meek-library_web.jpgMiami Dade College’s Carrie P. Meek Entrepreneurial Education Center Library recently won a national American Library Association Great Stories CLUB grant to connect teens in Liberty City to reading. The grant recognizes partnerships between libraries and organizations that serve troubled and at-risk teens. It was created with the goal of inspiring young adults who face difficult situations to take control of their lives by embracing the power of literature.

Through this opportunity, the Meek Library has partnered with Empowered Youth Inc. and the Liberty Square Housing Project Library to create a Great Stories Club which will host book talks once a month with teens released from detention. The books will be donated by the American Library Association.

Participants of the Great Stories Club will be mostly males, aged 13 to 19, who live in, or have a connection to, the Liberty Square Public Housing Project, a 753-unit complex in the Liberty City neighborhood in Miami.

For decades, Liberty Square residents have lived at or below the poverty level and, in recent years, crime has become a major concern. The youth population is the most at-risk of those entering the juvenile justice system.

Starting on Wednesday, Jan. 26, the book club will meet monthly at the Belafonte TACOLCY Center and will be led by Theo Karantsalis, assistant library director of Outreach Services at the Meek Library.

Books selected include Hate List by Jennifer Brown, Dope Sick by Walter Dean Myers and The Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees. Supplementary materials, such as tip sheets, discussion questions, related reading lists and access to online resources will be available, as well.

In addition, partner organizations will expand on the club sessions by continuing to host events focusing on reading for teens and inviting authors to meet with them.

At the end of the program, which will run for seven months, three teens will be invited to be featured guests on MDC’s Library Matters television show to discuss their experiences. 

Empowered Youth is a non-profit organization that operates mentoring programs at the Miami-Dade Juvenile Justice Detention Facility. The Liberty Square Housing Project Library opened in 2009 with a donation of 3,000 books. It is run by volunteers and receives no government funding.

Major funding for the Great Stories CLUB has been provided by Oprah’s Angel Network.

For more information, call Theo Karantsalis at 786-399-7816.