Gimme a C for Collaboration: Meeting the Needs of Special Education Classrooms through Outreach and Advocacy

Last fall, I was approached by a teacher at Asbury Elementary, a public, K-5 school in my library’s service area, about bringing library resources into his special education classroom. As someone with almost no training in special education, forming this partnership has given me a greater awareness of how to best meet the needs of children who experience disabilities, both in the context of school outreach as well as in a traditional public library setting. I’m inspired to gather and share resources with my colleagues on how to effectively reach and serve children who experience a range of developmental, emotional, and physical disabilities, and how quality intersectional literature can aid educators and caregivers in understanding complex identities.

Background

Enacted in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) establishes the provision of a free and appropriate public school education for eligible students ages 3–21. According to the The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 13 percent of public school students received special education services in the 2015-2016 school year (National Center for Education Statistics, April 2018.) Given the significant number of students receiving special education services in our public schools, now is a critical time for both school and public librarians to evaluate how we can better serve this population in every context. More importantly, now is a critical time to examine intersectionality and its role in the perception and portrayal of minority and traditionally underrepresented groups of children who also experience a range of disabilities.

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From Aspirations to Careers

This post was written by Jennifer Manning, AspireIT Partnerships Program Director

The National Center for Women & Information Technology’s Aspirations in Computing (AiC) program is designed to support young women in computing by providing recognition, encouragement, and opportunities to jobs, scholarships, and connections to the tech community. NCWIT Aspirations has recognized over 10,000 women in 9th -12th grade for their aspirations and passion in computing and built a supportive network in each of the 79 regional affiliates. This network includes parents, industry professionals, community leaders, and educators all working together to increase the meaningful participation of women in computing and technology within their community

Applications for the next Aspirations cohort are open now and it’s your opportunity to encourage high school girls to apply (and at the same time become their mentor and supporter). More than two-thirds of past applicants said they applied because they were encouraged to do so by an educator or mentor. As Aspirations in Computing Award recipients, those selected will join the nationwide AiC Community and have exclusive opportunities available as they pursue computing and technology in their academic and professional careers. Aspirations is a research-based program that provides long term support to program participants, with 91% of past award recipients continuing on to study STEM in college as a major or minor–77% of those in computing or engineering.

To learn about the array of NCWIT Aspirations in Computing engagement opportunities available, please take some time to watch the 30 minute informational video


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Stories to Service at the Johnson City Public Library

The Johnson City Public Library (Johnson City, TN) began a new teen program called Stories to Service after receiving the YALSA Symposium Programming Challenge Award in 2018. Stories to Service is a teen volunteer program that combines literature with volunteerism through service projects and book clubs. The projects are both planned and implemented by teen volunteers between ages 12-18. Participants will gather to decide what service area they would like to focus on. Then the participants will read a book centered on their selected topic, discuss it together, and complete a project related to the book.

JCPL’s Teen Services Manager, Katelyn Wolfe, drew inspiration for this program from various discussions at the YALSA Symposium in November 2017, including presentations on teen volunteers and an author panel discussing Rudine Sims Bishop’s essay Windows, Mirrors, and Sliding Glass Doors. Her goal was to create a program that accommodated the large number of teens who needed volunteer hours but also gave them an opportunity to connect with their community in new ways. Upon returning to the library, Katelyn brought the idea to the Teen Advisory Board members, who were immediately on board and began brain-storming possible ideas.
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Gimme a C (for Collaboration!): Making Connections to Award Winners

A close friendship between two librarians, a school librarian and a teen services librarian, led to the creation of the Jane Addams Book Club, a collaborative program between Southold Free Library and the Southold Junior/Senior High School Library, featured in the Public Library and School Library Collaboration Toolkit. Students in grades 5-7 read the winners of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, which recognizes children’s literature that encourages young people to think critically about “peace, social justice, global community, and equity for all people.” Through lively discussion, database research, and making connections to their own lives, students learned how social justice and equity can impact their lives and the wider global community.

The book club met at the public library and book club members used both the public and school library resources for their research. The subject matter of the books wasn’t the only topic up for discussion. Book club members did research on, and discussed their findings about, the authors and illustrators of the award winners in preparation for a trip to New York City to attend the award presentation. Penny Kelley, the Teen Services Librarian at Southold Free Library and co-creator of the book club, observed that, “meeting the authors and illustrators and hearing their stories, had a lasting effect on the students.” Students were inspired by the connections they had to the authors and were motivated to use art as a platform for change.

When asked for tips and tricks for building a collaborative relationship between public and school libraries, Ms. Kelley said an important thing to do is get school administration involved. She has developed an excellent relationship with the school principal and works closely with the school social workers and the guidance counselor. The school librarian is her most important ally. They collaborate on a number of additional projects including an Escape Room program and a talent show.

The Jane Addams Book Club hasn’t met since 2016, but Ms. Kelley mentioned that it’s time to reconvene. She is inspired to start the program again and is excited to get students together to talk about the newest award winners. “It really was a remarkable experience for the students and for the adults, too.”

Abby Moore is Associate Professor and Education Librarian at University of North Carolina Charlotte, and a member of the Interdivisional Committee on School and Public Library Cooperation.

