About Maeve Dodds

Maeve is a Teen Lead Librarian for Charlotte Mecklenburg County, University City Branch, in Charlotte, North Carolina. She has worked in adult and children services, and was previously an elementary school media specialist. She likes reading in her hammock and trying new foods.

National Week of Making: STEM Programming and YALSA’s Teen Programming HQ

National Week of Making is upon us, and with that, I thought it would be fun to highlight some program ideas that I have done at my library, and some that were shared on the YALSA’s Teen Programming HQ. STEM programs becoming more and more prevalent in libraries, and it is possible to do these programs in the smallest of libraries to the largest.

As we all know, STEM programs are a great way to get preteens and teens excited about coming to the library. It is a chance for them to expand their STEM skills, and to use devices, programs, and materials that may not be available to them in their schools. At my library, we work with a lot of schools that are disadvantaged, and we want to be a place for preteens and teens to learn something outside of school that could interest them enough to make a career out of it. With this in mind, we started a STEM Club a couple of years ago, along with a dedicated teen volunteer. Within our club, we have taught teens how to code, print on a 3D printer, make apps, build with Strawbees, and so much more.

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I Need You, You Need Me: A Report About Bringing Ages Together

Generations United and The Eisner Foundation have come out with a new report, I Need You, You Need Me: The Young, The Old, and What we Can Achieve Together, about “examples of pioneers reuniting the generations and making their communities better place to live in.” Through a survey, the report shows why it is important for generations to come together. People of all ages typically spend most of their day around people their same age, for instance, young people in school, adults at work. By taking the time to be around others from a different generation, people can learn from each other, and spread joy.

In a recent survey by Generations United and The Eisner Foundation, 53 percent of people stated that “aside from family members, few of the people they regularly spend time with are much older or much younger than they are.” Ages being separated like this has not always been the case. In the late 19th century, Americans began to realize that children and elderly needed certain types of protection. This was when child labor was banned and retirement because more standard during later life. Although these groups began to prosper, they were also separated out from other people of different ages, which causes issues. As the report states: “protection should not equal isolation.”

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College and Career Readiness: A YouthTruth Survey

 

YouthTruth has recently come out with a new survey, College and Career Readiness, of 165,000 high school students “between the 2010-11 and 2014-15 school years,” and found a vast amount of information that shows that high school students want to go to college, but “most feel unprepared to do so.” High school students also feel less prepared for future careers and are “not taking advantage of support services,” such as programs presented at libraries and more. Along with high school students, middle school students also feel unprepared for college and a future career.

45-Positively-5YouthTruth

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YALS Spring 2017 Companion: Answering the Call for Middle School College and Career Readiness: YALS “Future Ready”

Laura Pitts, a librarian from The Scottsboro, Arizona Public Library shares how “rural, small, and tribal libraries are helping middle schoolers with college and career readiness” through YALSA’s first cohort of Future Ready with the Library funded by IMLS. The program’s mission is to “develop a way, through partnerships with community organizations or educational outlets, to address the issue of college and career readiness initiatives among middle school students.”

In her YALS article, Pitts mentions that “the workforce is moving towards 21st Century skills set that prides itself on encouraging students to look at various career, vocational, and educational opportunities that may be available to them in their own backyard.” Although working in the Future Ready program would be a great opportunity for any library, there are still many things a library can do to help middle schoolers on their own. Part of Pitt’s article discusses how it is important to work with your community, and this is extremely important. Libraries can reach out to local businesses and provide a Career Day program specific for middle school preteens. Preteens could come to their local library and meet local business owners, and learn about their career pathways, and what they do at their job.

