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?”
- Figuuring out before an activity is designed and developed what the intended impact is. Focusing on outcomes more than outputs and working with community partners to determine what the impacts need to be. For example, a cohort 1 member sponsored community listening meetings at which she wanted to learn from the community what middle school youth need – What the gaps were in services to the age group in the community. The number of attendees at the meetings were not huge. However, the impact she was looking for was achieved, building relationships with caregivers and youth in order to begin to understand what services are needed.
- The entire Future Ready with the Library project centers on the competency of continuous learning. Those that are involved spend 12 months engaged in learning about their communities, learning about middle school youth, learning about outcomes and assessment and reflecting on challenges and opportunities as well as failures and successes.
The Future Ready project works to help library staff working with middle schoolers gain skills in order to achieve success in their communities. Probably, if I asked members of cohort 1 and cohort 2 which of the Competencies they see their work related to, most of them would select each and every one of the competency categories.
You can learn more about the project by reading blog posts from cohort 1 participants.
Don’t forget you can learn more about the Competencies on the YALSA website.