Contact your House Rep’s Office & Ask for Support on Two Library Bills

Please contact the office of your Representative in the House and ask them to sign on to the “dear appropriator” letters for two critical pieces of library funding: the Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) and Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL).  Please share this widely and encourage your colleagues, coworkers, friends and family to contact the offices of their Reps as well.  This is an extremely tough budget year, and without huge grassroots support (i.e. thousands of voters contacting Congress), the nation’s libraries will lose this critical funding.  The deadline to sign the letter is April 3.

Thank you for all that you do to support teens and libraries!

-Beth Yoke

P.S. If you’ve been trying by phone to reach your Rep and the lines are busy, try Resistbot instead

Support Teens: Send this Letter to Your Local Paper

In order to continue to raise awareness about the critical role that the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) plays in supporting teens through libraries, we encourage you to consider sending a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.  We’ve created a sample letter that you can adapt. As an alternative, you might ask a teen patron or a library supporter to adapt and send the letter.  Why are letters to the editor important?   The Congressional Management Foundation says that this is an effective strategy for reaching your member of Congress and raising awareness about an issue that’s important to you.  Congressional staffers monitor news outlets looking for articles and letters that mention their member of Congress and share the item with them, because the opinions of voters influence a Congress member’s position on an issue.  For additional details about why it’s critical to advocate for IMLS, and to find out further ways you can take action, read these blog posts: March 16, and March 20

-Beth Yoke

Plan Ahead to Make Time in April to Support Teens & Libraries

The White House budget released last week called for the elimination of the only federal agency that supports the nation’s libraries, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  Doing away with IMLS would negatively impact every library in the U.S. by eliminating over $200 million in library funding that is distributed to every library in the U.S. through state library agencies.  In order to prevent this from happening, there must be a sustained grassroots effort to advocate for restoring IMLS to the federal budget between now and when the budget is finalized in October.  Because without those funds, teens will lose access to resources, services and experts they need to help them succeed in school and prepare for college, careers and life.

By now, we hope you’ve already contacted your members of Congress to tell them to oppose the elimination of IMLS.  If you haven’t, read the details in my March 16 blog post and take action.  Here’s what you can do next: invite one of your Representatives or Senators to visit your library, or bring some of your teen patrons and library advocates to the Congressperson’s local office to meet with them, so your elected official can see up close and in person the many ways that libraries, with support from IMLS, help teens.  Congress will be on break from April 8th through April 23rd.  This is the perfect time to extend the invitation to visit or schedule a meeting.  If you’ve never done this before, don’t sweat it.  YALSA’s District Days wiki page has everything you need to extend an invitation and plan a great visit or meeting.  Continue reading

Transforming Teen Services: The Empathetic Librarian

While libraries have long participated in the struggle for social justice and equality, it hasn’t been until recent months that our efforts have reached the attention of the public. We’ve pushed diversity and inclusiveness to the forefront with movements like Libraries 4 Black Lives and Libraries Are For Everyone. Libraries and librarians have also begun to incorporate social services alongside more traditional library services. We’re connecting patrons with mental health agencies, public health workers, and housing assistance. Libraries including San Francisco Public Library and Denver Public Library are offering themselves up as safe havens for the homeless; places where these patrons can find support and compassion.

Although the majority of these programs are directed towards adults, many libraries are reaching out to teens. School librarians are collecting materials specifically for LGBTQ youth while public librarians are providing outreach to homeless teens. The YALSA Futures Report explicit calls out for libraries to serve underserved youth including those incarcerated, homeless, or otherwise in crisis. At the root of these services is empathy. By empathy, we mean the “ability to understand and share the feelings of another” (Oxford Dictionaries, 2017). It requires that librarians look beyond collection development, teen programming, and readers’ advisory as tasks to carry out. Instead, we need to carefully assess how we explicitly (but sometimes not) provide help and support to teens through this work. Empathy is inherently a part of the work we do every day. Libraries serve as community hubs and safe spaces, stepping beyond the traditional perception of libraries as warehouses for books. As community anchors, libraries advocate for teens through political engagement and outreach. Advocacy itself is an empathetic activity, nurtured by understanding and compassion. By promoting services and advocating for underserved youth, we demonstrate our commitment to and empathy for teen patrons along with promoting the well-being of our community as a whole.

However, our empathetic work with youth is often overlooked or ignored. In the research and professional literature, empathy in libraries is frequently referred to as customer service. Yet this work is much more than that providing a teen patron with a library service. Being empathetic requires us to be active and engaged listeners who have a mindset of helping. This is already a core component of librarianship. Librarians impact the lives of youth by offering the library as a welcoming space for teen emotional, social, and psychological development. By being empathetic, we reach out to youth who may not have anyone else or feel misunderstood by peers, parents, or teachers. Through our engagement with teens, we display compassion and understanding that improves that quality of all library services.

Libraries serve as a critical “third place” for youth, particularly underserved youth. Separate from home and school, libraries act as a judgement free space where teens can express themselves, hang out, and find support. Whether through teen mentorship, interest-driven education, or teen library space design, librarians place great value on teens and serving teens. A transformation of teen services and the ways in which a library can support teens is in progress. By incorporating empathy into library work with teens, librarians illustrate the continued importance of libraries in communities.

You can find great resources about serving diverse and underserved teens at this YALSA wiki.

Abigail Phillips, Ph.D. is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences at Utah State University. You can find her on Twitter (@abigailleigh) and by e-mail (abigail.phillips@usu.edu).

