After the publication of a recent School Library Journal article, I had the pleasure of speaking with three members of ALA’s REFORMA about the group’s Children in Crisis Project.  Oralia Garza de Cortes and Patrick Sullivan spearheaded the project and we were also joined by Silvia Cisneros, current REFORMA President.  Cisneros had made a donation drop off at the McAllen, TX detention center on September 10th.

Silvia Cisneros

Silvia Cisneros with donation drop off at McAllen. 

I asked the trio about how easy is it to make a donation or offer support to the refugee children being held in these centers.  All of them very quickly noted the level of difficulty; contracted defense workers will not allow the general public any individual contact with the children.  Health and Human Services are allowed to accept two types of donations: blankets and books.  As library workers we know the benefit of personal touch, but at the centers this is not an option.  Cisneros notes that during her drop-off visit she delivered 225 books and these were received by Border Patrol Processing.   A second donation drop-off occurred on October 17th at the Karnes City, TX distribution center.

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Those in the YALSA community would probably have no trouble agreeing with the statement that teen services in libraries could benefit from broader support from the library community and beyond.  In an effort to help advance library services for and with teens, YALSA and its Future of Teens & Libraries Taskforce have submitted a grant proposal via a competitive challenge organized by the Knight Foundation.  If funded, the project would help libraries improve their overall teen program by providing them with free tools and resources to incorporate connected learning into their existing services.  In order for this to have a chance at getting funded, the proposal needs to get a significant number of ‘applauds’ and comments from visitors to the site.  We encourage you to ‘applaud’ the proposal and/or leave a comment, but also to take a moment to share this link out with your library networks, advocates and colleagues and ask them to leave a comment or give us some applause as well.  The post is open to comments and applause until Oct. 21st, so timing is limited!  Thank you for all that you do to help teens succeed in school and prepare for college and careers.  The great work that you do makes a difference in so many lives, and together we can have an even bigger impact!

Public libraries are, as ALA President Courtney Young said in a July 2014 Comcast Newsmaker interview, “digital learning centers.”  We are able to provide access to computers, wireless capabilities, and also a space to learn. Access to technology becomes even more important to our “at-risk” teens; the library becomes a safe spot to use these resources. The question becomes how do we help them use this technology and learn from it? Earlier this month, the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) published a report titled “Using Technology to Support At-Risk Students’ Learning.” This brief defines “at-risk” students as high schoolers with personal and academic factors that would could cause them to fail classes or drop out of school all together. They give three variables for success, real-life examples to why these variables work, and then recommend policies to help achieve these variables. While the article was geared towards schools, these variables are important to keep in mind as we work with the teens in our libraries.

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Many libraries are in a great position to help teens develop skills and experience they can add to their resume. Whether it be volunteering on a regular basis or honing graphic design or other useful technology proficiency, teens can gain that needed edge through the library for when they seek out other opportunities.

Last school year, I stumbled across a program at my local public school system that gives students school credit for being part of a library program such as volunteering! What a win-win situation for all! Read on for more details on how the program works. Read More →

This summer, ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy and Office for Intellectual Freedom released a policy brief marking a decade of school and public libraries limiting patrons’ access to online information due to the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).

Titled Fencing Out Knowledge: Impacts of the Children’s Internet Protection Act 10 Years Later, the report advocates an action plan to reduce the nationwide, negative impacts of CIPA. I found it well worth a read, and you will too if you wish to understand the progressive possibilities surrounding CIPA at your library and at libraries across America.

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By: Annie Schutte is Director of Libraries and Center for Inquiry at the Maret School in Washington, DC.

