This content was originally posted on the YALSA Future Ready with the Library Cohort Community of Practice and written by Stephanie Loiselle. The Future Ready with the Library project is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
March was a month that kept me hopping. I really enjoyed meeting so many people in the community, and hearing their concerns and interests. I met this month with people from the economic development committee, school board, superintendent, our business owners who belong to the Main Street organization, a couple of teen groups, and some interested parents. I still have meetings lined up with the school librarian, PTO, and our state rep who has been working with our manufacturing locations on how to attract more employees.
As I’ve talked with other Future Ready with the Library cohort members, I’ve expressed some frustration with the tendency of people to associate libraries with early literacy exclusively, which is actually my LEAST successful service area. Because of the conversations I’ve had, I look forward to really turning up my advocacy and letting the entirety of the town know what we are up to in serving middle school youth, and other teens too. Part of this will involve taking the library outside the walls for programs.
Some interesting opportunities have arisen as a result of conversations with both teens and adults. Teens have expressed an interest in learning what they need to know to be a successful, self-sufficient adult. I have partners interested in teaching budgeting, sewing (buttons and hems), simple cooking, laundry, credit and debt, home care, resume and mock interviews, etc.
From various conversations with all ages, a potential program is unfolding. In my head, it’s called How To … and Survive. For example, How To Be An Artist and Survive, How To Join the Military and Survive. This would feature a panel of local folks in each industry, to answer anything and everything. Panelists would talk about what education they needed, what they wish they had known, how to stand out, etc.in order to succeed in their profession. Ideally this would be something that could be held at the school, and students interested in the particular field would attend. I’m trying to not go too far in the planning of that program in case things change and because I am feeling like that might not be enough of a partnership for this program.
I’ve been trying most of all to be present. I’ve taken on a Book Bingo event the PTO wanted someone to plan, shown up to performances and displays, taken classes, and am just generally trying to go new places where I can meet new people. I have revamped my storytime format based on insight from the superintendent, and definitely have a partnership in the works for the younger set. Though I am trying to keep my eye on the ball, the Future Ready Project, beyond having a significant impact on myself, is starting to have a tangible impact in the community based on the work we have been doing!
Stephanie Loiselle is the Youth Services Librarian at the Wilton Public & Gregg Free Library in Wilton, NH