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April is… Alcohol Awareness Month

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and a lot can be shared with teens about the negative side effects underage drinking can have on youths. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), alcohol usage by youths “is directly associated with traffic fatalities, violence, suicide, educational failure, alcohol overdose, unsafe sex, and other problem behaviors, even for those who may never develop a dependence or addiction.” The NCADD also shares that “more than 23 million people over the age of 12 are addicted to alcohol and other drugs affecting millions more people – parents, family members, friends, and neighbors.” Research has shown that teens who have open conversations with their parents about alcohol and drugs are 50% less likely to use versus teens who do not have these conversations with their parents. These statistics alone are proof enough that parents, as well as educators, librarians, etc. should be bringing these conversations and issues to light.

Although the idea of teens using alcohol and drugs is daunting, there are a lot of ways that librarians can bring facts and information to their teen customers. Sometimes teens don’t want to listen to what their parents have to say, but librarians can do a lot to get these facts out. One thing librarians could do is to have a teen council, or program, where the idea of alcohol awareness is shared. Librarians can even present a quiz the NCADD developed for teens to see if they have alcohol issues. The National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens (NIDA for Teens) has a few free, online games that explore what happens to the brain and body when drugs and alcohol are used.

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Spring Break and Teen Programming

 

Spring Break from school means the library is always busy at my location. We have a lot of teens that come to our branch and stay all day during Spring Break because their parents drop them off while they are working. Spring Break is a great time to get teens active in programming at the library because they need something to do, and are more willing to participate since they have not been in school all day.

Recently we have been doing more passive programs for teens; programs led by teens for teens, or self-directives. These programs are a great way for our teen volunteers to meet other teens in the community, and for teens to make new friends. For these types of programs, we have board games or art projects that we will put out. Below are some the teens favorite board games and art projects:

Teen Passive Programming Cart

  • Board Games:
    • Apples to Apples
    • Bananagrams
    • Exploding Kittens
    • King of Tokyo
    • Mousetrap
    • Clue
  • Art Projects:
    • Watercolor painting on cardstock
    • Silhouette art: we have used paint and mod podge with weeded books
    • Adult/teen coloring pages
    • Popsicle stick picture frames
    • 3D Doodle Cubes

For both of these simple programs/self-directives, we keep supplies on a cart at all times in case we see a few teens in the teen area. This way, we can wheel out our cart of supplies, or give it to a teen volunteer, to easily take to the teen department and get fellow teens to start participating. By having the cart ready with games and at least one art project, we don’t have to scramble to get something put together when we see teens; it’s all ready to go for them.

Another great program for Spring Break is doing a STEM program. We have done this type of program staff led, and teen led. When staff have led the program, we use more technology, such as Google Cardboard glasses for virtual reality, tablets and laptops, and a large Aquos board for gaming. We have used a Sphero in teen led and staff led programs; the Sphero is great because teens can make it do anything they want. They can make it paint, dance, get through mazes, and more. If you haven’t seen a Sphero before, I recommend them if you have the budget money. They possibilities are endless when it comes to creating with them; it’s a great way to get teens using their creative skills. Strawbees are also fun to use and can be done in a teen or staff led program. Teens use the connectors and straws to build whatever they want. Like the Sphero, teens are able to be more creative and build with their STEM skills.

Friendship Bracelet Activity Kit

Lastly, an easy self directive to have on hand for Spring Break, and more, is to have activity kits that check out. The idea came from when we were cleaning out our supply cabinets and realized how much we have left over that has been unused. So, why not put them in a kit for teens to do on their own time? We have three little bins with different activities in them. Teens come to the Reference Desk, check them out with their name, and go into the teen area to create! The kits that we have include friendship bracelets, origami, and weaving. Each kit comes with supplies and directions. They are all fairly simple projects, that need little staff instruction. It’s a great way to get teens doing something when they are bored, and also a great way to use supplies.

For programming ideas, check out YALSA’s Teen Programming HQ, the Teen Programming Guidelines, and the STEAM Toolkit.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and with that the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV) and VAWnet have made a special collection of resources with information about preventing and responding to teen dating violence. VAWnet, is run by the NRCDV and is an “online network that focuses on violence against women and other forms of gender-based violence.”

