Meet 2020 YALSA Emerging Leader Sue Yang-Peace!

At the Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia in January, YALSA leadership met Emerging Leader Sue Yang-Peace and asked her to write about her experiences in the field and as the 2020 YALSA-sponsored Emerging Leader. 

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First of all, I would like to thank YALSA, Todd, Tammy and Amanda for crashing the Emerging Leaders Social. It was such a pleasure to see them and put a face to such an amazing organization.

I had a bit of an unconventional start into the library world. I began as a patron looking to print coupons since both my husband and I were out of work. Essentially, we had to start over in our careers. The library was, to say the least, a miracle in our lives. I started as a volunteer and now, five years later I am a Youth Services Librarian for the Las Vegas Clark County (NV) Library District, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Every day I come into work absolutely loving what I do.

Receiving the news that I was going to be a part of the 2020 Emerging Leaders brought tears to my eyes, because it further validated my work as a librarian. I have always felt out of sorts, like an outsider coming into this line of work and I was always finding ways to feel validated in the work I do such as becoming a Spectrum Scholar. More importantly, being a part of Emerging Leaders, YALSA, ALSC, APALA, and ALA has connected me with the people that feel as passionately as I do about this field and motivate me to do more.

For the Emerging Leaders Project, I will be working on the 40th Anniversary of APALA along with five other Emerging Leaders. For this project we plan on interviewing library leaders about what APALA and ALA means to them, how APALA and ALA has led the way in various capacities, and their vision of APALA’s future.

Along with my work on Emerging Leaders, I am also on the ALSC Notable Children’s’ Media Committee and work full time as a Youth Services Librarian doing programs for ages 0-18. In the start of my career my strength was in early childhood, but now teens are my passion. On any given day, fifty or so teens walk into the library and say hi and we chat about their day. In order to engage them in the resources of the library, I experiment with all kinds of programs from bullet journals, knitting, lock-ins, painting, and whatever they ask for I try to accommodate and get the resources. It is definitely known throughout my library that I have a connection with the teens. People wonder how I do this and I really don’t do anything special. I see them, they are our patrons after all, and I treat them with the same respect as I would any other patron. I make sure they are seen and heard. I make sure they know that they are wanted at the library by making time to talk to them and listen to whatever it is they have to say. I do not see them as anything other than patrons and they deserve our help just any everyone else.

Thank you to YALSA for your support of my Emerging Leaders Program and I look forward to working more with YALSA in the future.

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Thanks, Sue, for sharing your story and inspiring teens and those who work with teens to love every day they walk into their own libraries!

Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020 | Twitter: @toddbcpl

Photo credit: Tammy Dillard-Steels (l. to r. YALSA President-elect Amanda Barnhart; 2020 YALSA Emerging Leader Sue Yang-Peace; YALSA President Todd Krueger)

Community and Family Engagement – a Teen-led Discussion of Homelessness

Guest blogger Dorcas Wong of the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) provides this entry on her experience with a teen-led discussion of homelessness

In the Summer of 2019, with the help of teen librarian, Marla Bergman, a group of high school teens in the YELL program (Youth Engaged in Library Leadership) at the Excelsior Branch of the San Francisco Public Library developed and led a project on homelessness. They titled it Life in SF: Luck, Loss & Gain.

Current reports state that the Bay Area has the 3rd largest homeless population in the nation (bayareaeconomy.org). In response to this crisis, the YELL team chose to explore homelessness in San Francisco, along with socioeconomic inequality. The intention was to provide a platform to:

  • Educate the community on these issues
  • Foster more empathy for the people facing these challenges
  • And, hopefully, inspire advocacy for positive change

There were two parts to this event.

First, participants played a board game. This game was effectively a modified Monopoly, inspired by a West Point teacher who altered the board game so his students would have a visceral experience of some of the obstacles of living in poverty (PaulsJusticePage.com). The game the teens designed was further altered to reflect San Francisco (e.g. properties, BART lines, and unique event cards).

