The Outreach Department of St. Louis County Library has developed a relationship with the St. Louis County Juvenile Detention System and the Special School District to assist with the support of area youth in detention. These young men and women, who range in ages from 12-17, read below grade level. The detention centers administer a reading test when each resident arrives, and when he/she is discharged from the facility. In dialogues with representatives from both organizations, we determined that one area of need is reading material. Although the residents have textbooks, they do not have access to other forms of reading material, especially ones that would engage their minds and encourage their progress outside of the classroom.
To respond to that need, St. Louis County Library will use the LEAP grant to purchase semi-permanent circulating collections to be shared between St. Louis County’s long and short term detention centers for juveniles. We will survey reading interests before we begin and at intervals throughout the course of the project to make certain our materials meet the needs of the residents. Our intention is to purchase paperbacks, graphic novels and comic books, making certain to provide materials for high interest/low readability readers. We will also obtain appropriate shelving. All material will be approved by the detention center authorities before purchase.
In addition to providing reading material and shelving, library staff will visit the facilities two times-a-month to restock the collection, fill requests for specific material, and provide programming such as Teen Summer Reading Club, book discussions and book talks. We will consider this program successful if the reading scores of the participants improve.