Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: Making Space for Competencies

by Katie Baxter, Director, Kodiak Public Library, Alaska
The Kodiak Public Library, funded by the City of Kodiak, and, under the governance of the City Manager, serves the entire remote island of Kodiak, Alaska in the Gulf of Alaska located 350 miles south of Anchorage. City population is approximately 6,300; island population is approximately 14, 373.

cover of YALSA's Competencies for Library StaffAs a Library Director who is committed to providing staff with leadership development tools and on-the-job experiences, I am excited by the ways YALSA’s newly released Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff takes us beyond the boundaries of a Teen Room. I shared the competencies document with full-time and part-time employees a few weeks ago without fanfare or discussion. I anticipated that some staff would find the competencies framework formal, academic, and, not necessarily intended as a tool for their individual use. I wanted staff to come to the document on their own terms and in connection to the work we have been doing over the past four years to settle into our new building of 16,000 square feet which includes the “first-ever” Teen Room in the city’s public library.

When getting to know a new building, it’s easy to get caught up, or, closed in, by the realities of settling into rooms with labels and specific purposes. YALSA’s Competencies provides a context for establishing a library’s teen-service style in a teen-focused manner. My gut was telling me that the nature of the physical space was creating assumptions in the minds of staff and patrons that our teen patrons have what they need from the library. However, that space does not have a dedicated service desk, or a dedicated staff presence. I wanted to create a purpose-based reason for each member of the staff to be aware of how he or she works with and in support of teens. The Competencies provides me with a comprehensive springboard for that, and I decided to go for it.
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ALA Midwinter 2018: Fun Places to Visit in Denver

There are loads of things to do while you are in Denver for ALA Midwinter! To take a break from the conference and see the city I would recommend taking in at least two of my top 5 places to visit.

  1. Downtown Aquarium

The Downtown Aquarium in Denver is my top choice for things to do. It could be because I love seeing things up close, it could be because I love going at my own pace, or it could simply be because Colorado is a land locked state so seeing tropical fish is super fun!  Although it is a little pricey, the experience is worth it and once in the building, you can go through as many times as you would like. The Aquarium also has a 4-D Theater for those that really want to “feel” the experience. A must-see when you are in Denver.

  1. Denver Zoo

Number two of top things to do in Denver when taking a break from ALA Midwinter is the Denver Zoo! The Denver Zoo is a wonderful experience and a great way to relax after a busy day at ALA Midwinter.  The Zoo is laid out to include many different climates for different types of animals so you will get your steps in.  As an added fun bonus, you can purchase beer at the zoo and enjoy a cold one as you get to experience all the sights and sounds of the numerous animals.

  1. Denver Museum of Nature & Science

No visit to Denver is complete without a visit to the nature and science museum! The hands-on experience you will get at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science will ignite anyone’s curiosity for sure. With Bill Nye speaking at ALA Midwinter, it is a great tie-in to what will be experienced at the conference.

  1. Denver Botanic Gardens

With all the focus on animals, don’t forget to give plants some love while you are in Denver. The Denver Botanic Gardens is another great adventure to see plants both native and not native to the Colorado region. Take a walk through and enjoy the peaceful experience of the gardens.

  1. Denver Art Museum

To round out my top 5 places to visit in Denver, escape to the Denver Art Museum. The traditionalist and the modern artist will find peace in the galleries.  Many exhibitions will be open during ALA Midwinter including “Revealing a Mexican Masterpiece: The Virgin of Valvanera”, “Then, Now, Next: Evolution of an Architectural Icon”, “Stampede: Animals in Art”, and “Past the Tangled Present”.  Also opening on February 11th, the exhibit “Degas: A Passion for Perfection”.  The Denver Art Museum is the sole American venue for this exhibition.

*Bonus Activity!

Because I couldn’t just end at 5 things, take in a show at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts while in town. Choose from 4 different shows during the weekend of ALA Midwinter.  All are sure to be a fun time!

Antonia Krupicka-Smith is the Adult and Teen Services Manager for Library 21c of the Pikes Peak Library District in Colorado Springs, CO.  She loves all things science which is clear in what she thinks is best to do in Denver!

Gimme a C (for Collaboration!): Lessons Learned from a Waldorf School Partnership

In summer 2017, my branch library was invited to host seven on-site storytimes for The Denver Waldorf School (DWS), a local, private school whose philosophy aligns with the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. The agreement was for my library to provide a storytime and craft/art project for approximately 25 children (ages 3-6) once per week from June through August. This was our first opportunity to partner with the school, and the more I learned about the cornerstones of Waldorf education, the more inspired I became to apply the principles to our regular storytimes and school-aged programming. Additionally, the partnership motivated me to reevaluate the ways public library staff teach technology to middle grade and high school students, and has prompted me to incorporate more elements of Waldorf education into library programming.