For the second half, patrons were treated to an informative and animated panel discussion. This panel included:

  • Ricky, a person experiencing homelessness (and patron grateful for library resources)
  • Jessica Soto, a Health and Safety Associate part of the SFPL and SF Homeless Outreach Team
  • Meghan Freebeck, CEO, Project Homeless Connect, Founder of Simply the Basics
  • Manuel Rodriguez, Director, Community Action Partnerships, Urban Services YMCA
  • Gayle Roberts, CDO, Larkin Street Youth Services

All questions were written and delivered by YELL members, who also created booklists, resource sheets, and publicity materials.

24 teens and adults attended this event, which was highly regarded by staff, the local community, and the library commission. There was one person who even wanted to purchase a game board to take back and share.


Thanks, Dorcas, for reporting on this event at San Francisco Public Library!

And as always, thanks for the work that you all do for and with teens.

Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020 | Twitter: @toddbcpl

Community and Family Engagement – Partnering with Organizations

Hi everyone, and Happy 2020!

The sixth of YALSA’s Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff is Community and Family Engagement. YALSA is currently exploring partnerships with organizations that can provide resources to teens and those working with teens in libraries that can be beneficial to both elements of these partnerships. An example of this is the nonprofit organization Back 2 School America. This group, founded in Chicago in 2010, provides no-cost school supplies to kids and teens who would otherwise go without. One of the elements of the school kit is a “Note of Inspiration” that is included in order to both inspire recipients and personalize the kit. At the YALSA Symposium in November in Memphis, attendees were asked to write a Note of Inspiration to be included in kits to be distributed to middle and high schoolers.

Matthew Kurtzman, founder and CEO of Back 2 School America, describes the value of these school supplies kits: “What’s important about this is we not only literally are giving the kids the tools they need to do their work, but we’re also impacting their self worth, their self-esteem.” It’s critical that students not start their school years at a deficit from their classmates, both lacking core materials to do their work, and also feeling lesser than their classmates and suffering the need to ask their teachers or peers for basic supplies. The organization works directly with school systems, but also other organizations such as the YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs, Operation Homefront in support of military families, and others, who can best identify the kids and teens who are most in need of the supplies.

For many students, this is not only a need at the beginning of the school year. For reasons such as evictions or other displacement, intentional relocation, homelessness, or simply running out of the supplies provided, some students are in need of these items at times throughout the school year. Lists of required school supplies have grown longer and more expensive for families as school budgets have stagnated in many parts of the country. What was once provided by the school or generous teachers may no longer be available, putting the onus of these costs on the students.

The work of the Back 2 School America organization mirrors YALSA’s mission statement “to alleviate challenges teens face… especially those with the greatest needs.”As we explore ways to help teens on the path to successful and fulfilling lives, we  can partner with community organizations who are helping teens in a variety of ways. We can focus on what we bring to a partnership and allow these partners to impart their expertise as well.

A free webinar on Community and Family Engagement is available to explore other issues and ideas regarding this competency.

Thanks for reading, and thank you for all the work you do for and with teens.

Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020 | Twitter: @toddbcpl

2019 Summer Learning Resources Grant: Reaching out to Teens in Group Homes

This summer the Tyler Public Library was fortunate to be awarded the Summer Learning Resources Grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and YALSA. These funds were used for three interactive programs for teens, including Cupcake Wars, Nerf War, and DJ Dance Party as well as one outreach program, the Nailed It Art Contest. By hosting these programs, our library aimed to engage the teen population in our area in general with a specific focus on reaching out to teens in foster care and teen group homes in our community.

Teens dancing at a DJ Dance Party event.

Teens dancing at a DJ Dance Party event.

In the past year, our library Youth Services department has been working to better reach out to teens in care as we know them to be an underserved group by our library. Knowing that this would be a challenge given possible logistical obstacles such as transporting teens to the library or encountering communication issues such as establishing the correct contacts to reach out to, we, nevertheless, pursued this goal to reach out to teens in care. It was important for our library to engage and meet the needs of these teens as members of our community and help fill any gap between the opportunities for recreation and education available to these teens during the summer compared to other teens in the community. 

