Get Local and Host a Meet Up

YALSA meet up in the Johnson County Library makerspace

Looking to connect with other YALSA members and staff serving teens in libraries and organizations of all types? Don’t wait around for someone else to name the occasion, host a meet up yourself!

I’ve been a YALSA member for years, meeting other members at conference or virtually through volunteer work is awesome, but I know there are members nearby that I just haven’t had the chance to meet yet! So after a long time of talking about it, I teamed up with another local member, Amanda Barnhart, to host a meet up for YALSA members and anyone serving teens in libraries.

Our meet up was literally by-the-book, as we just followed the easy instructions in the YALSA meet up manual.

The Content: We decided to host our event on a weekday evening and focus on a make-and-take format where attendees could learn how to take a 3D scan of themselves using a Microsoft Kinect and mash it up with another 3D model in Tikercad. This is a program that attendees could easily replicate with teens with minimal equipment and (if you already have an outdated Kinect) no cost!

Attendees learned how to use a Kinect to take a 3D scan of themselves and use Tinkercad to combine that with the animal (or pokemon) body of their choice

Spreading the Word: Amanda and I advertised the event to our local public libraries, school district and library schools. We created a public facebook event to share and track attendance and YALSA staff helped us get the word out to local YALSA members.

Takeaways: YALSA staff provided us with copies of the Making in the Library toolkit and STEAM Programming toolkit as well as fliers about the benefits of membership. We also had signed books from two authors who had recently made trips through Kansas City as door prizes. Oh, and we printed everyone’s mashup too!

Outcomes: We had 14 attendees at our first local meet up and everyone had a blast! We even had one attendee make the trip all the way from Iowa to attend! After the event we sent out an attendee survey asking what people liked best and wanted to do more and the number one response was more networking!

Which leads us to our next steps. Two attendees have graciously volunteered to host our next meet up in a few months. We hope to keep this going with meetings 4-6 times a year, giving local YALSA members a chance to network and talk about common goals and challenges in serving Kansas City teens.

If you want to host a meet up in your town, check out YALSA’s meet up resources. It makes planning easy and gives you simple step-by-step instructions to host a great event.

Big thanks to YALSA members Dawna Ofstehage for helping take 3D scans and Dennis Ross for setting up the space and welcoming everyone to his Library!

How Louisville Stole My Heart at the 2017 YALSA Symposium

During this year’s YALSA Symposium, not only did I experience southern hospitality at its finest, I had the pleasure of meeting amazing YA library staff from all over the country.  From California to New Jersey, 442 YA library staff members descended upon the beautiful city of Louisville and, immediately, I felt at home. Despite the three hour time change, I spent four days communing with colleagues, eating lots of southern fried food, and taking in all the knowledge I could to become a better YA Librarian.

At the opening ceremony, we heard from YALSA President, Sandra Hughes-Hassell, who is embarking on journey to provide YALSA members with ideas and training opportunities to promote youth activism through community engagement. After introducing this year’s task force members, attendees heard from several teen authors including Kwame Alexander, James L. Swanson, Paolo Bacigalupi, and Nina LaCour. If you didn’t know, Kwame Alexander started a web series called “Bookish” where he discusses books and it’s a lot of fun (access the series from his Facebook page)! What was great about this opening session is that you could hear a pin drop as this room, packed with vivacious YA library staff, sat silently as they absorbed the words of these authors. Once the panel was done, these amazing authors signed books donated by the publishers for the attendees!

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Exploring Youth Activism and Civic Engagement with the Writing Our Civic Futures Project

by Casey Rawson

This post is part of the YALSA Presidential Theme: Youth Activism through Community Engagement

Who defines civic engagement? Who are civics for, and what does civics mean in the lives of young people who are redefining activism and participation for a new generation? These are some of the questions that you can explore by participating in Writing Our Civic Futures, a collaborative project by the National Writing Project and Marginal Syllabus. They are also central questions for this year’s YALSA presidential theme, Youth Activism through Community Engagement.

Writing Our Civic Futures combines online annotation software, livestreamed and archived presentations, and webinars to foster social reading and public conversation around a variety of resources focused on youth activism. The project, which began in October and will continue through May 2018, includes conversations about voice and participation, critical literacies, civic and political dialogue, and inquiry (among other topics). These topics should be familiar to youth services librarians who have read YALSA’s Futures Report, its most recent research agenda draft, or the YALSA’s competencies document.

