New Library Displays at the Juvenile Detention Center

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What an amazing semester this has been! I am now working with the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) in Urbana, IL. When the opportunity first arose I honestly was a bit hesitant.   I don’t even really know why. Maybe it was a healthy mix of excitement and anxiety. First, I should explain a bit.

Though my background is heavily based in community organizing, not for profit, and academic librarianship, there are certain areas I recognize that I am not as adept in. In this case, it would be traditional librarianship or Collection Development. I spoke with Joe Coyle about this (amazing resource and library extraordinaire) and he advised I consider working with the JDC. I would be able to utilize my Marketing background, I could learn more about YA Urban Literature, refresh my book weeding skills, and I could really get to know/support a community of youth that so often gets forgotten.

I’ve been involved with the JDC for about three and so months now. I am so, so grateful. I have grown as a library student and I truly love my work.   I am most proud of how I have been able to use my Marketing knowhow.

Wait, you may ask, “How would Marketing and Collection Development mix”? Well, I would respond, how else can your patrons effectively navigate your system unless you are using creative ways to advertise your resources and you are clearly defining your mission/vision? Part of that means, keeping your collection in an orderly fashion, transforming the space to fit the needs of that community, and getting imaginative with those updated displays (in a way that speaks to the people).

In my time at the JDC, my mission has been to utilize the resources that are already there and to find fun ways to make “a lot out of a little”. I have made Hip Hop Collection- books related to musician biographies, spoken word poetry, flow texts, graffiti art, and inner city culture. Additionally, I finalized Books To Movies Collection- books focused on recent motion pictures that got their source material from books that happen to be in our catalog. Some examples include “The Help”, “Harry Potter”, “Vampire Diaries, “Divergent”, “Perks of Being a Wallflower”, and “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”. Both collections have been well received and I look forward to my next big addition. I’m sure you’ll be reading about that soon!

Working at the Juvenile Detention Center really has been a blast. The kids love the books and the workers appreciate our efforts. Every time I enter into that building, I learn new things about myself and about what librarianship will mean for my professional career.

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-Jhani Miller

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