What Everyone Can Learn from Urban Libraries

Cynthia Czesak – Director, Paterson Public Library
Maureen Moffit – Youth Services Librarian, Atlantic City Public Library
Darby DeCicco – Children’s Librarian, New Brunswick Free Public
 What
makes a library “urban?”
• Diversity of patrons?
• Location in a densely populated area?
• Economic factors?
 The
truth is, there’s no single set of
parameters that defines an “urban
 Community
 Rich
in diversity
 Often
heavily used
 Truly
of value to patrons
 Economic
 Language
& Cultural Barriers
 Can
feel isolated from other libraries
 May
face safety concerns
 Rather
than assume something will be
popular, give teens ownership of their
space, collection, and programs.
 This
lets teens know that their opinions are
important, and makes them more invested
in the library.
 It
also diversifies the collection and ensures
you are reaching many segments of the
 Teen
Space and Lounge was created in
2009 with input from local teens.
 The
AC library had low fiction circulation.
Kids mostly seemed interested in urban
fiction and DVDs.
 Teen
surveys revealed that urban fiction
was popular but teens were also looking
for a more diverse collection – vampire
romances, graphic novels, etc.
YA Fiction Circs
YA Fiction 2012
YA Fiction 2011
YA Fiction 2010
 Teens
in Atlantic City are interested in very
diverse programs that reflect their diverse
cultural backgrounds.
 Requests
include music programs, cool
crafts, educational workshops, video
gaming, and anything involving food.
 We
also try to build programs for those
teens who need programs but don’t ask for
them, like teen parents who need baby lap
sit programs.
 The President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation
was established in 2003 to recognize the valuable
contributions volunteers are making in our communities and
to encourage more people to serve.
 Recognizing and honoring volunteers sets a standard for
service, encourages a sustained commitment to civic
participation, and inspires others to make service a central
part of their lives. The President’s Volunteer Service Award
recognizes individuals, families, and groups that have
achieved a certain standard—measured by the number of
hours of service over a 12-month period or cumulative hours
earned over the course of a lifetime.
 To date more than 1.5 million awards have been bestowed
upon the Nation’s deserving volunteers.
 Your
disadvantages can become
• New perspectives
• Unexpected results
• Partnerships and chances for growth
 Everything
is a tool – you just have to
decide how to use it!
• The bare minimum can produce maximum
• Creativity is key
LEGO League at
Your disadvantages can become
 Don’t
 Find
 Be
opportunities in your community
a force for change
 Look
– (really look) – for the silver lining
 Stop
making comparisons!
 Say “yes”
 Use
that imagination (a paper plate is not just a paper
plate…it’s a UFO, a snowman, a mask, a clock, a Frisbee…)
 Ask
 Try
for help
 10
Things Learned from Working in
Urban Libraries
 Questions?
 Contact
• Cynthia - [email protected]
• Maureen - [email protected]
• Darby – [email protected]

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