I attended the most recent webinar for this project, titled “Reimagining Youth Civic Engagement,” hosted by Remi Kalir and Joe Dillon and featuring the work of scholars Nicole Mirra and Antero Garcia. The webinar focused on Mirra and Garcia’s recent Review of Research in Education article, “Civic Participation Reimagined: Youth Interrogation and Innovation in the Multimodal Public Sphere,” which is November’s shared text for the Writing Our Civic Futures project. Mirra and Garcia talked about the need for educators and researchers to find new ways of capturing and measuring emerging forms of civic participation that are being created and led by youth, such as Twitter hashtag campaigns and the Dreamer movement. They also talked about the important role that adults can play in helping young people develop the skills and knowledge they need to make lasting change. Connected learning and Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) were discussed as two primary tools that educators can use in this work.

As librarians, we have a unique perspective to contribute to conversations such as this. We also have much to learn from classroom teachers, scholars, media makers, and youth themselves about how we can best amplify youth voices and prepare young people to take action on the issues that matter to them. Participating in the Writing Our Civic Futures project is an easy, fun, and free way to connect with a learning community that shares a passion for youth engagement.

December’s Writing Our Civic Futures topic is “Critical Literacy In and Out of School.” The shared text for next month, “Critical Literacy and Our Students’ Lives” by Linda Christensen, offers a wealth of opportunities for librarians to plug into the conversation. The article will be accessible for public reading and comment December 4 via the Writing Our Civic Futures syllabus page, and a webinar discussing the text will air December 5. Between now and then, you can catch up with the October and November conversations: Voice and Participation and Reimagining Civic Participation.

Future Ready with the Library: An Exploratory Lab on Kodiak Island

A version of this content was originally posted on the YALSA Future Ready with the Library Cohort Community of Practice and written by Katie Baxter. The Future Ready with the Library project is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

youth interviewing each otherI popped over to the Community College recently to meet with Libby, the professor of Alutiiq Studies, who also co-chairs 4-H on Kodiak island. Since it was 10 cents Wednesday at the local Monk’s Rock coffee shop I was able to spring for delicious homemade pumpkin spice cookies to bring to the meeting. Libby was as thrilled as I was to have a little break for creative collegiality. I started our conversation by talking with Libby about Future Ready with the Library cohort member Laura Pitts’ Building Better Leaders program model.

I also wanted to talk with Libby about the Exploratory Lab I’m working on for the Kodiak Future Ready with the Library project. I have most of the activities, learning experiences, and materials in place for our project. However, I am missing one thing, an activity grounded in Alutiiq cultural values. I am familiar with the story telling traditions and themes of Alutiiq culture that draw upon the tribal value system, but, I am not as well versed in activities. While I could have explored the online Alutiiq Word of the Week database to find out about activities, this was a great opportunity for me to sit and learn with Libby.
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More Than Accessible

Libraries strive to be inclusive spaces across North America, but are they? What is the difference between being accessible and being inclusive? More often than not, libraries find themselves as accessible places in an effort to adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act or Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act that we have here in my home province. Ramps that allow patrons with mobility issues to enter their local branches and modified collections for those with a visual impairment are ideal examples of how libraries can act as accessible spaces. The challenge is in making those same spaces inclusive to those who are different, specifically regarding programming and services normally available to the average patron.

Think of the last storytime you ran at your library. Perhaps it was a bit loud, active, got children out of their seats and was an all-around great time. Now ask yourself: would someone with autism feel comfortable in that environment? What about your teen programs? It took a long time before I even got close to offering inclusive programs because it is definitely a challenge. There are factors you normally don’t consider that can be major obstacles for those living with a disability.

I want to encourage you to make the effort, regardless of how daunting of a challenge it may seem, because the potential outcome will be more rewarding for you, your library, and your community than you can imagine. Getting starting is often the most challenging part of any project so I want to share a recent success regarding special-needs programming in the hope that it will inspire you to identify a need in your community and work with your local partners to address it.  You might also check out the resources on YALSA’s wiki.

Through focus groups, surveys, and community outreach, we identified a significant lack of support in our city for teens and young adults with special needs. We listened to parents talk about the lack of meaningful opportunities available for their children once they were phased out of school, and what was available had a significant price tag attached to it. Parents spoke about the desire to see their child learn the skills necessary to eventually hold a steady job and feel as though they are part of society, not a social outcast.

