About Maureen Hartman

I coordinate youth services at the Hennepin County Library in Minnesota and serve on the YALSA Board of Directors.

Level Up Your Leadership Skills: Everybody Leads

If you’re working with teens in a library – any kind of library — you should be a leader. Being a leader doesn’t have to mean you’re the boss – or that you ever want to be the boss, but it takes intentionality and may mean thinking about your role in serving teens a bit differently.

Leaders see talent: Did you just see a colleague do a great job of helping a teen get a new library card? Make sure to let him know — and if it was really fabulous, maybe you should let his boss know, too? Do you have a colleague who made a really good point in a staff meeting — make sure you let her know! If you see a library staff member that’s a natural with teens, how can you involve them in your work?

Leaders share the credit: When your program was successful, publicly thank your colleagues who helped make it possible by setting up the chairs, cleaning up the rug and issuing all the library cards.

Leaders have goals: So much of public service is reactive — you never know what question or situation will present itself. Compensate for that by planning and goal-setting for other parts of your work– identifying your goals and making a plan for working with schools this fall, for example, or your goals for your precious two hours of off-desk time tomorrow.

Leaders ask around: What’s your first thought when faced with a challenge or something you don’t know how to do? Before asking your supervisor, talk with your colleagues– at your library or other libraries — what are they doing? Have they faced this before? What advice to they have for you? A colleague in a school who had recently gone to a 1:1 mobile device program told me their philosophy in helping kids with their devices is now: “Ask three, then ask me,” meaning kids should talk to each other to problem-solve — if they’ve asked three peers and still nobody knows, then they can ask the teacher (By the way, that colleague said it was much harder for the teachers to follow the same rule than it was for the students).

Other resources that may be of interest about leadership and management include

Sarah Flower’s YALSA blog series from 2013, “What Your Manager Wishes You Knew,” and YALSA’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth.

Level Up Your Leadership Skills will be a regular feature on the YALSA blog, designed to provide practical support for library staff in strengthening existing leadership skills. In what other ways are you leading in your library? In what areas do you need more resources?

YALSA Board @ Annual Preview: Programming and Collaborations Best Practices

YALSA’s Future of Library Services for and with Teens report highlights “partnering strategically to reach beyond the library’s walls” as one of the five fundamental elements that will need to shift in order for libraries and communities to successfully work for and with teens” (p. 21-24).

On the YALSA Board agenda for discussion at Annual is a proposal to discuss what resources would be most helpful to members in this area – is it best practices document, a toolkit, coaching or something else entirely?

You can read the full proposal when the Board documents go online next week.

Please share your thoughts with me, Maureen Hartman or on twitter: mlhartman, YALSA President Shannon Peterson or any other Board member via e-mail or twitter so we can respond with the best solution for members.

Connected Learning: Supporting Teens’ Passions in 10 minutes a day

Connected Learning is a phrase for something teen librarians have known about for a long time and for something that is probably already happening in our libraries. Our libraries may be supporting or leading an interest-based program, but it’s even more likely that teens are pursuing their passions in the library right this second by playing Minecraft on the computers, watching videos on YouTube, or doing something else of their own choosing in the library’s space.

When we notice what they’re doing, we have a few choices.

  1. Leave them alone
  2. Create a library-sponsored club or program in which teens can pursue their passions

Leaving them completely alone doesn’t support the kind of relationships we need to be successful in working with teens, what if we didn’t create a program right away?

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Connected Learning in the Summer

I met this week with regional colleagues about summer reading and summer learning. Many libraries continue to offer a Summer Reading Program, while other communities are launching Summer Learning Programs or highlighting their library’s summer efforts under a broader umbrella of summer learning.

Youth services librarians are a passionate bunch and this conversation was no different. Some individuals feel strongly that it continues to be the library’s primary role to promote reading and encourage reading – specifically for pleasure – during the summer months when students aren’t in school. Others saw reading as only one of the ways their libraries are supporting learning during the summer—also offering hands-on programs, interest-based groups, and volunteer and paid employment opportunities.
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YALSA Board Midwinter Update: Draft Programming Guidelines

Have you ever wondered if programs you’re planning, creating and leading for teens in your library are like those that other libraries are offering? Have you ever been asked to justify or build support for the programs you’re offering or want to offer?

At the YALSA Board’s Midwinter meeting, we discussed the Draft Programming Guidelines that the Programming Guidelines Development Task Force created.

The group will continue to refine these guidelines based on Board feedback, which included the value of adding a section on outcomes and connections to YALSA’s new report, the Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action

What are your thoughts about this draft document? How else can YALSA make this document as relevant as possible to your work with teens?

YALSA Board Midwinter Update: Future of Teens and Libraries Taskforce and Next Steps

The YALSA board was busy at Midwinter recently, discussing a variety of topics and action items. The Board voted to establish a Future of Teens and Libraries taskforce, to establish a new taskforce to carry out tasks related to the implementation of YALSA activities to the roll-out of YALSA’s new report, the Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action.

