Completing the Puzzle Between Teens with ASD and Public Libraries

From Pinterest

According to Occupational Therapist, Bill Wong: “For autistic individuals to succeed in this world, they need to find their strengths and the people that will help them get to their hopes and dreams. In order to do so, ability to make and keep friends is a must. Amongst those friends, there must be mentors to show them the way. A supportive environment where they can learn from their mistakes is what we as a society needs to create for them.”1.

As teen library workers, we have an incredible wealth of resources at our fingertips to  assist teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  Along with these resources, we have colleagues, community partners, and experts who are passionate and willing to help us with create services and programs for teens with ASD. The sky is the limit when it comes to creating an inclusive environment, but, sometimes, starting from the ground up can be daunting. However, no matter what how long it takes to implement and plan these services and programs, the end result will create an honest dialogue between the library and our entire teen population to foster an environment of camaraderie, acceptance, and empathy.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

According to National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS):

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a group of complex neurodevelopment disorders characterized by repetitive and characteristic patterns of behavior and difficulties with social communication and interaction. The symptoms are present from early childhood and affect daily functioning. The term “spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability in functioning that can occur in people with ASD. Some children and adults with ASD are fully able to perform all activities of daily living while others require substantial support to perform basic activities.”2

On March 27, 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new study that identified 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls) as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 3 Since 2000, the rates have increased by 119%, which means that ASD is one of the most common development disorders in the United States. Although Autism has been around for more than 100 years, it wasn’t until the early 1980s that Autism was classified as an actual neurological disorder and not a mood disorder (i.e., Schizophrenia). Since ASD  is in fact treatable, children are being diagnosed at an early age so they can get the necessary therapies they need to manage thir symptoms. Although the resources are available for an early diagnosis, some parents may have a difficult time finding out how to get their child help due a variety of reasons. Due to these obstacles, children and teens could potentially fall to the wayside in their development and this is where libraries can help children and teens with ASD.

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Teens Succeed with Libraries Video Contest

YALSA is looking for creative video entries of up to 60 seconds in length that compellingly demonstrate to the general public how teens make use of 21st century libraries, programs and staff in order to succeed in school and prepare for college, careers and life. Winners will be announced no later than June 1, 2016. The top three entries will receive a box of books, audiobooks and graphic novels worth a minimum of $200. Examples of content may include, but are not limited to showing how teens use libraries to do things like get good grades, explore careers, pursue hobbies, plan for college, build digital skills, create stuff, connect with others, serve the community, become engaged citizens, etc.  This is a great opportunity for teens to show off their film making skills!  Get the details via this online entry form.  This contest is being administered by YALSA’s Advocacy Resources Taskforce.

Contact Congress to Support Library Funding in the FY17 Budget

Please use ALA’s super easy web page and take a minute to email and Tweet your members of Congress and ask them to support library funding in the FY17 federal budget. The messages are pre-populated—all you need to do is provide your name and contact information to ensure it goes to the proper members of Congress. If you have the time, you’re also encouraged to phone their offices. Your help, and these funds, make a huge difference in what libraries and library staff can do for their patrons.

It’s that time of year when Congressional cost-cutters sharpen their budget knives and go looking for under-supported federal programs to slash or discontinue. Last year, Paul Ryan, who is now Speaker of the House, proposed completely eliminating the federal agency for libraries (IMLS) and with it over $200 million in funding for libraries (the Library Services and Technology Act—LSTA, and Innovative Approaches to Literacy–IAL). Both of these critical funding streams for libraries are potentially on the chopping block this year and it’s up to you to help save them.   Continue reading

INSTAGRAM OF THE WEEK — MARCH 7

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

During my first week as the new teen librarian, I observed a pair of Muslim men studying in the back corner of our adult nonfiction stacks. After a while, they took a short break to carefully roll out their rugs and pray. Nearby, a group of teens were working on a class presentation. They watched the two men curiously for a few seconds, then went back to their work without comment. I felt fortunate to be a part of this moment– to witness tolerance in action in this small gesture.

Last month’s book displays and library programs in celebration of African-American History Month demonstrate our long standing efforts to promote cultural awareness in our communities, and highlight our country’s path from slavery toward a more open and equitable society. As our youth population becomes more diverse, we have more opportunities to offer collections and services that best reflect our communities.

