YALSAblog News of the Month – July 2016

Welcome to the YALSAblog News of the Month. In this post we highlight a few news items from the past month that we think are of interest to staff working with teens in libraries, schools, and youth development organizations.

How to Get Teens Fit and Happy Through Collaboration and Creativity

Now that school is out, it’s time to discuss with our teens about the value of healthy habits and lifestyles. When we talk about healthy habits, we need to think beyond physical fitness and focus on all aspects of healthy living which includes the mind, body, and soul. With the new YALSA Organizational Plan in place, we now have a framework to take these concepts to our teens and ask them what they would like to see in the library and how we (staff and patrons) can successfully develop these ideas.

One important that libraries need to consider is to implement, or increase, programs and/or services to help teens develop a positive sense of well-being in order to navigate this chaotic world. As the organization plan brilliantly states “Today’s adolescents’ face an expanding array of social issues that place them at physical and psychological risk, and libraries can help. Libraries can contribute to solving and alleviating the issues and problems that negatively impact teens, and can put more teens on the path to a successful and fulfilling life.” Although this concept is not new to us, the big question is how do we develop solid services that will get teens into the library? The best place to start is to consult our core group of teens who either volunteer, are part of our advisory groups, and teens who do, and do not, participate in library programs.

When we ask teens about what they would like to see in the library it’s important to provide options. In other words, we need to break down what we mean by a “positive sense of well-being” which is basically what can the library do to promote healthy lifestyles in regards to the mind, body, and soul. Whether it’s about offering meditation workshops, reading buddy programs, gaming programs, dance classes, arts and crafts workshop, and/or buying books and audiovisual materials for self-improvement,  we want to encourage teens to tell us what would bring them to the library. If we don’t have a core group of teens who visit the library, pose this question during outreaches or via social media. As teen library staff, we must take advantage of every opportunity we can to communicate with teens even if it’s not library-related. Lastly, if teens still can’t decide on what they would like to do, bring in your community partners to talk more about the importance of good eating habits, mental health, and civic engagement. When teens have a better understanding of what it is we are trying to do, let’s bring in professionals to guide the decision-making process. When the teens have given us the feedback we need, we can move forward with these services as they are relevant and distinct to our teen communities.

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Personal Service Priority Plan, Part 6

Each summer I’m faced with the same dilemma: a huge number of community events at which I could do outreach but only one of myself! The problem becomes compounded by the fact that I can’t be both in and out of the library building at the same time. When school is out for the summer, I want to be available to youth and families who come to my branch searching for me. 

Summer Festival Outreach

Summer Festival Outreach

I’ve worked hard to build relationships with those youth, and I want them to feel personally welcomed as much as possible when they come to “their” library. However, as we know from YALSA’s Intended Impact Statement, it is critical that we “reach out to serve ALL teens in the community…whether or not they frequent the library space.”

It’s a micro version of what all libraries face: we recognize that we must provide excellent service and opportunities for learning both in and out of our buildings, but we often don’t have the number of staff needed to provide the same levels of service in and out of the buildings at the same time. The community branch youth services librarian can’t be simultaneously meeting with youth outside the building and working with youth at the branch. Our colleagues do a fantastic job of providing service to youth in our branches while we’re out in the community, but the very nature of working effectively with youth calls for consistency and trust. The YALSA vision calls for quality services like coaching and mentoring as well as tailoring to the community – wonderful and worthy goals that are difficult to achieve if individual youth services staff are in a staffing position where they can’t consistently work to build and maintain relationships with individual youth.

At the core of this dilemma is the bigger philosophical question: is the goal of outreach to get people to come to our library branches and use our services here, or is it to take library services out of the building into the community without the expectation that the patrons we’re reaching in that way will ever enter a library building? From a youth services perspective, if we attend community events to meet teens we’re not seeing at the branches with the end goal of attracting them to the branch, it makes sense that the person they see at the community event should, whenever possible, be the same person they see when they come to the branch.  Continue reading

YALSA Seeks Member Manager for Teen Programming HQ

YALSA is seeking a Member Manager for its programming web site, Teen Programming HQ.

The mission of the site is to provide a one-stop-shop for finding and sharing information about library programs of all kinds for and with teens. The site promotes best practices in programming by featuring user-submitted programs that align with YALSA’s Teen Programming Guidelines,  Futures Report and Mission Statement. Additionally, the site enables members and the library community to connect with one another to support and display their efforts to continuously improve their teen programs.

The Member Manager will work with YALSA’s Communications Specialist to ensure the site is relevant, interactive, engaging and meeting member needs for information about innovation in teen programming, as well as participates in the maintenance of the site and work within the guidelines for the site as set by the YALSA Board of Directors. The Member Manager drives the recruitment of experts and the collection of content for the site; generates ideas for direction and content; obtains, analyzes and uses member and library community feedback about the site; assists with marketing; and ensures programming related activities, news and resources from YALSA are integrated in the site, and vice versa.

