Search Results for: youth employment

Transforming Youth Services: Supporting Youth Through “Adulting”

About seven months ago, I noticed a new trend among public libraries of offering adulting programs. When I first saw a posting via social media about this program, my brain screamed, Where were these programs when I was 17?! I didnt know ANYTHING about adultness.If youre unfamiliar with the concept of adulting, it means to carry out one or more of the duties and responsibilities expected of fully developed individuals (Urban Dictionary, 2017, ¶ 1). These included duties and responsibilities that seem bewildering to an older teen: finding an apartment (and roommates), signing up for utilities, managing bill payments, etc. Some youth may receive this type of instruction and guidance at home, within their communities, or by participating in youth-supportive groups but this isnt always the case.

Adulting programs are generally geared towards older teens (16 -18) and emerging/new adults (19 – early 20s) and support these young patrons in developing life and college ready skills. News articles and similar commentary about library adulting programs appeared somewhat flippant and even disrespectful or disparaging of young adult attendees. Yet through such programming, libraries are providing a unique service which appeals to two underserved age groups and impacts their lasting success, health, and wellbeing.

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Research on Competency Content Area 1: Teen Growth and Development

Authored by the YALSA Research Committee

Throughout the current term, the YALSA Research Committee will be looking at YALSA’s new Competencies for Teen Librarians through the lens of research.  Through our blog posts, we will attempt to provide a brief snapshot of how scholarship currently addresses some of the issues put forth through the standards.

Our first post focuses on Content Area 1: Teen Growth and Development, which is generally described as,  “Knows the typical benchmarks for growth and development and uses this knowledge to provide library resources, programs, and services that meet the multiple needs of teens.” This standard includes different facets of teen development, cultures, media, and preparing patrons to transition into adulthood and how each of these themes apply to collections, programs, and services.  For this post, we’ll focus solely on aspects of teen development in research about youth library services.

Walter (2009) described “The Public Libraries as Partners in Youth Development Project” which described a specific set of developmental outcomes that occur when teens successfully transition to adulthood.  The author further unpacked each outcome and examined how certain youth programs addressed the needs of youth to meet those outcomes through a youth employment program, which engaged teens in meaningful library work that allowed them to understand how their work impacted their community.   Akiv and Petrokubit (2016) examined the impact of the approach of youth-adult partnerships (Y-AP) in youth library programs.  The Y-AP approach suggests that youth and adults will collaboratively make programmatic and organization decisions.  The researchers found that giving teens the progressive responsibility that may help them prepare for adulthood.  Acknowledging the diverse needs of urban youth, Derr and Rhodes (2010) described how the development of an urban youth library space that meets these diverse needs can foster a continued engagement in library services as youth transition to adulthood.  Williams and Edwards (2011) examined how public library spaces can help sustain the psychological development of teens living in urban spaces.  They noted the conflict that often occurs between teen and adult schedules and the general lack of social space for teens.  The authors argued that providing specific space for teens in the library gives teens the space to feel safe, interact with adults other than their parents, and engage with resources.

Williams and Edwards (2011) and Walter (2009) make references to the need for library staff to educate themselves on youth development and what teens need to grow and transition to adulthood.  This education may help to mitigate the adversarial approach sometimes taken by library staff who don’t specifically work with teens on a regular basis. Walter specifically stresses that practitioners need to work with instead of do for teen patrons in order to best help them acquire those skills and dispositions that will help them grow.

Akiva, T. & Petrokubi, J. (2016). Growing with youth: A lifewide and lifelong perspective on youth-adult partnership in youth programs. Children and Youth Services Review, 69, 248-258.

Derr, L. & Rhodes, A. (2010). The public library as ürban youth space: Redefining public libraries through services and space for young people for an über experience. APIS, 23(3), 90-97.

Walter, V.A. (2009). Sowing the seed of praxis: Incorporating youth development principles in a library teen employment program. Library Trends, 58(1), 63-81.

