2015 National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Award

The Zula B. Wylie Public Library has been chosen as a 2015 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award (NAHYP) finalist by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and its partner agencies, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.   The library was chosen as one of 50 finalists from 335 nominations, for its successful youth after-school and out-of-school arts and humanities learning programs.

The Zula B. Wylie Public Library is a cultural center for the community and provides diverse programming in the arts and humanities.  These highly professional activities include storytelling for youth, piano keyboarding and African drumming classes, art contests with local schools and author signing and book talks.  A themed annual Summer Reading Program is conducted for all ages with a variety of activities designed to encourage reading during the summer. The library also provides support services such as homework help, access to tutoring, and mentoring, career skill development workshops and readers advisory.


One of the highlighted after school programs that the award winning library provides is the youth storytellers program for students in 3rd through 6th grades.  Approximately 60 students have participated in the storytelling program which was started in 2009 by professional storytellers Traphene Hickman and Toni Simmons.  Storytelling is an age old tradition, not only for entertainment, but to teach lessons, values and morals, to motivate and innovate and to pass on culture and heritage.  Storytelling provides the opportunity for oral expression of ideas, teaches public speaking skills and exposes students to a wide variety of literature from different cultures.

For more information regarding the Zula B. Wylie Public Library’s youth after-school and out-of-school programs please visit www.cedarhilllibraries.org.



The newest special issue of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults features selected papers from the 2014 YALSA YA Literature Symposium. In “You Are What You Read: Young Adult Literacy and Identity in Rural America,” Robin A. Moeller and Kim E. Becnel of Appalachian State University present a survey of 118 rural North Carolina high school sophomores’ reading interests and habits. They found the female students’ top favorite fiction genres to be: 1) romance, 2) mystery, 3) adventure, and 4) horror. In contrast, the males’ top four favorite genres were: 1) adventure, 2) science fiction, 3) humor, and 4) horror.  Nearly two-thirds of both of female and male students indicated that they read for pleasure an hour or less per week.  These results highlight the importance of providing free reading time and materials access in schools and libraries, particularly for rural teens with limited access to book and electronic resources. Additional implications for library services to rural teens are discussed.

In “The Real Deal: Teen Characters with Autism in YA Novels,” Marilyn Irwin (Indiana University, Indianapolis), Annette Y. Goldsmith (University of Washington), and Rachel Applegate (Indiana University, Indianapolis) analyze 58 YA novels, each with a teen character with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The authors contrast the character portrayals in the novels with recent research on real youth with ASD to evaluate the accuracy of the fictional portrayals. They find the portrayals to be largely accurate overall, with some notable differences, particularly with regard to friendships. Irwin, Goldsmith, and Applegate close with a discussion of the benefits for teens of reading fiction that includes characters with disabilities. These benefits also stand as compelling arguments for YA librarians to collect and promote YA fiction with realistic depictions of teens with ASD.


Serving Incarcerated Youth: Podcast with Patrick Jones

Podcast length: 11 min 40 seconds

YALSA’s Cultural Competencies Task Force interviews Patrick Jones, retired young adult services guru, author, speaker, winner of the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Library Association and Catholic Library Association, and pro wrestling enthusiast. Patrick was a teen librarian for 20 years, and continues to be an advocate for teens and teen services. This podcast gives an overview of how best to reach out and serve young adults in juvenile correctional facilities and provides advice to librarians new to outreach to prisons.


Librarians Serving Youth in Custody: http://www.youthlibraries.org/.

The Beat Within: A Publication of Writing and Art from the Inside: http://www.thebeatwithin.org/.

Contra Costa Times article about librarian Amy Cheney: http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_27691434/alameda-county-librarian-connects-incarcerated-youths-lesser-known.

Literacy for Incarcerated Teens: http://www.literacyforincarceratedteens.org/.

Reaching Out to Young Adults in Jail, p. 16: http://yalsa.ala.org/yals/yalsarchive/volume3/3n1_fall2004.pdf

School Library Journal article about literacy for incarcerated teens: http://www.slj.com/2014/09/literacy/literacy-for-incarcerated-teens/#_


Follow us on Twitter:

Patrick Jones: @PatrickJonesYA.

Learn more about Patrick at his website: http://www.connectingya.com/.

Monnee Tong: @librarianmo.

Intro and Closing Music: Summer’s Coming from Dexter Britain’s Creative Commons Volume 2. https://soundcloud.com/dexterbritain/sets/creative-commons-vol2


Evaluate to Advocate!

As National Library Legislative Day approaches, we must all be ready to answer the question that hangs over meetings with representatives who are lobbied daily for fiscal and political support:

Why? Why care about library services for and with teens?

It can be difficult for us, who regularly see the fruits of our labors in the smiles, small steps and cool projects our teens generate to encapsulate our stories into sound bites and elevator speeches that resonate with policy makers. Lets make it easier.