In 2014, Mary Kay released a study with LOVEISRESPECT that shows teens stay in abusive relationships far longer than they should. The study surveyed 500 teens and it showed that “57% percent waited six months or more before seeking any help while 40% hadn’t talked to anyone about abusive behavior in their relationship.” A study in 2011, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control found that “1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 7 men who have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner first experienced some form of intimate partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age.” These two statistics alone are staggering, and the special collection by the NRCDV and VAWnet is a great resource for librarians, and all educators to utilize all year.

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Teen Programming in Art Museums

Room to Rise was a collaboration project and study between the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Walker Art Center, the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston, and The Museum of Contemporary Arts of Los Angeles. The research study worked to find data that shows the long-term impact of museum programs for teens, and was supported by a National Leadership Grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.

Each of the mentioned museums has “nationally recognized teen programs” and the “bring highly diverse urban youth together to work collaboratively with museum staff and artists, developing vibrant activities and events to engage teen audiences.” The programs are: Whitney Museum of American Art’s Youth Insights, Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC), Contemporary Art Museum of Houston (CAMH) Teen Council, Museum of Contemporary Art of Los Angeles (MOCA) Teen Program; they have all been active for about eight or more. These programs range from giving tours, making exhibits, performances, working with artists and museum staff, visual literacy, and fashion shows.

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YALS Winter 2017: What Cultural Competence Means for Librarians

Patricia Overall describes cultural competence as: “a highly developed ability to understand and respect cultural differences and to address issues of disparity among diverse populations competently.” Elsa Ouvard-Prettol, in her current YALS article What Cultural Competence Means for Librarians: How to Cultivate This Important Skills to Positively Impact Our Patrons, notes that the only way anyone can relate to others, is by “being able to confront and accept one’s cultural background.” This is extremely true and a very important part about working in a diverse library.

According to ALA Diversity Count vs. U.S. Census, library staff do not “reflect the ethnic diversity of the American population.” This is somewhat upsetting as the library serves a wide-range of people in the community. Changes will need to made at the top, even starting with a more diverse population of LIS students, which will lead to libraries having  more diverse staff. As of now, Ouvard-Prettol notes that recruiting diverse LIS students has had challenges, and studies are being made as to why this is a current issue. I think that one way staff could work towards recruiting prospective students is by looking into their teen community and offering a career program, or volunteer program. We currently have various teen volunteers in my branch, who started volunteering because they are interested in librarianship. We also have a librarian who started as a teen volunteer and worked his way up to an adult librarian position.

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30 Days of Social Justice: Students and School Culture

YouthTruth, a national nonprofit, that “harnesses student perceptions to help educators accelerate improvements in their K-12 schools and classrooms,” recently conducted a survey about school culture that answers the question: “How do students feel about the culture of their schools?” YouthTruth surveyed 80,000 students, grades five through 12 from 2013 – 2016; this was an anonymous survey across 24 states in a partnership with public schools. The results of the survey brought four major elements to light, but library staff can also use these results to make their library spaces more culturally positive.

The first alarming  fact is that only one in every three students would say their school is culturally positive. Only 30 percent of high school students believe their school is culturally positive, while 37 percent of middle school students believe this. There are many ways the library can make their spaces  culturally positive, especially if your library is located in a diverse community. Library staff can provide information, displays, book lists, and programs about cultures. Periodically, my branch offers a program to teen and adult customers called Discover Another Culture. For this, a volunteer from a specific country comes in to share about their culture. In November, the library held a program about Japan; library customers not only learned about Japan, but learned how to make origami too. There are a wealth of possibilities the library can utilize to make their spaces culturally positive to help fill in the gap that some schools are lacking.

The second fact found may not be alarming to too many. It states that students know they are less respectful to adults than adults are to them. From my experience, I would agree with this fact. Local high school teacher, Catherine Baker states:

“[Teens] think we are there to work for them, so it’s our job to be respectful and as helpful as we can possibly be to them. It’s our job to get them to pass, not the other way around.”

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