Hi, I'm a new professional working as the Student Engagement Librarian at Penn State University, University Park campus. As someone who provides reference to undergraduate students and teach information literacy to primarily freshman, I'm curious about the intersections of the work of YALSA and academic libraries (and how we can collaborate and work together to help our teens). In my spare time, I like to bike, read memoirs, watch TV shows, and consider myself an oatmeal connoisseur.

Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: Overview of Teen Growth & Development

If you’re a regular reader of the YALSA Blog, you will know that a brand-new Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff was released at the end of 2017 and the bloggers have been exploring the document in a variety of ways. It’s exciting to read these posts and begin to find ways to put those words and ideas into actions.

For me, as I read through these competencies, I saw a lot of similarities between this document and ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. Both documents rely on the framework narrative – they see either their knowledge areas (YALSA) or their frames (ACRL) as the foundation and grounding for the work they do, with teens and with undergraduate students. And although ACRL’s Framework focuses on the learning of the student (versus the Competencies focusing on library staff), both use the idea of dispositions to assess learning gains and promote the idea that learning is continual.
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Check it out: Teen Literacies Toolkit

Back in February 2017, I wrote about my experience creating a toolkit in one day at Midwinter. It was a great experience and our group got a lot done in one day. We submitted our first draft to YALSA and waited to see what would happen next. Like any good piece of writing, our first draft wasn’t our best draft. So back to the drawing board we went. After several revisions, multiple Zoom conversations, and dozens of Google Doc comments back and forth, we are very proud to report that our Teen Literacies Toolkit has been published!

In this toolkit, we use the lens of fake news to examine literacy skills and programs you can do to help your teens. We propose this lens helps us understand the digital environment many of our teens live in and how we can help them better understand that world. What I think is great about the toolkit is the various ways you can use it. For example, you can:

  • Read the whole thing, cover to cover. Reading the whole toolkit allows you to dive into a little literacy theory, along with pushing you to reflect on the things you currently do with your teens and how you can create impactful programming based on their needs (check out page 10, the section on Embedding Multiple Literacies into Programming and Instruction).
  • Jump into the toolkit and go straight for the potential programs. We spent a lot of time coming up with various “ready-to-go” programs for those who just want those meaty resources. For example, starting on page 4 there’s a list for 15 ways to create a literacy-rich environment, or go to page 14 for Activity Ideas (and see the Appendix for some worksheets).
  • Because we are using fake news as our lens to explore multiple literacies, we have a nice section on how teens search for information and their media environment. Starting on page 6, we explore that environment, while providing some activities to help your teens be a bit more critical with what they are looking at online.
  • We also created a hearty section of “Recommended Resources,” many with short annotations on why we selected those sources. They start on page 15 and include current articles, published research, videos to watch with your teens, activity plans, and more.
  • Our toolkit ends with an Appendix with additional resources. For those in a strategic planning position, you might be interested in our Literacies Program Planning Template. This template takes you through the steps of creating programs that combine multiple literacies as well as being intentional with outcomes and assessment measures. This template compliments our “Embedding Multiple Literacies into Programming and Instruction” section, which begins on page 10.

It feels great to have this toolkit published and we want to hear from you! Let us know your thoughts on the toolkit. What did you like about it? Did any sections resonate with you (and why)? Have you tried any of the things mentioned in the toolkit at your own library? Did the toolkit inspire any other thoughts that you want others to know while checking out the toolkit? 

Big shout out to the rest of the group (Kristin, Jennifer, Trent, Renee, Allison, and Julie) who helped write this toolkit and thanks to YALSA for turning our Google Doc into this beautiful toolkit.

  

Summer Outreach & Building Library Collaborations

At Penn State, we have a summer program for students starting school as first-years in the fall. This program is known on campus as LEAP, Learning Edge Academic Program. Students move to campus, are paired up with a mentor, and take two classes. Generally, one of the classes will be a general education requirement class and the other will be an entry level major class.

The library has been involved with this program, mainly coordinating instruction sections and getting students introduced to their subject librarians. This summer, with a new coordinator in charge of the program, we decided to test out some new outreach ideas. Our hope was to increase the library’s exposure and encourage these soon-to-be first-year students to take advantage of our services before everyone came back for the fall.

