation issues for teen discussion and learning.

Engage! Teens, Art & Civic Participation: An Introduction

Thursday, March 21, 2013, 2:00 p.m. Central time - Registration

In this first session, learn more about this program model for young adults that uses visual art as a springboard to civic engagement. Three librarians who participated in the pilot project—Marcus Lumpkin, Youmedia, Chicago Public Library; Tom Spicer, Arlington Heights (Ill.) Memorial Library; and Nanette Freeman, Portage-Cragin Branch, Chicago Public Library—will share their programs and how they can be adapted for other libraries; in addition, a free project resource guide will be debuted during this webinar.

Engage! Teens, Art & Civic Participation: Creating Compelling Discussion through Art

Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 2:00 p.m. Central time – Registration

This second session will delve in to how to present and look at art. Sarah Alvarez, director of Teacher Programs at the Art Institute of Chicago, will discuss how to ask looking questions and frame issues and activities. Brandy Morrill, an Engage! pilot librarian at the Chinatown Branch of the Chicago Public Library, will share how this adaptable approach worked in her library.

Engage! Teens, Art & Civic Participation: Creating Local, Issues-Based Programming

Wednesday May 15, 2013, 2:00 p.m Central time – Registration

This session will focus on issues-based discussions for teen audiences, using the Engage! Teens, Art & Civic Participation model. Adam Davis, director for the Project on Civic Reflection and an advisor to the Engage! project, will walk webinar participants through how to identify locally relevant issues and images for issues-based teen programming, and Christie Chandler-Stahl, formerly of the Evanston (Ill.) Public Library and currently at the Rakow Branch of the Gail Borden Public Library District in Elgin, Illinois, will share her approach in her former library and how she would adapt it for her current one.

The Engage! Project builds on the NEH’s Picturing America art initiative through the development of supplemental resources that utilize the visual arts as a springboard to civic engagement for young adult audiences. The objective for these resources is to deepen participants’ knowledge and appreciation of American art and its relation to American history and civic life, and to contribute to the development of informed and discerning voters. Through the thematic selection of visual arts resources as points of engagement, participants are led in facilitated discussions on and interactions with the depth and history of American civic life. Resources have been specifically designed for opt-in youth audiences in public library settings.

The ALA Public Programs Office promotes cultural and community programming as an essential part of library service in all types and sizes of libraries. Successful library programming initiatives have included Let’s Talk About It reading and discussion series, traveling exhibitions, film discussion programs, the Great Stories CLUB, LIVE! @ your library and more. Recently, the ALA Public Programs Office developed, an online resource center bringing librarians timely and valuable information to support them in the creation of high-quality cultural programs for their communities. For more information about the ALA Public Programs Office, visit


Angela Thullen

Program Officer

Public Programs Office (PPO)