Teen Summer Interns at Lawrence Public Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

This past summer the Lawrence Public Library had an amazing experience working with our first ever paid teen interns. Providing the teens in our community with paying jobs is something that we had been wanting to do for a long time. We have an amazingly dedicated group of teen volunteers, without whom we really wouldn’t be able to do nearly as much as we do, but finding the funds to give teens job experience wasn’t in the cards. Thanks to a $1,000 grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, though, we were finally able to make the dream a reality.

Our two paid intern positions were advertised widely at all of our local public and private schools, in the library, through email newsletters and social media. We received a number of great applications for the positions and were able to see yet again just how wonderful the teens in our community are. Although the decision was difficult, we finally decided to offer the positions to Bryce and Doha, and in May they began to work for the library.

Our two teen interns hit the ground running helping our staff plan and prepare for ongoing summer reading programs for children over the summer. Each week they spent two hours planning crafts and activities, and then three hours setting up for, running, and cleaning up after that week’s program. The next week the process began again.

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Summer Learning @ Charles Ralph Holland Memorial Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

Thanks to the 2017 Summer Learning Resource Grant the teens at the Charles Ralph Holland Memorial Library had a FANTASTIC time this year – and so did the staff!!!

The grant provided by YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation  made it possible for a small staff of three to offer our teens a variety of activities.  They got to experience how videogames work with Makey Makeys, assembling and coding a Robolink drone, connecting servos and programming  a Arduino nano board, & plenty more.  Our teens had a summer full of fun activities with tools most had never seen or played with before.

Every Thursday evening the library offered a new program that implemented STEAM learning in a fun and interactive way.  The first program had teen constructing cardboard armor with duct tape, scissors, and craft supplies to withstand a water balloon battle.  Each teen could research different methods and designs to craft their armor using the library’s public computers. The teens had a blast in covering their armor in tape, crafting tall helmets, armbands, and leg braces.  The teens split into two teams and tested their armors durability and strength. Some were winners, some not so much, but all had a fun time. The next summer program had teens weaving recycled t-shirt rugs for our local Friends of Animal groups fundraiser.   Each chose colors from materials donated to weave together.  The teens utilized small hula hoops as their base to weave. Almost all of the teens then gave their creations to the Friends of Animals, Fixin’s For Fixin’ Fundraiser, but each also learned how to care and weave a mat for their own pets at home. 

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A Teen’s Thoughts on Interning @ Kern County Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

The YALSA/Dollar General internship grant was a huge success for both the teen and the library. The Kern County Arvin Branch Library had its second Lunch at the Library program this summer. It was such a huge success last year that we just knew we could double our numbers this year. In order to make this possible we would need someone who was willing and ready to take any task that may arise. Luckily we found a great student, Jazmin, with a great recommendation from her science teacher. She was selected and did a great job at setting up and for our Lunch @ the Library program every day. She hosted a few programs such as Legos Club, a few arts and crafts programs, and Xbox Kinect. Jazmin was doing such a great job that we decided to utilize her in many other areas as well. She helped signing up students for summer reading, and sorting and shelving books. One great trait about Jazmin is she takes initiative. She does not wait to be told what to do. Once she understood the routine at the library, she assimilated right into our work day. Here is Jazmin’s experience in her own words:

As a sophomore in high school a job should be the last subject in mind as school is coming to an end. Extracurricular activities were still on, teachers were assigning homework, tests were being jammed into our hands, and social life did not wait for anyone; nonetheless, a job was on my mind for the summer. Juggling what a teen could in high school my parents decided that I needed one more ball to do the trick, I began to look for a job and our family business was not an option. Thanks to a friend I received information towards an internship for the Arvin Branch Library, so I went into my high school’s career center and got an application. I turned the application in to the library and waited for a phone call.

