“Great Stories Club” book club programming grant for at-risk teens

July 8, 2016

Alachua County Library District (ACLD) received a “Great Stories Club” book club programming grant for at-risk teens. This competitive grant from American Library Association (ALA) provided training, books and materials to host a reading and discussion program for young incarcerated females ages 12 to 18.

As one of the 75 Great Stories Club grant recipients selected from across the country, Alachua County Library District in partnership with The Alachua Academy is working with groups of 6 to 10 young women to read and discuss three books in which young adult narrators use the creative arts to move past challenges. 

“This grant enables the Library District to reach young women at The Alachua Academy that are trying to continue their education, earn a high school diploma or obtain vocational training while they are incarcerated,” said ACLD Headquarters Librarian Linda Cue.  “We hope this book club program will convey the importance of reading and how books can prepare them academically, help them discover a sense of self and open their minds to experiences they might have thought were impossible. The three true stories we will read and discuss illustrate how young people use the arts to respond productively to hardships.”

The book titles under the theme “The Art of Change: Creation, Growth and Transformation” include: Buck: A Memoir by M.K. Asante, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. The titles — selected by librarian advisors and humanities scholars — were chosen to resonate with reluctant readers who struggle with complex issues such as incarceration, violence and poverty.

The grant provides 11 copies of each of the three books that will be gifted to the book club participants. Also, the Library District received paid travel and accommodations for library project directors to attend an orientation workshop in June at the 2016 ALA Annual Conference in Orlando plus project materials, training and support.

The Library District’s Community Engagement Team selected this project as way to expand services to the at-risk youth in our community. Library staff will work in partnership with Joanna Hutchinson, the instructor for The Alachua Academy which is located within the Alachua Regional Detention Center. The Alachua Academy works in collaboration with the Alachua County School Board to offer these young females ages 12 to 18 an opportunity to continue their education, earn a GED or obtain vocational training while they are incarcerated. In the past, the Library District has provided a monthly book deposit collection, book talks and other programs for teens at this facility. Teaming up again enables the library to expand and extend its services into the community to provide more opportunities for at-risk youth. Gatherings of the Great Stories Club at The Alachua Academy begins in July and continues through September with support and access to books continuing.  

Since its inception in 2006, ALA’s Great Stories Club has reached 670 libraries in 49 states and more than 30,000 young adults (ages 12 to 21). The grant is administered by ALA’s Public Programs Office in partnership with the Association for Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA), including the Library Services for Youth in Custody and Library Services to the Incarcerated and Detained interest groups. The Great Stories Club is made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence.

For more information, please visit www.aclib.us or contact Nickie Kortus at (352) 334-3909, nkortus@aclib.us.

About Alachua County Library District
Alachua County Library District is an independent special taxing district and the sole provider of public library services to approximately 250,000 citizens in Alachua County, with 12 branch locations, two bookmobiles and multiple deposit collections. The mission is to be a key to building a better community by creating opportunities to participate, connect and discover. The goal is to provide all community members with free, open and equal access to education, information and entertainment.

About the American Library Association
The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 55,000 members in academic, public, school, government and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

About the National Endowment for the Humanities
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at www.neh.gov.


If a person with a disability needs an accommodation in order to participate in this event he or she is entitled, at no cost to him or her, to the provision of certain assistance.  Please contact the Alachua County Library District at 352-334-3910 at least three (3) days prior to the event.  TTY users please call 711 (Florida Relay Service).

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