This is when most libraries make a common mistake: programming for the community instead of with your community. It’s easy to listen to a parent tell you that her son needs more opportunities to be social only to turn around and throw together a hodgepodge of a program, but what is the desired outcome? Will the program teach new skills, provide learning opportunities, enhance their quality of life or will it simply be glorified babysitting?  A colleague suggested I approach Community Living York South, a local organization serving individuals with disabilities and special needs. Several meetings later I had a better understanding of the challenges facing these individuals in our city and the role our library system could play in supporting them.  If you’re new to building outcomes into your program planning, check out the resources on YALSA’s wiki.

Many of the young adults I spoke with expressed a desire to learn how to use a computer. The basic skills we often take for granted were barriers for these youth and restricted their ability to achieve a fundamental mission of any library system – equal access to information. Through these conversations and research, I developed an adapted computer program for young adults with special needs. The workshop would be offered every Tuesday afternoon for two hours for 8 consecutive weeks. Since I was facilitating it, there would be no cost to the participants, but due to space and equipment limitations we were only able to take on nine students.

We decided upon several topics for the program:

  • Computer basics (turning on, opening & closing windows, etc.)
  • Keyboarding & mouse skills
  • Microsoft Word and communication skills
  • Using the Internet for research & Internet Safety
  • Cyberbullying and peer-pressure

Each lesson was comprised of educational games, computer exercises, real-world examples, group discussions, and a review period at the end of the session. We also encouraged participants to mentor their peers who were having difficulty with certain tasks. Some of our students were able to complete their work quickly, so rather than sit and become disinterested, they were encouraged to pair up and support someone in need of assistance. This became one of the most rewarding aspects of the program because participants were now learning more than just how to use a computer, they were developing their communication and interpersonal skills while making new friends.

I’ve made it sound much simpler than it is, but I want to encourage each of you to take on the challenge of making your library more inclusive. It won’t happen overnight and you’ll encounter countless roadblocks along the way, but know that it will all be worth it. The picture you see below is from the first class I had the pleasure of teaching and I keep it by my desk as a constant reminder that all it takes it a willingness to support those who are too often left behind.

Are you still wondering if you should be offering adapted programs? Well, let me tell you about Adam (I’ve changed his name for privacy) from the program. Adam came to the first class nervous and apprehensive because he had never used a computer. In his own words, he considers himself too “dumb” to use a computer, but that didn’t stop me from trying. Each week we practiced the most basic tasks to create a strong foundation of knowledge he could build on. It seemed as though little progress was being made, until I overheard his conversation with a classmate. I was walking around the class helping participants with their assignment when I heard Adam say, “I can’t believe I’m doing it. I’m actually using a computer. Look, I’m doing it!”

There’s an Adam in your community, and I know with your determination to support those in need, you can provide every Adam with an opportunity to succeed and make your library a truly inclusive space.

 

Advocacy: Contacting Elected Officials

Over the course of the past year, library workers and supporters engaged in a massive effort to save funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which provides every state with funds for their library, and was threatened with elimination in the president’s proposed budget. This effort saw progress last month when the House of Representatives approved a funding measure that would actually increase IMLS funding. There is little doubt that the organized work of library advocates influenced this decision. However, IMLS funding will not be totally secure until Congress approves the FY18 budget, hopefully later this fall

For many library workers, however, there remains a fundamental dilemma regarding  contact with elected officials. It’s definitely a powerful strategy in advocacy work. But where does advocacy cross the line and become lobbying, an activity that is restricted – but not prohibited – for nonprofit organizations? The YALSA Advocacy Toolkit offers a handy way to think about the distinction, stating that, “…advocacy is about providing information, especially information that emphasizes value; lobbying is about trying to influence a vote.”

Thus, contacting an elected official to inform them of the good work done in your library is not considered lobbying. In an excellent blog post on the topic, Linda Braun elucidates further:

You can advocate by speaking up and out to educate legislative officials about the value of teen services in the community. You can speak up and out to educate about the need for teen space in libraries. You can speak up and out to educate about the role that technology plays in teen lives. You can speak up and out to educate. You just can’t exert influence in order to have a legislator vote a particular way on a particular piece of legislation.

Of course, there are times when library workers do want their legislators to vote in a particular way, as evidenced by the drive to save IMLS funding. This is why we are urged to contact our legislators rather than elected officials serving on the most influential committees. As private citizens and constituents, we have the right to inform those persons elected to represent us of our opinions and desires.

Those of us who work with teens have a particularly compelling  message for elected officials. After all, these teens may be casting their own votes the next time that official is up for re-election. When you communicate with your representatives in office, you are educating them about the mindset of the next generation of voters. For additional advocacy resources, visit www.ala.org/yalsa/advocacy and to help YALSA advance its advocacy work, please consider volunteering for the District Days Taskforce!