Library staff reached out to several agencies and known contacts involved with teen group homes or teens in foster care place settings. This led to a few back and forth conversations by email and phone and one steady dialog with a teen group home in our community: the Hearts-Way Youth Shelter. This facility is a group home for teens placed in care of the state. With room for up to 30 teen residents to live if needed, the home had 13 teens residing there at any given time this summer. 

One goal set out upon receiving the funds for the Summer Learning Resources Grant was to successfully engage a foster group home in a program. Another goal was to provide teens in care with individual books to own and books for a group home mini library. Through these goals, we aimed to promote reading for pleasure and encourage learning and engagement in educational and recreational activities even when school was not in session.

A variety of Young Adult books and book series were donated to teens in care.

A variety of Young Adult books and book series were donated to teens in care.

We at the library were thrilled by the participation this summer from Hearts-Way teens. Nine teens attended the DJ Dance Party. Four attended the Cupcake Wars program, and 12 were present at the Nailed it Art Contest outreach program that was brought to the group home. At the outreach program, library staff presented the teens with individual books to keep and a variety of books and books series for a mini library that could be enjoyed by teens currently in care and in the future. It was great to be able to offer these teens opportunities to learn, have fun, and socialize with others their age.

Teens from Hearts-Way were challenged to recreate or reinvent a famous artwork in the outreach program: Nailed It Art Contest. The winner recreated The Scream by Edvard Munch.

Teens from Hearts-Way were challenged to recreate or reinvent a famous artwork in the outreach program: Nailed It Art Contest. 

Teens from Hearts-Way were challenged to recreate or reinvent a famous artwork in the outreach program: Nailed It Art Contest. The winner recreated The Scream by Edvard Munch.

The winner recreated The Scream by Edvard Munch.

The relationship that library staff established with Hearts-Way is one that our library plans to continue building as we move forward and use as a guide as we reach out to other agencies and teens in our area. By remaining patient, flexible, passionate, and sincere in our efforts, library staff is optimistic that we can continuing fostering positive relationships with teens in care in our community and the agencies representing them. 

This summer’s support from the Summer Resources Grant helped our library take a good step forward, and library staff was happy to see these teens at the library outside the program times for teen events, checking out books and materials!

 

 

 

 

Amy Skipper is a Youth Services Librarian at Tyler Public Library.

2019 Summer Learning Resources Grant: Teen Literacy Kit Outreach Program

Our goal for the Teen Literacy Kit Outreach program was two-fold.  We wanted to encourage teens from high poverty and homeless families to continue building their reading and writing skills over the summer.  We also wanted to bring our library-based programs to the teens in our area who didn’t have transportation to the library during our regularly scheduled programs.  To accomplish these goals, we contacted our local Dollar General store and asked them to let us block off part of their parking lot and turn it into a Teen Program space once a month during the June/July summer break.  They enthusiastically agreed, and we got to work.  

Step 1:  Create Literacy Kits

Teen literacy kit contents.

Our concern centered on the large number of teens that are enrolled in the local middle and high schools who don’t have a consistent place to call home, much less a space to store books and journals.  My Children’s Librarian and I (Library Manager) wanted to find a way to give those teens portable reading and writing materials, so we came up with the idea of literacy kits: drawstring bags with a book, unlined note book, bookmark, pen, toy, writing prompts and word games, and a Frequent Readers card donated by our local Dairy Queen.  We also decided on an Honor Library so that the teens could take books and not worry about returning them.

Step 2:  Design Teen Programming for a Parking Lot

A tent is set up in a parking lot with library kits on display.

