2019 Teen Summer Intern Program: Teens engaging children through inquiry-based play

In my rural community, opportunities for teen employment are limited mostly to food service, yard work, and babysitting. When I applied for the YALSA/Dollar General Teen Summer Intern Grant, my goal was to offer meaningful employment that would allow teens to share their skills and passions with younger children. By employing interns in this way I could have helping hands during summer activities and provide a deeper learning experience for school-age participants.

I advertised the position through the guidance office of our local high school, who kindly emailed the details to all students. We also posted the opportunity on our library website, bulletin boards, and social media. With my program goals in mind, I needed candidates who genuinely enjoyed spending time with younger children. I also hoped for applicants who had experience with hands-on STEAM activities and who could take a leadership role during activities. Several applicants had leadership experience through Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, which has sparked my interest in reaching out and partnering with these community groups. Most of my interns had experience with the Technology Student Association at the high school, which might be another source of future collaboration.

The primary duty of our interns was to staff our Summer STEAM Lab for ages 6 to 11, held on Tuesday mornings during the ten weeks of summer programs. Interns set up the room, prepared materials, and interacted with the children by asking questions and offering encouragement as needed. I planned flexible topics for these weekly sessions in order to leave room for ideas and suggestions from our interns. For example, one week we had a sink or float activity where we made and tested boats with aluminum foil. One of my interns had previously led this activity for a group of Girl Scouts, and he had excellent ideas for how to structure the activity and questions to ask participants to further their investigations.

A teen works with two younger children over some building toys.

Interns listened to children’s stories and modeled inquiry processes.

Teens work with younger children as they practice STEM experiments.

Interns helped children test their creations and make changes as needed.

A teen intern observes the play station they built with old tech parts.

During training, interns built an imaginative play station with old tech parts.

Most weeks I had two interns scheduled to work together, with the intention of providing opportunities to develop teamwork and related workplace skills. The teens could problem solve collaboratively and take turns with the less interesting tasks (such as vacuuming after the program). Based on observation, I would say the interns learned from each other as well, since they each modeled different strengths. For example, one teen was more confident with asking questions, and another was more ease with demonstrating an activity to the children. One of the teens learned she prefers working with just one or two children (like a babysitting job).

For me, the intern program was a success because I could offer workplace experience to teens. I saw children working joyfully with the feedback and attention of three caring people, rather than the presence of myself alone. The teen interns modeled hard work and passion for the children who participated in Lab, and I hope that will inspire a return to the library.

 

Lisa Rand is the youth services coordinator at Boyertown Community Library in southeastern Pennsylvania. She serves on the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the Pennsylvania Library Association and writes for the Intellectual Freedom blog of the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association.

 

2019 Teen Summer Intern Program: Reaching Underserved Youth through Teen Internship at Indian Prairie

As a district library, the Indian Prairie Public Library serves parts Darien, Burr Ridge, and Willowbrook, IL. One of the underserved areas in our district is known as Willowbrook Corner. In the summer, staff from the Kids & Teens department visit the Willowbrook Corner Summer Camp at Anne M. Jeans Elementary each week. We present activities to four different groups—approximately 72 kids, in grades K-5.

Our Teen Summer Intern, Carson Wagner, planned and presented the activities for the kids and led various staff members who took turns accompanying him on the visits. With Carson, the kids were able to plant seeds and learn about gardening, create Makey Makey banana pianos, play with a variety of musical instruments that the library circulates, make catapults, complete various art projects, and more. He taught them several cooperative group games, like Frogger, which he incorporated into his visits. On the last day, Carson delivered prize books. Each of the children received a new book to keep.
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Teen Demographic Shifts

Hi everyone!

As we continue to consider Teen Growth and Development, the first of the YALSA Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff, particularly through the lens of equity, it’s critical that we realize just who the teens are that we serve both today and in the coming years. The below (left) image from the US Department of Health and Human Services website The Changing Face of America’s Adolescents shows that by approximately thirty years from today, there will have been a major race/ethnicity shift. This demographic shift was also outlined in YALSA’s landmark study The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action. As the faces that we serve in school and public libraries change, so must our actions in providing them with appropriate services. (To clarify a couple acronyms on the chart on the left, AIAN = American Indian / Alaskan Native, and HPI = Hawaiian / Pacific Islander.)

Between 2014 & 2050, the percentage of youth in each demographic is expected to change: White: 54.1% to 40.3%. Hispanic: 22.8% to 31.2%. Black: 14.0% to 13.1%. Asian: 4.7% to 7.4%. AIAN Alone: .9% to .7%. HPI Alone: .2% to .2%. Multiracial: 3.4% to 7.0%

These figures are for the United States overall; your own community or service area’s population may be considerably different. But it’s a good starting point to consider the ways American society will change in the coming decades. It’s also interesting to note the chart on the right, below, that the teen population as an overall percentage of the US population is decreasing. This will be important to note when competing for funding and resources. With an aging population, an emphasis on care and assistance for those of an advanced age may eclipse that devoted to younger people. This will require continuing advocacy work for the needs of teens in your communities. Even though the net number of teens is estimated to grow from 42 to 45 million by 2050, the overall percentage will have decreased.

