Teen Services Librarian, Madison Public Library, WI
MLIS, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2007
Photo by Faisal Abdu’allah
“I’m actually happy I’m in jail right now!” is one of the statements Jesse Vieau has heard from the teens he works with through Making Justice, an outreach program for court-involved and at-risk youth in Wisconsin’s Dane County Juvenile Court Detention Center, Shelter Home, and Neighborhood Intervention Program. Under the umbrella of the Bubbler, Madison Public Library’s (MPL) arts and Maker hands-on program, Making Justice brings technology and other Maker programming to youth who might not have the opportunity to participate. “He is a passionate advocate for teens and for issues of racial equity and social justice,” says Tana Elias, MPL digital services and marketing manager.
The projects Vieau brings weekly to teens range widely, from 3-D printing and photography to making pillows with a fabric artist. He points out that “while teen participants are focused on creating a final product, we are focused on maximizing the potential for relationship building, basic skill development, and connection to the community.” Vieau credits his ability to reach these vulnerable populations to a strong team and “over 40 community partners” who are involved with program design and evaluation, facilitation, and tech support. Vieau’s next step: finding “the right partners to engage these [court-involved] teens and provide a structure for successful reentry into their schools and neighborhoods.”