Williams, P. & Edwards, J. (2011). Nowhere to go and nothing to do: How public libraries mitigate the impacts of parental work and urban planning on young people. APLIS, 24(4), 142-152.

YALS Summer 2016 – A Library’s Role in Digital Equity

cover of summer issue of YALS with pathway/map and images related to college career readinessIn the summer 2016 issue of YALS, (digital edition available now to members & subscribers via the Members Only section of the YALSA website) Crystle Martin’s article on teens and digital equity explains why the library is such a valuable asset when providing access to digital tools and digital learning. Her article includes references and resources that shouldn’t be missed. The full list of those resources follows:

Research Mentioned
Davison, E., & Cotton, S. (2003). Connection discrepancies: Unmaking further layers of the digital divide. First Monday 8(3).

Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and Education: An introduction to the Philosophy of Education. New York: MacMillan

DiMaggio, P., & Hargittai, E. (2004). From unequal access to differentiated use: A literature review and agenda for research on digital inequality. In K. Neckerman (Ed.) Social inequality (pp. 355-400). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Hargittai, E. (2010). Digital na(t)ives? Variation in Internet skills and uses among members of the ‘Net Generation.’ Sociological Inquiry 80(1), 92-113.

Hargittai, E. (2004). Internet access and use in context. New Media & Society 6(1),137-143.

Hargittai, E., & Walejko, G. (2008). The participation divide: Content creation and sharing in the digital age. Information, Communication & Society 11(2), 239-256.
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Career Prep for Teens with Disabilities

 

Employment for teens with disabilities is notoriously low, with 16.6% of teens with disabilities ages 16-19 having jobs. On the other hand, 29.9% of teens with no disabilities are employed (“Youth Employment Rate”). Libraries can help local teens land jobs—for the summer or beyond—by hosting career preparation workshops. These workshops should be open to, and helpful for, teens with disabilities and without, but some of the advice is exclusively for teens with disabilities.

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30 Days of Teen Programming: Delivering what the community wants & needs

One of my favorite sections of the Teen Programming Guidelines (is it nerdy to have favorite sections?) is “Align programs with community and library priorities.” But you have to be deeply involved with community agencies and activities in order to be ready to act on the community’s priorities as they arise. This sounds obvious (and it is!), but it’s taken me a few years to figure it out.

Several years back my coworker and I began working with the Seattle Youth Employment Program (SYEP). SYEP is a city agency that places youth with barriers in paid internships in a variety of environments in city government and the private sector. It also provides them with job training and academic support. We worked with SYEP staff to design a curriculum that would build the interns’ digital and information literacy skills. We were sometimes surprised by the needs identified by SYEP staff and the interns’ employers: touch typing, for example, and basic MS Word. We learned a lot about putting our own assumptions aside.

Over the years, we continually evaluated and adjusted the program. We dropped some pieces and added others to make it as relevant as possible to the youth’s needs and the needs of their employers. Mayor YEP Logo

This year, Seattle’s mayor put forth a huge Youth Employment Initiative in which he asked SYEP to more than double the number of youth placed in jobs over the summer. Suddenly, the community had spoken: youth employment was a major need. Because we already had an ongoing relationship with SYEP, the library was poised to expand the partnership to serve more youth with our trainings. We also helped in other ways, like providing meeting rooms for SYEP staff trainings. Next summer, the mayor intends to make the program five times larger than it is this year (eep!), which will present a huge opportunity for library involvement.

Of course, being in the right place at the time is always partly a matter of luck. But you can’t be lucky if you’re not out there.

30 Days of Teen Programming: How do you Know What’s Needed?

teens in front of a graffitti muralThe first item in YALSA’s Teen Programming Guidelines states, “Create programming that reflects the needs and identities of all teens in the community.” And the overview of this guideline goes on to say:

In order to ensure that library programming meets the needs of all members of the community and does not duplicate services provided elsewhere, library staff should have a thorough understanding of the communities they serve. Library staff must continually analyze their communities so that they have current knowledge about who the teens in their community are. They must also develop relationships with community organizations already working with youth. Library staff play a crucial role in connecting teens to the community agencies and individuals that can best meet their needs.

