Beth Gallaway was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2006 for her work in advocating for videogames in libraries. She is an independent library trainer/consultant specializing in gaming, technology, and youth services, and is a YALSA certified Serving the Underserved (SUS) trainer.

Teen Behavior and Participation in Libraries

LJ Opinion Polls
I am a little delayed reporting on this as I struggle to be diplomatic, but I’m wondering… what kind of message does it send to our profession when Library Journal (Reed Business), publishes an opinion poll focusing on negative teen behavior in libraries?

Online polls about library issues have come under scrutiny before. In February 2005, American Libraries, in a poll via its January 25 issue of AL Direct, “Should ALA Council pass a resolution condemning the Cuban government for its imprisonment of dissident ‘independent librarians?'” was viewed as an “[Intervention] in the business of the Association.”

The great thing about LJ and AL polls is that they do become an opportunity for discussion. A brief discussion on the YALSA-BK listservs had librarians divided on the fairness of the poll. “Our big problems aren’t the teens, it is adults that give us behavior problems at times,” wrote one YA librarian. “I don’t have adults who poke holes in the furniture, shout, shove, and throw things across the room,” contradicted another, generating a lively conversation about patron behavior and serving the underserved.

The poll, although vague, does reflect the negative view of teens held by many adults, patrons AND librarians. The lack of support from administration for librarians working with teens, coupled with the behavior issues and poor attitude from fellow staff, seems to result in burnout. One librarian suggested that “Teen Librarians and Burnout” would be a great research project. There’s money available for research in the field, and I’d say this qualifies as a “Professional Problem,” which is a criteria for the the
Frances Henne / YALSA / VOYA Research Grant
. For more details, please visit the YALSA handbook to see YALSA’s Research Agenda, or consider applying for the Henne. Perhaps a YALSA member needs to create their own poll about behavior of all kinds, from patrons of all ages, and how it is dealt with and perceived by all staff.

A Quick Plug for SUS Trainers
Don’t forget, sometimes when you are making the case for teen services (or just arguing that they are valid and valuable patrons), it helps for the staff to hear it from someone else, even after all you’ve done to become the teen expert in your community. Ask someone at another branch, from another town, or even an SUS trainer to deliver a workshop on specific aspects of teen services. From the YALSA web site: “The subjects … include adolescent development, reading interests, behavioral problems, youth participation, facilities, and computer services for teens. The trainers have been trained to work with adult learners and are experts in the specialized field of young adult services.”

This week’s poll, perhaps in an effort to back peddle, focuses on teen participation, a core of library service to young adults. Teen participation is a terrific solution to teen behavioral issues: give them the opportunity to participate and it allows for relationship building, community building, and a sense of ownership that results in fewer behavior problems. As of noon today, 29.73% of librarians do have Teen Advisory Boards, 35.14% get teen feedback on ideas, and 35.14% do neither. The questions are clumsy – presumably, the purpose OF a Teen Advisory Board is to solicit teen feedback – why ask their opinion if you are not going to follow through?

Perhaps that’s a topic for another post.

~posted by Beth Gallaway

Library Facilities and Teens

At PLA in Boston. My first session of the day: The Denver Public Library presented a program on how they reinventing their libraries with a target service model – different library brands to meet the needs of various demographics (users who want a central library, an online library, a contemporary library, a learning & language library, etc).

My final session of the day: In “From Good to Great,” Cate McNeely said “Everything we do send messages to our customers, even desks: intimidating, welcoming, hostile, inviting.”

I put these two ideas together and came up with this question: what kind of message does it send to your community–and your profession–when you don’t design a library specifically for teens, but you do have TWO types of libraries specifically focused on serving children? Children’s libraries are designed for latchkey kids, and Family Libraries for, well, families.

The FAQ in the handout from the AM session said Denver did use teens in their focus groups, and decided that teens were included in the “Contemporary” category – they were likely to choose the Contemporary brand because it was about multiple copies available now, computers, and media. We of all people should know that words matter, and so do the absence of words.

Having a library marketed to ALL other segments of your population – except teens – sends a clear message about teens in this community: that they are not valued enough to be considered or served in a physical space.

I was a little pacificed to see that teens are targeted online at http://teens.denverlibrary.org/. Are there any Denver YA librarians out there who want to shed a little insight?

On a hopeful note, one of the speakers said that in each quadrant of the community, there is at least one of each type of library, and in each quadrant, there seems to be an “orphan branch” that isn’t flourishing. I’d be advocating for those branches to become the teen centers.

~posted by Beth Gallaway

ALA Online Communities and YALSA

At my high school, after the first week of new quarter, members of the current graduating class in good standing could opt out of silent study hall and spend the rest of the quarter in the Senior Privilege area. “Senior Priv” was something for the freshman, sophomores and juniors to look forward to, and for the seniors to lord over the heads of the lower classes. It was nothing more than linoleum tiled room, directly under the library, outfitted with vending machines, breakfast service before noon, tables to encourage socializing — and games. Uno was the favorite activity in 1992, and pouring over Where’s Waldo? books in search of the man in the red & white striped shirt was a close second.

Today on the YALSA-BK list, someone asked about games popular with teens in libraries today – traditional board games, puzzles, and card games – that the library might purchase and have on hand. It sounds like a few librarians even jump in and play along.

