#act4teens: From E-mail to Action

Early last year, I received an e-mail from our Youth Services Consultant at the South Carolina State Library with information about how YALSA was willing to send their representatives to state library association’s annual conferences to discuss their newly published national report entitled The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: a Call to Action. As Chair of the South Carolina Library Association’s (SCLA) Youth Services Section, the opportunity to connect with YALSA could not have come at a more perfect time. With our annual conference theme focusing on unbound services statewide, it was important to help plan sessions that allowed attendees to think outside the box and assist in re-evaluating services they already provide, while also instilling new ideas within their communities. YALSA’s call to action does just that.

With the neatly bound report in hand, Dr. Sandra Hughes-Hassell from the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reached out on behalf of YALSA to a room of 30+ South Carolina librarians and paraprofessionals. Conversations evolved both during the course of the annual conference and at home within our communities. One such conversation with Cheryl Brown, Past Chair of the SCLA Youth Services Section, spoke of the versatility of this report: “with my involvement in the Collaborative Summer Library Programs’ efforts to bring quality summer programming to teens, I found the session invaluable…We can no longer trust that what we planned for teens five years ago will be what serves teens most effectively today.” Her statement resonates with many teen services-oriented professionals, and holds true for one YALSA forum participant, quoted in the report, who compared this paradigm shift in services to going from “grocery store to kitchen,” where teens move away from being the consumers as we help turn them into the producers.

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Ideas for Downtime

The week between Christmas and New Years is a really quiet time at my branch. I know that’s not the case at every library, but in our community, most of the parents are working this week and kids are staying with family or in daycares, or families are taking vacations. We don’t have much in the way of regular programming, but there are a few kids who wander in looking for something to do. Unfortunately, we’re also short-staffed this week, so I’m looking for fun ways to serve my kid patrons and also keep all three of our desks staffed. I’m going to be pulling out all the fun do-it-yourself activities this week:

  • Butcher Paper Art!

So the younger kids are going to love this, but as the tweens and teens see how much fun it is just to go absolutely nuts with the crayons, you’ll have a crowd around those tables. And at the end of the day, be sure to cut out your most creative art to decorate your department!

  • Wii Dance

So, when my part-time employee comes in in the afternoons, we’re pulling out the Wii. I mainly just want someone in the department to make sure that the remotes don’t get flung across the room in excitement, but this one also runs itself. And the kids LOVE it. Put it on contest mode and throw in something from your prize cabinet as a reward and watch out for blood.

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Tell YALSA How You #act4teens

by Adrienne L. Strock & Sandra Hughes-Hassell

Almost a year has passed since YALSA released The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action. In that time, libraries across the U.S. have opened  digital media centers or makerspaces, developed  meaningful community partnerships,  been affected by demographic shifts among their users, and implemented user-driven programs and services both  in and outside of library spaces.  School and public library staff have also been affected – co-learning and developing the new skills called for in the report. Along with this shift in services have come new sets of challenges and opportunities for growth, too.

My #act4teens journey has been both personal and professional. I have dabbled with STEM and maker projects wanting to make things light up as both a personal interest and to level up my own knowledge and skills to better serve and learn with teens. In anticipation of the 2014 launch of Studio NPL, the Nashville Public Library’s (NPL) IMLS learning lab project, NPL teen staff has been diving into and discussing the Futures report at our monthly teen services meetings. We have also expanded  our STEM and maker programs at our Main Library by introducing teens to low-tech maker crafts. A recent partnership with Nashville CoderDojo  has resulted in a surge in tech-savvy adults who now serve as expert mentors for our tweens and teens allowing them to learn about coding, robotics, and game design.

How have you #acted4teens? What’s happened along the way in your #act4teens journey? YALSA wants to hear your stories of how the report has impacted you and your library. How has the report shifted your philosophy of library services for and with teens? What parts of the report have resonated most with you and why? What changes have you implemented as a result of the report? What new challenges or successes have arisen based on the steps you have taken to #act4teens?

Your #act4teens stories are worth celebrating and sharing, whether big or small, through quotes, YALS articles, and more. Soon, the Future of Teens and Libraries taskforce will host a special #act4teens YALSA Blog series, and we want to hear from you, too. Tell YALSA how you #act4teens here.

Catching Up on Current Research

There’s always lots of interesting research going on in the field. To help you stay current, the Research Committee has compiled a short annotated bibliography of recent and ongoing research that offers a lot of food for thought.

Merga, M. K. (2014). Are Western Australian adolescents keen book readers?. Australian Journal Of Language & Literacy, 37(3), 161-170.

This study examines Western Australian teenagers’ reading habits and attitudes toward reading.

Valdivia, C. & Subramaniam, M. (2014). Connected learning in the public library: an evaluative framework for developing virtual learning spaces for youth. Public Library Quarterly, 33(2). 163-185.

Many youth services librarians aspire to create virtual spaces at their libraries that encourage youth participation, engagement and new media literacy development. This article presents an evaluative framework to aid youth services librarians in achieving this mission of providing informal learning opportunities through virtual spaces. The framework is designed to be used at any point in virtual space development.

Vickery, J.(2014). Youths Teaching Youths. Journal of adolescent & adult literacy (1081-3004), 57 (5), p. 361.

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Middle Grade and Young Adult: An Author(s) Interview

It’s a holiday weekend, hooray! I hope everyone has had a most excellent Thanksgiving. I thought for a holiday weekend treat, we’d do something fun here today, so I asked a couple of authors to participate in an interview just for ALSC and YALSA blog readers!

The two authors I asked to participate have something in common: they write both middle grade and young adult books. As a librarian who works with all ages, and especially with the “tween” ages (where ALSC and YALSA’s services overlap!), I find myself needing to be familiar with both types of books.

