About Maureen Hartman

I coordinate youth services at the Hennepin County Library in Minnesota.

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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Day in the Life of a Youth Services Manager

I am enjoying the “Day in the Life” series and thought it would be interesting to write a post from my perspective. I started in public libraries as a Children’s and YA librarian for a small system, then became the Teen Coordinator for a larger system, did some partnerships and development work for a bunch of years in that same system, then managed a library building and now coordinate services to children, youth and families in a large urban/suburban library system. This day actually happened on Monday, May 6th.

8:25 – 8:50 Arrived at work and approved timesheets. Couldn’t remember the password to open the computer-controlled shades in my office so squinted into the sun.

8:50 – 9:30 Met with Senior Librarian in our Information Services section about updates that have been long needed to the Youth Services portal, the section on our staff intranet that includes too many separate lists we have to keep up, lots of duplication of information that is in other places, and other valuable stuff we could put in a different order. We developed a joint list of the easy parts and she will lead a conversation with the Youth Services Management Team about how to best organize the rest of the stuff. Our conversation was in the context of knowing that our County will be moving to a new platform later this year and we will need to migrate to a new platform.
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Connect, Create, Collaborate: Sorry We Couldn’t Hire You: One Perspective on Getting a Youth Services Position

I manage youth services in a large urban public library. Up until last year, we had not hired youth services librarians in almost five years. While we aren’t hiring at the pace we were ten years ago, and we aren’t creating new positions, we’ve opened up a number of youth services positions in the last year or so. It hurts to see how many extremely talented librarians are looking for work – and it’s tough that we can interview such a small percentage – and hire an even smaller segment of those.

I hope we can continue to hire, and I hope other systems can, too. Here are some of the qualities that I see as most desirable in youth services librarians. As a caveat, this is just my perspective. I can’t speak for other hiring managers in my system or others. Continue reading

What Does Connect, Create, and Collaborate Look Like With Staff (pt 3)

Connect, Create and Collaborate pt 3

In thinking this week about collaboration, connection and creation– in all its forms, this article in Forbes — about how most groups don’t truly collaborate got me thinking about times that I thought I was collaborating – even partnering – with other staff or community partners – but what I was actually doing looked more often just like listening patiently, tolerating, or convincing.

To enter a room of possible collaborators and acknowledge you might not have the best idea yourself – or that you need their help to do work differently and better can be a scary and risky endeavor. Scary because you might not be able to do it “your way” and risky because you have to give up more control than you might be comfortable with—and that this could change your outcome. Living in this place is a hard balance and I work on it almost every day because if it’s an idea with mutual investment – something a group came up with — you have that many more people invested in its success and sustainability over the long term.

In my library right now we have three new strategic change focus areas – students, seniors and readers. These are groups that we’ve always served and will continue to do so – but we’re identifying them as “change priorities,” meaning that we want to look for new, different ways of thinking about how to serve these groups throughout our library– ways that engage all our staff about things that they can each do in their work. In order to enter into this work in partnership with my colleagues, I had to back up and acknowledge I wasn’t the only expert in the room – that everyone around me had new and different ideas that I hadn’t heard before.

Like many of us, I’ve been following the news of elimination of telecommuting at major companies like Yahoo and Best Buy . In both cases the desire for increased collaboration, among others, were cited as reasons for these changes – it made me wonder what other strategies these companies – and others – were using to embed or reinforce a culture of collaboration – which is way harder than just sharing a cubicle.

What can libraries learn from other organizations about what a real culture of collaboration could look like? If we could figure it out among staff, it would probably be easier to teach it to young people.