Celebrate Success! Advocating for Teens

Last month, YALSA members were asked to complete our annual membership survey.  We asked you mostly the same questions last year, too, because we, like you, want to show continuous improvement and to make data-driven decisions.  One question in the survey listed possible advocacy activities, and we were thrilled by your responses!  The #saveIMLS effort brought out the fantastic advocacy efforts of many in our profession at the national level.  But many of you are advocating for teens in your library and/or library system, too.  Here are some promising statistics that showed improvement from last year:

  • 40% of survey takers worked with coworkers, administration, and stakeholders to overcome barriers to teen services (up from 33%)
  • 64% of survey takers spoke up about teen issues in formal and formal settings (up from 61%)
  • 48% of survey takers implemented positive change in teen services by working with administration and coworkers (up from 46%)

The Advocacy Standing Board Committee (Chair Kate McNair, Derek Ivie, Heather Sparks, Sarah Hill) is hoping to capture some of your successes by hearing your stories–we want to know what you did! In the YALSA enews email, we’ll be asking for specific ideas about how you advocated.  It’s not all about contacting members of Congress–we want to hear about the time you helped your teens overcome a barrier in your library or about the time you advocated for teens to your library director or principal.

We’re trying to overcome barriers to advocate for teens, too.  One of our activities as a Board this year is to “become knowledgeable about Governors’ boards and the process for appointment to them.” How awesome would it be if all governors had at least one teen advocate from library services serving on their committees or boards?

As I researched how I would go about this in my state of Illinois, I realized that the process was as simple as completing an online form. Governor Bruce Rauner has a huge list of Boards, Commissions, Task Forces, and Councils.  I’m a certified English teacher, librarian and administrator and am now a community college librarian in a rural area, so I selected the councils where I thought I could do the most good for the teens in my community.  I volunteered for the following committees: Commission of Children and Youth, Illinois Community College Board, Education Commission of the States, Education Funding Advisory Board, State Board of Education, State Board of Higher Education, P-20 Council, and the Youth Development Council.  It would take a miracle to be appointed to some of those, but I figured it was worth a shot, right? I’ll keep you updated on if I actually am appointed–promise!

Do you have an example to share in the comments about when you spoke up for teens in or outside your library?

And don’t forget about our wiki of great resources about advocacy…..

 

100 Books Before College

I’m sure most librarians have heard of 1000 Books Before Kindergarten. We’ve been running that program at the Middletown Township Public Library for two years now, and the children and their parents love it. I was joking with my colleague one day that there should be a 100 Books Before College for high school students. And I thought…well actually, why not? So I started to plan.

So what is 100 Books Before College? It is a new low key reading program geared toward high school students. I have over 100 teen volunteers in my volunteer program, and many of them tell me they are too busy to read (not all of them, but many of them). This program is meant to encourage high school students to read for fun, despite their busy schedules of sports, homework, clubs, volunteering, and more. On my publicity for the program, I include the value in reading regularly: improve your cognitive skills, your reading comprehension, and maybe even your test scores!  Being an avid reader will help any student as they make their way beyond high school to college, vocational school, or a career.

The goal for the reading program: read 100 books before you graduate high school. I created a list of 100 suggested books to read, which has a mixture of classic and current fiction and nonfiction. Participants are encouraged to use the list as a guide, but they are not required to read these books. They can read any books that interest them!

I also asked the Princeton Review to donate prizes for those who complete the challenge. They have generously donated swag bags! So, students have 4 years to read 100 books, and at the end they get a Princeton Review swag bag and a book from the library. But the real prize? A sense of accomplishment and better reading skills!!

So how does it work? High schoolers can sign up online, and they simply log each book they read. They may write book reviews, but this is completely optional. I also have bi-monthly book raffles for participants. Anyone who is signed up for the program can enter for the chance to win a book or book set. This month’s prize is a set of Sherlock Holmes books! I used the program Wandoo Reader for the online program. We use Wandoo Reader for our summer reading program at the Middletown Library. As we already have this service, we might as well utilize it all year round!

I launched the 100 Books Before College program on September 1st, 2017. I started publicizing it in July 2017, and I sent it to all of my contacts at our local high schools. We already have 133 teens signed up! What I also love is, the majority of the teens signed up have never participated in the Teen Summer Reading Program. I notice each year that the bulk of TSR participants are middle schoolers. I’m thrilled to see high school students participate in a reading program at the library for the first time.

