A Week of Great Stories: Library Media Specialist Francie Clinton

Editor’s note: This is the fifth and last in a special, week-long series on library programming for underserved, troubled teen populations, written by authors and a librarian who participated in the Great Stories CLUB.

Library media specialist Francie Clinton and author Coert Voorhees pose with a Great Stories CLUB participant at the Southwest Oklahoma Juvenile Center in November 2011.

I have spent some time pondering the programming for our library at the Southwest Oklahoma Juvenile Center in Manitou, or should I say the lack of programming. When you are the library media specialist at a secure juvenile center, programming is not an easy task. In order to have an outside entity enter the facility you have to do a great deal of coordinating. The activity has to be approved by the school and then by the Office of Juvenile Affairs. You have to ensure that there is ample staff to handle all security issue. Since we are a treatment facility and have a very strict schedule that is followed each day, I have to ensure that everyone is notified of a change in that schedule. So you can see that programming can be an issue.

I am very fortunate that the volunteer coordinator for the facility is extremely helpful to me and others where programming is concerned. She ensures that the proper forms are completed and that the activity runs smoothly. Most of our programming activities are treatment-based. These include drug and alcohol programs, anti-smoking programs, and programs that deal with victim impact issues. We have also had musical groups from the area along with motor cycle and car clubs, but we are lacking in cultural programs.

I have been fortunate to have been a part of the ALA Great Stories CLUB for the past two years. This program has given us the opportunity to read and discuss books that we would not have time to discuss in a group setting. This was a wonderful experience for the young men that participated.

Programming is lacking at this facility. Having to sit down and actually look at what we have done in the past, and how much more can be done in the future, has been an eye-opening experience for me. It has motivated me to be more proactive in the programming department. There are possibilities for programming that I have not even considered. Thanks ALA!!