The part of the overview that I think sometimes is difficult for library staff working with teens is the “continually analyze their communities so that they have current knowledge….” Continue reading

Libraries are More Essential than Ever

branchesThis January, the’ Center for an Urban Future‘ released Branches of Opportunity, a report about New York City’s Public Libraries. Despite the important role they play in the city’s human capital system, libraries continue to remain undervalued by policymakers.

I spent some time on the phone this month with David Giles, the Center’s Research Director, who wrote the report . He explained his findings related to teens. The answers that follow summarize his words.

While this report was particular to New York public libraries and not exclusive to teen users, there are definitely some takeaways for our own library systems and settings and for the work that we do with young people. Continue reading

Engaging with the 2016 Opportunity Index

Since 2011, Opportunity Nation and Measure for America have collaborated to create the Opportunity Index. This expansive report examines economic, social, and geographical data as a way “to help policymakers and community leaders identify challenges and solutions” with regard to education and employment rates. The most recent edition of the Opportunity Index–which spans 2016–has just been released, giving the public better insight into the contributing factors that determine opportunity in a given community. Since one of the goals of this annual study is to be “useful as a tool to create community change,” we wanted to examine this as a potentially rich resource for public libraries, and explore the ways in which library workers might be able to incorporate these findings into our services (Opportunity Nation and Measure of America, 2017).

This is an infographic from the Opportunity Index.

Several aspects of the data taken into consideration for this study prove extremely relevant to library services, and can be cited in conversations of change and adaptation. The index itself is divided into three components: Economy, Education, and Community. In order to address how library staff–specifically those working with youth–might engage with this report, each component will be addressed individually.

Economy

In order to gauge the economic status of each state, the Opportunity Index gathered a wide variety of statistics including those related to median income, unemployment rates, affordable housing, internet access, and poverty line proximity. Many of these factors already affect our daily interactions with library visitors, and we are likely aware of our community’s economic standing simply by working within it. However, understanding how our state measures up compared to the national average might help us prepare ourselves–emotionally and practically–for our interactions with youth. For states like Mississippi, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Alabama, which fall on the low end of the Economic Index score, this might confirm what some library staff already know about the necessity of their services. However, a deeper understanding of this dataset–and the factors that influence it, like internet access and access to banking–might inform the programming or workshops available. Tangible actions might include increasing accessibility to financial literacy resources, introducing teens to summer work-and-learn programs and resume assistance, or forging connections between internship and volunteer opportunities. After all, a recent Partner4Work study found that “the various types of work experience [young adults] received in their program enabled them to explore career interests, identify new career goals, and even gain access to employment opportunities” (2017).

Education

In the context of the Opportunity Index, the following factors make up the Education component–preschool enrollment, on-time high school graduation, and post-secondary completion. While our youth services might already include test prep or post-secondary information, we can certainly look at where our state falls on these individual scales. This data, combined with the data collected by our own districts, might inform the workshops or resources we offer our young adults and college students. Offering continuing assistance to our patrons as they navigate the college experience might include increased collaboration with nearby academic libraries, or implementing support systems for college students in the area. According to an article published in the September/October issue of Public Libraries, “49 percent of adult Americans don’t know that online skills certification programs are available at their libraries” (Perez, 2017). This knowledge, combined with the data provided by the Opportunity Index, might suggest we increase informational sessions surrounding the rich collections of e-resources and educational tools accessible through our library networks.