Our first outreach item was to create an escape room experience as an orientation to the library. My colleague was inspired by a session she attended at LOEX 2017 where a library talked about how they had created one of their own. While we cannot lock students in a room, we can lock a box they have to unlock. This project took some work to create; we experienced our own escape room in State College, to get a better understanding of how this game works, we read books from others who had set up their own low tech escape room experience, and we created goals for the experience (students will find a book in the stacks using our library catalog, use one database, explore one of our LibGuides, and become more familiar with navigating the physical space of our building). With those goals we mind, we then had to write a story that would frame the adventure.

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Common Reading for Freshman Students

A continuing trend for colleges and universities is to sponsor a Common Reading Program for incoming freshman. These programs aim to connect new students around a shared experience that promises to build community. Every freshman (in theory) reads the book, so when they arrive in August, they have something to talk about beyond the normal freshman small talk.

Now, this isn’t a new idea and in fact, lots of libraries have done similar programs with their more broader community. We might call it something different, like City Reads or One Book, One City, but the concept is the same. It’s a way to bring people together, create common ground, share diverse perspectives, and come to a better understanding of one another.

The library is a natural partner in these sorts of programs, not only for our ability to provide copies of the book, but also the wealth of resources around the book itself. We are in great positions to provide programming and additional information for those really interested in the book content. Additionally, because the library is often considered a third space, it’s a natural spot for some community discussions on the book.

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Library Intersections: Where Does YALSA and Academic Librarianship Intersect?

At the start of my time in graduate school, I saw a post on a community forum. “Be a writer for YALSA” the subject line read. It was August, I was a young, excited, happy-to-be-becoming-a librarian and wanted to end up in a public library working with children and teens. The opportunity seemed perfect. I emailed the current YALSA blog editor at the time and the writing spot was mine.

I wrote for YALSA for two years, covering reports on after school opportunities, digital literacy, and reflections on the profession as I mixed theory from the class with practice in the field. The blog was a touchstone, a way for me to stay abreast with the field. I also love a good community of writers.

In the middle of my second year, the infamous job search began. I wrote up cover letters and polished up my resume. As I found public library jobs to apply for, I also was applying to academic librarian jobs.

I veered.

Today, I find myself at Pennsylvania State University Libraries. I’m a reference and instruction librarian who works a shifted schedule (Sunday-Thursday, 1-10 PM). I spend a lot of time with undergraduates, mainly freshman and sophomores but an occasional senior. What I love about my job is the ability for me to have one-on-one reference conversations with these students. I can really dig into how to research and I’m persistent – I’ve had conversations lasting up to two plus hours. While I’m still learning how to teach, I feel more settled in doing reference with undergrads.

But then why I am back blogging for YALSA you might ask? I’m back because I’m interested and invested in the intersection and overlap of the work of YALSA and the work I do as a librarian at Penn State. If we think about the long line of fantastic librarians a person has in their lifetime, we have an important handoff. I’m curious in the ways we are preparing teenagers for information literacy in college and also want to share the ways I’m teaching and learning from the teens during their first years of undergrad. I want to explore collaborations between academic libraries, public libraries, and school libraries. What are the ways we can work together, share resources, and build a community?

I’ve got some ideas on ways to talk about these ideas, but I also want to hear from you. Comment below on this blog post with topics you want me to explore. What should I write about? I would love any and all feedback.

I’m so glad to be back and blogging with YALSA.

YALSA’s Literacies Resource Retreat Toolkit Creation

The set up

At the end of November, seven librarians were asked to participate in YALSA’s first resource retreat. The mission of the retreat was to create a literacies toolkit, expanding on the discussion that began in the 2014 report: “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action”. We were asked to create a document that was user friendly and accessible to both librarians and library staff who work directly for and with teens. The rest was really up to us, which was both exciting and a little daunting.

The retreat was scheduled for the Friday of Midwinter. Since this was YALSA’s first time trying a resource retreat, everything new to us was also new to YALSA. We were given a stipend to help defray travel and lodging costs and were asked to attend one phone conference before Midwinter to plan out a few logistical elements. In the phone call, we realized we needed a Google doc to keep our ideas in one place. This document proved to be a crucial element of our success during the retreat. We were glad we had done some leg work ahead of time to make the actual day of writing go a tad smoother.