During the month of April, YALSA’s Advocacy Support Task Force has been using #Act4Teens to tweet out tips to help members reach this month’s featured Advocacy Benchmark:

Collects evaluative data to envision teen services.

In order to share our stories with congress members, local policy makers and stakeholders, we must be able to say what difference we are making in our communities. To do this, we must know what are goals are, and how well we’re accomplishing them.

Continue reading

Spring is here!

It’s springtime! In Mississippi, at least, it’s been spring for quite some time and actually hit 80 degrees last week. In celebration, let’s highlight some springtime tales for your displays! These books either have or are coming out this spring!

It’s the latest Penderwicks book! These are so lovely and the latest one is no exception. Available now, the fourth book in the Penderwicks series has a lot of heart and surprises for each family member. Your kids that have loved the last three books won’t be disappointed by this one.

Listen, Slowly is a gorgeous tale of a California girl who spends her summer with her grandmother in Vietnam. She must learn to find the balance between her two worlds. An excellent follow-up to Lai’s National Book Award Winning Inside Out and Back Again, this one is gorgeous and evocative. Your students that love to read about other places will devour this one.

Continue reading

30 Days of Teen Programming: Project Outcome & Field-Based Examples of Measuring Outcomes of Young Adult Services

YALSA’s recently updated Teen Programming Guidelines encourage the use of evidence-based outcome measurement as a means of developing meaningful programs for young people. The Public Library Association – through its latest field-driven initiative, Project Outcome – is also working to assist with librarians’ efforts to capture the true value and impact of programs and services. At ALA Annual 2016, PLA will launch Project Outcome, designed to help any programmer measure outcomes beyond traditional markers such as circulation and program attendance. Instead, Project Outcome focuses on documenting how library services and programs affect our patrons’ knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors. It will help librarians use concrete data to prove what they intuitively know to be true: Communities are strengthened by public libraries and patrons find significant value in library services.

Lessons from the Field:  Skokie (IL) Public Library

At Skokie Public Library, we participated in the pilot testing of Project Outcome in the fall of 2014 by administering surveys for 10 different programs. The surveys were conducted online, on paper, and through in-person interviews. In one example, teens attending a class about biotechnology were interviewed using a survey designed to measure outcomes for “Education/Lifelong Learning.” Participants ranked the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with statements measuring knowledge, confidence, application, and awareness. Results showed that 85% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they learned something helpful, while only 43% agreed or strongly agreed that they intended to apply what they just learned. The results demonstrated some improvement in subject knowledge, information that can be useful for advocacy. But it also revealed that there’s room for growth in ensuring program participants understand how they can apply what they’re learning. In an open-ended question asking what they liked most about the program, teens mentioned the chemical experiments conducted during the program. This type of data is something that we can pay attention to when planning future programs.

Continue reading

#act4teens: Connecting Teens to their Passions for Workforce Development

Thanks to technology and a wealth of resources available via the internet, youth have more ways to discover their interests and passions. Spaces across the YOUmedia Learning Labs Network, based on the principles of Connected Learning and HOMAGO (hanging out, messing around, and geeking out) provide spaces for youth to gather, collaborate, and learn by doing. With the guidance of caring, near-peer artist-mentors, teens explore animation, recording music, and writing poetry and music. YOUmedia successfully provides a way for youth to learn 21st century skills, which in turn can lead to more workplace opportunities. There is a need for developing a 21st century skillset, which includes “life and career skills, innovation, critical thinking, and information, media, and technology skills.” In essence, workers need to be able to adapt and think critically and differently about situations. YOUmedia has had success with this, encouraging youth to experiment with new technology and activities.

Given the success of YOUmedia, how does one transform the “geeking out” stage of creation and production into a viable career path? For example, Salvador Avila, the Manager of the Enterprise Branch of the Las Vegas Clark County Library District and mentor at the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, saw how youth were constantly plugged into their music players, so he began teaching DJ classes. Organizations tapping into the successes of the YOUmedia Network are the Cities of Learning Network and twelve new user-centered spaces funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the MacArthur Foundation. The Los Angeles Summer of Learning encourages youth to explore and develop their passions in coding, community action, media, sports, and other interests, and learn how it relates to their career or academic future. Youth aged 16-24 can participate in the Workforce Readiness Challenge, where they learn job skills, interview skills and financial literacy.

A project that our office is involved in is the GRIT Lab – a teen community center in the South Bronx that will be a place to connect youth to out of school learning and workforce opportunities. Across New York City, there are 172,000 out-of school and out-of-work 18-24 year olds. Some of the challenges that out-of-school and out-of-work youth face result from a lack of interest-driven opportunities, workforce development programs, and a supportive learning environment. Working with key organizations in the South Bronx like DreamYard and New Visions for Public Schools, we observed how an advisor figure positively affects the student’s academic and personal growth and chances for success. Advisors are a crucial aspect of the youth development process because they are instrumental in advocating for and making sure students are on a path to success in their education. An advisor who works with and supports the student’s customized pathway from the interest-driven to career-driven stages would be ideal, and they could be a resource to connect different resources.