 

A week passed and I finally received a call giving me information for an interview. I believe I stopped breathing. This was in fact my very first, serious job so I had to keep in mind that the only time I ever practiced for an interview was once in Academic Decathlon. You guessed it, I was a nervous wreck just thinking about it. The day arrived and my hands were clammy, sweaty, and shaking as I walked into the room and sat in front of my hopefully-future boss. I hoped that I would not stutter. Keeping a good posture and a steady breath, I willed myself to relax. Before I knew it, the interview was over and I had survived. I was given constructive criticism as to what I did well and what I could work on for future interviews. After a hand shake, some nods, a ‘thank you,’ and another week, I was given the job.

 

I believed my first day on the job would involve confusion; instead I received more information, food trays, and kids – so much better. The day began with a tour around the library and the system it runs on. I memorized where each genre of books should be placed and I began shelving and fixing misplaced books. Later on I met other employees and built friendships with them. My second job consisted of giving kids food in the Summer Reading Program and getting to interact with them in fun activities. Little by little I received more jobs and I kept learning from everyone each week. All of it was very exciting and I loved to play with the kids; unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.

My experience in the Summer Reading Program was enjoyable, as well as learning about the way things are run in a library. One of the reasons for why I decided to fill in the application for the internship was to help and give back to the community in anyway and it was possible. This job and the program has allowed me to meet new people, help others, make connections, and – in a way – helped me face my small fear for interviews. I am absolutely thankful that I was given the opportunity to learn every day and I wish that it could have been longer.

 

We are glad we were able to provide real work experience. From first real interview, to building new connections that will help her in future job opportunities. We’d like to thank YALSA and hope we can participate in similar programs in the future.

Written by Rafael Moreno. I started working for the Kern County Library in December 2005 and became a permanent employee in April 2007. From June 2006 through July 2017 I supervised the Arvin and Lamont Branch Libraries. During that time I successfully raised Summer Reading statistics 8 out of the 11 years at those locations. My Spanish speaking skills are essential in the communities I served. The Kern County Library’s YouTube online bilingual storytime was good enough to be noticed by ALA who interviewed me for an online article on bilingual programs. Working on my Master’s has been a personal priority outside of work. I recently graduated from San Jose State University with a Master’s in Library Informational Science. Timing was perfect. A spot recently opened up and I am in the process of being promoted to Librarian for the Southwest Branch Library. It is a different community with a larger and more diverse demographics which I plan to serve well.

STEM Kits @ Alcona County Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

Summer 2017 has been wonderful at the branches of the Alcona County Library (ACL).  Located in the Northeastern Lower Peninsula of Michigan, Alcona County has a population of just over 10,000 along the scenic shores of Lake Huron. Alcona is comprised of  695 square miles, including 36 miles of Lake Huron coastline. While 70% of our land is forested, 1/3 includes Huron-Manistee National Forest land. ACL has four branches in Harrisville, Hubbard Lake, Lincoln, and Mikado, Michigan, and has a staff of 15 of which three are full time staff members.

This year the Summer Reading theme was “Build a Better World.” ACL used YALSA and Dollar General Literacy Foundation grant funding to purchase STEM kits to rotate among the branches. There are seven kits: of the seven, two rotate to three of the branches and one to the remaining branch every other week.  The kits include: snap circuits, Laser Maze, Circuit Maze, Strawbees with Quirkbots, Q ba Maze, MagFormers, and MakeBlock. Concepts in these kits are marble mazes, robotic kits, electrical kits, and magnetic building kits.

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Summer Teen Interns @ Onslow County Public Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

The Onslow County Public Library received the YALSA/Dollar General Summer Teen Intern Grant, which allocated a $1,000 donation to implement a teen intern program. We were thrilled to receive the grant and excited to see what would come of the program!

Teens applied, were interviewed, and were selected to be either lead (rising seniors) or assistant (rising juniors) interns. Our library system includes four library branches, and one lead and one assistant intern were hired for each branch. They completed training and dedicated 2-5 hours of work per week at their branch. Interns were responsible for planning, preparing for, and facilitating a genre book club for children in 3rd-5th grade. Other projects were assigned as needed.