I am so excited about this program. I can’t wait for the first person to finish the 100 book challenge! So far the 133 teens have read a total of 778 books! I’ll continue to publicize and try to involve as many teens as I can. Will you take the Challenge?

Stephanie Chadwick is the Teen Librarian for The Middletown Township Public Library.

YALSA President’s Report – October 2017

Colleagues-

I just returned from the YALSA Symposium in Louisville. It was great to meet so many YALSA members!  Here’s some of what I was up to in October. If you have questions, please make sure to get in touch!

Accomplishments

  • Led joint AASL/ALSC/YALSA Executive Committee meeting where we talked about opportunities for collaboration.
  • Prepared for and co-led October Board chat about how Board members serve as ambassadors for YALSA  and the monthly President’s phone call with Past and Incoming Presidents.
  • Attended YALSA webinar: “Youth Voice: Adult/Youth Partnerships.”
  • Connected with YALSA reps and liaisons to talk about opportunities to strengthen ties with ALA and other organizations  with which YALSA is affiliated.

Stats and Data

  • Member stats for September = 4,797 (down 3.7% over this time last year)

Don’t Forget!

  • Double your impact!  Between Nov. 1, 2017 and Jan. 15, 2018 any donation to YALSA up to $1,000 will be matched dollar for dollar by ALA! Find our more here.
  • The YALSA Board approved a new version of YALSA’s Competencies. A quick and dirty free .pdf version is available now, and later in November 2017 they will be available as a web page and as a more formatted .pdf.
  • YALSA is looking for a member manager of YALSA’s Teen Programming HQ.
  • 28 libraries in 21 states (and DC) received funding to implement coding programs in their libraries as part of the Ready to Code Project funded by Google.
  • Check out the YALSA Blog and The Hub for great ideas and the latest on YA resources!
  • Check out the Current Projects page to stay updated on what’s going on!

Thank you

Respectfully submitted,

Sandra Hughes-Hassell, YALSA President 2017-2018

Follow me on twitter @Bridge2Lit

Summer Teen Internship @ Laurel Public Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

We were fortunate enough to receive one of the 2016 YALSA Symposium Awards to implement a Summer Teen Internship. Thanks to YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, we were able to successfully design and fund our program. We already have a very well established and recognized teen volunteer group, so this was a positive next step for us.

To be considered for an internship for the summer of 2017, teens were required to attend a mentoring program offered by a local community leader. Initially a fifteen-week program, the facilitator was able to design an eight-week program for the thirteen teens who signed up. Over the course of eight weeks, the teens learned many skills such as life skills, leadership skills, personal presentation, and public speaking. Guest speakers from the community were also brought in and the class concluded with each teen doing a videotaped presentation.

Upon completion of the mentor program, the teens could then apply for an internship position, where they would design and run their own program for the Youth Services Department. All applicants had to be a member of our Teen Ambassador Program and fill out an application and submit a short essay about the benefits that might be gained in a mentorship program by a mentee, mentor and community. After reviewing the applications and essays, we then scheduled interviews with the teens. The interviews covered their availability, their expectations, and how they saw their potential program running. After the interviews, we also got input from the facilitator of the mentor program and after which we selected five interns.

After their selection, we then held several meetings to finalize their programs, discuss budgets, time management and scheduling, and further expectations. Every intern was tasked with creating a supply list while working within their budget, creating a syllabus to cover their eight-week program, and working with us to create publicity material. One of the interns worked as a Youth Services Assistant while the other four held their own programs. One intern planned and carried out Story Times, another had a Comic Design Program, another did a Recycled Mini-House Program and one did a Basics of Photography and Videography Program for teens. All programs were very well attended and several had waiting lists. Every week the interns would evaluate their syllabuses and re-work anything that needed tweaking.

At the end of the eight weeks, we held a reception to recognize the interns and to showcase the work done by attendees of their programs. Families and members of the community gathered to see their displays and helped us to recognize the intern’s accomplishments. At the reception, the interns were given their certificates and received their stipends.

This was a very successful program for our library and our community and one we look forward to doing again. All the feedback we received was very positive, from the families and participants to the interns themselves and their families. The impact on the interns and our community was significant. In a community with one of the highest poverty rates in the state, we need programs like this to help propel our youth onto future success. By challenging them and giving them the skills they need to succeed and the confidence to step out, we are developing the future leaders that our community needs. If they are invested in our community as a teen, they will be invested as successful adults. It has been amazing to watch these teens really challenge themselves and step out of their comfort zones to successfully take on a task they never considered doing.

Gail Bruce is the Youth Services Librarian at the Laurel Public Library in Laurel, DE.