Adventures in Outreach: Pick a Partner

So you’re ready to embark on a micro partnership. You’ve done your community analysis, so you’re familiar with current demographic information in your area. You’ve considered which audiences you’d like to target to promote equity. Now all you need is a partner organization.

But how to choose? It’s a little bit like (very platonic) dating: who’s your perfect match?

The dating game

Choosing community partners:  almost nothing like The Dating Game.

 

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Adventures in Outreach: Micro Partnerships & Equity

SEA Urban Academy visit to TC & CEN Fall 2010

A partner brings some skeptical-looking teens to the library for a research workshop. (I’m pretty sure we won them over in the end.)

In my last post, I talked about the importance of relationship-building in outreach and community partnerships. It’s not always easy to create the time and space necessary to figure out what a partner organization really needs from the library, but for a strong community partnership, it’s well worth the investment.

But “community partnership” is a pretty vague term. I should probably clarify what I’m talking about.

For me, library partnerships fit into one of two main categories. Continue reading

Adventures In Outreach: Asking Questions

About four years ago, my little department (just one other Teen Services Librarian and me) decided to make a big change. We wanted to make outreach and community partnerships the central focus of our work. We weren’t sure exactly what that would entail, or how we should go about it. All we knew was that the Teen Center in our library wasn’t exactly packing in the teens.

empty TC

A relatively empty Teen Center, from the days before we began our focus on outreach.

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Teens as Information-Mediaries: An Investigation of Teens, Technology, and Design

Today, we often take for granted how teens use technology. It seems to be embedded into their every day lives and something they pick up easily. But have we ever wondered how teens use technology to help others every day, especially others who do not understand technology as well? A group of researchers at the University of Washington’s iSchool are investigating these teens, whom they refer to as “info-mediaries” (InfoMes). Karen Fisher, Philip Fawcett, Ann Bishop, and Lassana Magassa are working with mainly groups of ethnic minority teens in the Seattle area to gain a better understanding of how teens, as information mediaries are using information and technology to help others.

IMG_1171

My group working on our app. We are in the visual stages where we are drawing out what our problem is.

To gain this insight, the research team created Teen Design Days (see video link for a longer explanation). This is a three-day workshop where the teens gathered to discuss, learn, and explore how they help people in their social networks with information and technology. The teens are paid for their time and by the end of the workshop, will have created a design project that would help them. The design days are structured around the developmental needs for teens, identified by J. Davidson and D. Koppenhaver in their 1992 publication, Adolescent Literacy as “physical activity, competence and achievement, self-definition, creative expression, positive social interaction, structure, and clear limits.” This means that along with the learning, the teens take an active role in shaping the outcome of the workshop. From designing the rules and expectations, to participating in “light-and-lively” activities (physical activity component), the teens are truly front and center. As they begin to move from discussing their role as information mediaries to more fully fleshing out designs and solutions to improve their InfoMe work, the teens talk with each other, share ideas, and revise their design.

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Operation Military Kids: Teen Services in a Rural Library

The fall season is a favorite season for many-warm sweaters, fall leaves, pumpkins and apple cider. Autumn is also a time to reflect on the year’s bounty and to say thank you. November brings Election Day, Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving-three days we can extend a special thanks to our troops and veterans and to acknowledge the children and teens also affected by military life.

In my rural community, many young people are impacted by military deployment. The statistics show that many of the teens in your town may be as well. According to the Department of Defense, 1.8 million children and teens in the United States have family members who are currently serving in the military, and 85% of those teens attend public schools and most likely use public libraries (National Military Family Association).

Even if a teen doesn’t have a parent in active service, he or she may have a brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or cousin serving. Studies have shown that “rates of anxiety among military children – as well as emotional and behavioral difficulties – are higher than the national averages” (NMFA), but families cope better with deployment when they receive community support. The best way to help teens manage the stress of deployment is to acknowledge their experience by showing that you know who they are and that you are available to talk (NMFA). Continue reading

America After 3 PM: How Do Libraries Fit In?