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Goals:

  • Give teens relevant experience in applying and interviewing for jobs.
  • Give interns experience working collaboratively and using creativity and resources to plan, prepare for, and lead a book club.
  • Gain experience in showing commitment to a schedule and learn about how library programs are planned and facilitated.

For the first year running and minimal marketing, the program was a success, with 13 applicants and 8 selected interns! The interns shared some of what they learned at the end of the summer:

“I learned that interviews are not as scary as I thought they would be, and interviewers are just people too.” – Loren

“A lot more goes into library programs than I thought.” – Josh

“Dress to impress!” – Ariana

The goals of the program were undoubtedly met and exceeded the expectations of the original grant. The teens were not only able to gain valuable experience in library programming, job skills and work ethic, but also gained a deeper understanding of the library and its mission. The teens learned that it is not only job skills and knowledge that make successful employees.

“I learned that it is important to get along with others and listen to ideas that are different than mine. Sometimes you have to change what you think to work on a team.” – Gabe

“It can be difficult to manage time and keep up with all the commitments you’ve made.” – Josh

These teens learned real-life lessons that will help them plan for the future and become more dependable and better communicators.

The interns impressed both the library staff and the patrons with their creative ideas and passionate love of reading. They were able to share this with the children, further proving the worth of this program. The children got to see people that they admire reading and enjoying reading. The activities helped to bring the books to life and show children that reading isn’t just words on a page.

I personally gained a wealth of new experience through this program. Before this summer, I had only worked with teens in libraries in an assisting capacity, never taking the lead. This program unexpectedly fell onto my list of responsibilities due to staff changes and I am incredibly grateful. I learned that teens are an invaluable resource to libraries, that marketing is an integral part of library programming and requires careful planning, and that evaluation is just as essential as planning.

The teens were capable of much more than we originally planned for and would have benefitted from more responsibilities and more assigned hours. While we were able to pay them thanks to the grant, we did not want to ask them to work too many hours. This was an error that was revealed in the evaluation phase. The teens were willing and able to work more hours and would have benefitted through a wider variety of projects.

In addition, we learned through post-program evaluation that more marketing and promotion was needed. While we were thrilled to receive 13 applicants to the internship, visits to the high schools would have garnered a much better response. The book club that the interns led would have also had a better turnout if the program had been promoted more effectively.

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Teen interns are an incredible addition to the summer reading team due to their creativity, energy, and excitement. I highly recommend starting a teen intern program to all those working in libraries with young adults. Thank you, Dollar General and YALSA, for giving these teens the opportunity to show us how they stacked up!

My name is Jenna Kirkhart and I worked in child care and preschool after receiving my bachelor’s in Child Development. I found my passion for library youth services when a friend recommended I apply for a position at Onslow County Public Library. Since beginning my career here, I have done early literacy programs, book clubs, dance parties, and helped with more than I could list here! I especially enjoyed coordinating this teen intern program and hope to continue exploring new areas of library services.

Noise Permit @ the Ypsilanti District Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

The Ypsilanti District Library (YDL) was so excited and grateful to have been one of the recipients of the YALSA and Dollar General Grant. The grant allowed the downtown branch to support a teen tech internship this summer for 3 teens at the Michigan Avenue branch of YDL.

The teen interns attended Digital Arts classes and were trained on Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Tablets using Adobe Photoshop and Premiere to produce marketing flyers and promotional videos. Additionally, they learned Ableton, an interface to create beats and perform audio engineering. The team was integral in helping produce an all teen outdoor-on-stage-musical performance called Noise Permit for the entire Ypsilanti community.

Noise Permit was an all-day, end-of-summer celebration of the arts, by Ypsilanti teens, for teens, that culminated in an early evening performance. The purpose of Noise Permit was to bring creative arts programming to the Ypsilanti teen and young adult population. The library has a strong relationship with the music and arts community in and around Ypsilanti, and drew on the rich resources of young, professional artists who mentored and led teens in multiple workshops which culminated in a live stage performance and community event.

