For immediate release | March 14, 2013

Proven strategies and programs for serving at-risk teens

CHICAGO — Working with at-risk teens, including those who are homeless, incarcerated or in foster care, is a rewarding but often challenging endeavor, especially with a growing number of at-risk teens in both urban and rural areas of the country. Based on best practices and personal experiences from many leaders in the field today, including authors Angela Craig and Chantell L. McDowell, “Serving At-Risk Teens: Proven Strategies and Programs for Bridging the Gap,” shows how libraries and communities can work together to find new ways to serve this population. Packed with accessible and affordable programming ideas, ready-to-use templates and techniques, this publication from ALA Neal-Schuman:

  • Demonstrates why serving at-risk teens is important and offers advice for gaining institutional support for outreach services;
  • Shows how to understand the needs of at-risk teens, including a discussion of the factors that place teens at risk;
  • Examines diversity within the at-risk population;
  • Suggests ways to partner with youth facilities, with real-world examples of working with non-library personnel and caregivers;
  • Provides guidance for collection and resource development;
  • Gives examples of technology-based programs to promote literacy and connectedness.

Craig has worked with at-risk populations since 2005 and is currently teen services coordinator and teen loft manager for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library of Charlotte, North Carolina. Her library programs have taken her to the county jail, alternative schools, senior centers, day care centers, homeless shelters and public schools. She has published articles about her work with the at-risk population in Computers and Libraries and Young Adult Library Services (YALS). A conference presenter on the topic of library services to underserved populations, such as homeless patrons and youth at risk, she is currently serving on YALSA’s 2013–2015 Alex Awards Committee.

McDowell grew up as an at-risk teen, and her desire to give back to her community propelled her to a career as a librarian. While at the Brooklyn Public Library, she facilitated outreach to public and alternative schools, the Spofford Juvenile Detention Center, Rikers Island, group homes and neighborhood clinics. Later, while serving as a teen services librarian for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library of Charlotte, North Carolina, she helped redesign the teen space of the North County Regional Library and provided special programs and services for teens at her library branch. She is currently head library media specialist at Ranson International Baccalaureate Middle School, Charlotte and presented at ALA’s annual conference in 2012 regarding library services to underserved populations.

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Related Links

"Serving At-Risk Teens: Proven Strategies and Programs for Bridging the Gap"

"Answering Teens' Tough Questions"

"Being a Teen Library Services Advocate"


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