Adolescents will represent a decreasing percentage of the U.S. population, from 13.2% in 2014 to 11.2% in 2050.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for your work for and with teens today and in the future!

Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020 | Twitter: @toddbcpl

Being Fat and Fierce!

Hi everyone!

A big thanks to YALSA Board Member Melissa McBride for kicking off August with a great list of tools to consider when you think about Teen Growth & Development, the first of the YALSA Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff.  In addition to these many resources, be sure to check out the free webinar that was produced last year on the topic! Along with that, there are the many Teen Professional Tools provided on YALSA’s website, two of which are of particular interest to this competency: AMLE’s Development Characteristics of Young Adolescents, and the Search Institute’s Keep Connected series, focusing on Ages 15-18.

There are so many potential equity issues involving Teen Growth & Development! Probably the first and most obvious that will come to mind is the unequal ways in which teenagers’ bodies develop. One fairly well-known element is that cis teenage boys are known to develop at a slightly later age than their cis girl counterparts. But to date, little research has been done on how non-binary teens compare in terms of that development. And as this CNN article points out, “more teens are rejecting ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ gender identities.” The ways that individual teens develop at wildly different paces cannot be stressed enough. We recognize these differences (and likely remember them from our own adolescences), but in what ways do we acknowledge these differences without shining a spotlight on them? A lot has been discussed about the teen brain and issues of body image, but oddly enough there hasn’t been a lot of recent research on physical body differences. And an obvious example of how teens develop in a variety of ways is body weight.

Teens come in all shapes and sizes and must be served as individuals, rather than with preconceived, often negative notions of their health, eating habits, or genetics. Coming next month is an anthology edited by librarian and youth services expert Angie Manfredi called The (Other) F Word: a Celebration of the Fat & Fierce (Abrams/Amulet, ISBN: 9781419737503, 2019). Unique in its coverage, short vignettes by a number of authors, poets and others discuss the importance of “body image and fat acceptance”. In an interview on Matthew Winner’s The Children’s Book Podcast, Manfredi states that “we want to stress to teenagers that you are more than your body; and you do not have to be limited by what people say or judge about your body.” She describes the trouble with euphemisms like overweight and heavy-set, and how obese and BMI are two really problematic terms. Manfredi also wants to share the message that “your body is perfect, yes yours, exactly the way it is, right now, in this second, your body is perfect.” What an incredible reminder to library staff and the teens that you work with!

Thanks for reading and for the work you do for and with teens!

Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020 | Twitter @toddbcpl

New, Month-Long Teen Celebration, TeenTober, Announced!

YALSA’s new, month-long celebration will be named TeenTober and will take place every October. In June, a naming contest was held for the celebration and teens across the nation voted and selected “TeenTober” as their top choice. The winning name was submitted by Cailey Berkley from Franklin Avenue Library in Des Moines, IA.

TeenTober is a new, nationwide celebration hosted by libraries every October and aims to celebrate teens, promote year-round teen services and the innovative ways teen services helps teens learn new skills, and fuel their passions in and outside the library. TeenTober replaces YALSA’s previous Teen Read Week™ and Teen Tech Week™ celebrations, allowing libraries the flexibility to choose what to celebrate (digital literacy, reading, technology, writing, etc) and the length of time for each celebration.

Library staff are encouraged to utilize this new celebration to advocate for and raise awareness of the importance of year-round teen services in libraries. Digital marketing materials will be available for free download soon.

A special thank you goes out to the Teen Read Week/Teen Tech Week Taskforce members: Kelsey Socha (chair), Tegan Beese, Meaghan Darling, Megan Edwards, Shelley Ann Mastalerz, Jodi Silverman, and Kimberly Vasquez for all their work on helping create this new celebration.

Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: Teen Growth and Development

This year’s Presidential theme of Striving for Equity using YALSA’s Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff, has provided a unique opportunity to examine the competencies and talk about some practical applications for both school and public library staff who work with teens. I’m hoping this post will provide you with some research and ideas to help you develop, practice, and transform your work regarding the first competency: Teen Growth and Development. If you haven’t already done so, please watch Linda Braun’s webinar on this topic!

While there are basic benchmarks that relate to teen development it is important to consider cultural differences that are unique to your community in order to best plan programs and evaluate library resources. The following bibliography is in no way a comprehensive list of resources available, rather, it is meant as a starting point to investigate ways you can meet the needs of your teens. Not all resources are library specific, these links are meant to not only provide ideas for immediate use, but also to provoke thought on this important topic. Please comment with any links that you think are relevant to this topic!
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Board Doc #22: YALSA Board Advocate Position

The YALSA Board voted to change the number of members at large from seven to six and to create an Ex-Officio Advocacy position. This position will be held by someone who is not yet a YALSA member but has an advocacy role for teens. The Board directed the Executive Director to work with staff to put the by-laws change on the 2019 ballot for member consideration and it was passed by the membership. The Board now needs to decide on a process to fill this position.