Dr. Carla Hayden’s nomination as Librarian of Congress, Simon & Schuster’s announcement of a new line of children’s and YA books featuring Muslim characters, and plans to offer more diversity-specific book sales flyers to schools are welcome changes. Meanwhile, The Future of Library Services for and with Teens highlights the dramatic shift in the demographics of our youth and the challenges they face. More than 16 million, or 1 in 5, live in poverty. African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely to drop out of school, and jobless rates for African-American and Hispanic youth are rising. The report indicates that our collections and services need to shift toward being centered on relationships, provide more access to educational and career resources, and continue to be mindful of the significance of our patrons’ racial, cultural, and social backgrounds in meeting our teens’ needs.

The current issue of Young Adult Library Services (YALS) Resource Roundup by Crystle Martin highlights several tools to assist with reaching diverse populations outside of the library.

For more information about diversity and equity of services, please see the ALA’s Diversity webpage, YALSAblog’s archived posts, and the following resources from YALSA: the Diversity Map, Cultural Competence and Serving Diverse Teens wikis, and the Teen Demographics Infographic.

 

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Speak Up for Teens & Libraries in your State!

Now is the time of year when most state legislatures are in session, and the teens in your state are relying on you to speak up for them!  Here’s what you can do:

  • Find out what dates your state’s legislature is in session, by visiting the National Conference of State Legislatures’ web site.
  • Visit your state library association’s web site to find out if they are hosting an advocacy day in your state’s capitol and learn how you can get involved.
  • Stay up to date on the issues by visiting your state legislature’s web site or downloading and using one of these free apps: Congress, Countable, or icitizen.
  • Build your legislative advocacy skills.  A great starting point is YALSA’s free Legislative Advocacy Guide (.pdf).
  • Take action and mobilize others to do so, too.  Connect with your state library association to find out what calls to action they are focusing on this year.  Check out www.ala.org/yalsa/advocacy for tips and resources.  Consider asking your elected official if they will sponsor a resolution in support of libraries (a resolution is not legislation or a bill–just a feel good message that state legislatures pass all of the time in an effort to make nice with the voters).  YALSA has a few sample documents compiled into one file that you can adapt and use, including a sample resolution, emails and a press release.  Access the MS Word file today for an easy way to raise awareness about libraries with the elected officials in your state!
  • Engage the teens in your community, help them learn about the legislative process and encourage them to become active around the issues that matter most to them.  Read “Help Youth Take Action” and share this free Youth Activists’ Toolkit (.pdf).

And don’t forget that National Library Legislative Day is May 3rd!  If you can’t make it to Washington DC, ALA has several ways that you can participate virtually.

-Beth Yoke

Contact Congress Feb. 15 – 20 to Support Federal Library Funding

President Obama released his draft FY17 budget today.  The next step is for Congress to take it up.  Congress will spend the spring and summer working on their version, with the ultimate goal to have a final budget passed in fall.  In the President’s budget, proposed funding for the Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) is down by $500,000 over last year, grants to state libraries are down $900,000, and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy grant program (a funding opportunity for school libraries) is level funded at $27 million.  These are all vital programs that support the nation’s libraries.  ALA’s President, Sari Feldman, issued a statement today expressing disappointment.

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YALSA NEEDS YOU – for our Competencies Update Taskforce!

What skills, qualities and competencies do library staff need in order to provide the best services and support to the teens and tweens in our communities?

Volunteer to help YALSA update its “Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth” document, with particular emphasis on aligning the document to the principles in the Futures Report, since the document was last updated in 2010!

More information about the document, taskforce charge and more may be found below:

YALSA’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth: Young Adults Deserve the Best (2010)

Competencies Update Task Force (Charge)

Review the current document called “Young Adults Deserve the Best: Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth” and update the language and content, as needed, to ensure it reflects the mission and core values of teens services as described in The Future of Library Service for and With Teens: A Call to Action. Provide a draft for the Spring Executive meeting, and submit a final report with recommended changes for Board consideration by Annual 2016. Task force size: 5 – 7 virtual members, including the Chair.