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Holy Guacamole! – Northampton Area Public Library – Dollar General Grant Winner

Thanks to YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, Northampton Area Public Library was able to offer our teens a variety of programming encompassing the many areas of STEAM education.  One such program was our Chopped/Iron Chef competition.  And oh boy, did we have fun.

Being a lover of cooking shows and food, I decided to combine my two favorite shows “Chopped” and “Iron Chef” into a teen competition.  Not having the cooking facilities one would think you would need to have such a competition, we improvised and made it our own.  Hopefully other libraries like ours will be able to feel confident in offering such a program even though they may not have the facilities for cooking.

The premise was this – offer a variety of ingredients and have the teens create a dish with a particular theme in a limited amount of time.  Each dish is presented to judges (in this case, myself and 2 of my co-workers) and each judges fills out a score card with the following categories – taste, presentation, and creativity.  Scores are tallied and the “chopping” begins.

(This particular snack was – Triscuit with marshmallow fluff, pepperoni, and grape)

Our first round, we had 10 teens competing.  Their task was to create their most creative snack using any of the following items:  assorted crackers (triscuits, graham cracker, ritz crackers) peanut butter, cream cheese, marshamallow fluff, grapes, pepperoni, assorted cheeses, celery, peppers, raisins and olives.  They had 10 minutes to create, prepare and plate their dishes for judging.  Each contestant was then judged on taste, creativity and presentation.  Then we chopped the field in half.

In Round 2, our five remaining contestants were giving new ingredients such as, different types of bread, cold cuts, condiments, cheeses, chips, and assorted fresh vegetables.  Their task was to create their most tasty sandwich with the requirement that it had to have something crunchy in it.  They were given 15 minutes to make two sandwiches (to accommodate all the new judges).  Again, these recipes were judged on taste, presentation and creativity.  Those teens judging took their job very seriously and more chopping was completed to give us our final 3.

(Judging is serious business)

In the third and final round, we asked the finalist to make their best nachos with homemade guacamole.  Queso was ready in a crockpot and the avocados were fresh.  They had 15 minutes to create and plate their dishes.  After a quick guacamole tutorial, the contestants were working fast and furious.  Their nachos were judged and a winner was crowned.

(Winner, winner, nacho dinner!)

Holy Guacamole, what a day!

My name is Rachel Robinson and I have been the Young Adult Coordinator from the Northampton Area Public Library for the past 3 years.  I have been lucky enough to be able to growth with this position and vice versa.  It provides me with a much needed creative outlet and service to teens in our mostly rural community.

Summer Video Gaming Club @ South Lafourche Branch Library

 

The South Lafourche Branch of the Lafourche Parish Public Library is located in Cut Off, LA, about an hour’s drive from New Orleans.

Lafourche Parish is home to more than 96,000 people, and the South Lafourche Branch provides library services to residents in southern Lafourche Parish, many of whom rely on commercial fishing and jobs in the oil and gas industries for employment.

Our library received a YALSA Summer Learning Resources grant, which we used to enhance a planned summer video gaming club that we held during our 2017 Summer Reading Program. Our aim was to use gaming as a way to encourage reluctant or struggling readers to read during the summer.

We decided to host six gaming sessions throughout the summer – three in June and three in July, as well as host movie afternoons during which we’d show movies that related in some way to video games. We used our grant funds to purchase books related in some way to gaming that we would distribute to those who attending our video gaming sessions.

The rationale behind this was that if teens were interested in gaming, they might be interested in books related to gaming. Traditionally, our library has had some difficulty in attracting teens to participate in our summer reading program. We thought that by introducing a gaming club, we could interest more teens in our program.