At the 2019 Annual Conference, the board approved the recommendations outlined in Board Document #22, Filling the Advocate Position for the YALSA Board. As a result, the Board has decided to that the method to fill this seat will be done by an application process followed by Board appointment, similar to the ALA Liasion and Board Fellow processes.

The Board believes that an application will allow the individual applying for the position to be able to provide information on why their experience and skills make them they are the best fit for this advocate role. An application followed by the Board appointment will allow for the the applicant to be vetted by various qualified individuals.

By identifying desired skill set, knowledge base, or potential partnership area/organization, the Board can strategically leverage the Advocate Member position to implement projects or initiatives when skills, knowledge, or partnership would be favorable or useful.

As Grateful as We Aspire to Be

Greetings, YALSA members and interested parties!

The first month of the journey of this year’s presidential theme, Striving for Equity Using YALSA’s Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff is nearly over, and soon we will be looking at equity issues through the lens of each of the ten competencies. But before we move into August, I want to express appreciation to the many members and others who recently have taken the time to talk to me about what YALSA means to them, how YALSA could help them in their day job, and how fulfilling working with teens can be. All of this makes me full of gratitude. So before we move into the month-by-month examination of the theme, I decided to explore how in this time of inequity, outrage, and discord, gratitude can help break through the negativity and show us the path to achieving our goals.

Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks

Diana Butler Bass writes about this subject in her book Grateful (HarperOne, ISBN: 9780062659477, 2018). In it, she refers to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2014 that asked American respondents if they feel a strong sense of gratitude at least once a week. Surprising to her (and to me!), 78% of those asked said that they did feel this strong sense of gratitude, that frequently. As she explored this, she asked her friends and in particular, one sociologist friend, if this number could possibly be true. The sociologist explained that this is likely a “social desirability bias”, which is more about how a person wishes to be perceived by others and to themselves. They may aspire to show more gratitude to others with the notion that gratitude is a virtue. What does this bias say about us and why does it matter?

Bass continues by discussing how there is a divide between personal gratitude and community gratitude. When we simply aspire to personal happiness, it can become what famous theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer (also the subject of last year’s YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award finalist The Faithful Spy by John Hendrix) called “cheap grace”. Bonhoeffer observed that “one easily overestimates the importance of one’s own acts and deeds, compared with what become only through other people”. Which Bass recaps in Grateful by writing that “…life is an abundance of shared gifts. We do not really achieve. We receive. We give to each other. We are grateful.” She describes the ways in which one person’s gratitude can be another’s resentment.

Related image

When one group is grateful that their political candidate, sports team, or prom décor has been selected, others are bound to be unhappy. This is important to remember when we consider equity issues and the various aspects and objectives of the recently adopted YALSA EDI Plan. A case in point: If an element of a community is not considered when a new library building is constructed, they may not find much reason to show gratitude, while those who fully benefited by the new building may not understand the first group’s lack of appreciation. Those benefited may find the other group to be ungrateful. And mutual resentment is sure to follow.

As we strive for equity, we do not and cannot simply complain about the inequities that we observe. It’s easy to merely point out inequities, or worse, be silent bystanders. Instead, we must communicate across our differences. True, thoughtful solutions must be sought, even if they take time and patience. If we live with an attitude of gratitude, as 78% of us at least claim to aspire to, many situations can become opportunities to diffuse inequitable situations with grace.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for the work you do for and with teens!

Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020 | Twitter @toddbcpl  

Taking Teens to ALA

It’s 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning, two weeks after the end of school, when four teenage girls on their summer vacation meet me at school to get on a minibus and head to DC. Let me repeat—four teenagers came to school during the summer at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Why?? ALA Annual of course!

Before I get into how awesome the day was with my teens, I would like to thank YALSA for providing my teens with the opportunity to come to ALA. My teens were a part of the session that YALSA hosted to receive input on the nominees for the 2020 Best Fiction for Young Adults. Along with the opportunity to give their opinions on a major awards list, all the teens who were a part of the session also received a badge to visit the exhibit hall and sat down for a pizza lunch with an amazing group of eight young adult authors.

Back to 8 a.m.—I climbed into the driver’s seat and my four girls settled on the brown bus benches that we all remember from field trips.  Before I could even start the engine, the conversation about books started. It didn’t stop for the entire 45 minute drive to DC, and I couldn’t stop smiling.  It was a librarian’s dream—four teens energetically and passionately talking about the books they love (or don’t). Four teens talking about the importance of representation in books—race, sexuality, gender, ability, etc… Four teens talking about which characters developed and which didn’t; about endings they loved or hated; about the pacing of plot.

My heart grew two sizes.
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