One of the topics you want to consider when reviewing the Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff is what impact the document has on job descriptions within your organization. Does your job description reflect what’s included in the Competencies? Do your staff member’s job descriptions support what’s in the Competencies? Do your colleague’s job descriptions make it possible to maintain the ideas of the Competencies in your organization? As you ask yourself these questions perhaps you will realize that it’s time to re-envision the job descriptions in your institution to better reflect the Competencies.
Get started by reviewing job descriptions and asking questions like these:
What in the job description supports the dispositions outlined in the Competencies? Are there areas where it’s clear that the dispositions listed are required in order to perform the job successfully?
How do the tasks outlined in the job description reflect the skills and knowledge needed by library staff?
What opportunities does the job description provide for improving/leveling up within the different content areas of the Competencies?
“I love all the maker programming ideas, but I just don’t have the time in the my day to make it work.” This phrase has been uttered by so many library staff, all of whom wear way too many hats in their daily jobs. So, instead of sharing out ideas for developing programming, today we’re going to focus on different ways to implement maker programming into our schedule.
If you are the type of library worker who is looking for new maker ideas, don’t forget to check out YALSA’s maker resources.
Students creating “galaxy pinwheels”
Before we begin…
Remember that library staff develop programming based on their community needs. Maker programming may be a need in your community, but there may be another organization filling that need. There also may be library staff who have embedded STEM programming in their library programs, but they may not be labelling it as STEM (children’s librarians are amazing at doing this during craft time at story hour). Knowing what your community needs will help you work it in the right way.
Option 1: Embed it in a program/lesson you already do.
Starting a new program can be a challenge. The best way to start a maker program is to start small. For some stakeholders, hearing an idea about a maker program doesn’t mean anything, but seeing a small maker program can make stakeholders understand the library’s goals.
Work with a group that you meet with already, such as a TAB group, book club (ex: challenge them to make a popsicle stick harmonica when discussing Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Echo), story hour, study halls). Throw in a quick challenge that they will like and make them come back for more (My favorite is the duck call challenge).
I apologize for getting this report out later than normal, but I wanted to wait until we had information on the funds raised in November. According to the ALA Development Office YALSA raised $7,962 from online donations and $1,886.50 at the symposium for a total of $9,578.50. Combined with other funds raised in December we met our challenge goal of $10,000 which means ALA added another $10,000. With this $20,000 YALSA can provide more support to our members in the form of awards, grants, and scholarships. Thanks to everyone who donated and to everyone who helped get the word out about the challenge! A special thank you to the members of the Financial Advancement Committee who provide oversight and continued enhancement of the Friends of YALSA program, including promotion, fundraising and donor recognition!
As you may know, the YALSA Board works year round. The Executive Committee meets at least quarterly, more often if necessary, and the Presidents (current, elect, and past) meet once a month. The Board is divided into three Standing Committees, each with a task list aligned with the Organizational Plan. The entire Board meets monthly for “chats” which are often focused on our own professional development as Board members. And finally, we create, discuss and vote on Board documents virtually. Check out the documents we’ve approved since annual 2017 here. We are in the process of preparing for Midwinter so much of December was devoted to planning agendas, writing Board documents, and coordinating with other ALA divisions and offices.
Here are a few other items of interest:
Stats and Data
Funds raised in Nov. = $7,962 (online), $1,886.50 (at the symposium)
Member stats for Nov. = 4,808 (down 2.4% over this time last year)
The YALSA Board approved a new version of YALSA’s Competencies. Make sure to check out the YALSA Blog to learn more about these competencies. Find out about the upcoming free webinar competencies series here.
“Library staff actively promote respect for and seek self-understanding of cultural diversity. They come to know and respect diverse cultural backgrounds and characteristics through interaction with individuals from diverse linguistic, cultural, socioeconomic, and other groups; and to fully integrate the culture of diverse groups into planning, implementing and evaluating culturally sustaining and bias-free programs, services, and workplaces. The development of complex, interconnected, and evolving cultural competencies on both personal and organizational levels requires dedication and cumulative and consistent work.”