Teen Read Week: Planning a School-Wide Read Program

When I read Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds for the first time last year, I was completely overwhelmed–this story was about my students! So many of them have lost family and friends due to gun violence, and many of them have been faced with similar emotional tragedies in their lives. So I wanted them to see that their feelings and experiences are valid by reading a book written by a man who looks like them and understands them and IS them. But being a Title 1 school means funds are tight, and purchasing class sets of books (especially enough for all classes to read at the same time) is just not in our budget without help. YALSA’s Teen Read Week Grant is that help, and I am incredibly grateful.     

When I saw that the Teen Read Week Grant was open for applications in May, I immediately texted my reading teacher and asked her what she thought about the potential of doing a school-wide read next year with a Jason Reynolds book. She responded with a resounding “YES” and I filled out the application. And then we were selected, and the brainstorming began.  

But how do you plan a reading program for students who are reluctant readers? You make it relevant!

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Jefferson County Public Library Summer Internship Process

Here at Jefferson County Public Library, we just finished our summer reading program, during which we had the opportunity to host a teen intern. I wanted to write about our process and also give some advice about what we learned, which I blog about below. I hope future grantees find this helpful, and if they are interested in further material from our program, can find it on the 2018 Teen Intern Grantee Space.

Marketing

To market our teen intern program, I first created a flyer on Canva:

We advertised on our Facebook page and also during an outreach program we do each semester at local junior and high schools called Lunch in the Library, where we provide pizza for lunch and the teens get to learn about library services and offer suggestions for programming, collection development, etc. The Facebook advertising got the most interest from parents, who messaged the library’s Facebook account asking for more information, however I found that not many of their children actually applied. The most effective way I found good candidates was asking the school librarians if they had any aides that they thought would be interested. These students all had library experience that was helpful if we needed to do tasks related to shelf reading, shifting, etc.

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Teen Summer Internship @ Laurel Public Library

We had a very successful Teen Summer Internship program last summer at the Laurel Public Library and when we received a grant through the generosity of the Dollar General literacy Foundation and YALSA we knew we would do a similar program again for our teens. We have a very strong teen volunteer program already in place so we knew this would be a great opportunity for our teens.

The process to be considered for an internship for the summer of 2018 started by requiring the teens to attend a mentoring program offered by a local community leader. The course was designed to run for eight weeks and during this time the teens learned many skills such as life skills, leadership skills, personal presentation, and public speaking. We initially started with eight teens, but regular attendance was an issue with the majority of the teens and we ended up with only three who completed the mentoring program and of those three, only two were selected for the internship. We also brought back one of last year’s interns, for a total of three for the summer.

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STEM Night @ Garland County Library

This year, through the Dollar General and YALSA partnership, our library received a grant to purchase supplies for an after-hours STEM Night. Our library has previously hosted a STEM Night and it was a big success. One thing that we learned from that program was the we needed a bigger supply of gadgets. Although our library has a large budget, we do not always have the funding to spend on supplies like robots, LEGO sets, etc. This grant made it possible for our library to buy various new items for our STEM gadget collection. Although the patrons are not allowed to check these items out, we have hosted several coding workshops in the past, and we plan to host even more in the future to fully utilize our new items.

For this year’s STEM Night, we utilized the entire library building and meeting rooms. This allowed us to showcase both the old and new gadgets that the library has to offer our patrons. Below is a list of activities that we had going on during STEM Night.

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Young People Know Their Afterschool Programs, Do You?

This post is written by Charlotte Steinecke, communications manager at the Afterschool Alliance.

Photo of youth working together at the Kent County (MD) Public Schools

Libraries and afterschool programs just click. We share so many passions, like fostering lifelong learning, encouraging family engagement, and serving the members of our community with the greatest need. It’s not uncommon for many libraries to host their own afterschool programs or to partner with local programs to make the most of their pooled resources and expertise. Together, we become champions for engaging children and young people in exciting, engaging learning opportunities during the school year and beyond.

That’s why we want to invite library staff to Lights On Afterschool!

On Thursday, October 25, approximately 8,000 afterschool programs across the country will open their doors to one million Americans in the nation’s only rally for afterschool. It’s a day to celebrate out-of-school time learning programs and everything they do to keep our kids safe and engaged after the school bell rings.
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Summer Teen Intern grant allows three young patrons to build their first resumes

Our teen interns assisted us in a variety of ways! They ran our summer reading registration table (data entry, prize distribution/inventory), interacted with children (assisted with computers) and adults of all ages, assisted in weekly programs/activities (spray painted rocks, room set-up and tear down, created sample crafts), unpacked deliveries, pulled hold lists, etc.

Our goals for summer teen interns were:

  • Introduce them to being a part of a professional environment

o   Teamwork

o   Decision making

  • Independent thinking
  • Build confidence
  • Gain diverse experience working with their community
  • Build resume

We see all three of our teens feeling empowered as they succeed in their role as summer interns. We want them to leave with the confidence and knowledge that they are a vital part of our community!

Kristine Swanson is the outreach librarian for the Public Libraries of Saginaw. She has the privilege of taking the library to underserved groups of people in her community including the juvenile detention center, assisted living communities and memory care units. She feels blessed every day to be doing what she is doing!