How You Can Save Federal Funding for Libraries & Help Teens

The White House budget that was released today calls for eliminating the Institute of Museum & Library Services (IMLS), the only federal agency charged with providing support to the nation’s hundreds of thousands of libraries and museums.  ALA and YALSA need your help to ensure that IMLS is saved, because without libraries teens will not have the resources and support they need to succeed in school and prepare for college, careers, and life.  Here’s what you can do right now:

  • Between now and April 3, contact your House Rep to ask them to support two library funding bills. Ready to use messages and contact information are on the ALA site.
  • Meet with your Congress members April 8 – 23 when they’re back at home because Congress is taking a recess
  • Adapt this sample letter to the editor and send it to your local paper
  • Use the sample messages in this document to contact the offices of your members of Congress
  • Share your photo or story via this form of how support from IMLS has enabled you and your library to help the teens in your community.  YALSA will use this information to advocate against the elimination of IMLS
  • Sign up via this web page to receive updates on the #SaveIMLS effort
  • Add your name to this online petition being circulated by EveryLibrary
  • Start planning how you, your teen patrons, and library advocates will participate in National Library Legislative Day on May 2.  Use the resources on YALSA’s wiki
  • Join YALSA, or make a donation, because together we’re stronger.  YALSA’s the only organization that supports and advocates for teen services. Dues start at $61 per year.  Your support will build our capacity to advocate for teens and libraries
  • Add this #SaveIMLS Twibbon to your social media graphics & put a similar message in your email signature
  • Encourage your friends, family, and colleagues to do the above as well

Don’t know much about IMLS?  Here’s a quick overview: through IMLS, every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. territories receive funding to support their state’s libraries and museums.  In FY14 the total funding IMLS distributed to states and territories was $154,800,000.  In addition, IMLS offers competitive grant opportunities that individual libraries and museums can apply for.  In FY14 they awarded 594 grants (from 1,299 applications) totaling more than $54,700,000.  Visit the IMLS site to see how much funding your state receives from them.

Want to take further action to support teens and libraries?  We salute you!  Check out the free online resources we have to make speaking up for teens and libraries easy.

Yesterday’s YALSA Member Town Hall

During yesterday’s YALSA town hall, members discussed  the different actions we can take as library staff and as private citizens to support teens, especially those who are the most vulnerable in this current social and political climate.

We discussed how to take social action for teens at the local level, and ways to engage teens in community events to help them become better citizens. We talked about how to welcome conversations on diverse issues, display and purchase diverse materials, and teach youth how to be kind, compassionate human beings. We talked about registering voters in the library, holding town halls, community archiving, interviewing local civil rights activists, and taking teens to legislative events at the state capitol building. Many excellent ideas were shared and we invite you to share yours on the Teen Programming HQ!

We shared many resources, like YALSA’s Advocacy webpage with the recently updated 2017 Advocacy Toolkit, as well as the Advocating for Teen Services in Libraries YALSA wiki page.  We reminded everyone of the Supporting Youth in the Post-Election Climate page that was created before last November’s town hall, as well as the Youth Activists’ Toolkit, that can be adapted for use in all types of libraries.  We talked about how communities of all sizes could benefit from a library having a resource like Los Angeles Public Library’s Citizenship webpage, A blogpost can’t list or describe all the great ideas that were shared during the town hall.  If you’d like to hear more, please listen and read the chat conversation.

Did you know that YALSA has a Legislation Committee? The Legislation Committee, chaired by Heather Dickerson, is currently evaluating advocacy and social action resources for YALSA members and teens to ensure that YALSA has the best information to serve our users in the current political climate. They’re also gearing up for National Library Legislative Day, and are seeking stories of how members have advocated for teens and libraries at the local, state, and national levels. The committee will send out a call for stories in the coming weeks. The committee is also reaching out to individuals from each state who will attend NLLD in Washington to ask for their help in delivering YALSA specific materials to our elected officials, with a particular emphasis on reaching out to members of Congress who serve on education-related committees.

Thanks for all you do to support teens in your community!

 

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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Breaking the Silence about Teen Dating Violence @ Your Library

On Monday, February 13, 2017, teens are invited to join a national conversation about teen dating violence. According to a 2016 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “[a]mong high school students who dated, 21% of females and 10% of males experienced physical and/ or sexual dating violence.” The same study also concluded that “[a]mong adult victims of rape, physical violence, and/ or stalking by an intimate partner, 22% of women and 15% of men first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age.” As teen library staff, have an opportunity to raise awareness about teen dating violence by helping teens advocate for their loved ones, friends, and themselves.

Given the amazing selection of books and resources that have been published for teens about dating violence (DV), we can bring awareness in many different ways. One method is to create a display that is going to invoke a powerful statement that needs to be said. For the month of February, my library posted this in our outside display case:

With these displays, we cab develop programming that can initiate a dialogue with teens about DV. If we have yet to connect with community groups and resources that can help us deliver our services, Teen DV month is a great place to start.

During Teen Dating Violence Awareness month, the teens at my library will discuss Jennifer Shaw Wolf’s Breaking Beautiful and a representative from Peace Over Violence will be there to answer any questions about teen DV. What I want to stress about these kinds of programs as that we need to declare that whatever happens at this event stays at this event. Victims of abuse need to know that the Library is a safe place so, by creating a circle of trust, we are actually stating we are here to help them. By opening up this conversation with our communities, it is incredibly helpful to invite an expert to answer the questions we don’t know or are qualified to answer.

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A Call to Action for Graphic Novels

The New York Times shocked its readership when it announced that it was losing some of its bestsellers lists, including the graphic novels bestsellers list. It’s a devastating loss for librarians and graphic novelists alike. There has been a public outcry among graphic novelists, although there has been division even amongst the voices speaking out. Newer bestselling authors like Raina Telgemeier lay out the reasons why it disappoints her, while Neil Gaiman proudly proclaims that he never needed a separate list when Sandman first came out.

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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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