The following is a list of books that we purchased with our grant funds, to be given to video gaming club attendees:

  • Minecraft: Diary of a Wimpy Zombie
  • Legendary Minecraft Diary: An Unofficial Minecraft Book
  • Pokemon Pocket Comics: Legendary Pokemon
  • Super Mario Adventures
  • Angry Birds Comics Volume 1: Welcome to the Flock
  • Angry Birds Movie: The Junior Novelization
  • Sonic the Hedgehog Archives, Vol. 0: The Beginning
  • Trapped in a Video Game, Books 1 and 2
  • Game On! 2017: All the Best Games: Awesome Facts and Coolest Secrets
  • Insert Coin to Continue
  • Guinness World Records 2017 Gamers’ Edition
  • History of Video Games
  • Slacker

In our selection of books, we included both fiction and nonfiction titles, as well as novels and graphic novels and comics. We wanted the books to not only be relevant to our program, but also appeal to participants with varying reading interests and abilities.

“I don’t want it.”

We soon learned that a few of our participants were not interested in reading at all, which we expected. After our first gaming session in June, we tried to hand a copy of Super Mario Adventures, a collection of comics inspired by the video game, to one teen participant, but he was adamant that he did not want the book.

Shaking his head, he said, “I don’t want it” several times. He was certain he wouldn’t read it.

We explained that it was a comic and that since he enjoyed the game, he might enjoy the book, but he was having none of it. His mother, however, was with him and encouraged him to take the book and give it a chance. This participant was one who attended most of our gaming sessions during the summer and, after his initial reluctance to give reading a chance, accepted every book he was given and was able to communicate effectively about them during later sessions. We consider this a win.

Throughout the summer, our gaming sessions attracted 24 teens and 44 tweens, with 37 adults accompanying their children to our gaming sessions. We also held two movie afternoons, showing Wreck-It Ralph and The Angry Birds Movie, which attracted another 4 teens, 10 children, and 11 adults. As sometimes happens, as the summer progressed, attendance at summer programs declined, as families were going on vacations, getting ready for the upcoming school year, and attending to a host of other things that kept them busy.

However, we believe that the participants who did show up to these programs during the summer really enjoyed them. Many were excited about receiving the free books and those who initially were not eventually came around.

This was a good program to introduce to our slate of summer reading offerings, and we believe it was successful in that we were able to get more teens to participate and more teens to read – particularly a few who would not have been reading otherwise.

Katina Gaudet is the area librarian at the South Lafourche Branch of the Lafourche Parish Public Library and oversees the operation of three library branches in southern Lafourche Parish. 

 

Summer Learning Resources @ Ozark Regional Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation graciously selected Ozark Regional Library as a recipient of the Summer Learning Resources Grant.  With this grant, we were able to supplement our Summer Reading Program with things we’ve never before been able to offer.  We used the funds for a collection development, prizes, and programming. 

Over the past few years, our Young Adult collection has not received a lot of attention.  Collection development funds were used elsewhere, so we didn’t have a ton of new material coming in.  Thanks to this grant, we were able to add some fiction and non-fiction to the YA shelves.  We ordered some popular fiction books as well as non-fiction that fit in with this summer’s theme of “Build a Better World.”  I noticed an increase in teens perusing the shelves this summer and I expect circulation statistics will show a rise in YA checkouts. 

In addition to collection development, we were able to purchase books to give away as prizes.  Every teen that completed the Summer Reading Club received a book.  This book also came with a bookmark that stated: “Congratulations on completing the Summer Reading Club!  You have received this book thanks to the generosity of YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation! Keep on Reading!”  Several teens expressed their excitement when getting to pick out their new book.  We decided to make this a part of the Summer Reading Program because our goal with this grant was to get books into the hands of teens.  Many of the families in our community are low income and can’t afford to have books in their homes.  This grant made it possible for teens to take home a book that they can keep for years to come. 

Another goal our library had for this grant was to provide programming that was educational and fun for teens.  We want the library to be a safe, air-conditioned place for the teens in our community to relax, learn, and have fun.  We had several different teen programs throughout the summer, but three were created due to the YALSA/Dollar General grant funds.  These programs were: Planning for the Future, Make Your Own Film Festival, and a Teen Carnival. 

