#alaac19 PLA Pre-Conference: Librarians and Social Workers – Partnerships that Work for Connecting People in Need

This post was written by Carrie Sanders, Youth Services Coordinator at the Maryland State Library

annual 2019 logoI was fortunate to be able to attend the PLA pre-conference focusing on the partnerships library staff and social workers can build in order to support all members of a community. The session opened with a reference to Eric Klinenberg who wrote, “Libraries don’t just provide free access to books and other cultural materials, they also offer things like companionship for older adults, de facto child care for busy parents, language instruction for immigrants and welcoming public spaces for the poor, the homeless and young people.”

Social workers in libraries provide support for library patrons through crisis intervention, outreach and engagement, referral services, community programming, and advocacy. They also support library staff. Their presence creates a culture shift that moves the question regarding those in need from, “How do we remove?” to “How can we connect those with specific needs to services?”
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The Most Dangerous Place on Earth

In the novel The Most Dangerouse Place on Earth one of the female characters’ thinks to herself, “As if middle school were a safe haven…when in fact it was the most dangerous place on Earth.” Of course that sounds like teenage hyperbole, however I would say that if you think about it it’s more reality for many teens than one might want to admit. While teenage lives may have some of the outlines of a nightmare, there are many assets for library staff and community members to leverage in order to support the successful growth and development of all teens.

When I think of the assets that library staff can promote for and with teens I often think of the Santa Ana (CA) Public Library. I was fortunate to visit the main library a couple of years ago, after getting to know the teen librarian, Cheryl Eberly. The library building itself is nothing to “write home about.” The building is a 1960 structure that has quite a bit of wear and tear. However, when I was inside the building I didn’t really notice that. Why? Because from the time I walked in to the time I left (about two hours later) it was clear that this is a community library in which staff members (teens and adults) are embedded in the Santa Ana community and that the work that happens inside, and outside of the building, is completely centered on community needs.
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Libraries Welcome All Families: A Conversation with Urban High School Students about Representation in the CT Nutmeg Nominees

This post was first published on the ALSC Blog on April 23, 2019

Jillian Woychowski is the Library Media Specialist at West Haven High School and a member of the ALA Interdivisional Committee for School and Public Library Cooperation

Kymberlee Powe is the Head of Children’s and Teen Library Services at the West Haven Public Library

I am very lucky as a school librarian to work so well with my public librarians. Our city’s children’s and teen services librarian has held card drives and visits me on a regular basis. We’ve coordinated getting materials for each other and worked together on summer reading. We also share the experience of serving on our state book award committee. I served on the High School Level 2018 Nutmeg Committee and Kym just wrapped serving on the Middle Grades Nutmeg Committee for 2020 (see nutmegaward.org). Being on the committee for a state book is a serious time commitment, requiring reading 75-150 books and monthly meetings to discuss them. For both of us, making sure our students were represented in the eventual nominees was very important.

Kym comes to West Haven High School once a week to hold a book club with students in our Program for Accelerated Credit-recovery in Education (PACE) program. Students in PACE “have had difficulty succeeding in the regular setting. The program offers credit recovery and and intensive support system so that these students can learn the appropriate skills and behaviors needed to be successful in school and beyond. The program takes a unique outside-the-box approach to teaching and learning in order to re-engage students in their own education, with a focus on college and career readiness” (Program of Studies, whhs.whschools.org). Students receive 90 minutes each of Language Arts and Mathematics a day, along with contemporary issues and environmental education to give students an awareness of their own community. Technological literacy rounds out their curriculum.

This March, Kym and I sat down for a conversation with two PACE students to talk about being an urban librarian and the challenges for equity, diversity, and inclusion in potential award-winning literature.

