During the ALA Annual Conference in Washington D.C. a resolution was passed by the American Library Association in regards to library service for children in detention at migrant detention centers. It denounces the existence of family and youth detention centers, the deplorable conditions found there, and the removal of educational and recreational programming including storytimes. It also urges libraries in or near their service areas to reach out and work with the local authorities, schools, and other governmental support agencies to reinstate or start outreach services to those centers.
Freedom for Immigrants offers an interactive map to show you where US immigration detention centers are located. Check and see if there is one near your library or school and then find out the steps you can take to support any children there.
Established by REFORMA (the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking) in 2014, Children in Crisis is a project to acquire and deliver books to children in detention centers, shelters, law offices, and group homes around the United States. Donations, connections, and work are carried out through local chapters of REFORMA (in collaboration with various social service agencies). Visit the Children in Crisis website to learn more about how REFORMA has been leading this work and how you or your library can get involved.
The Library Bill of Rights states that a person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views. Children’s library workers can support these children and their families by getting native language books into their hands and offering stories to give them a brief escape from their current situation. For information and ideas on how to vet and purchase books in Spanish for young people, Latinxs in Kidlit and De Colores are two excellent resources. If you know of any other recommended organizations or ideas on how we can support these children please share it in the comment section below.
This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Knowledge of Client Group and VII. Advocacy, Public Relations, and Networking Skills.
Melissa Sokol is a children’s service librarian for the Dayton Metro Library and a member of the Public Awareness Committee for ALSC. She can be reached at email@example.com.