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The Forgotten Ones. Information Literacy and Homeless Youth in Portland: A Research Proposal. LI810XO Summer 2012 Cheryl Bemiss Mike Henderson Brianna Hoffman Haley Songchild. Background of Research. Overview of Research Topic. Who are Homeless Youth?

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The Forgotten Ones

InformationLiteracy and

Homeless Youth in Portland:

A Research Proposal

LI810XO Summer 2012

Cheryl Bemiss

Mike Henderson

Brianna Hoffman

Haley Songchild

background of research
Background of Research

Overview of Research Topic

  • Who are Homeless Youth?
    • “Individuals no more than 21 years of age for whom it is not possible to live in a safe environment with a relative or legal guardian, who has no other safe alternative living arrangement,” (Jackson, 2011, p.5)
  • Where Are They?
    • Highly Fluid and Mobile Population
    • Difficult to Assign Precise Numbers
      • Estimates 1,500-2,000 (Outside In, 2011) to as high as 3,000 (Janus Youth Programs, 2012)
background of research1
Background of Research

Overview of Research Topic

  • What are their Information Needs?
    • Survival Skills
    • Health Issues
    • Communication
    • Entertainment/Distraction
      • Karabanow & Naylor (2010) n=20,
      • 40% Primary use of Internet - playing games
background of research2
Background of Research

What Has Already Been Done?

  • Higher Level Needs
background of research3
Background of Research

What Has Already Been Done?

  • Woelfer& Hendry, University of Washington, The Information School
  • “New Tech for Youth Sessions” Program
    • Four Week Class for Homeless Youth aged 13-25
    • Eight Classes Total – Including
      • Creating a Resume
      • Web Searching
      • Managing an Online Identity
  • Ancillary Benefits
    • Developing Trusting Relationship with Adult Staff
background of research4
Background of Research

What REMAINS to be Done?

  • Homeless Youth and LIBRARIES
  • Losing the “Problem Patrons” Moniker
  • Achieving a Contextual Understanding
background of research5
Background of Research

Theoretical Basis Behind Our Research Topic

  • The Unique Position of Libraries
  • How can Libraries Improve Staff Attitudes Toward Homeless Youth?
  • What Kinds of Partnerships with Outside Agencies can be Forged?
  • What Type and Structure of Information Literacy Programming Produces the Best Results for this Population?
  • Determinations Could Yield Significant Positive Results
research aim and questions
Research Aim and Questions
  • Is information literacy a necessary component young people must achieve before obtaining a permanent residence?
  • What are the most common information needs of homeless youth and in what ways do they use this information?
  • How can library environments and library staff attitudes be changed to better serve homeless youth?
  • What kinds of information literacy programming should shelters and service centers be providing to homeless youth?
methodological considerations
Methodological Considerations
  • Philosophical Assumptions
  • Sampling
  • Data Collection Methods & Analysis Procedures
  • Ethical Considerations
  • Limitations of the Research
Methodological Considerations

Philosophical Assumptions

A Qualitative Study


Understanding Behavior


“Social Actors”

Homeless youth in our study will not be treated as numbers,

but as individuals with rich narratives to explore.

Methodological Considerations


How do you Sample a Shadowy, Transient Population?

methodological considerations1
Methodological Considerations


We know a couple downtown hangouts & some teen shelters/day centers

Scads of limitations - non-probability sampling

Snowball method- Becker (1963) study on “deviants”- marijuana users

Approaching youth at O'Bryant Square & Pioneer Courthouse Square

n = 50. Pilot study = 10.

Flyer in Service Centers

methodological considerations2
Methodological Considerations

Flyer Advertisement in Service Centers

  • Sampling
  • Flyer Advertisement
    • Outside In
    • New Avenues for Youth
    • Janus Youth Programs
  • Multi-lingual
    • English/Spanish
Methodological Considerations

Data Collection Methods & Analysis Procedures

The Semi-Structured Interview

One on One Interview Schedule

Audio Records

Methodological Considerations

Ethical Considerations

Harm to Participants


Data Storage

Informed Consent

Participants Over 18

Participants Under 18

Methodological Considerations

Limitations of the Research


Thick Description


Respondent Validation



significance of the research
Significance of the Research
  • For Researchers: focus attention on this underserved, under-investigated population. Springboard for additional research
  • For Librarians: staff attitudes, programming (classes, scheduling), targeting, outreach, coordinate with social service agencies
  • For Social service agencies: partner with libraries - referrals, in-house programming, share info & findings
  • For Youth: Better match of programming to what's needed. More respect in libraries. Learning lifelong info literacy skills
  • For Society: reduction of human suffering, better use of public funds, creating responsible citizens
concluding remarks
Concluding Remarks


Adobe Connect

Google Docs

Strengths and Weaknesses

Work Division

Team Member Roles

Knowing Our Path

“A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”

- attributed to Mahatma Gandhi


Bryman, A. (2012). Social Research Methods (4th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.

Becker, H. S. (1963). Outsiders: Studies in the sociology of deviance. New York: Free Press.

Jackson, K. (2011). Toolkit for meeting the educational needs of runaway and homeless youth. Washington, D.C.: National Network for Youth. Retrieved from

Janus Youth Programs (2012). Retrieved from

Karabanow, J. & Naylor, T. (2010). “Being hooked up”: Exploring the experiences of street youth and information technologies. In E. Looker & T. Naylor (Eds.), Digital diversity: Youth, equity, and information technology (pp. 161-178). Retrieved from

Outside In (2011). 2010-2011 Annual Report. Retrieved from

Hendry, D. G., Woelfer, J. P., Harper, R., Bauer, T., Fitzer, B., & Champagne, M. (2011). How to integrate digital media into a drop-in for homeless young people for deepening relationships between youth and adults. Children and Youth Services Review, 33(5), 774-782. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2010.11.024


Borgerding, T. (2012, May 11). State increases efforts to fight youth homelessness. WOSU News. Retrieved from

Dinner & a Movie (2012). About us. Retrieved from

EIFL- Electronic Information for Libraries (2012, February 29). Good advocacy comes from the heart. Retrieved from

Friedman, T. (2012, June 1). Ashland street tramps brace for latest crackdown. The Berkeley Daily Planet. Retrieved from

Healing the abused. CA Homeless Youth Project Blog (2012, May 31). Retrieved from

Homeless youth pushed out during games. CBC News (2011, February 13). Retrieved from

Koenig, S. (2012, March 13). Portland teen homeless shelter gets national attention. Maine Sun Journal. Retrieved from

Konstsntarus, J. (2011, November 1). City plans new youth shelter. Chicago News Co-op. Retrieved from

Lundebrek, M. (2012). Retrieved from

Making library home creates conflict for homeless youth.

The Oregonian (2011, June 25). Retrieved from

Noble. C. (n.d.). Queer homeless youth. Retrieved from

Renna, C. (2011, October 23). LGBT rally for homeless youth. Gothamist. Retrieved from

Steagull, L. (2010, November 4). Coffee Oasis secures grants for homeless youth in Bremerton. The Kitsap Sun. Retrieved

Stone, Z. (2011, November 21). Pledge drive gone wild. Good News. Retrieved from

Waldroupe, A. (2010, May 12). Groups converge in advance of summer’s street youth activity. Street Roots. Retrieved from