This was the most challenging aspect of the program.  Whatever we planned to do, we would have to bring everything from tables and tents to craft supplies.  We decided to go with science experiments that could be done individually or as a team and didn’t need a lot of supplies to complete.  Each experiment had goals that would allow the teens to earn points towards a prize: a coupon for a free dilly bar at Dairy Queen. We had planned to run the program like one of our library programs with a set beginning and end time, and we advertised it that way, but we found that teens trickled in throughout the program time and could only spend an average of 15 minutes with us.  We modified the book talk to make it a quick introduction to the book and got the kids started on the experiments to keep them with us as long as possible. We passed out literacy kits to any teen who stopped by the tent and even a few that we chased down leaving the store. We only had 17 teens come to the first program and 12 teens come to the second program.

Step 3:  Get Your Local Schools Involved

 

Since the parking lot programs didn’t reach our target of 50 teens, we reached out to the middle school up the road from the Dollar General store.  They provide washers/dryers for homeless families in our area, and they also have a food pantry and used clothing rack. The school let us set up outside and pass out the literacy kits and honor books to teens during their laundry hours in July.  We were able to pass out the remaining 21 kits and 14 of the honor books to the teens that we had hoped to reach. Success!

A librarian is smiling in a tent full of books for teens.

 

Melissa Clark is the Library Manager at Millersville Public Library of Sumner County.

2019 Summer Learning Resources Grant: Creating Community: Teen Programming in an Urban Library

Located in Slavic Village, the Fleet Branch is one of 27 branches of the Cleveland Public Library. Fleet is one of the library’s busiest branches and serves a diverse population of patrons, from infants to seniors.

As a Children’s and Youth Services Librarian, I work with infants through teens. The library provides many programs, inside and outside the library, for our youth. Connecting with our younger patrons has always been easy. Connecting with our teens is much more challenging.

When I applied for the YALSA/Dollar General Summer Learning Resources Grant, I wanted to design a program that would engage and excite our teens. I wanted the program to be an opportunity for our teens to bond with each other and with the library staff. On most days, teens come to the library, use the computers, and leave. They have little interaction with anyone and it can be nearly impossible to get them off the computers.

My library branch is located in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood. The teens I serve deal with toxic stress every day and are not as apt to participate in programs. We try to entice them with food, movies, and music but are often unsuccessful. When teens do come to programs, they tend to keep to themselves and not interact with each other. I wanted to host a program that lent itself towards interaction and would be fun and engaging.

To do this, I purchased BreakoutEDU for our “Teen Agents: Mysteries Unraveled” program. BreakoutEDU is an escape room-esque program where teens are trying to solve clues and decipher codes to break in to a lock box. BreakoutEDU includes an interactive platform and a kit with lock boxes, locks, invisible ink pens, and other detective tools. BreakoutEDU supports collaboration. To solve each mystery, the teens have to communicate and work together.

Three teens stand in front of a dry erase board at Cleveland Public Library.

We had three teens register for the program and two of them showed up. On the first day of the program, we were able to get additional teens to join us. From the start, I could see the teens were having fun. We gave them their clues and told them to solve their first mystery. There was some initial hesitation, but they soon started talking and got to work. As the teens became acquainted with one another, they started to discuss other topics besides the mysteries they were working on. It was nice to see them begin to build relationships with each other.

Besides interacting with each other, the program also allowed the teens to interact with the youth staff. Myself and the branch’s library assistant facilitated the program. Although we were familiar with the teens who attended the program, we did not know them well. Throughout the program, the teens turned to us for guidance, which led to conversations and an increased rapport. Since the program’s conclusion, we have seen all of the teens in the library and had conversations with them. One of the teens even shared her writing with myself and the library assistant. The teens also told us they are excited to attend the program when we host it again.

Three teens gather around a table at Cleveland Public Library.

Even though we had small numbers for our program, I consider it a success. The program enabled our teens to meet new people and begin to establish relationships with the youth staff. I am looking forward to hosting more programs this fall!

 

Tracie Forfia is a Children’s & Youth Services Librarian at Cleveland Public Library.

#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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