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Real Teens, Real Ready

How often do you serve as guidance counselor? How many times have you helped someone complete the FAFSA? or helped someone complete a job application? or helped area community organizations run an annual job fair?

As YALSA president, I can opt to have a theme for my presidential year.  When I re-read the new Organizational Plan and the Futures Report, it wasn’t difficult to choose a topic close to my heart.  I worked in high schools for fourteen years, and now I work the reference desk and teach at a rural community college library, so everyday I think about how prepared my “kids” are for the real world.  Whether that’s discussing with them how student loans work or offering interview tips or explaining why their mean teacher is requiring APA style, it’s always on my mind! College and career readiness have been buzz words for years in education, but I really want to stress workforce development, too.  With the theme “Real Teens, Real Ready,” my President’s Program Task Force will offer opportunities to share best practices about college and career readiness and the skills needed for teens to succeed in adulthood.

YALSA already has a list of resources on the College and Career Readiness wiki page, and is excited about the Future Ready with the Library: Connecting with Communities for College and Career Readiness Services grant that was recently announced.  YALSA, in partnership with the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL), is implementing an innovative project that will build the capacity of small, rural and tribal libraries to provide college and career readiness (CCR) services for and with middle schoolers. YALSA and ARSL will work with library staff to build needed skills while also developing, testing and refining turn-key resources, which other libraries can adapt for their own use.

The Real Teens, Real Ready task force will be preparing the President’s Program at ALA Annual in Chicago next summer.  If you have any innovative ideas you’d like to share with them, please contact Chair Valerie Davis. Other task force members are Lisa Borten, Lisa Dettling, Jeremy Dunn, Katie Kirsch, and Ellen Popit. More information will be coming soon about how you can help with this initiative!

YALS Summer 2016-Libraries and Tinkering Things

YALS-Summer-2016-Cover

The theme of the summer issue of YALS (digital edition available now to members & subscribers via the Members Only section of the YALSA website) is college and career readiness and its packed with great articles in support of moving YALSA forward.  Have you received your edition of YALS in the mail already?  “Libraries and Tinkering Things” by Luigi Anzivino and Karen Wilkinson from the Tinkering Studio in the Exploratorium in San Francisco share their views on what the space is, their philosophy, what tinkering is and who can participate (the answer for this is-EVERYONE!) They start out by saying, “As informal educators, our mission is to encourage everyone’s creativity and love of learning, and we believe out-of-school opportunities have the greatest potential to build upon young learners’ interests and abilities. Making and tinkering are perfect vehicles for this, because they rely on personal interest and motivation as drivers. We think that libraries are especially well positioned in this area because they can introduce local makers and tinkerers as mentors within the community, fostering powerful connections.”  What if you are a small suburban, tribal library, rural and are challenged by space and funding to really even begin thinking about creating a space that is dedicated to learning and is transformative? Let’s think about some of the concepts shared in the article and think about some ways to try and create a transformative space like this where you are.

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YALS Summer 2016 – Succeeding in Today’s Library Workplace: A Reflection

In her recent article in YALS, Workplace Expectations for Today’s Library,  Kimberly Sweetman asks “what should you be able to do in order to succeed in today’s workplace?” This brings to mind many thoughts about what was once expected in the library workplace, and what is currently expected.

Sweetman mentions that from the 1990s, and into the future, libraries are more about distribution of power, systems thinking, improved collaboration and more. These are all very important to understand when working in the library. Collaboration is great because with today’s technology, library staff can share ideas throughout their system or nationally with faster results than ever before. Collaboration also is key when “people who have different areas and levels of expertise” work together. This was just one of the ways that I was able to become more efficient at my job, and learn skills that made it easier to transition into higher library positions. I am always learning from fellow library employees, and some of the best ideas come from collaboration with others.

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Speak up for Teens this August

District Days offer the perfect opportunity for legislative advocacy. District Days are a period of time in which Congress is out of session and members of Congress are back in their hometowns. This year, District Days begin on August 1st and end on September 5th. This would be an excellent time for library staff to show elected officials how important libraries are and even get them to visit your library. Members of Congress are always busy in Washington and don’t get many opportunities to visit their local library and really see and understand all the services that libraries provide. It is important that they know this so that they can promote legislation that is beneficial to libraries and teens. If legislators actually see and experience all that libraries do they will be more likely to take action on behalf of libraries and teens. District Days offer library staff and teen patrons the chance to inform members of Congress of their constituents’ needs and help educate them on an issue that they might not know too much about. It can also help forge a relationship with elected officials that would be instrumental in bringing the needs of libraries to the minds of members of Congress, helping them make legislative changes that can only aid teens and libraries.

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YALSA Snack Break: Salvador Avila on Connecting Teens and Community

The latest YALSA Snack Break highlights the ways in which Salvador Avila, Manager of the Enterprise Branch of the Las Vegas Clark County Library District, is working with teens to help them connect to their passions, practice what they learn, and perform as a part of community programs and events.

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