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What Summer Learning Looks Like in Action: Teen Programs that Inspire

What is Summer Learning? Surprise, you have been doing it without even knowing it! In recent years, there has been a move to transition Summer Reading into Summer Learning. Why? Because libraries have naturally transitioned into third spaces. We are advocates of combating the summer slide, which primarily affects disadvantaged youth, by providing hands-on activities and resources that support them. These materials can be in the form of books, audiovisuals, and e-media. Summer Learning appeals to every type of learner because it is all-inclusive. The teen that struggles with reading but enjoys the library and its atmosphere knows that they are just as welcome and intimidation is null as the avid reader. “Tickets” and “participation logs” reflect this change by adding additional ways to participate by including activities that teens and children can do in and outside of the library.

Those of us who work closely with youth are well informed about our summer program, but other departments in your library may not be. It is your job to educate staff so they can make the public aware of what Summer Learning activities you offer. Take the initiative by sending out an e-mail blast to your coworkers or ask to present at one of your staff meetings to make everyone aware of what Summer Learning is and what that looks like in your library. Emily Samos, Urban Libraries Council, presented her 5 Strategies to building a Summer Learning culture throughout your library as a part of the Making the Transition from Summer Reading to Summer Learning YALSA Webinar, November 2016.

1. Engage team members across the library.
2. Connect Summer Reading with other library services.
3. Start Planning in September [for next year].
4. Initiate and cultivate partnerships with schools, museums, and other partners.
5. Plan programs with clear learning goals.

What Does Summer Learning Look Like in Action?

Reading Public Library—Reading, PA
At the Reading Public Library, we transitioned to Summer@RPL to encompass all that we offer for children, teens, and adults throughout the summer. As that relates to teens particularly, our teen ticket has three activities that participants can complete, “Read,” “Participate in a Teen Program,” and “Volunteer/Do A Good Deed in Your Community.” We encourage them to try all three but note in the rules that they may do any combination. They earn level prizes, can put in for prize packs, and submit for the grand prize after completing all the levels. The “level up” approach keeps them engaged all summer long. Our programs are a combination of fun, entertaining, informative, and always engagingfrom special performances to daily STEAM programs, special guests, and workshops to prepare them for the year ahead and beyond. Performances include a Bollywood interactive performance during Family Night. Our STEAM programs include a Maker Event and weekly opportunities to participate in an engineering program with Snapology where children and teens will be guided through hands-on activities using things they already love: LEGO® bricks, K’Nex, and technology. SAT Prep will be taught by an instructor with more than 23 years of experience teaching the SATs. And our Job Training workshop will be instructed by the Department of Labor and Industry.

Teen Loft Lounge Area at Reading Public Library (Pennsylvania).

Boyertown Community Library—Boyertown, PA
At Boyertown Community Library, Lisa Rand has many cool programs in the works. She is starting a new series called, “Try It Out.” Barrio Alegria, a community development organization that utilizes art as a platform for change, will teach the teens Latin Dance Basics, with an evening salsa class and weekend bachata lesson. A Yoga instructor will lead three afternoon and evening sessions. These programs have flexible times in hopes of accommodating potential participants’ various schedules.

In the past, Lisa has held Ukulele Basics classes provided by a local music shop, Funky Frets. Teens attended three sessions, which gave them a solid base of learning that could be continued with paid lessons, practicing independently, or through the help of resources such as YouTube. “I received great feedback on this program. Teens were glad for a chance to try something new, free of charge. They could approach the learning opportunity as simply something fun to do, with very low commitment. However, meeting for three sessions gave enough of a taste that some teens discovered a new hobby to pursue,” Lisa said.

“When choosing programs for teens, two of the questions I ask myself are Will it be fun? and Would my teens have access elsewhere? We have a wonderful dance school in our neighborhood, but Latin dance is not a part of their curriculum. During the school year, our teens may not have access to Latin dance instruction. On the other hand, for those teens who already love Latin dance, this will be a chance to learn from a live instructor.”

“For the yoga class, I wanted to offer a format where someone could come once to try, or return another time if they enjoy the experience. This program is a way to provide tools for stress-management and wellness but in a low key, recreational setting. We are not a gym or a PE class, so trying a new physical activity here could be welcoming for patrons who might not try on their own.” She says.