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YALSA’s Three-Year Organizational Plan and New Librarians

YALSA recently released their three-year organizational plan, which will stretch from now until 2018. It’s ambitious and builds off of the YALSA Futures report, published in December 2013. This plan calls for an understanding of a YALSA librarian’s changing role and the need for YALSA to adapt to these changes in the next three years. This plan has been getting a lot of buzz, especially on this blog (see why librarians are excited for this plan, Candice Mack’s great overview of the plan, and a post about member engagement).

In order to evolve and adapt, the plan picks three priorities that fit within both YALSA’s mission and vision statement. These priorities are

  • Leading the transformation of teen library services,
  • Advocacy to policy makers at all levels to increase support for teen library services, AND
  • Funder partner development

With each of the three priorities, YALSA has outlined strategies to reach their priorities and tangible ways to measure three-year outcomes. These outcomes are paired with a learning agenda, recognizing the fact that in order for these outcomes to happen, we as librarians need to keep learning to reach these goals. Finally, there is an implementation plan, which gives activities for 2016 and potential activities post 2016. This implementation plan promises to be a flexible and living document, so it can evolve as the priorities listed above are put into place.

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YALS – Libraries and Learning: A Resource Guide for “Make, Do, Share”

cover of spring yalsYou should have already or will soon be receiving your Spring 2016 edition of YALS. The topic of the issue is Libraries and Learning. All the articles are excellent but the one that stood out to me was the featured interview with Shannon Peterson, the Youth Services Manager for the Kitsap (WA) Regional Library (KRL). The library received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for their program Make, Do, Share: Sustainable STEM Leadership in a Box.

One of the great things about this interview is that not only did we learn the context of this project (it began with a project called BiblioTEC, sponsored through the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation) but also heard about how Shannon and her staff frame the work they are doing. Many times in public libraries, we are so focused on helping our community, we don’t think about the reasoning behind our behaviors. These behaviors and the programming we create can be influenced by the theory we read and the theory we believe grounds our work as librarians. Shannon’s interview was full of all the things she and KRL was thinking of as they created the Make, Do, Share programming.
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The Digital Equity Toolkit

In my February post, I talked about a Digital Learning Day. To quote myself, digital learning is:

… about utilizing digital tools to help teach and strengthen a student’s learning experience. In a time when digital learning (and various digital tools) seems to be a popular trend, it’s important that the people who are using this technology are sharing their experiences with others.

So digital learning is great and in many ways dovetails with digital literacy, skills that we (as adults, librarians, and educators) firmly believe that every person should be equipped with.

However, this goal can be blocked by equity. I am sure we all know teens who come into our libraries that do not have reliable access to the internet. While some may have access to the internet, it seems that more and more, families need to have broadband speeds (side note: if you’re still a little hazy over what exactly broadband is, Tech Times has a good explanatory post).

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Coming soon to a library near you: Digital Learning Day 2016

Digital Learning Day is right around the corner (Wednesday, February 17th to be exact). I’m sure there are already some librarians primed and ready for this day while others are reading this post wondering…

“What is Digital Learning Day?”

Digital learning, more generally, is about utilizing digital tools to help teach and strengthen a student’s learning experience. In a time when digital learning (and various digital tools) seems to be a popular trend, it’s important that the people who are using this technology are sharing their experiences with others.

Equity_RafranzThis day is also tied into the idea of digital equity. We keep working towards providing digital opportunities for every student and perhaps these are days when we can reflect on who we reach and keep thinking about how we can reach even more.

The day was started in 2012 to allow conversations to happen between teachers, educators, professionals, and librarians about the digital learning they are doing in their communities. It’s about showcasing innovations, sharing stories, and helping everyone see the impacts digital learning can have.

Digital Learning Day is sponsored through the Alliance for Excellent Education. At the Digital Learning Day website, they have a resource page, blog posts by educators using technology with their students, and graphics you could use to promote the day in your community!

Think about this day as not only a celebration of digital learning, but more importantly as a day and time to make connections and think about collaborations for future projects. If you are going to have an activity on the day, make sure to register your event! And if you’re not hosting an event, make sure to check out the resources or follow the hashtag #DLDay for updates and activities.

Is anyone participating in the day and if so, what are you doing?