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Research on Competency Content Area 2: Interactions with Teens

Authored by the YALSA Research Committee

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

This post focuses on Content Area 2: Interactions with Teens, which is generally described as “Recognizes the importance of relationships and communication in the development and implementation of quality teen services, and implements techniques and strategies to support teens individually and in group experiences to develop self-concept, identity, coping mechanisms, and positive interactions with their peers and adults.” Bernier (2011) approached the notion of youth patron engagement by examining media representations of young adults.  The author argued that libraries, like most institutions, institute policies and assign resources for groups based on cultural assumptions, such as those established and reinforced by news media.  In his content analysis of news stories, Bernier found that teens are generally negatively portrayed, often as voiceless criminals, trouble-makers, and in need of adult rescue. Bernier encouraged libraries who serve young adults to deliberately consider their institutional approach to this group with regard to policies, resources, space, and relationships with teens.

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ALA Midwinter 2018: Yummy Places to Eat in Denver

Denver has some amazing restaurants! While reading this post, you’ll discover that I’d never make it as a food critic. That said, I do enjoy really tasty food and have a very particular sister-in-law who has introduced me to some excellent places.

Pasta – gluten free, too.

Angelos Taverna puts together some mean pasta dishes – and has delicious gluten free pasta (the additional $5 is worth it).  The Gorgonzola Steak Fettuccine was wonderful.

Something a bit fancy!

Corridor 44 in Larimer Square is a small but neat place to try. They do lots of fun drinks with champagne. Their food ranges from Scottish salmon to beet salad to a short rib melt. I highly suggest that short rib melt. Nighttime at Larimer Square is a lovely place to walk around even if you aren’t going to eat in the area. 

Want a quick treat?

The Market at Larimer Square is a fun spot with a variety of baked goods, fresh salads, and hot drinks. The teas warm me up on a cold day!

Dive bar food with lots of class

As their website says, “Fried chicken and champagne? Why the hell not?” Max’s Wine Dive in Denver has a great atmosphere and a wonderful wine list to go with the fried chicken (gluten free option, too). Checkout their website – lots of tasty items including sweet potato donuts at brunch!

Your party can’t agree?

Try Avanti: they have loads of choices. Think food truck style, but enclosed. There are seven different vendors in the space – I’ve tried most and they are good. American Grind, Brava! Pizzeria Della Strada, Chow Morso, Kaya Kitchen, QuickFish, Quiero Arepas, and The Regional.

Like I said above, I’m not a food critic – there are only so many ways that I know how to say that something is yummy. Enjoy exploring Denver and all the delicious places we have to eat.

 

Joanna Nelson Rendón is an adult services manager and the young adult services division head for Pikes Peak Library District, Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is an adjunct professor for the University of Denver’s MLIS program and is on their Program Advisory Board. Joanna is the co-chair for the Colorado Association of Libraries’ Leadership Development. She is a blogger for Public Libraries Online. Joanna loves hiking, salsa dancing, and, of course, reading!

How Libraries can Build Communities with Minecraft

On Thursday afternoons, in the heart of the Beacon Hill Library in Seattle, you might find an animated group of youth on laptops designing parkour courses, rendering torch lit dungeons or co-constructing capture the flag arenas—all in Minecraft, the popular world-building game. To some, this scene might seem somewhat out of place in a library: Aren’t video games and lively teen banter fundamentally at odds with an institution whose core identity markers are books and silence? Not according to Juan Rubio, the Digital Media and Learning Program Manager for the Seattle Public Library (SPL).

“This is how they begin to build a bond and affiliation with the library,” explains Rubio. “I want to create learning opportunities while keeping the environment fun and playful—and Minecraft is a good transition in that direction.” Creating teen-friendly zones and activities is part of a widespread movement by libraries to become dynamic hubs that engage the community in a broad range of services and events.

Rubio spearheaded the partnership between SPL and Connected Camps to deliver a free after school Minecraft program for 10 – 13 year-olds. He’d run successful Minecraft clubs in his previous incarnation with the Brooklyn Public Library and decided to build on the experience in Seattle. Following the successful pilot at Beacon Hill, Rubio aims to roll the program out to more of SPL’s 27 branches.

