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  • November 2009
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Keeping Ya Off the Streets

I’m always at a loss for what to blog about.  So yesterday, when I started to work on this post,  I asked  Kwame what I should write about. 

Kwame: “You should write about keeping me off the streets.”

Me: “What?”

Kwame: “You know, I stay out of trouble after school because I come to the library. I could go downtown and get into trouble, but instead I come to the library.  It’s good for me.  You guys keep me in line.”

It might sound like I am making this up.  But if you know Kwame, you know that in fact I am not making this up.
When I talk to teens, I don’t often mention the research we teen librarians do in order to be effective youth advocates.   It would just be weird if I said to everybody who walked in: “You know by using the library you are highly reducing the probability that you will engage in risky behaviors after-school,”  or  “you know by reading that book for fun, you will become a more proficient reader and lead a very fulfilling life,” or “you are one of 22,000 teens registered for a library card in Pittsburgh, congratulations!” 
But Kwame is right.  We do keep you off the streets.   These things and more are true about teens who use the library.    So I’m going to share a few facts about teens and the library, considering Hazelwood, Beechview, Lawrenceville, West End, Carrick, and Knoxville teens are at risk for losing access to the wonderful things the library has to offer. 
 City Council is scheduled to vote on Wednesday to offer the library enough money to keep branches from closing in 2010.   You might say: “Well I don’t live in those neighborhoods.”  Well, libraries across the city will be losing funding for programs and staff under the Library Board’s proposed plan.  Just because your branch isn’t closing doesn’t mean the library as you know it now won’t lose programs, materials, or staff,  or that your branch won’t be next on the chopping block .     So when you are writing, calling, or emailing your city council representative, or telling your friends and family to do the same, you can use these facts about library:
  • According to YALSA: “The most dangerous time of the day is from 3 PM to 6 PM. Public libraries provide teens with a constructive place to go during these hours, where teens can organize and participate in supervised recreational and educational activities.”  The hour in which most juvenile crime is committed: 3-4pm. In other words, we keep you off the streets.
  • 73% of public libraries reported that they were the only source of free public access to the Internet.   If you use library computers, you are not alone: 60% of teens who use the internet, use public computers to access it. 
  • Over 90,000 teen materials  were checked out of Carnegie Library this year already!  Whenever anyone says that teens don’t read, tell them that you do, and when you do, it’s often a library book.
  • 6,000 teens attended library programs so far in 2009.  That’s 6,000 teens who chose the library over all other options available, including “risk taking” behaviors.

If you can’t remember all that, just check out these bona-fide teen created Art Club posters that tell you what you need to know about how important access to libraries is for teens in Pittsburgh:

Happy Advocating!

2 Responses

  1. Holly,

    This post is awesome.

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