2019 Teen Summer Intern Program: Teens engaging children through inquiry-based play

In my rural community, opportunities for teen employment are limited mostly to food service, yard work, and babysitting. When I applied for the YALSA/Dollar General Teen Summer Intern Grant, my goal was to offer meaningful employment that would allow teens to share their skills and passions with younger children. By employing interns in this way I could have helping hands during summer activities and provide a deeper learning experience for school-age participants.

I advertised the position through the guidance office of our local high school, who kindly emailed the details to all students. We also posted the opportunity on our library website, bulletin boards, and social media. With my program goals in mind, I needed candidates who genuinely enjoyed spending time with younger children. I also hoped for applicants who had experience with hands-on STEAM activities and who could take a leadership role during activities. Several applicants had leadership experience through Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, which has sparked my interest in reaching out and partnering with these community groups. Most of my interns had experience with the Technology Student Association at the high school, which might be another source of future collaboration.

The primary duty of our interns was to staff our Summer STEAM Lab for ages 6 to 11, held on Tuesday mornings during the ten weeks of summer programs. Interns set up the room, prepared materials, and interacted with the children by asking questions and offering encouragement as needed. I planned flexible topics for these weekly sessions in order to leave room for ideas and suggestions from our interns. For example, one week we had a sink or float activity where we made and tested boats with aluminum foil. One of my interns had previously led this activity for a group of Girl Scouts, and he had excellent ideas for how to structure the activity and questions to ask participants to further their investigations.

A teen works with two younger children over some building toys.

Interns listened to children’s stories and modeled inquiry processes.

Teens work with younger children as they practice STEM experiments.

Interns helped children test their creations and make changes as needed.

A teen intern observes the play station they built with old tech parts.

During training, interns built an imaginative play station with old tech parts.

Most weeks I had two interns scheduled to work together, with the intention of providing opportunities to develop teamwork and related workplace skills. The teens could problem solve collaboratively and take turns with the less interesting tasks (such as vacuuming after the program). Based on observation, I would say the interns learned from each other as well, since they each modeled different strengths. For example, one teen was more confident with asking questions, and another was more ease with demonstrating an activity to the children. One of the teens learned she prefers working with just one or two children (like a babysitting job).

For me, the intern program was a success because I could offer workplace experience to teens. I saw children working joyfully with the feedback and attention of three caring people, rather than the presence of myself alone. The teen interns modeled hard work and passion for the children who participated in Lab, and I hope that will inspire a return to the library.

 

Lisa Rand is the youth services coordinator at Boyertown Community Library in southeastern Pennsylvania. She serves on the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the Pennsylvania Library Association and writes for the Intellectual Freedom blog of the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association.

 

2019 Teen Summer Intern Program: Reaching Underserved Youth through Teen Internship at Indian Prairie

As a district library, the Indian Prairie Public Library serves parts Darien, Burr Ridge, and Willowbrook, IL. One of the underserved areas in our district is known as Willowbrook Corner. In the summer, staff from the Kids & Teens department visit the Willowbrook Corner Summer Camp at Anne M. Jeans Elementary each week. We present activities to four different groups—approximately 72 kids, in grades K-5.

Our Teen Summer Intern, Carson Wagner, planned and presented the activities for the kids and led various staff members who took turns accompanying him on the visits. With Carson, the kids were able to plant seeds and learn about gardening, create Makey Makey banana pianos, play with a variety of musical instruments that the library circulates, make catapults, complete various art projects, and more. He taught them several cooperative group games, like Frogger, which he incorporated into his visits. On the last day, Carson delivered prize books. Each of the children received a new book to keep.
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K-Pop and SEL: A Perfect Match

This post is by Shawnte Santos, Program Manager, Youth Services, and Martin Pi ñol, Youth Services Librarian, South San Francisco (CA) Public Library.

photo of participants in K-Pop programIn October 2018, inspired by a K-Pop 101 program on YALSA’s Teen Programming HQ, South San Francisco Public Library hosted the first of what would become a series of K-Pop programs for and with teens.

This spring, when participating in a YALSA facilitated Teen Services with Impact! workshop, we realized that the K-Pop activities connected with of the Social Emotional Competencies. For example:

Self Awareness
The teens who attended were incredibly appreciative of the program, and excited to see their interests represented in a library program. They were especially thrilled when opening their mystery prize packs and seeing what was included- there was even some screaming; we were happy that they felt comfortable enough to express their emotions in the space.

Self Management
We planned to set up a playlist of K-Pop songs and videos, however the teens made it their own, they took turns choosing what songs they wanted to hear and share with their new friends. Everybody was supportive of each other’s choices, and waited until the songs were over before putting on new ones.
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Leading from Local: ALA joins the Aspen Ideas Festival

This post was written by Marijke Visser, Associate Director and Senior Policy Advocate in the ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office

photo of Aspen Ideas LogoLibrary staff are community leaders everyday. They lead with humility, making space for and including diverse voices. Libraries are hyper-local, with programs and services that respond to community needs and priorities. Libraries are mission-driven and their value is collectively determined as they serve the entire community. These may not be “big ideas” to library staff, however, as I traveled from the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. to the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado, I considered that the core values that library staff adhere to are also held up as essential by leaders across the United States, in addressing national and global social, economic, and political challenges.