Along with that introduction, the Developing Level of the content area includes the following two items for staff that are developing their Cultural Competency and Responsiveness skills:
Is aware of own cultural beliefs and practices
Recognizes barriers such as racism, ethnocentrism, classism, heterosexism, genderism, ableism, and other systems of discrimination and exclusion in the community and its institutions, including the library, and interrupts them by way of culturally competent services
The January YALSA webinar titled, Acknowledging the Elephant in the Library: Making Implicit Biases Explicit helped library staff understand what is required to gain skills in this area and ideas on how to work with colleagues, administration, and community members in advocating and leading in this work. In this session Nicole Cooke clearly addressed topics such as stereotypes and micro-aggressions and provided concrete examples of what these terms mean and the impact they have on library staff and customers. In this 13 minute YALSA Snack Break, a clip from the webinar, you can hear some of what Nicole covered.
My dad always says, only fools and newcomers predict the weather in Colorado, and I’ve been here too long to be a newcomer. Since he was born here, we always accepted that as gospel and take every weather prediction with a grain of salt. In February, the weather in Denver can range between a high of 10 and 70 degrees without causing the natives to blink. It can be sunny, cloudy, rainy, snowy or windy and usually at some time during the day it will change. Packing for a visit can be a challenge.
It’s true that weather forecasting has improved since my father’s day, but be prepared for surprises. Layers are the answer – and lots of them. Something for a sunny day and something for a cold day with everything in between. The Convention Center will have food of course, but there are dozens of more interesting restaurants a short walk away. Even walking two blocks to the Sixteenth Street Free Mall Ride can be a quick way to get up and down to many destinations, and you’ll want the right gear for those short jaunts. I recommend wool socks, shoes with some tread, cardigans that can tie around the waist if it’s warm and button up tight if it’s cold.Scarves or pashminas are another protective layer to add when it turns nippy but shed easily when the sun shines. Don’t forget a hat and gloves. The hat is useful if it’s sunny and a real bonus if it’s cold. Evenings are almost always cool to downright cold. If you plan to be out and about, that’s the time to be sure you have your warmest layers with you.
When you come to Denver you are arriving at a mile above sea level, and this has an effect on your body that is not always immediately noticeable. Drink water! This is the single thing that everyone advises. Also, it’s important to eat regular meals and cut back on caffeine and alcohol. Many people complain of headaches, and while aspirin or Advil can help, the best advice is to hydrate and eat regularly. Your body will need fuel. You may also notice that you are tired and yawning. Given the conference schedule, it is hard to get enough rest, but a catnap or two will be of great benefit. The first day is the hardest; be extra gentle with yourself and give your body time to adjust. A few days into the schedule will be better than when you first arrive.
Denver’s a great city with lots to do. There’s a ice skating rink downtown, wonderful museums, a fabulous library. I’m sure you’ll enjoy my home town! We offer a western welcome and don’t be surprised if people say hello as you walk down the street. Enjoy your visit and ALA Midwinter 2018!
Recently retired from Denver Public Library, Carol Edwards grew up in Denver and is a second generation native. Her home is known to extended family as Chez Carol and she’s heard a great deal of discussion of how hard it is to pack for a visit to Colorado and the impact of high altitude. Carol doesn’t claim to be an expert, just someone who wants everyone to have a great visit for ALA Midwinter.
One of the most important things library staff can do with the youth they serve is to provide them with ways to build leadership skills. Building leadership skills provides teens with a pathway to lifelong learning, and gives them skills that are critical to their future. While it may seem that focusing on leadership is something best left for school counselors to address, promoting leadership building skills through the library is a prime way to help teens achieve their full potential while building on skills that will be sure to benefit them as they get older.