Previous Competencies Update drafts:

http://www.ala.org/yalsa/sites/ala.org.yalsa/files/content/CompetenciesDraft_AN15.pdf

http://www.ala.org/yalsa/sites/ala.org.yalsa/files/content/CompetenciesDraft_MW16.pdf

Please email me at candice.yalsa [at] gmail.com if you are interested in serving on this important taskforce!

YALSA Board @ Midwinter – Overview

Happy post-Midwinter!

The YALSA board started off Midwinter on Friday with training session on best practices in association governance. All day Saturday, Board members worked with a consultant from the Whole Mind Strategy Group on organizational planning.

Based on those discussions, several key topics rose to the top as ones most likely to become the focus of the organizational plan. They were: advocacy, continuing education, cultural competency promotion, leadership development, partner/funder relations, and state level outreach.

The goal is to develop a focused and responsive plan which will help YALSA meet the needs of members and advance teen services in libraries across the country. Based on the outcomes of the organizational planning discussions, the consultant will help the Board draft a new, 3 year plan.

We hope to have that in place by March 1st.

While the planning discussion took up all of the Board’s meeting time on Saturday, there were still other topics that the Board discussed at the business portion of their meeting on Sun. and Mon.

Those topics included:

  • Diversity on YALSA’s Board: the board voted to approved the taskforce’s recommended updates to the nominating committees’ charges and asked the taskforce to submit a formal request to the board for adoption of a diversity definition for YALSA. The board had some questions and feedback regarding the proposed checklist for nominating committees’ use and sent that document back to the taskforce for further work
  • Dues categories & rates: the board voted to table this issue until after organizational planning is complete
  • Updating YALSA’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth: the board reviewed the latest draft and had further recommendations for refinement
  • YALSA’s portfolio of guidelines and position papers: the board approved the proposal to have staff work on updating some of these documents in the short-term

Check out the full board agenda and documents online to get the details of what the board talked about. We will also be posting meeting minutes there in the next week or so. You can also read the accompanying blog posts on the YALSAblog that other Board members have been sharing out since we’ve returned from Boston.

If you have question about a particular agenda item or issue or would like more details about it, feel free to e-mail me or any of YALSA’s Board members.

I will also be hosting another virtual town hall via a Twitter chat on Fri. February 5th from noon to 1:00 p.m., Eastern, and I hope you can join in!

Drop in any time during the hour to learn more about organizational planning and board activities and follow along with #yalsachat.

I would love to hear your thoughts about the potential focus areas for the new plan: advocacy, continuing education, cultural competency promotion, leadership development, partner/funder relations, and state level outreach.

Also, feel free to follow Executive Director Beth Yoke (@yalsa_director), myself (@tinylibrarian), and/or other YALSA Board members for tweets about the work of the board!

Libraries Transform: An Interview with ALA President Sari Feldman

Please tell the YALSA members about your program Libraries Transform.

I have the great good fortune to be able to introduce Libraries Transform, but this is intended to be a three to five year public awareness program. Libraries Transform is an American Libraries Association program, it is not a President’s initiative. It is ALA’s new program for America’s libraries. It is a public awareness program that is intended to increase awareness of and support for the transforming library; to shift perceptions from the library as obsolete and nice, to have to essential; and to energize library professionals, build external advocates, and influence local, state, and national decision makers.

Most of our YALSA members do not work in management and have limited decision making authority within their library.  What are some ways that you envision this type of library staff person could participate in the campaign?

Well, certainly I think of YALSA members as some of the most facile in using social media and I think that is a tremendous opportunity to be both the messaging from the campaign through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, whatever tools people are using, the campaign’s graphic look really lends itself to social media, but also to communicate that libraries are less about what they have for people and more about what we do for people. So YALSA members are especially positioned to demonstrate to our communities and decision makers how libraries are changing the way young people learn.

Other than the 10 ways to get involved that are listed on the Libraries Transform web site, how else might library staff participate or be empowered to speak up for libraries?

