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.
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.
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.
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.
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. (more…)
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.
Most of us are actively creating and supporting ways for young people to connect, create and collaborate with each other but are we doing it in our own work? This post focuses on creating with our colleagues.
A few years ago I learned some techniques that, quite literally, saved me from myself. I hadn’t been managing staff very long and wasn’t very experienced in supervision. I tended to think that if staff had a problem, it was my job as a supervisor to fix it for them rather than helping them address – and find a solution for – the problem itself. Many of the supervisory classes I had taken focused more on a “the boss is in charge/don’t question it” style of management – and that just didn’t feel right to me. I was moving into a new position as a co-manager of a large library in our system and knew I needed some new techniques in my toolkit.
Our library is a county department and the county had just started a facilitation network – to train internal staff to facilitate on behalf of other departments in the county – believing, rightly, that this was a cost saving measure – and also believing that there was great value for everyone in making meetings run better. (more…)
Most of us are actively creating and supporting ways for young people to connect, create and collaborate with each other but are we doing it in our own work? This is a series of three posts about these three Cs in our work — this one focuses on connecting with our colleagues in the library.
For the staff that I work with today in our library system, collaboration and co-creation are critical and happen every day. We have many libraries that are co-managed and nearly all of our work in Youth Services, which I manage, is done by workgroups or small project teams. Even if you’re the sole project manager on a small pilot project, you still are in constant communication with your colleagues who are testing your form or trying a program you came up with.
This type of work is harder for some us than others – but in a big system, it’s absolutely critical – we don’t have the capacity for all of our libraries to be doing 41 completely different things – we have to share what’s working and let our colleagues take our good idea and make it even better. (more…)
I feel so privileged to have been at the IMLS-supported YALSA Forum on Teens and Libraries the past two days in Seattle – right before Midwinter starts today.
It’s hard to know where to start, but one of the most powerful parts of the Forum was that it wasn’t just library folks talking about our work with each other — like we often do– partners and supporters were intentionally included and asked about how we can continue to engage them.
We have to reach out and partner with other organizations that value youth—we can’t do it all ourselves. We need to attend coalitions or collaboratives in our communities to make sure libraries are included in new projects or initiatives – that we are key players at important tables. While I’ve been here at Midwinter I just learned there is now a Twin Cities Career Readiness Collaborative that I was not aware of – I’m going to find out who’s in charge and see if it could be meaningful for my Library. (more…)
Last year the YALSA Board of Directors approved adding a new Interest Group: Managing Young Adult Services. It’s mission is to be a forum on exchanging ideas on how supervisors and managers can support all level of staff working with young adults in public libraries and to develop strategies and tactics to address the needs of current and future managers in young adult services.
It has the potential to be an important Interest Group in YALSA. The problem? Due to a new job for me, I haven’t had the time to do anything with it. (more…)