At the Festival, themes of empathy, equity and inclusion, innovation, collaboration, social responsibility, and community engagement were woven across plenary and concurrent sessions in tracts as diverse as Hope Made Visible, American Renewal, Economic Progress, Conservatism, Next World Order, and Art of the Story. Throughout the Festival, speakers and attendees were prompted to consider how successful local initiatives can and should inform national and global policies. Attendees, leaders from non-profit organizations, foundations, businesses, government, philanthropy, and associations, like ALA, were also challenged to consider what kind of leader we might each be. This challenge highlighted the fact that all of us have a voice and can play a leadership role where we work and in our communities. A final common theme in the sessions I attended explicitly connected leadership, community engagement, storytelling, and advocacy.
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#alaac19 PLA Pre-Conference: Librarians and Social Workers – Partnerships that Work for Connecting People in Need

This post was written by Carrie Sanders, Youth Services Coordinator at the Maryland State Library

annual 2019 logoI was fortunate to be able to attend the PLA pre-conference focusing on the partnerships library staff and social workers can build in order to support all members of a community. The session opened with a reference to Eric Klinenberg who wrote, “Libraries don’t just provide free access to books and other cultural materials, they also offer things like companionship for older adults, de facto child care for busy parents, language instruction for immigrants and welcoming public spaces for the poor, the homeless and young people.”

Social workers in libraries provide support for library patrons through crisis intervention, outreach and engagement, referral services, community programming, and advocacy. They also support library staff. Their presence creates a culture shift that moves the question regarding those in need from, “How do we remove?” to “How can we connect those with specific needs to services?”
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Future Ready with the Library: Career Cruising @ Colorado Valley Communications

This post is written by Allison Shimek, a member of the second cohort of the YALSA Future Ready with the Library project, and a coach to members of the third cohort. Allison is the Director of the Fayette Public Library and Fayette Heritage Museum and Archives in La Grange, Texas. Contents of this post originally appeared on the Future Ready with the Library Community of Practice. Allison’s first post on her work as a part of the Future Ready project was published on the YALSAblog earlier this year.

13 teens in 6th – 11th grade attended an event at Colorado Valley Communications (CVC), a local telephone and internet provider. Of the total, eight teens were in middle school (6th – 8th grade). Most of the teens were the same from our first event at a local bank. We did also have a couple new faces.

photo of teens talking with CVC staffThe day began with four career exploration stations. The teens visited the NOC (network operation communications) room with several big screen televisions that displayed problems with towers and outages in the area. The company actually had a tower go down and a cut fiber line during the event so the teens got to see what happens in those instances and how problems appear on the screens. At another station teens learned how fiber is installed in the ground and how to splice fiber. At another station the teens explored how a fixed wireless network works and how locations for wireless are selected using Google Earth’s mapping tools. By entering their home address into the map teens had a chance to interact with the tools the telecom employees use. Last, teens learned about how technology has changed the way customers interact with CVC and how CVC markets to the community.
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The Liberation of Not Knowing All the Answers

This post was written by Jill O’Connor who was a school librarian for 12 years before making the switch to a public library and, as the Youth Services Librarian at the Merrill Memorial Library in Yarmouth, Maine, she is  loving the freedom to craft programs for a willing audience. She is an avid reader of YA and middle grade books and a book reviewer with the Maine State Library Book Review group. When not thinking up glorious new STEM programming, she can be found driving to her son’s hockey games or her daughter’s dance classes, routing for the local baseball team, or cooking up new foods to tantalize her family.

As a former school librarian, I am new to the public library world. In the public library setting, programming looks very different than it did in school where you are a teacher, on par with all other educators in the school with learning objectives and curricula in hand. A school offers an audience of a knowable set of bodies in your class every day. You plan classes (programs) that hit your objectives and you present information. You don’t have to know everything, and it’s okay to say, “I don’t know, let’s look it up,” but for the most part, I always felt that I had to be the one in the know and in the position of teaching my audience something.

Fast forward to this past fall, I am the shiny new Youth Services Librarian at a public library, excited to try new things in a completely different setting, no longer hostage to the multiple classes-per-day grind. My domain is 3rd through 12th grade, and I am in charge of collection development, reader’s advisory, and all programming for the patrons within my assigned demographic. I know that I have to offer some STEM programming; it’s being asked for by parents and it’s a sensible and sought-after topic for all kids to be participating in, but what to do?!

