YALSA sponsored a variety of programs and events at this year’s ALA Midwinter Conference held in snowy Chicago.  On Saturday morning, the YALSA Past Presidents held their Trends Impacting YA Services session.  This year’s program featured Dr. Mega Subramaniam, assistant professor at the College of Information Studies, University of Maryland.  Dr. Subramaniam’s research focuses on participatory design and connected learning; in an ALA press release she states:

“Surveys, interviews, and forming a youth advisory council are no longer sufficient when designing programs for young adults. This paper calls for a substantial paradigm shift in how librarians are trained and how libraries can be used to serve diverse youth. It is time to involve the young adults themselves as co-designers.”

Mega’s presentation slides from the session can be found here.  She discussed the transition from traditional, “in-situ” learning experiences (such as formal education) to a new landscape of “learning in the wild.”  Librarians can bridge this transition, especially in a profession newly shaped by the Future of Library Services for and With Teens report.  So, how do we design FOR teens, WITH teens?

Enter participatory design; Dr. Subramaniam shared seven methods that get teens directly involved with planning, other than the traditional “librarian asks what we should do next.”  These methods include use of sticky notes to shape idea processes, “bags of stuff” where teens build and create with provided supplies to see what ideas bubble up, a big-paper approach to teen-led brainstorming, layered elaboration, fictional inquiry, “the cool wall,” and storytelling.  At the end of the program Mega asked each table in the room to think about a current design process we use when working with youth and how we might reshape that in the lens of participatory design.  I came away from the session with a whole new idea of how to work with my TAB as we plan future events.

On Sunday afternoon YALSA members gathered for the Moving YALSA Forward session.  This program was planned in conjunction with the YALSA Board’s strategic planning process which was also taking place during the midwinter conference.  The board’s strategic planning facilitator, Alan Brickman, also facilitated this member session.  Instead of tacking the full strategic plan, Sunday’s discussion focused on the area of advocacy.  While advocacy can mean many things, Brickman framed it for this purpose as “a direct effort to impact policy, impact public awareness, and build libraries’ capacity to further both these impacts.”

Attendees were divided into four groups, each with an advocacy area of either awareness or capacity building.  The groups brainstormed what the optimal outcomes would be and what direct actions would lead to those outcomes.  As we worked our way through the still relatively new idea of planning with outcomes as opposed to activities, several great ideas rose to the surface.  After working together, each group posted their ideas on the wall and with sticky dots in hand attendees chose their five priorities.  Brickman will be consolidating the results of this session and sharing with the YALSA Board as they continue their strategic planning process.

Both of these programs felt very much in line with YALSA’s current work of assisting members to redefine their teen programs and also be advocates for the valuable services we offer our communities.  Check out YALSA’s page on advocacy to find useful resources, and the Future of Library Services for and with Teens report to see how connected learning can fit into your teen services.

As of this morning, YALSA is $205 away from reaching our end-of-the year fundraising goal of $1,000. If we hit our goal, a donor has agreed to match it with a $1,000 donation of their own! Please consider making a donation to Friends of YALSA, which supports $16,000 worth of grants, scholarships and awards each year for library staff. Donations can be made online, and details are here: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/givetoyalsa/give. Donations can also be made via text message. Simply, text ALA TEENALA to this number: 41518 to make a $10 donation to YALSA. Thank you for your support and have a wonderful new year!

This December, one organization is working to give girls a gift that will last a lifetime: resources to reach their potential in science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM is a prominent part of current educational models in the U.S., but girls are traditionally underrepresented in STEM-related professional fields. DeSTEMber aims to change that.

DeSTEMber is hosted by non-profit organization Girlstart. “Half of the world’s potential ideamakers—women and girls—are discouraged from developing their ideas because of social bias or inequity. More girls with more ideas create more solutions,” notes the organization. Girlstart has been working since 1997 “to increase girls’ interest and engagement in STEM through innovative, nationally-recognized informal STEM education programs.” Their work covers girls in grades K-16. (See their About Us page for more information.)

The DeSTEMber website offers a STEM activity for each day of December. The downloadable activity PDFs include instructions for the activity and a short explanation to go along with it. Each one also features links to additional resources, plus a Career Connection section that describes a profession relating to that activity. These are intended to be far more than one-time activities; they are springboards into the future, both for short-term learning and long-term education and career goals.

Interested in participating? Although DeSTEMber is almost over, these activities are relevant all year long. Girlstart also maintains a link to the DeSTEMber 2013 activity page, meaning users can access 62 free STEM resources.

Librarians and other educators interested in getting involved with Girlstart should visit their educator page.

Giving Tuesday helps non-profits around the globe by bringing awareness to the importance of giving back and donating to a cause. This year will be YALSA’s third year in participating, and the Financial Advancement Committee’s (FAC) goal is to raise at least $4000 to send four...yes FOUR...YALSA members to National Library Legislative Day in Spring 2015. Financial Advancement chair Jack Martin (JM) and veteran member Melissa McBride (MM) interviewed each other below about the importance of giving to YALSA and having a strong presence at Library Legislative Day.  You can help us NOW by signing on to a Thunderclap that will be released on Giving Tuesday as a means of spreading the word about our fundraising goal.