“We wanted to target middle school youth, and to add another layer—not just Minecraft for Minecraft’s sake. My outcomes are around design and computational thinking, so Connected Camps was a good fit for us,“ said Rubio. In terms of practical implementation, the library offers breakaway rooms, wired laptops, and on-site supervision, while Connected Camps provides a structured Minecraft program and the support of an in-game mentor.

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YALSA Local Arrangements BFYA Feedback Session

The YALSA Local Arrangements committee for ALA Midwinter in Denver, CO is recruiting youth participants for a Best Fiction for Young Adults feedback session. As you know, YALSA takes input from the youth very seriously. Not only does it allow us to shape and support our organizational goals, but also it creates a unique and valuable experience for all participants – those speaking and those listening.

For Denver we are interested in hearing 50 local teens tell us what they did or did not like about the books on the BFYA nomination list. The session will be held on Saturday, February 10th, from 1pm – 3pm. As a thank you, these lucky teens and sponsors will also get to tour the exhibition halls that morning and have lunch before the session begins.

All interested parties should submit an application for their groups here: https://goo.gl/forms/yowz4daGhFOBt7nH2

Hurry! The deadline to apply is DECEMBER 22nd.

Please direct any questions to Michelyne Gray at mgray@cherrycreekschools.org

Gimme a C (for Collaboration!): Creating a Winning Team

During my first years as a school librarian, I worked at a junior high with a group of dynamite classroom teachers.  “Collaboration” was a word that we used in discussions and also put into practice. One English teacher and I had the idea of working more closely with the public library and coordinating a summer reading program with our students.  Although we did not receive the funding we requested, we pursued the partnership. Over the next five years, we successfully collaborated with the public library on a variety of projects.

We soon realized the necessity of developing a “winning team” to establish our collaborative relationship with the public library, involving stakeholders from both institutions. As we progressed we also realized the importance of celebrating our successes.

A winning collaborative team typically includes a school librarian and children’s or youth services librarian from the public library. Once everyone agrees to work together, all stakeholders should meet to discuss ways the two organizations could work together. Many creative ideas and great discussions develop over a cup of coffee.

Establishing a winning team through partnerships with other organizations is not always an inherent skill. Students in MLS and pre-service library education programs should be exposed to this concept during their studies. The students need to experience collaboration.

Last summer, Emporia State University students enrolled in a Resources and Services for Early Learners class developed collaborative program plans to be implemented at both school and public libraries. One of the plan’s first steps was to identify other organizations as collaborative partners, and other information professionals who could become part of a winning team. The two ideas listed below illustrate possible projects that involve the public librarian and the school librarian.

–Have a Summer Drive-in program where children create their own cars with cardboard to “drive” to the events.  This collaboration was with the school, Public Library Summer Reading program and the local drive-in.  (Ashely Green)

–The Arbor Day Extravaganza helped the children learn about the environment and how they can protect and nurture it. The public librarian and the school librarian will help the children plant trees or shrubs into plastic containers that can then be taken home. (Heather Green)

These two ideas are examples of creative thought through collaboration; a final ingredient celebrating the success of collaborative winning teams.

As a young school librarian working with a classroom teacher to establish a collaborative event with the public library, my colleague and I neglected to establish a team involving professionals from each organization. Today, developing a winning team will establish more productive and successful collaborations.

Jody K. Howard is an adjunct professor at Emporia State University and is a member of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation.

Photo Credit: Jody Howard

Support YALSA for #GivingTuesday

Today is #GivingTuesday – a movement that celebrates giving and encourages more, better and smarter giving during the holiday season.

Please consider making a donation to Friends of YALSA to support grants, scholarships and awards for members, and encourage your friends, family and colleagues to do the same. So far in 2017, Friends of YALSA has raised $9,802 towards its goal of $14,095 needed to provide our annual member grants, awards and scholarships. Our Giving Tuesday goal is to raise the remaining $4,293. This year, Giving Tuesday is extra special because you can double your impact! With every dollar that is donated, ALA will match it, dollar for dollar (up to a $1,000 individual gift)!

I am giving to Friends of YALSA to give back to an organization that has done so much for me. I have taken advantage of the awards, grants, and more leadership and learning opportunities than I could count. Now it is my turn to pay it forward.

Donate Today and help Friends of YALSA support our profession. Then, take an #UNselfie with a message explaining why you are giving, tag it #GivingTuesday and post it on our Facebook or tweet us!

Thank you – and Happy Giving Tuesday!

 

Kate Denier is the Chair of YALSA’s Financial Advancement Committee.

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.