The subject is a bit off topic for that particular listserv, so I recommended that we move the conversation to the new ALA Online Communities. Its like bulletin boards with discussion forums, calendar, and file space, and the new YALSA Gaming Discussion Group has a community all it’s own.

To access ALA Online Communities:

1. Go to http://communities.ala.org.

2. Login with your username (ALA #) and password). Don’t have a password? For password help, go to: http://www.ala.org/Template.cfm?Section=Login&Template=/security/PasswordHelp.cfm

If you know your membership # go to
http://www.ala.org/Template.cfm?Section=Login&Template=/Security/NoPassword.cfm

(If you are REALLY in a pinch, try calling 1-800-545-2433 during regular business hours.)

3. After you’ve logged in, to locate the YALSA Gaming Discussion Group:
Click “Divisions” from the left menu
Click “YALSA” from the left menu
Click “Teen Gaming Discussion Group” from the left menu

Click “Discussion Forums” from the top menu

FOR MORE INFO:
After you’ve logged in, click “Documents”
Open the ALA Participants File:
http://communities.ala.org/DesktopModules/NOLModules/NOL.Modules.FileManager/FileManagerRoot/0/ALA_Participants.pdf

The original query about games has not been reposted yet but I did start to compile a list of responses – look under the Board Games forum and add your response: What card, puzzle and board games do YOU recommend for in-house collections?

~posted by Beth Gallaway

Don’t forget to VOTE!

Hi! I’m Beth Gallaway, a new addition to the YALSA blogging team. I’ve been charged with blogging “about ALA from a YALSA perspective.” I’ve been a YALSA member since 1998, have served on a variety of committees, am an SUS trainer, blogged the last 3 conferences for PLA, and in case you didn’t know it, I’m into video games, currently conquering Guitar Hero.

So, today, March 16, marked the beginning of ALA’s online voting. On the ballots are changes to bylaws, as well as names for selecting our next slate of councilors, board members, and folks to serve on a variety of committees.

My login (ALA membership #) and a unique password were emailed to me with instructions. I went to https://www.alavote.org/2006/ and logged in easily.

I belong to both ALSC and YALSA, so I had 2 division ballots in addition to the main ALA ballot. On each ballot, candidate names had a button next to them, labeled “bio,” Clicking the button made a new window open, showing individual credentials: resume, publications, committee work, accomplishments, and often, a personal statement. Even the bylaw changes had bios that included the original language, the proposed change, and the board’s current stance on the issue. So, even if you feel you haven’t done your homework, you can become an informed voter on the spot.

It took me about 15 minutes to complete all three ballots. If you missed the names of Youth Division members running for ALA council at large, Beth Yoke sent them out on YALSA-L a few weeks ago. The following list is not an endorsement and provided for informational purposes; I leave it up to all of you to consider the implications of having the interests of ALSC and YALSA brought to the Big ALA table–or not.

Cassandra Barnett
Elizabeth (Beth) E. Bingham
Carolyn Brodie
Luann Cogliser
Heidi Dolamore
Eva Efron
Ann Dutton Ewbank

Nancy Fredericks
Carolyn P. Giambra
Dora T. Ho
Dennis J. LeLoup
Virginia (Ginny) Moore
Ria Newhouse
M.A. (Peg) Oettinger
Brenda Pruitt-Annisette
Ellen Riordan

Frances Roscello
Barbara Silverman
Clara Sitter
Margie Thomas
Nancy P. Zimmerman

As far as the issues go, increasing dues are perhaps the biggest one. Amy Alessio outlines the benefits of a YALSA dues increase in her post on March 14. The modest $10 that YALSA is asking for means giving up seeing one movie. Or two of those fancy coffee drinks. Or not buying one gaming magazine. 🙂 And the benefits will bring us an extra $50K, now that we’ve hit 5000 members! (Congrats by the way to Marybeth Gallant, a library teacher in Ashland MA, her library is a member of the region I work for as a library trainer/consultant for youth services).

Increases in ALA dues are on the ballot this year too, with a proposed increase of $10 a year each year for three years. American Librarians Online conducted a poll in January, querying members about the proposed increase and 87% of the 510 respondents voted NO even though it has been 10 years since the last dues increase, and the cost of doing business increases each year.

I know many of our salaries have stagnated in the past few years, and perhaps the amount wouldn’t hurt so much if there were payment plans (like the amount deducted periodically from our paychecks) or if all libraries were willing to pay for staff professional memberships, but we are fortunate that dues are low compared to other professional organizations, and that we get so much bang for our bucks. How much use do you get out of ALA publications? Booklists? Website? Grants? Support? Professional Development? What’s it really worth?

For more information about ALA dues increases, check out the following:
ALA Q& A: Dues Increase:
http://www.ala.org/ala/ourassociation/governingdocs/aheadto2010/qaduesincrease.htm

Executive Director Explains Need for Dues Increase:
http://www.ala.org/ala/alonline/selectedarticles/duesincrease.htm

2006 AL Direct Straw Poll Results
http://www.ala.org/ala/alonline/aldirecta/2006pollresults/2006polls.htm

Online voting continues through April 24, 2006. If you have trouble, help is only a call or email away: User Support: call 800-974-8099 or e-mail 2006electionhelp AT alavote DOT org – note that support is monitored only from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday – Friday (excluding April 14, 2005).

~posted by Beth Gallaway