Certainly, I think any opportunity to talk about the ways libraries are transforming is good. It is so important to not only be talking to ourselves, not to only be talking to other librarians or to library supporters, friends of libraries, etc. But, I think YALSA members also have an opportunity to not only have the messaging resonating with young adults, but to take this message into schools, because I know a big part of the YALSA membership is involved with the school community as well as the public community. So with the schools especially, we have an opportunity to not only communicate with young people but to expand that to communicate with teachers, administrators, and parents, who may be less aware of the changing library environment and the changing impact. One of the things about the campaign which is so important is that it is about all libraries, because we believe we are more alike than we are different. That libraries are creating individual opportunity and community progress. So whether that community is a college or university or public community or school community, it is about changing that community, being at the center of that community life. So there are so many ways that just communication and talking to audiences, talking to friends and family, that YALSA members can really be amplifying this message on behalf of Libraries Transform.

How do you see Libraries Transform relating to YALSA report, “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: a Call to Action”?

So certainly I see it inparticular about the changing way that YALSA members are talking about their work and certainly that one comes to mind immediately is about connected learning and concepts related to that, and the importance of learning that is more active. That has been a big part of the messaging of Libraries Transform, that although we are less about what we have for people, we still have things, we are not saying that we are not going to have collections in the future, but we are more about what we do for and with people. So certainly in the YALSA view, how young people learn, is that they learn collaboratively. The YALSA view is that learning is more flexible, learning is more self-directed, learning is more creative, with more of an opportunity to create content, not just use content. I think that just in the nature of viewing library work in that larger learning environment, whether it is a school or a public environment, is very close to the messaging of the campaign.

How do you think Libraries Transform and the YALSA report can inform each other to improve the future of libraries?

I hope that as YALSA members are building out a plan, a more tactical plan, either for their libraries or for YALSA as an association itself, that the messaging from Libraries Transform can be built into that. We can be thinking about not only how we tactically do the work but how we communicated the work to make supporters into active advocates, to be sure that funders are increasingly aware of the role that libraries are playing, and to be sure that policy makers and decision makers are conscious of the role that  libraries are playing in the learning of young people. I think that we can see in the results of the education bill that the lobbying effort was really strongly aligned with messages about the ways that libraries are embedded in the school environment. We need to elevate that messaging into all environments where we touch young people around learning. And I think that there is so much alignment but where it can be most valuable, is as we align when talking about public awareness and advocacy.

What are the key outcomes you and ALA are hoping to achieve with this campaign and how will ALA measure those?

So at this point, ALA is bringing on a staff member to lead this project. He will be introduced to the library community at MidWinter. But, I mentioned the broad objectives, which are listed on the website librariestransform.org , but ALA is really hoping that we will see ultimately increased funding for libraries, and much more engagement with policy makers and community stakeholders.

Is there anything else about the program that you would like to share with the YALSA community?

The Libraries Transform campaign will only be as successful as the activity level of the members of ALA. I see that social media will be one of the strongest opportunities to get the message out about the campaign. It really calls on the YALSA members to use the tools that they have to ensure that the message is heard. Once again, much of our work is focused internally, focused on learning new skills to advance our programmatic opportunities, bringing new technology into our field, designing programs and curriculum that better serve our audiences, in this case young adults, but it is very important that we tell this story more broadly and we tell this story to the less aware or less informed about the work of libraries, and how impactful around creating this learning environment that ultimately results in individual opportunity and community progress. I don’t know if your members know, but I started my professional career as a young adult librarian, so I have tremendous affection and loyalty to the work of YALSA members and I know that it is such an incredible opportunity to really ensure that a person stays engaged in learning, that kind of connected learning, active participation, the creative aspects that have been brought into learning as we think of it in the library environment, it is just so exciting to me. We need to make sure that we tell the story of transformation and that people understand the value of community investment in libraries, whether school libraries, public libraries, or college and university libraries.

YALSA joins with ISLMA and ILA to call for reinstating school librarians in Chicago Public Schools

The Illinois School Library Media Association (ISLMA) has issued a statement along with the Illinois Library Association and YALSA commending the students at DuSable High School for staging a successful read-in to protest the lay-off of their school librarian, and calls on Chicago Public Schools to reinstate school libraries in all schools across the city.  The Chicago Teachers’ Union issued a recent report indicating that only 32% of CPS high schools have a school librarian on staff.  In addition, the report reveals that schools whose student population is a majority African-American are disproportionately impacted by the cuts.  To read the full press release from ISLMA.