Fleetwood Area Public Library—Fleetwood, PA
Stacy Lauks at Fleetwood Areas Public Library has a very cool program series in the works called Practice Makes Progress. “Summer is a great time to explore new things but…it is also important to practice your skills in subjects that you love in order to progress,” she says. Each week during Summer Exploration, patrons will have the opportunity to participate/submit work in a designated subject area such as an art sketchbook, community music recital & community music evaluation, graphic history organizer, community science fair project, or writing submissions. Each submission category includes a positive-based assessment from a member of the community that works in that particular field.

Fleetwood Area Library decided to focus on exploring new things because summer is a great time to “explore what you want when you want, how you want,” she says. “New things are exciting and great, but there are some things that students need to continue practicing during summer. Practice Makes Progress addresses this dichotomy, connects students/library to the community, and is still flexible enough that students can use their practice to explore their interests.”

To make their goal come to fruition, they picked subject areas and coordinated dates; got community members to donate their time to review submissions and plan programs; advertised with the school/private teachers; and are now waiting for the fun to begin. “Can’t wait to see what happens,” she says.

This is what Summer Learning looks like in action. Each of us has a different vision as evident by the examples provided. Nevertheless, we share common goals; we want our youth to excel in areas that we have noticed need developing or may spark an interest and have all found an approach to guide them. We believe in quality experiences for our teens that include using partnerships to our advantage by asking members of our community to give of their time and talents to provide our teens with hands-on experiences, supporting the resources that libraries offer.

Future Ready with the Library: Still Time to Apply for Cohort 4

clearing a farm fieldIf you work in a small, rural, or tribal library consider applying for the fourth cohort of the Future Ready with the Library project. This project, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and in partnership with the Association of Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL), provides library staff with opportunities to engage with their communities to build college career awareness services for middle school youth. Learn more about the project and how to apply by viewing the 60 minute information session available below.
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Partnerships to Support Teens in Computing: Library Staff and School Counselors Can Team Up

This is a guest post by Jennifer Manning, AspireIT Partnerships Program Director and Marijke Visser, Senior Policy Advocate, ALA Washington Office

The National Center for Women and Information Technology AspireIt program and ALA’s Libraries Ready to Code are continuing their partnership to connect more young women and girls to computer science (CS) and technology- related opportunities. Library staff can and do play an important role in supporting youth as they explore career paths in and out of school. This month’s post spotlights a potential partner for library staff active in connecting youth interests to CS and tech, the school counselor.

CS educators across the nation are finding that collaborating with their school counselors yields positive results in directing youth to viable education and career opportunities. School counselors are key partners with community libraries as counselors regularly share out information to students about local opportunities, especially those at the library. Many families tap into the library as a hub of information, community-building, and more. Often, counselors are in the role of distributing information about community events on a school-wide level and also individually targeting students and families who would enjoy and benefit from the programs.

NCWIT Counselors for Computing (C4C) provides professional school counselors with information and resources they can use to support ALL students as they explore CS education and careers. Counselors are influencers and gatekeepers. They counsel and encourage students in their education and career aspirations, advise on course selections, and expose students to occupations through career fairs and internships. Working together, school counselors and library staff can provide the encouragement and exposure , young women are need to pursue computing in school ro as a career.

To help you build a partnership with this valuable resource, check out the webinar CS for All Teachers and C4C held discussing key strategies for creating a positive partnership with your counselors for CS advocacy.

For additional valuable NCWIT C4C resources (available to libraries for free), click here to view the collection and how to order. To find out more about the Libraries Ready to Code and AspireIT events and resources check out the 2019 Community Champion Learning Series calendar.

SAAM at the Library

CONTENT WARNING: This post addresses sexual assault and domestic violence.

 

In 2015, I began collaborating with my local sexual assault and domestic violence shelter to offer library programming centered around Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October and Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in April. SAAM was always the harder event to prepare for because the topic was one that many people feel uncomfortable discussing in public. While domestic violence is awful, it seemed that more people were willing to open up about their stories, whereas sexual assault is still something many don’t want to share. We had themes to guide us that were established by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center which really helped focus our project. In 2017, the theme was “Engaging New Voices” and the partners I worked with felt these new voices should be young people. We actually ended up using this theme for two years because in 2018 we continued to build the program and engaged teens.

