The choice of reading materials at Juvenile Hall has been very limited, but that is about to change with the addition of its first library.
“We’ve been collecting books from different people including staff here, and we now have a little over 1,000 books, but we’re still not done. We’d like to have more books,” said Craig Stover, Institutional Services Director at the County Probation Department.
Stover is asking for donations of books appropriate for 10- to 18-year-old youths. So far the books collected range from literature classics to textbooks to non-fiction books. He is looking for books with reading levels from kindergarten to college. The new library could also use more paperback books to fill their shelves, including books in Spanish and other languages.
Stover expects the Juvenile Hall library to open in about six months. He’s getting it done by taking over a storage room, using salvaged bookshelves and filling them with books donated by employees or purchased with grant money.
“Most of these kids have never even seen a library or a large selection of books where they can actually pick one,” Stover said. As a result, the reading level for some of these juveniles is low. he said.
When Stover worked at the East Mesa Detention Facility he started a library and it made a difference for those teenagers who used the library, he said.
“Their reading level improves, it helps them in school and it helps to keep them busy. If they’re in their room, we want them doing something constructive. Unfortunately a lot of these kids don’t read when they’re out,” Stover said. “I’ve seen some of these kids have three, four and five books in their room and they’re proud that they read them. And sometimes they discuss them in the school and with the officers in the unit.”
Book donations will be gratefully accepted at the Juvenile Hall Open House on May 19. Donations can also be made during business hours at 2801 Meadowlark Drive in San Diego.