Programming-mobile: One Rural Library System’s Attempt to Engage Underserved Teens & Children

Marion County, South Carolina is rural and fairly spread out. The Marion County Library System relies heavily on bookmobile services to reach patrons in some of the farthest corners of the county and those who live in underserved areas. However, in recent years, bookmobile usage has begun to decline, especially among young adults and children, and the disparity between branch and bookmobile services has widened.  This inequality of access is most apparent during summer reading.

Patrons who only receive bookmobile service are encouraged to track their reading and receive prizes during the summer months, but they do not receive any programming and our time with them is very limited. During Summer Reading 2018, however, the library system was given an incredible opportunity—turning the bookmobile into a programming-mobile.

With a Summer Learning Grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and YALSA, we were able to turn our bookmobile into a programming machine for the summer months and give some of the bookmobile children the full library experience!

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$50 for 20: A Dollar General Grant Winner’s Shopping Spree

The $50 for 20 Program made possible by the Dollar General/YALSA Summer Learning Grant had a broader reach than we had ever imagined. The idea was born from a conversation I overheard between a student and the counselor as I was passing in the hallway. The counselor asked, “What do you like to do during the summer?” The student replied, “I just read my mom’s books over and over.” She didn’t have her own books.

Our original was to have high school teachers select twenty of the most at-risk students who needed books at home. We then gave each student $50 each to spend on books and took them on a field trip to the closest bookstore, Books-A-Million, which is 70 miles away.

We started by planning with the 9-12th grade English teachers to help identify the twenty students who would benefit most from having books to read over the summer. Once they were identified, I met with each student individually and explained what we had planned for them and checked to see if they could go with us on the scheduled trip. I met with the principal and received pre approval for our school district to provide the bus driver’s salary, the fuel expense, and the cost of a meal for each student.

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Barrio Writers – It’s all about Intentionality

Barrio Writers is a free, week long, college level writing workshop that is specifically geared towards youth in underserved communities. The program came to my attention through the direction of my colleague, Patricia Valdovinos, our former Outreach Services Librarian. She mentioned that she knew of a cool program an author friend of hers had started down in Santa Ana; I looked into it (you can too, https://www.barriowriters.org/), and knew almost immediately that we needed to bring the program to our youth.

2017 Barrio Writers and writing mentors at the Mary L. Stephens Branch in Davis, CA

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Summer Learning Program Grant updates juvenile detention library

I attended a breakout session at MLA about reaching out to incarcerated youth. I was inspired by the session to do just that – reach our incarcerated youth! I connected with our local juvenile detention center, and worked closely with their summer activities director to bring books to three different groups of incarcerated teens every week. This has been a very rewarding experience!

I have one group of female youth and two groups of males. I have enjoyed experiencing the variety of interests ranging from ancient historical fiction to auto mechanics to lots of NBA! They are always excited to see the new selection of books to choose from each week!

The grant dollars allowed me to update their in-house library which was much needed and greatly appreciated! The detention center has asked me to continue my weekly visits throughout the school year which is the best measure of success to my way of thinking!

Kristine Swanson is the outreach librarian for the Public Libraries of Saginaw. She has the privilege of taking the library to underserved groups of people in her community including the juvenile detention center, assisted living communities and memory care units. She feels blessed every day to be doing what she is doing!

Summer Youth Leaders Wrap-Up @ Pearl Bailey Library

We’ve checked in with our Summer Youth Leaders here and here, and this is Pearl Bailey Library’s final post of the summer.

The youth have helped serve the library and the community in a variety of ways, thanks to the generosity of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and YALSA. They helped serve over 400 people at the Wickham Avenue Alliance Summer Ice Cream Social event, and assisted us in advertising the library’s services and collections at that event.

In addition they had fun participating in an “adulting” event called the Reality Store, where each Youth Leader had to manage a hypothetical family budget.

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Using Teen Interns to Assist in Feeding Youth & the Community

Summer break can be the hungriest time of the year for kids, but the Olathe Public Library in Olathe, Kansas was fighting hunger with a summer meal program at their two library locations. Youth were fed lunches Monday through Friday at both of library locations. On Fridays the community was also welcomed to participate in a free community lunch.

