Saturday, December 13, 2014

When the Prison Doors Slam Shut On a Teen: Hope in Literacy :: Public Libraries Online

a way out for
at-risk youth
When the Prison Doors Slams Shut On a Teen:

Hope in Literacy
Public Libraries Online: 12.11.2104 by Marybeth Zeman

Promoting literacy for incarcerated teens is a challenge. Encouraging reluctant readers to read is only one of many obstacles. Ask Karlan Sick, the current chair of Literacy for Incarcerated Teens (LIT), a nonprofit library services organization that supports school libraries at the New York City school programs for incarcerated youth. Sick, a retired public librarian, recognizes the literacy needs of incarcerated teens stating,  “while detention centers are mandated by law to have schools,” libraries are not.[1]

Former executive-director of LIT and a former school librarian in a juvenile detention center, Jessica Fenster-Sparber, observes that “jails, detention centers, and prisons provide a unique opportunity to address young people’s literacy gaps…excellent school libraries are in dire need at these sites.”[2]

The Challenges

There is a lot more to consider than just encouraging reluctant readers to read. Challenges include:
1.Collection development.
2.Institutional compliance and cooperation.
3.Inclusion of incarcerated teens as part of the public library’s young adult/outreach services.
4.Collaboration with school, correctional facilities and public libraries.

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