JM: Melissa, this is FAC’s third year participating in Giving Tuesday, right? What the response been like in the past?

MM: Yes, although this is only my second year participating. The response last year was wonderful, as a committee member it was so great seeing all the support for both the Thunderclap and the donations that came in on Giving Tuesday. We far exceeded our expectations and were able to send additional members to Legislative Day.

JM: I love hearing about this great response. I think our members truly understand the importance of Library Legislative Day, and they know how much of an impact it makes to have YALSA members there to rep our awesome association!

MM: As a Past President of YALSA, what does it mean for you to see such support from the members of YALSA?

JM: For me, it’s all about advocacy. I think it’s easy for us to see our members being activists by physically representing YALSA at Library Legislative Day. What I think is harder to sometimes see but even more important are those activists who are giving to YALSA--via Giving Tuesday or any other time. In fact, I see them as some of YALSA’s most important activists because they’re helping association fulfill its mission to fight for teen services in libraries all across the country. I love thinking about all of that youth-focused goodwill, and as a Past President it motivates me to do the same both locally and nationally. Plus, I think it’s important that because of all of these activists who give to us, YALSA is able to award over $150,000.00 of scholarships and awards to members. That’s big stuff!

Speaking of advocacy, we know that YALSA members often place Advocacy and Activism at the top of their list when it comes to getting support from YALSA. Can you elaborate how Giving Tuesday supports this goal in YALSA’s Strategic Plan?

MM: Giving Tuesday enables librarians and library workers to have a voice. Sending librarians and library workers to Legislative Day, who care about the same issues as other YA librarians is powerful. It sends a strong message not only to our legislators, but also to every library worker who struggles to get what they need for their patrons. There are some days when it is just nice to know that YALSA is there supporting library staff and helping us to have a voice. The resources YALSA provides are a huge help in advocating for what we do.

JM: I know a lot of YALSA members might have questions about how much they should give for Giving Tuesday. What have people given in the past?

MM: Anything! If every YALSA member just gave $1 we would far exceed our goal of $4000 (which would send 4 members to Library Legislative Day)! It’s important for people to understand that even the smallest amount is a huge help. If you are in a position to be able to donate more, then great! Give up your Starbucks for the day and help get our voices heard! I actually just finished teaching my 2nd graders about Sarah Hale and her letter writing campaign (that spanned 38 years) just to get Thanksgiving turned into a national holiday. She knew that every letter counted, just as every penny donated counts.

JM: Wow. I hadn’t thought about it in that way. Let me reiterate: if every member only gave $1, we’d reach our goal! Maybe even surpass it! But also, I know many members may be wondering how they can give. YALSA has made it really easy to give, right?

MM: YALSA has made it so easy this year!  Not only can you log onto the ala.org and donate the traditional way, but now you can text to donate! All you have to do is text ALA TEENALA to this number: 41518 to make a $10 donation to YALSA. It couldn’t be easier!
JM: This has been a great conversation, Melissa! I hope everyone out there enjoyed learning about this super important initiative, and we’ll hopefully see everyone out there on social media to support YALSA’s Giving Tuesday campaign on Tuesday, December 2, 2014.

Back in January YALSA released its report, "The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: a Call to Action."  The report provides recommendations for ways libraries can evolve in order to better meet the needs of 21st century teens.  YALSA would like to hear from the library community and beyond how this report has impacted you and your institution so far.  What changes have you made in regards to serving teens or new things have you tried?  What have been your successes and challenges up to now?  What ideas did the report spark as you read it?  Please take a moment to fill out a brief online form to tell us about what's been going on with you and your institution since the report came out.   Some of the information we gather will be featured in upcoming issues of YALS.

Also, don't forget that you can access free resources to help you and your organization learn more about some of the key issues in the report, like connected learning, cultural competence, and more via YALSA's web site.  We'll be adding even more resources there over the next few weeks, so check back often.

Happy Fall!

I just wanted to thank our members for the 537 volunteer committee applications that were submitted and to give everyone an update on the award and selection committee appointments process!

The appointments task force was finalized in October and award and selection committee chairs were selected. The appointments task force and I are still working on filling all of the award and selection committee member vacancies, but rosters should be finalized soon.

Appointing the local arrangements committee for Midwinter 2015 is the next priority.

ALA Appointments: There has been one ALA Appointment call to review the general ALA appointment process. The slate for the nominating committee has not been officially presented, but does include one YALSA member.

ALA President Elect Sari Feldman has put out a call for volunteers for the ALA committees listed below. Please let me know if you are interested in being recommended for any of them. The ALA application form closes this Friday, November 7, 2014.

It's been a pleasure and a privilege to go through all of your applications. Thank you so much for your dedication to YALSA and to teen library services!

 

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 →