The Olathe Public Library received a generous grant from Dollar General to hire two interns during the 2018 summer programs. The two teen interns focused on assisting the one staff member run the lunch programs every week day starting from when school got out till the end of summer. Teen intern, Alexis Proctor, also assisted in showing movies and supervising the youth on Monday afternoons during the summer. Alexis completed almost a 100 hours this summer at our Downtown location.

Our second teen intern was Jackie Holst who completed almost 50 hours this summer at our Indian Creek location. She provided some much needed assistance to our seasonal staff member over the lunch programs by providing assistance with room set-up and leading the volunteers.

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Back to the Basics: Why Getting Teens Writing is Important

The Reading Public Library, Teen Loft located in Reading, PA provided three three-hour writing workshops this summer facilitated by professionals funded by the YALSA/Dollar General Summer Learning Grant.

  • Ekphrastic Poetry: Motivos, a bilingual print magazine run by founder/publisher and former ALA National presenter Jenee Chizick-Aguero, provided a workshop on ekphrastic poetry. Teens used the elements around them and drew inspiration from things that were familiar to them such as music, movies, and artwork to find their creative voice. Jenee also encouraged them to submit their writing to her magazine for publication. She also shared resources her magazine provided such as scholarship information. The RPL also subscribes to her magazine so that they are available at all times.

  • Short Story Writing: Young Adult author of Immaculate and Transcendent Katelyn Detweiler began with a discussion about how she got into writing, the challenges she faces and working for a publishing company in New York which gave teens insight into how a book is created from start to finish. Teens were then given prompts to help get them started.
  • Comic Book Panels: Author and artist Jean Esther taught teens how to make their own comic book and the challenges he faced when creating his own. He also spoke about his journey as an artist. The workshop started off with basic drawing tips and tricks they could use to bring their drawings to the next level. After they created their main characters, they were ready to work on their storylines and share their work.

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Gimme a C (for Collaboration!): Brunch and Books

First session of Brunch and Books. Photo credit: Andy Tullis, Bend Bulletin.

Thanks in part to the Library Linx partnership program featured in the Public Library and School Library Collaboration toolkit, Deschutes Public Libraries (OR) have seen a significant increase in collaborative programming with area schools. One great success has been my involvement with a local high school. Eila Overcash, teacher-librarian at Summit High School, had a great brainstorm about three years ago. She wanted to attract new students to her media center as well as capitalize on the interest of the strong corps of readers she served every day. She began a weekly Brunch and Books program during the school’s lunch period; teens could drop by the library for tasty snacks, book-related craft projects or games, and connect with other students. Eila invited me to come to Brunch and Books once a month to do book talks and share library news.

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Future Ready with the Library: Making Time for Partnerships

Each month members of the second cohort of the YALSA and ARSL IMLS-funded Future Ready with the Library project meet virtually to talk about what they are working on, ask questions of each other, and build skills and knowledge related to middle school college career readiness. In an August live session a portion of the conversation focused on how staff working on the Future Ready project are able to manage time for partnerships and for working with community. This 5 minute video clip presents highlights from that conversation.

Learn more about the Future Ready project on the YALSA website.

Future Ready with the Library: Bringing Social Emotional Learning to Teens, Families, & Community

This post was written by YALSA Future Ready with the Library Cohort 2 member Vicki Bartz, County Librarian, Ortonville and Graceville (MN) Public Library.

SEL wheel created by CASEL - https://casel.org/what-is-sel/For the Ortonville and Graceville (MN) Library’s Future Ready with the Library project I am working with a committee of family and community members to develop our college career readiness services for middle school youth and their families. The planning process has been interesting as we learn how best to connect with the schools and other community members to develop a successful service. We want to focus on middle school social emotional learning as a step towards college career success. However, while some of those we are working with see great value in helping middle school teens gain social emotional skills in order to prepare for life success, others have not been so certain that this focus is important to this work.

After working with our planning committee we decided to host a meeting of parents and teens with a focus on social emotional learning. At the meeting we talked with parents about the five skills teens need in order to be successful in life. As we had this discussion with parents, the middle schoolers worked on the 5 Love Languages Mystery Game. This game gives young people the chance to think about what they most would like to recieve from a caring adult – a hug, having someone else clean their room, getting a surprise, and so on. From this teens gain an understanding of the types of support they would like to receive from adults.
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