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.
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.
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.
The 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
This 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
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.
You should have already or will soon be receiving your Spring 2016 edition of YALS. The topic of the issue is Libraries and Learning. All the articles are excellent but the one that stood out to me was the featured interview with Shannon Peterson, the Youth Services Manager for the Kitsap (WA) Regional Library (KRL). The library received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for their program Make, Do, Share: Sustainable STEM Leadership in a Box.
One of the great things about this interview is that not only did we learn the context of this project (it began with a project called BiblioTEC, sponsored through the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation) but also heard about how Shannon and her staff frame the work they are doing. Many times in public libraries, we are so focused on helping our community, we don’t think about the reasoning behind our behaviors. These behaviors and the programming we create can be influenced by the theory we read and the theory we believe grounds our work as librarians. Shannon’s interview was full of all the things she and KRL was thinking of as they created the Make, Do, Share programming.
The American Library Association (ALA) defines outreach as providing library services and programs outside the walls of the library to underserved and underrepresented populations; populations such as new and non-readers, LBGT teens, teens of color, poor and homeless teens, and teens who are incarcerated. As these populations are often marginalized and underserved, it is crucial for libraries to recognize these populations and provide services and programs to them where they are.
The President of YALSA, Candice Mack, is focusing her year as President with an initiative, “3-2-1 Impact: Inclusive and Impactful Teen Services,” which will focus on building the capacity of libraries to plan, deliver and evaluate programs and services for and with underserved teen populations. Visit YALSA’s wiki to find and share information about serving diverse teens and building cultural competence.
Each month I will profile a teen librarian or staff working in teen services providing outreach services and programs outside the walls of the library to underserved and underrepresented teens. The purpose is for us to learn, connect, network and share with each other the crucial work we are doing in this area.
This month I interview Candice Mack. Candice is the Interim Coordinator of System-wide Young Adult Services for the Los Angeles Public Library as well as the YALSA President.
What kind of outreach services do you provide for teens?
As the interim coordinator of system-wide Young Adult Services
at Los Angeles Public Library
, I help coordinate system-wide partnerships with different local organizations, which all 73 of our libraries will collaborate with on outreach and services. Some of the main partnerships we’ve developed recently are with the LA LGBT Center
, which has a youth center
that provides transitional housing and drop-in education, career and social services to LGBTQ youth in the LA area, many of whom are teens who originally from out-of-state who have either been kicked out or ran away from home to try and find a better and more accepting future in LA. Last year, we did a book drive and participated in two of the LA LGBT Center’s resource fairs.
Last week I attended a Literacy Summit at the Mid-South Book Festival in Memphis, Tennessee. I was inspired by speakers like Jeff Edmondson of Strive Together and David C. Banks, the founding principal of the Eagle Academy. I learned that 73% of students in local Shelby County Schools were reading below grade level. That statistic might be specific to my area, but similar numbers can be found elsewhere. (The KIDS COUNT Data Book has extensive information broken down by state.)
I learned that there are ways we can change this unfortunate trend. I sat in an auditorium surrounded by teachers and tutors who were specifically told “You can do THIS.” And I looked around, wondering where the other librarians were.
Librarians might not have as much, nor as consistent, access to students as teachers do. Librarians certainly don’t have the one-on-one access that tutors do. But librarians can help improve reading levels in their own ways.
September is traditionally back to school time, so get ready because it’s coming soon. With some teens in their senior year of high school many may be thinking about what they will be doing when they finish with things like; jobs, vocational/technical/college. How can you in your libraries help teens get ready? Here are some links that provide resources and some possible program ideas you may incorporate to help your teens to make some decisions.
College/technical/vocational School Resources:
Accrediting Commission of Careers Schools and Colleges
Campus Pride Campus Pride represents the only national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for LGBT students.
Casey Family Services – Information on financial aid and scholarships and much more for youth in foster care
College Board and Khan Academy free practice tests and other resources to help prepare for college.
Developing the Next Generation of Latino Leaders internships, fellowships, scholarships, financial aid information and more for Latino students.
Federal Student Aid information through the U. S. Department of Education lays out all of the steps in order to think about colleges, identifying colleges and applying to colleges.
Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEARUP) through the U.S. Department of Education a grant program to increase the number of low-income students to succeed in postsecondary education.
Homework Help Programs (webinar) learn how you can offer free or fee based homework help programs in your library.
List of Community Colleges in the United States
NAACP Youth and College Division
Orphan Foundation of America – Scholarship opportunities and Educational and Training Vouchers for foster youth.
Real Work Matters vocational school database
Trade Schools Guide
U.S. Department of Education Database of Accredited Postsecordary Institutions and Programs
U.S. Department of Education Career Colleges and Technical Schools
YALSA College and Career Readiness site
I met this week with regional colleagues about summer reading and summer learning. Many libraries continue to offer a Summer Reading Program, while other communities are launching Summer Learning Programs or highlighting their library’s summer efforts under a broader umbrella of summer learning.
Youth services librarians are a passionate bunch and this conversation was no different. Some individuals feel strongly that it continues to be the library’s primary role to promote reading and encourage reading â€“ specifically for pleasure â€“ during the summer months when students aren’t in school. Others saw reading as only one of the ways their libraries are supporting learning during the summerâ€”also offering hands-on programs, interest-based groups, and volunteer and paid employment opportunities.