Continue reading

30 Days of Teen Programming: Programming for the Platform

So, your first questions might be, “Who is this? And why is he writing here?” Good questions. Let’s start there. My name is Miguel Figueroa and I work at the American Library Association on a new Center for the Future of Libraries initiative. As I’ve begun my work over the past year, I’ve been focused on three objectives:

  • Identifying emerging trends relevant to libraries and the communities they serve
  • Promoting futuring and innovation techniques to help librarians and library professionals shape their future
  • Building connections with experts and innovative thinkers to help libraries address emerging issues

And if those objectives sound pretty obvious to you, I’m not surprised. I know that YALSA members, by the nature of your work and your audience, tend to be on trend, innovative, and outward-looking. In fact, over the past year YALSA members have been incredibly helpful in suggesting trends for me to explore, including Collective Impact, Connected Learning, and Emerging Adulthood.

Today, as part of “30 Days of Teen Programming,” I want to try to connect teen programming to an important and emerging view of the library as platform.

David Weinberg’s excellent article, “The Library as Platform,” proposed the potential for the library to serve as a platform by leveraging its data and information resources for members of the community to build from. And John Palfrey, in his forthcoming book BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google, encourages libraries to become platforms for hacking – engaging large communities of people with diverse skills and perspectives to remake libraries and their communities using the resources, information, and data libraries make available.

Continue reading

30 Days of Teen Programming: The NILPPA Study: What We are Hearing about Teen Programming

As a librarian, you probably see the impacts of programming every day. You know your work is important based on interactions with your teens. And they probably make it clear – through their words or behavior – when a particular program has hit or missed the mark.

But what if you had more than anecdotal evidence? What if you had data to tell you what works, what doesn’t, and why?

In December, ALA’s Public Programs Office released a first-of-its-kind research study to quantify the characteristics, audiences, outcomes and impacts of library programming. The National Impact of Library Public Programs Assessment (NILPPA) describes the current state of library programming and proposes an ambitious, eight-year research plan for further study. NILPPA also poses a number of questions, including: What counts as “success” in library programming? What impact does programming have on participants and communities? What skills must programming librarians hone to maximize impact and reach underserved communities?

But let’s back up for a moment. What is the Public Programs Office (PPO)? Located one story up from YALSA in ALA’s Chicago headquarters, PPO promotes cultural and community programming as an essential part of library service. Operating on grant funding, our 10-person staff offers professional development activities, programming resources, and grant opportunities to help libraries fill their role as community cultural centers — places of cultural and civic engagement where people of all backgrounds gather for reflection, discovery, participation and growth.

Library programming has changed since PPO was founded more than 20 years ago. Back then, support for library programs for adults was limited and fragile, and the title “programming librarian” was most likely to refer to someone in tech services. Today, there is a robust community of librarians whose job descriptions include the creation of programs for all ages.

Continue reading

2015 Teen Tech Week Grant Winner – Alexandra Tyle-Annen

We were ecstatic when we found out that we would be receiving funding for Teen Tech Week.   We were able to plan a variety of programs that focused on programming, photography/video, and robotics.   Our goals were to:

  1. Reach teens that have little or no technology skills
  2. Grow the skill level of teens that already have a strong technology skills
  3. Have teen(s) assist with programming.

A local teen happened to be a tech wizard and helped plan and teach a few of the programs!  He was able to connect with the teen participants and many of the younger teens were in awe of his knowledge.  He was a great asset to the program and a huge reason the programs were so successful!

We were able to purchase a GoPro (along with accessories), Cubelets, and littleBits.  Along with classes, we held drop in sessions for teens to play creatively with the tools on their own.   We also encourage the teens to use the GoPro during the other programs to create videos of their projects and learning experiences.

It is truly amazing to see how all of the teens were able to quickly grasp most of the concepts.  They were able to understand everything from how numbers flow through Cubelets to drawing shapes and creating games with python!  They were able to manipulate the code we produced as a class to put a personal twist on the projects.  The most popular programs were the GoPro class and the Python 101 classes.

Due to the number of participants and the number of tools we needed to create small groups to work together on their projects. It was a great opportunity for the teens to work as a team.   Having them work in teams encouraged discussion and a new level of creativity!

We were surprised that most of the teens that participated in Teen Tech Week were not from our core group of library teens. A few of them have increased their library usage and are becoming familiar faces.   An almost equal amount of girls and boys attended the programs.

The library is planning on providing additional technology based off the teens’ suggestions and interests.  It is important to us that we find a way to have the Cubelets, littleBits, and GoPro available for teen use within the library.  We are currently reviewing different options on how to do so.

Alexandra Tyle-Annen is the Adult/Teen Services Manager for the Homer Township Public Library in Homer Glen, IL.