The partnership between the library and the local sexual assault and domestic violence shelter was one that we built over several years. I did an outreach event in October 2014 which did not draw nearly as many people as I was hoping for. While at that event, I got to know the outreach team at the center and we decided to start collaborating on projects for April and the following October. From my standpoint, it was a good move because we were both going to promote the event and the advocates from the shelter would provide the voice of expertise. Our work together eventually grew into programming events for teens.

Programming events related to domestic violence and sexual assault for adults can be a challenge; for teens, it was scary territory. This was not something I had ever created a teen program for, but I knew it was something our regular teens would be interested in. I relied a lot on my partners from the shelter because they had done outreach to teens in local schools and actually had an action team of teens. Our discussions regarding SAAM began almost right after the previous SAAM event wrapped, with our first in person meeting occurring during the summer. At that meeting we would determine what we wanted to do. Would this be one big event? Are we doing multiple events? What target audience are we looking for? Part of the reason this process began so far in advance was because the space that the library used for programs could also be booked out by community groups as well as other internal departments that wanted to offer other programming. However, as a collaborative team, we also wanted to make sure we were all on the same page and were going over the hits and misses of the previous year.

When it was determined that we wanted to reach out to teens, I reflected back on what a program like that would look like in the library. After much conversation, the team decided to reach out to one of the local schools that assisted girls who were not thriving in a traditional school setting. In a nod to Project Clothesline, we opted to inform the young women at the school about the significance of Denim Day while we decorated jeans. All partners brought bubble paint and fabric markers to the school on a day in April. The shelter provided the jeans for decoration. Each partner claimed a specific time to be at the school and help lead the project in class. In all, I think every girl at the school was able to decorate a pair of jeans.

After the jeans were decorated, the school allowed us to leave them on their property for a few days. At that time, I picked them up and brought them to the library. The library’s main role was to facilitate an art show and provide girls the opportunity to be featured artists, stand by their jeans, and talk about the significance of the day to them. We had a few speakers that we arranged to come up and speak at the event. As a librarian, I welcomed everyone to the event and gave some general information about the library and why we partnered on this project. We then had speakers from the shelter and from our local NOW Chapter come up to speak about what is being done locally and at a national level. Finally, we gave a teacher from the school a chance to talk about the experience for the girls. Instead of the teacher speaking alone, the girls actually came up with her and explained what the event meant to them and what they learned.

From what SAAM programming was when we first began collaborating in 2015—to what it ended up being in 2018—was an interesting progression, especially as we worked our way into teen programming. I don’t think I would have had the confidence to do a teen event on sexual assault without those first two years, and I certainly don’t think I would have approached this topic without the partners I had. For additional resources, please visit the SAAM website. The event planning guide is a great resource for those who have never done an event like this before and want somewhere to start. In the guide, they mention a library book display. So, let’s just say you end up going with a book display. Consider reaching out to your local shelters to get feedback on your book display. Build that relationship and then work together on a project for next year.

Future Ready with the Library Cohort 4: Apply Now

Middle school, however, is perhaps the unspoken linchpin in establishing a positive trajectory for career and college success, and here’s why: the exploratory opportunities and soft skills developed in early adolescence bridge elementary literacy with high school level life decision-making, which will ultimately lead to graduation and post-secondary achievements. - http://bit.ly/8waysmidschoolccr

Do you work with youth in a small, rural, or tribal library of any kind?

Do you want to join with your community members to support the success of middle school youth and their families?

Are you interested in learning more about teens, community engagement, connected learning, and college and career awareness?

Would you like to help middle schoolers start to think about how they can turn what they love to do and are interested in into a career?