Community

The third component of the Opportunity Index is the Community Score. This category is expansive, and takes into consideration factors like access to healthy food, volunteerism, violent crime rates, and group membership. Of particular interest to library staff working with young adults is the “Disconnected Youth” factor, a category describing young people who are not working or in school. Libraries in states with high percentages of Disconnected Youth might compare this data against their own patron base. If these young adults are engaging with library services, this opens up opportunities to provide information about trade programs, employment opportunities, or online education resources. However, if there is a low level of library use among this population, collaboration with community centers and neighborhood resources might be an avenue of outreach to pursue. The Community Score is only a data-based snapshot of the opportunities and gaps within our communities, but examining these factors has the potential to inform the service we provide in positive ways.

Armed with this data, library staff can find new and different ways to work with and for their young adult patron base. There are countless ways to use the Opportunity Index as a platform upon which new programming can be built, and as a catalyst for change within existing services.

 

References and Resources

Opportunity Nation and Measure of America. (2017). “2016 Opportunity Index.” Opportunity Nation. http://opportunityindex.org.

Perez, Amilcar. (2017). “Finding and Partnering with Trainers for Tech Programs.” Public Libraries 56(5): 15-17.

Petrillo, Nathan, ed.. (2017). “How Young Adults Choose a Career Path.” Partner4Work. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ZOwyMd0C53F7INlgXvOYb68F-3WznswQsP_Fz9k1zko/edit.

Back to (After)School – Desperately Seeking Teens for TAB

With school back in session, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and recruit new blood for our Teen Advisory Boards (TAB). If you already have a good group as it is, it’s still a great idea to recruit new members as their perspective would be incredibly valuable as every teen brings new and interesting ideas. Although some of us may be reluctant to have a large TAB, the sky is the limit when it comes to the size of TAB because the more passionate teens we get, the more spectacular results we will get!

As we recruit new members, it’s super important to get the incoming freshmen on TAB. Freshmen literally have a full four years before they graduate, which means they are more inclined to stick with TAB as they  have a bit more flexibility and availability compared to upper classman who are swamped with AP classes, extracurricular activities, and applying for college.  By taking an interest in lower classman, not only will they find a sense of purpose, they will feel like they a part of something that won’t require tryouts or anything intimidating. However, before we start recruiting like crazy, it’s a good idea to review our applications, guidelines, and procedures just so we can outline what we expect from TAB members.

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YALSA Professional Learning Series: The Future of Library Services for and with Teens –Working with At-Risk Teens

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Welcome to the second in YALSA’s new monthly professional learning series. Each month we’ll highlight a topic and give readers the chance to learn about it as well as discuss it with others. Here’s how it works:

  • On the first of each month the YALSA Blog will post an overview of the topic of the month. That overview will include links to resources to read, watch, listen to, etc.
  • If you are interested in participating in the learning during the month, comment on the initial blog post to say something like, “yes, I’m in.”
  • Each week the facilitator of the topic – that’s me this month – will check-in with participants with a post that poses questions and helps to focus conversation on the topic.
  • Participants can converse with others about the topic by commenting on those posts.

We hope this is a low-stress way to learn something new or expand your knowledge on a topic. There is no pressure, just a desire to learn and discuss your learning.

Onto this month’s theme – Working with teens who may be at risk

In 2013 YALSA published the Future of Library Services For and With Teens: A Call to Action. That report, based on a year of research, prodded library staff working with teens to think differently about the teens they serve (and don’t serve) and think more broadly about who they are, where they are and what their needs may be.  Like the Future’s Report itself, this isn’t something that just happens, it takes time, conversations with your colleagues, really looking at your community and also thinking outside the box. 

The resources below should help you to begin thinking differently about your services for and with teens. It’s up to you what you read and/or watch. Pick and choose from the selections as a way to get started and to focus on what you think is most useful. You may make your way through them all, you may not. I’ve included some ideas of what to consider while you read or view so as to help provide context and focus.

Definition of “at risk youth” There are a lot of definitions of “at risk” youth and they can be loaded as well as sounding negative toward youth.  A broad definition can be that at risk teens can be at risk for not completing high school, may struggle socio economically, homeless, involved in drugs and/or alcohol, in foster care, court involved and each of these can put them at further risk and trauma.

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