Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Public libraries are evolving from their traditional role as promoters of literacy to a new role as providers of community resources, including after-school activities for teenagers. A policy mandate for such activities appears to be lacking though, which might impact negatively their effectiveness. The purpose of this study was to get a better understanding of the existing policy and implementation mechanisms of after-school activities offered by the Atlanta Fulton Library System in Georgia to at-risk teenaged patrons. Moore's theory of innovation and public value provided the theoretical framework for the study. An embedded case study research design was used to explore the perceived role of the public library, guiding policy framework, and factors constraining the implementation of after-school activities in 3 of the system 20 branches serving at-risk youth; semi-structured interviews with 21 participants comprising teenagers engaged in after-school activities, parents, librarians, library managers, and members of the Friends of the library; observations of teenagers' behaviors in the library setting; and publicly available document on the subject. The data were inductively coded and then subjected to a content analytical procedure, which revealed 5 after-school themes: bridging a digital divide, teen and community needs, public policy, and public service. The key finding of this study indicates an absence of a system-wide formal policy in how after-school services are provided across library branches for at-risk teenagers. The study concludes with recommendations to reexamine the existing after-school programs in a way that better incorporates the unique needs of library patrons and to align policies with these needs in order to better serve at-risk youth within the context of their communities.