The exact definitions of Middle Grade and Young Adult are subjective and amorphous. For the purposes of this post, we’ll just say that the intended audience for middle grade is slightly younger than the intended audience of YA, but both can be enjoyed by all ages.

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Annual 2015: San Francisco on the Cheap (Part 2)

(Did you miss part 1? Click here!)

This is a guest post by Trevor Calvert, a member of the Local Arrangements Committee for Annual 2015 in San Francisco.

As promised, here are even more great ways to enjoy what San Francisco has to offer–on a budget.

Neighborhoods and Landmarks

Twin Peaks
With the 25th anniversary of the television show imminent, why not use this as an excuse to visit a site 1,000 feet above S.F. and with a 360-degree view? It’s a great place to visit but can be windy and chilly, so bring a sweater.

Chinatown
Chinatown is a fantastic place to wander around in, whether you like to eat your way through a neighborhood or prefer to shop or people watch, Chinatown offers it all. It’s the oldest Chinatown in North America, and with its beautiful, historic buildings and landmarks it’s certainly one of San Francisco’s jewels.

The Mission
The Mission District runs along the parallel streets of Mission Street and Valencia. If artisanal coffee, award-winning burritos, fanciful ice-cream, local (and sometimes strange) boutiques, and public art interest you, then the Mission is definitely a place to spend an afternoon. Some highlights, La Taqueria, Humphrey Slocombe ice-cream, murals on Balmy and Clarion alleys, the beer-garden at Zeitgeist, and sitting in the grass at Dolores Park. Continue reading

San Francisco is calling!

ALSA and Baker and Taylor are proud to support the continuing education endeavors of librarians across the country. They offer not one, not two, but three great scholarships to help YALSA members who have never attended ALA Annual the opportunity to do so. And it is a wonderful opportunity. I was lucky enough to win in 2011 and be able to attend Annual in New Orleans. It was a very satisfying experience and allowed me to connect with my teen librarian colleagues and YALSA members in a way I never had via the online environments of list-servs and websites. That one conference gave me the confidence to continue to volunteer for YALSA committees and taskforces, Since 2011, I have had the opportunity to help YALSA’s strategic goals by serving on several different process and selection committees and it has been incredibly rewarding.

The criteria for these grants are pretty simple and available on the website. To paraphrase: you need to be a member of ALA/YALSA, one to ten years experience working with teens (for the Baker and Taylor scholarships only), and you have never attended an ALA Annual conference. For the Broderick scholarship (which is open to MLIS students), you must be currently enrolled in ALA accredited graduate MLIS program. The deadline for applying is December 1. Still not convinced that attending Annual is worth it? Here is what some of the previous years winners have to say.

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Introduction to the YALSA Research Committee

There are tons of committees, task forces and areas to work in YALSA. Everyone knows about the book award committees and some of the major task force, but there are a lot of smaller, less glamorous and flashy committees that are a part of YALSA as well. Did you know that YALSA has a Research Committee? Well, I didn’t either, until I decided to volunteer for YALSA and became a member of the research committee, which I currently chair. So what is the research committee? What exactly do we do?

The Research Committee has actually been around since 1968. The Research Committee’s purpose is “To stimulate, encourage, guide, and direct the research needs of the field of young adult library services, and to regularly compile abstracts, disseminate research findings, update YALSA’s Research Agenda as needed and to liaise with ALA’s Committee on Research & Statistics.”[1] So what does that entail? Well for starters, the Research Committee developed the YALSA National Research Agenda, which helps guide the direction and express needed research to “help guarantee that librarians serving young adults are able to provide the best service possible as well as advocate for funding and support in order to ensure that teens are served effectively by their libraries.”[2] The Research Committee also keeps this document up-to-date, which is one of this year’s current tasks. We are using The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action to ensure that the Research Agenda is up-to-date and on track.

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Annual 2015: San Francisco On the Cheap (Part 1)

This is a guest post from Trevor Calvert, a member of the Local Arrangements Committee for Annual 2015 in San Francisco.

San Francisco in the summer is beautiful. Clear, warm days and cool (okay, sometimes windy and cold) evenings make is a perfect city for the contemporary flaneur. Some may recall the “coldest winter was summer in S.F.” quote often attributed to Samuel Clemens, and while the authority control on that is in doubt, the sentiment is not. Make sure to pack light-yet-warm clothes that you can stuff into a knapsack during the day, and later don at night. it’s a gorgeous city, and you’ll want to walk it. Luckily, it’s not terribly large!

San Francisco is only seven by seven miles, but that area includes Gold Rush-era architecture, beautiful Victorians, breathtaking parks, pleasing urban parks , and lots of hills to trolley or walk. If you want to spend money here, it’s really easy–but if you like to travel a little lighter, and perhaps see the city as many of its residents do, then read on for a list of inexpensive and free activities in San Francisco (culled from an informal Facebook survey to ensure authenticity and from this writer’s experiences). Continue reading

Small Ways to Use The Future of Library Services For and with Teens: A Call to Action to Learn More and Begin Cultural Shifts at Your Library:

As you’ve dug into the report, you may have felt like it’s too big of a leap for you and your library to tackle all at once. Highlighted below are five small ways you can begin to #act4teens that can snowball into big impact.

  1. Begin to share appealing aspects of the report with other library or school staff. This is a great way to do a temperature check to see how people feel about different aspects of the report. It’s also a way to get people thinking about existing services and how they can be improved. You can do this by:
    • Sending weekly emails about teen or school library services and creating a section for report information. Ask staff for comments and feedback.
    • Sharing parts of the report at regular staff meetings.
    • Hosting brown bag discussions about school library or teen services that are framed around the report.
    • Creating engaging polls to see what parts of the report staff are most comfortable with and to solicit their ideas and feedback.

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