In March 2013, staff members of the Youth Services department at the Kansas City Public Library took a group of teens on a field trip to the Missouri State Capital in Jefferson City. This trip was just one of many that have come from a partnership between the Kansas City Public Library and Truman Medical Center (Kansas City, MO). Not only are teens able to expand their knowledge of places in the Missouri area, but they are getting an opportunity to see different things that may affect their lives. Teens are experiencing a host of activities that are enriching, educational, and fun. The impact of these trips is obvious to us as librarians – we are hoping to create lifelong learners. To those outside of our profession, we must advocate for teens, libraries, and the magical experiences in between.
Crystal Faris, the Director of Teen Services at the Kansas City Public Library, took the time to answer a few questions about the teen trips and the effect on teen programming at the library.
I had a chance to speak with Michelle Luhtala, department chair of New Canaan (CT) High School Library, late last year about her students winning the American Library Association’s teen video Contest, “Why I NEED My Library!” in 2011. After learning that the American Library Association was sponsoring the teen video contest, “Why I NEED My Library!” , Michelle Luhtala, school librarian at New Canaan High School (CT) sent the information to a group of students interested in videography. She let the students ponder the idea of the contest and they did the rest… ultimately winning the top prize of $3,000.00 cash. The focus of the video was the library and the services offered. Michele said the $3,000.00 cash prize was a huge incentive for the students.
Even thought they did not get to keep the money for themselves, the students did get to decide how to spend the money for the benefit of the school library, a way to leave their legacy. Ultimately, 5 iPads were purchased for the school. Each iPad is individually engraved with the student’s name and has its own cover which represents each of the award winning students. Since receiving the iPads, Michelle said that many students come to the desk requesting to check out “The TIM” or “The Nick” iPad.
How did you become involved with libraries?
As an undergraudate student, I was referred to the local public library – The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County in Ohio – for a job listing. The rest is, as they say, history. I became their Young Adult Services Assistant, and I had no idea what I was doing. But I loved it and worked hard to learn, eventually getting my MLS from Kent State University in 2002.
How long have you worked or supported libraries?
I have worked in public libraries for 19 years now, always working as a young adult librarian and either youth services or adult services. I have worked in 4 different libraries, each having a different structure, size, and level of funding. Leaving my last library and my teens at Marion Public Library was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but the economy hit Ohio hard and my husband found employment in Texas so we moved. I now work part-time at the Betty Warmack Branch Library in Grand Prairie. And the only thing I can say that I have loved about the move is how it lead me to start my advocacy project, Teen Librarian Toolbox, and how it has resulted in my growing so much as both a librarian and an advocate.
Advocacy is crucial for telling voters, legislators, patrons, and other stakeholders WHY their continued support for libraries is so important. To help inspire and inform members on the many forms of advocacy, the Legislative Committee spotlights Diane P. Tuccillo, Teen Services Librarian at the Harmony Library in the Poudre River Public Library District, Ft. Collins, CO. Diane shares how teens in her library system are advocating for libraries.
Teens often have the biggest impact in impressing their peers–this can be negative or positive, and with library advocacy, it’s positive! Adults are also readily impressed by teens and their contributions. I have heard so many great responses from parents who truly appreciate their teens’ library involvement, and those parents are telling their friends and relatives in the community what their teens are doing. The teen library activity presence filters to their fellow teens, families, and friends, becoming advocacy in itself.
Advocacy is crucial for telling voters, legislators, patrons, and other stakeholders WHY their continued support for libraries is so important. To help inspire and inform members on the many forms of advocacy, the Legislative Committee spotlights Robin Gard (58), a library board trustee, and her granddaughter, Madeline Gard (15), a high school sophomore , from Ft. Collins, CO on their co-advocacy.
Q: What prompted you to get involved in library advocacy?
A: Robin: I am your typical lifelong library groupie. I was recruited in 2006 by friends to join a citizens’ committee to work on a ballot measure for passage of a library district. I periodically call on my granddaughter to help as she is a big library fan. I started taking her to library storytimes as a toddler and she was a library volunteer for three summers.
Madeline: I love the library and I helped my grandma with campaigning. I’ve been going to the library my whole life.