It’s August in Washington, DC–four glorious weeks when the nation’s capitol empties out as congressional staffers sneak off for vacation and their bosses head back home to shake hands, kiss babies, and maybe even visit your library. But how do you get an elected to agree to come to an event at your library? Just follow these five easy steps:

1. Remember that elected officials work for you. Members of Congress may spend a lot of time off in Washington, but they’re there to represent you and your library patrons. They get long stretches of time away from DC so that they can connect with their constituents back home. One of the best ways for them to do that is to attend local events, but they’re probably not going to come to yours unless you extend an invitation. So what are you waiting for? Find out who your elected officials are and how to contact their local offices here: http://cqrcengage.com/ala/

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By: Rachel McDonald

As teen-serving library staff, we see the value of libraries in our communities every day. Whether it’s through job readiness workshops, STEM programs, or book clubs, we can attest to the ways in which our programs engage teens, offer them safe spaces, and prepare them for adulthood. But how often do we think to share our successes with our elected officials? District Days is our opportunity to do just that.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t thinking about District Days way back in March when my manager emailed asking me to identify two summer programs that I thought would be good events to invite our local representatives to. He explained that the best events are ones that you will personally attend, where you expect good attendance, and will generate photo ops. I chose the two robotics workshops for tweens that our library was offering in partnership with a local FIRST robotics team (yay, Skunkworks 1983!). Since the workshops had been super successful at other libraries and we were requiring patrons to register, there was no chance of an elected official showing up to an empty room. My manager gathered program information from all the children’s and teen librarians across four libraries, compiled it, and sent invitations to our elected officials, from the mayor to our state representatives.

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Are you ready for a late summer tradition? It’s not the end of SRP or back to school shopping, it’s District Days. Not quite sure what District Days are or need a refresher?

District Days are when congressional representatives return home to their districts on recess. The recess this year is from August 2-September 7. It is during this time that representatives will have office hours at their local offices, attend town hall meetings, and meet with constituents to speak with them about their issues and concerns.

This is a great opportunity for you to advocate for libraries and teens! You can demonstrate to your representatives why libraries are a valuable asset to their constituents and communities. District Days provide you the ability to let your voice as a librarian be heard before the representatives head back to Washington, D.C.

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When I was eight, I won our school’s “Trick or Treat for UNICEF” throw down. I scoured the neighborhood for hours, wheedling coins and Snickers bars out of polite neighbors and adding them to my little orange box. By the end of the night, the hoard of pennies and nickels had broken the box at the seams, and I presented it to my teacher wrapped in a sustaining nest of duct tape.

The reward for all of this was a trip to UNICEF headquarters. Somewhere in my parent’s house there sits a billfold stuffed full of pictures of the wall art, the cafeteria, the library– all of the things that as a child I found interesting. At eight, I understood that UNICEF were the good guys, that they fought AIDS and built wells, and that they were kind of like the non-mouse version of the Rescue Aid Society.

But beyond saving Penny from Madame Medusa, UNICEF strives to help children and mothers in all aspects of their lives, including the digital.

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Do you believe in teen library services?

The YALSA Board does, too, which is why we volunteer to do what we do, just as you as members, do.

As mentioned in The Future of Library Services for and with Teens report, it is imperative that YALSA continue to advocate for teens and libraries. Although discussions, projects, and groups are in place to support the general membership in their roles as advocates, the Board itself has not discussed what board members, as informed individuals, can do to support YALSA’s advocacy efforts.

In order to address this, the proposal that will be presented before the Board at ALA Annual consists of four components:

  • a plan for YALSA as an organization and as individual board members to adopt advocacy best practices
  • an update to the YALSA Board Member Responsibilities list to include advocacy efforts
  • an update to the YALSA Board Member contract to include advocacy efforts
  • a Board Member Advocacy checklist

Together, as a board, as an association, and with you, we want to amplify our voices to ensure that teens everywhere have access to the excellent teen library services that all communities deserve.

More information may be found in the board documents for ALA Annual that will be posted today and Monday, June 16th, 2014.

Questions, concerns or suggestions? Please send them to the following members of the YALSA Board Standing Committee on Advocacy:

Candice Mack (Chair)
Email: cmack [at] lapl.org
Twitter: @tinylibrarian

Jennifer Korn
Email: Jennifer.Korn@cincinnatilibrary.org
Twitter: @korncakes

Chris Shoemaker
Email: cinf0master@gmail.com
Twitter: @doseofsnark

Thanks for all that you do for and with YALSA! Hope to see you at ALA Annual in Vegas!