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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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.