Content Area 5 of the YALSA Teen Services Competencies for Library staff focuses specifically on Youth Engagement and Leadership. While one goal of this competency is to help library staff understand how important it is to respond to teen’s interests and needs as away to develop leadership among adolescents, it also speaks to the importance of connecting with community partners and providing volunteer opportunities for teens. It may take you time to move between the Youth Engagement and Leadership Competency skill levels of developing, practicing and transforming, however, if you look closely at the vision you have for your library, at the activities you provide, and at the specific teens in your community that you serve, you may see that you are already skilled in portions of each of the levels already. Continue reading
In January 2017, YALSA’s first cohort as a part of the IMLS-funded Future Ready with the Library project got to work. Cohort members a part of this project (the 2nd is just starting and the 3rd will begin in November 2018) are working with community members and middle school youth and families to design, develop, and implement college and/or career readiness services for middle school youth. There are several parts of the work library staff participating in the Future Ready project are gaining skills related to and demonstrating the Teen Services Competencies for Library. Staff. For example:
Cohort members are gaining community engagement skills through projects that require them to learn about the work going on in their communities, identify gaps when it comes to middle school youth, and setting up listening meetings (in which the staff listen to a potential partner instead of telling what the library can do).
Learning how to have good conversations with young teens is key to project success. For example, members of the first cohort talked about the kinds of questions that are best to ask of middle schoolers in order to learn about their lives and interests. The question isn’t, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Instead positive interactions start with questions like, “what do you like to do in your spare time?” or “What something fun you did in the past week?” Continue reading
When I started out as a librarian (35 years ago) much of the work I was involved in was about the things that I liked. I liked a certain type of book. Or, I liked a certain type of program. Or, I didn’t like a certain type of activity or book. The services I provided for the youth in the community in which I worked weren’t terrible. But, they were really just for those children and/or teens who had interests similar to my own. Can you imagine how many young people I didn’t support as a result? A lot. At that point I didn’t realize that library services require putting teens first. Focusing not on what the library staff thinks is good for teens to have access to or what library staff are interested in themselves, but instead looking at what teens in the community want and need. And, even if those wants and needs don’t match skills or interests of library staff finding ways to support them.
That’s why the phrases “teens first” or “putting teens first” that YALSA often uses are so important. It sends a message to everyone that it’s not about us. It’s about teens. As Kate McNair recently pointed out in her blog post, the Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff do that very well. The Competencies are focused on categories that support learning about and supporting teen needs and interests first. Continue reading
I recently had the opportunity to talk to Sheikla Blount, library media specialist at Columbiana Middle School in Columbiana, Alabama. Ms. Blount was recently named one of the recipients of the I Love My Librarian Award. The award is a collaborative program of Carnegie Corporation of New York, the New York Public Library, The New York Times and the American Library Association. A graduate of Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama, Sheikla clearly has a passion for libraries and children. She’s involved in the middle school, even outside the library, and the sponsor for the Junior United Nations Assembly and yearbook club.Continue reading
Giving teens the chance to develop leadership skills is a component of YALSA’s Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff. In the four minute audio recording below, hear how Rachel McDonald, Teen Services Librarian at the King County Library System (KCLS). gives teens the chance to lead programs and services. In her youth leadership work Rachel demonstrates how through competencies in areas such as Youth Engagement and Leadership, Cultural Competence and Responsiveness, Interactions with Teens, and Continuous Learning, youth have opportunities to engage in experiences that are connected to, and meaningful within, their own lives.
One teen described their experience as a part of the KCLS program in this way:
“Participating in planning the Teen Voices Summit gave me a chance to experience firsthand the behind the scenes of hosting a successful event. I was given an opportunity to work with my peers to form a meaningful event for people my age. I learned to have patience and discipline. It took over a year to plan this event and at some points, it felt very tedious. After many long days of planning seeing the event finally come to fruition made me feel very gratified. What I learned will translate to future successes at school and/or in a job because like planning an event these are very long processes and in order to successfully complete them I will need to attain discipline and have the virtue of patience.”
You can also watch a video with teens taking part in the KCLS programs and hear what they have to say about the value of the experience. Continue reading