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Book Tastings

In November, I was able to attend YALSA’s Young Adult Services Symposium with one of my coworkers. It was a wonderful experience, and we came home full of ideas for the 6-12 independent school library where we work. One idea we immediately wanted to try at our library was book tastings, which we heard about in a session led by Alicia Blower, librarian at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School.

I like to think of book tastings as the library equivalent of free samples at the grocery store—you get teens to try a bite of various books, hoping they will find one they want to take home. The basic setup involves putting books out at tables, and having teens rotate through the tables in groups. At each table, they “taste” a book that looks interesting to them by reading the blurbs on the cover and the first few pages.


Tasting a book. [Photo Credit: Erin Lewis]

We had the perfect opportunity to run a book tasting just one week after we got back from the Symposium. All of our seventh grade English classes were coming in to check out books, so instead of the usual book talks we give to feature certain genres, we decided to set up book tastings based on the genre of realistic fiction.

First, we decided on our physical layout. Five tables was a good number for us, given the class sizes (18) and how much time we had to run the activity (40 minutes). On each table were books related to a specific theme within realistic fiction, based on what’s popular with our students. Once we decided on the layout, the next step was to pick the books for our tastings. I wanted to have six books at each table, one for each student in a group of four, and a couple of extras to give them alternatives. We also needed to replace the books that got checked out during each class, so I accounted for that when pulling books..

While making book selections, I also had the goal of providing a strong representation of diverse books. To do this, I got a piece of paper and tallied up numbers as I pulled books. How many books had I selected with main characters of color? How about LGBTQ+ main characters? Characters who were differently abled? What about books that were #ownvoices? I had to go back to the shelves quite a few times before I felt I had acceptable representation, and some tables still ended up with less diversity than others. For example, we simply didn’t have enough diverse books for the theme of survival (as in surviving the wilderness or a natural disaster), so now that’s on my watch list for collection development and content curation.

I made place cards to go at each table, with the theme of that table printed on the card. My coworker made tasting forms where students could write down the title and author of a book they looked at, give it a rating from 1-5, and put any comments they had. (See linked documents for examples.)

Filling out a tasting form. [Photo Credit: Erin Lewis]

Finally, I went out and purchased some real “tastings” to go along with the books. I got a variety of Hershey’s kisses, some miniature fruit-flavored candy canes, and a huge bag of Life Savers. At each table, we put two cups. We filled one with the candies; the other was for trash. I am proud to say that our students didn’t leave even one candy wrapper for us to pick up.

In the end, all of our work paid off. The students really enjoyed the experience. A lot of our selected books were checked out, and we were able to highlight the diversity in our collection. It took a little more time to prepare than book talks, but now that we have done it once,  there won’t be as much prep required next time.

Choosing which books to taste. [Photo Credit: Erin Lewis]

Does anyone do book tastings in a different way? I’d love to hear about it!

Whitney Etchison currently lives in Maryland and is in her tenth year as a school librarian. The best part of her job is readers advisory, although teaching research skills is pretty cool too. She loves horror novels but can’t watch scary movies.

New Issue of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults

Volume 9, Issue 2 of of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults (JRLYA) is now available online at http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya/. This issue features research papers relating to library digital services and peritextual elements.

With their paper, “The First All-Digital Library Space: The Effectiveness of BiblioTech’sServices for Urban Youth,” Kristy Masten, Teresa Mobley-Sellers, Anita Pickett, Melissa Siller, Socorro Garcia-Alvarado, Paula Johnson, and Tivy Whitlock analyzed how teens responded to the services offered by the first physical library space in the United States to offer all technological and digital resources.  

Book elements such as book jackets, glossaries, indexes and others were the focus of the paper, “Pausing at the Threshold: Peritextual Images in Young Adult Nonfiction Award Winner,” in which Don Latham and Melissa Gross examine the promotional and supplemental functions of peritextual images in nonfiction books.  

JRLYA is YALSA’s open-access, peer-reviewed research journal, located at: http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya. Its purpose is to enhance the development of theory, research, and practice to support young adult library services. JRLYA presents original research concerning: 1) the informational and developmental needs of teens; 2) the management, implementation, and evaluation of young adult library services; and 3) other critical issues relevant to librarians who work with teens. Writer’s guidelines are located at http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya/author-guidelines/.

Robin A. Moeller, editor, JRLYA

Community Champion Learning Series

This blog post was written by Marijke Visser, Senior Policy Advocate in the ALA Washington Office.

Young woman helping young girl with technology project

Library staff are some of the strongest advocates for teens. The encouragement and support library staff provides helps inspire youth to pursue new opportunities and undiscovered talents. This includes preparing teens for discovering college and career pathways. The ALA Libraries Ready to Code initiative and NCWIT AspireIT are joining forces again in 2019 in a project that will directly increase the meaningful participation of girls and women in computing. We are building on what we’ve learned through our pilot working with local libraries to build capacity for youth programs

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