Planning for the Future was a program created to help teens and young adults with college and career readiness.  College and career advisers from the community were brought in and made up a panel of experts.  Panelists included members from the local community college, a university extension office, the Missouri Job Center, and Mers/Goodwill.  These panelists talked about how to apply to college, financial aid, resume writing, interview skills, etc.  We offered the program at three of our locations, but sadly, attendance was low. 

The Make Your Own Film Festival took place on a Saturday and was run by a Branch Manager.  It was a four hour event and teens and even some adults attended.  The teens came in groups or were put into groups and were given the task of creating a 5-minute short film.  For the first hour, teens enjoyed coffee donated by a local coffee shop and brainstormed their film after hearing the theme.  They then had two hours to shoot and edit the film.  The last hour was spent eating popcorn and pizza donated by a local restaurant and watching the films.  The winning team was voted on by the teens and the winning team got to split a $25 iTunes gift card.  While the program went well, we will change some things in the future.  The editing software was not working properly and caused some difficulty.  We would also try to break the ages up some more because older teens seemed to be more successful than the younger teens.  Additional staff will be needed as well if the event continues to be well-attended.  However, since this was the first time we did a program like this, we definitely would call it a success.

The last event we had for teens this summer was a Teen Carnival and to my major disappointment, no teens came.  We had one child show up near the end and asked if she could participate.  We had planned fun things so I definitely thought were would have good attendance, but for some reason, we didn’t.  We hired a caricaturist and a face painter/balloon artist and had games, crafts, and refreshments.  We even advertised that the door prize winner would get to throw a pie in my face.  Since only one child showed up, she was automatically the lucky winner and she greatly enjoyed doing that.  We decided to attribute the lack of attendance to the weather.  Even though the carnival was held inside, it was 103 degrees that day and we feel like most teens were staying at home or were at the town pool.  It was disappointing because we advertised so heavily, but staff enjoyed the event (especially the caricaturist). 

Despite low attendance at some of the teen events, we had a great Summer Reading Program.  This grant allowed us to do things we’ve never been able to do and many teens and parents said that this was the best Summer Reading Program we’ve had in years.  Again, we would like to thank YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation for making it happen.

 

My name is Kelsey Fitzgerald and I am the Youth Librarian for Ozark Regional Library, headquartered in Ironton, Missouri.  I have been in this position for one year and have absolutely loved it!  After working in larger city libraries for several years, it is a wonderful change to be in a rural library system.  My passion is lifelong learning and with this job, I am able to instill a love of reading and learning into children at the very beginning of their lives.

2017 Summer Learning @ the Henry Carter Hull Library in Clinton, Connecticut

The Henry Carter Hull Library in Clinton Connecticut was excited to be a recipient of a 2017 Summer Learning Grant generously funded by Dollar General Store.   A recent survey revealed the youth population in our community speaks a total of eight different languages and supported  the fact our library has a growing ELL population. This statistic also points to a steady increase in students who are struggling socially and emotionally with the cultural transition. Because of this dynamic, the focus of our Summer Learning program had four components:  develop daily activities that build strong peer to peer relationships, foster respect for diversity, integrate teens new to the community, and provide quality summer learning STEAM oriented programs that foster connected learning.  Of course we wanted to accomplish all this while promoting the library as a place to have fun and meet new friends.  With multiple objectives I decided to offer a different activity every day of the week for 9 weeks with the hope of attracting teens with diverse interests and experiences into the library.   Here is an overview of some of the different programs we hosted this summer. 

We had great success with our Make It Monday program which was super fun and interactive. Some of the activities offered in this weekly program provided an opportunity to discuss the science behind our creations, such as our slime and bath bomb projects.  Other Make It activities, such as the sharpie sneakers, upcycled tee shirt tote, and tie-dye tee allowed teens to express their creative side and have fun together. 

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