In particular, members seem to be looking for two kinds of things from YALSA – communicating and building advocacy with others, including other divisions within ALA, as well as more practical, on-the-ground support, including where libraries and staff can start, examples of libraries who are already doing the work called for in the report. Members would also like to have access to some standard presentations and conversation designs they can use in their communities.

The taskforce will be responsible for prioritizing the activities YALSA needs to complete to help members take the concepts in the report and turn them into action!

We are looking for members for this taskforce. Please apply by completing the committee volunteer form right now! As the report says, you don’t have to be an expert, just willing to learn together and help support your fellow YALSA members. Your perspective is really critical to our success.

Meanwhile, you are welcome to use the presentation we shared at Midwinter about the report in your own work with stakeholders.

Stay tuned for more from this exciting taskforce!

Connected Learning: Places to Start

You’ve heard about connected learning right? Does it seem really huge and impossible? Is finding the money for technology not a reality for your library right now?

Keep learning more by reading posts oover the next few months in the YALSA blog. A good place to start is with this post from earlier this month, which includes some additional resources and watching and reading on connectedlearning.tv and there are lot of awesome new spaces and programs happening in libraries throughout the country.

But meanwhile, here is one pretty easy thing you can do today in your library – you may be doing this already!

When a young person asks you a question, connect him or her to print and online resources like you always do, but also think about other resources outside your library. At Hennepin County Library, we have a partnership with an organization called Learning Dreams. Their purpose is to connect patrons (young people and grown-ups, too) to resources in the community that can help them pursue the learning that really excites them. Are they interested in music and recording? Where can they learn more about this? Are there internships you can help them find? What are other resources in the community for this? Are there any actual schools? Are they obsessed with legos? Sure, you have some lego books, but are there any lego robotics clubs or big lego set-ups near them?

The specific links are examples from the Minneapolis-St Paul area, but you can find your own by talking with youth, and using both your awesome reference skills and knowledge of your own community.

Good luck connecting!

National Forum on Libraries and Teens: Provide Feedback on Report

Have you been following YALSA’s National Forum on Libraries and Teens? This year-long, IMLS-funded effort brought together key stakeholders from the areas of libraries, education, technology, adolescent development and the for-profit and nonprofit sectors to explore the world of young adults and library services to this population.

The draft of the report that aims to provide direction on how libraries need to adapt and change to better meet the needs of 21st century teens is available now for public comment through October 31.

Please read the report and share your comments about what improvements we can make before the report is finalized and shared this January at Midwinter.

Connect, Create, Collaborate: a perspective on the YOUMedia evaluation report, “Teens, Digital Media, and the Chicago Public Library”

At seventy-four pages, it’s taken me a month to find some focused time to read and digest the new three-year evaluation of Chicago Public Library’s YOUMedia space.

YOUMedia has been written about several times on the YALSA blog as well as in other places. If you haven’t experienced it, and you’ll be in Chicago for Annual this weekend, there are tours!

In addition to seeing the space, which is really great, consider reading the evaluation, too. There are so many things to think about with the latest report – I hope you can take the time to read the whole thing and feels very relevant for librarians working with teens in many different capacities – not just in new spaces or those with a connected learning focus.

What struck me most of all were the categories that the authors gave to the types of young folks using the space. On page twenty-six, you’ll find something I’ve never seen done in a public library before – the mapping of the types of teens they saw and how they use the physical space. Having experienced the YOUMedia space myself, it’s quite fascinating and made me want to do something similar with our library spaces.
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Connect, Create, Collaborate: Know Your Strengths

One of my mentors in a leadership program I’m participating in this year said to me this week that other than going to Happy Hour with his wife, a certain aspect of his job was his “most favorite thing in the world.” In his case it’s work he has been doing for over thirty years – and he is excellent at it. We talked about how challenging it can be to back off enough to let others excel at – and learn – in an area that we’re good at and love to do.

It made me reflect about the aspects of my work that I love the most. I love to start new relationships and partnerships – meeting and then getting to know new individuals and organizations – talking about ideas and possible ways to work together – launching a new project and then working together to help it succeed. I’m much more energized by the start of something new – the as-yet-unrealized potential – than in all the details that come afterwards—the negotiations, the implementation and the evaluation. I work hard to manage details because that’s part of every job – but I know it will never be my strength.

Often in our work, we focus on the areas that we need to improve rather than our natural strengths. The Strengths approach says that if we try to be too well-rounded, we’ll never be truly great at anything. If you haven’t dug into the Gallup Strengthsfinder work yet, take a look to see if it’s something that can benefit you in your work – or if it gives you a new way to talk with young people about their strengths.
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