If you answered “yes” to the above questions then it’s time for you to consider applying to participate in the fourth cohort of YALSA’s Future Ready with the Library IMLS funded project. The application period runs from April 2 to May 15, 2019. All are welcome to apply, regardless of job title or type of library. Note: ALA/YALSA membership is not required to apply.
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Libraries Welcome all Families: Collaborating on Inclusive Summer Initiatives

This post was written by School and Public Libraries Collaboration Committee members April Witteveen, Natasha Carty, Jill Woychowski, and Robin Gibson.

Public libraries are beginning to look ahead to their summer reading or summer learning programs. Through school and public library collaboration librarians can identify approaches for success using an equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) lens.

In order to reach as many students as possible with information about library summer programs, a great strategy is to collaborate on school visits. Natasha Carty, who’s been a public librarian, school teacher, and now a school librarian, has seen the value of these visits from all angles. As a public youth librarian, Carty’s school visits resulted in a 50% increase in participation. She’s now looking forward to inviting her local public librarians to school to promote their summer reading program, and she will be investigating if there are ways to get students registered for the program while still in school. Carty stresses the importance of summer reading as a way to address the summer slide when working with students and their families at school. She has handed out recommended reading lists from the public library in order to encourage participation in programming. Both school and public libraries have the opportunity to create summer reading lists that represent diverse characters and experiences. This School Library Journal article shows the need for increasingly diverse summer reading lists.

Summer meal sites offer another opportunity for librarians to extend their reach beyond standard library locations through both program promotion and participation. Jillian Woychowski, a high school librarian in West Haven, Connecticut notes that her local public library’s youth librarians “coordinated activities to happen before or after the [meal] delivery times” at school sites. Robin Gibson, Youth Services Manager at Westerville Public Library in Ohio shares that “Youth and outreach staff visit local WARM (Westerville Area Resource Ministry) lunch sites that provide free lunches during the summer months. We visit to promote the summer reading program and to distribute books to kids of all ages. Many of these children don’t come to the library itself, and we are working to add more services (think early literacy and playful literacy building activities) to these summer visits.  We are a school district library with one location, so we need to get out of the building to reach more families. Artificial boundaries (like a main highway) make some neighborhoods feel distant, so we are working to overcome these barriers and build relationships with these often underserved families.”

Carty concurs, saying that she loves “the idea of public librarians going to where the children and students are to read to them, maybe have a quick craft project, and to sign up students for the summer reading program and promote reading.” WebJunction has an archived webinar on “starting or expanding a USDA summer meals site” at your school or library.

Looking for more ideas to bring EDI to your library? On February 28, Amigos Library Services is hosting a full-day online conference: Open Doors: Reaching Underserved Populations. Speakers will discuss a variety of inclusive library practices and programs, sure to provide inspiration and ideas for librarians working on their plans for summer initiatives.

Peer to Peer Learning and Libraries: A Recipe for Success

Peer to Peer Learning is shared knowledge learning that is not done by an instructor or another person of authority. It is all about people on the same level teaching each other what they know. 

Peer to Peer learning is not a new concept and can date back to Aristotle’s use of archons, student leaders and as an organized theory by Andrew Bell in 1795. It was later implemented into French and English schools in the late 19th century. Over the last 30 to 40 years, it has been increasingly popular in K-12 public schools. (Saga Briggs, (2013) How Peer Teaching Improves Student Learning and 10 Ways to Encourage It, opencolleges.edu) In Trends in Peer Learning, Keith J. Topping reviews the development of peer to peer learning from 1981-2006. He states that,

“types and definitions of peer learning are explored, together with questions of implementation integrity and consequent effectiveness and cost‐effectiveness. Benefits to helpers are now emphasized at least as much as benefits to those helped. In this previously under-theorized area, an integrated theoretical model of peer learning is now available. Peer learning has been extended in types and forms, in curriculum areas and in contexts of application beyond school. Engagement in helping now often encompasses all community members, including those with special needs. Social and emotional gains now attract as much interest as cognitive gains.” (Keith J. Topping (2005) Trends in Peer Learning, Educational Psychology, 25:6, 631-645, DOI: 10.1080/01443410500345172

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