From Open Clip Art

From Open Clip Art

The Afterschool Alliance just published a study regarding after school programs in the United States. This is the third study of its kind, following in the results from the 2004 and 2009 studies. The group wants to document where and how children spend their time between 3 and 6 PM. The previous studies, along with this one, show that there is a demand for after school programs.’  However, more programming is needed to help reach the approximately 11.3 million children who are unsupervised after school.

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REFORMA’s Children in Crisis Project

After the publication of a recent School Library Journal article, I had the pleasure of speaking with three members of ALA’s REFORMA about the group’s Children in Crisis Project.’  Oralia Garza de Cortes and Patrick Sullivan spearheaded the project and we were also joined by Silvia Cisneros, current REFORMA President.’  Cisneros had made a donation drop off at the McAllen, TX detention center on September 10th.

Silvia Cisneros

Silvia Cisneros with donation drop off at McAllen.’

I asked the trio about how easy is it to make a donation or offer support to the refugee children being held in these centers.’  All of them very quickly noted the level of difficulty; contracted defense workers will not allow the general public any individual contact with the children.’  Health and Human Services are allowed to accept two types of donations: blankets and books.’  As library workers we know the benefit of personal touch, but at the centers this is not an option.’  Cisneros notes that during her drop-off visit she delivered 225 books and these were received by Border Patrol Processing. ‘ ‘ A second donation drop-off occurred on October 17th at the Karnes City, TX distribution center.

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Help YALSA Advance Teen Services

Those in the YALSA community would probably have no trouble agreeing with the statement that teen services in libraries could benefit from broader support from the library community and beyond.’  In an effort to help advance library services for and with teens, YALSA and its Future of Teens & Libraries Taskforce have submitted a grant proposal via a competitive challenge organized by the Knight Foundation.’  If funded, the project would help libraries improve their overall teen program by providing them with free tools and resources to incorporate connected learning into their existing services. ‘ In order for this to have a chance at getting funded, the proposal needs to get a significant number of ‘applauds’ and comments from visitors to the site.’  We encourage you to ‘applaud’ the proposal and/or leave a comment, but also to take a moment to share this link out with your library networks, advocates and colleagues and ask them to leave a comment or give us some applause as well.’  The post is open to comments and applause until Oct. 21st, so timing is limited!’  Thank you for all that you do to help teens succeed in school and prepare for college and careers.’  The great work that you do makes a difference in so many lives, and together we can have an even bigger impact!

Apply for a Free 3D Printer from 3D Systems!

3D Systems, in collaboration with YALSA, is committed to expanding young people’s access to 21st century tools like 3D design, 3D scanning and 3D printing.’  The MakerLab Club is a brand new community of thousands of U.S. libraries and museums committed to advancing 3D digital literacy via dedicated equipment, staff training and increased public access.

3D Systems will provide new 3D printers to qualified libraries and museums across the country.’  Recipients will be selected via an application process and are expected to join the MakerLab Club as well as provide access to 3D printing and design programs and services for their communities.’  Libraries can apply via an online application now until November 17th, 2014. Printers will be allocated on a competitive basis.

ELIGIBILITY AND MEMBERSHIP REQUIREMENTS
Membership in the MakerLab Club is available to libraries committed to creating or expanding makerlabs and/or making activities and to providing community access to 3D printers and digital design.

MAKER LAB CLUB BENEFITS
Libraries can receive up to four Cube 3D printers, as well as regular access to workshop curricula and content via webinars. Libraries will also receive exclusive equipment discounts and opportunities to win free hardware and software. In addition to resources and training library staff can join and participate in communities of practice in order to exchange ideas and best practices.

LEARN MORE ABOUT MAKING
Learn more about making in libraries via the resources on YALSA’s wiki, including a free webinar and downloadable toolkit.’  And be sure to mark your calendar for March 8 – 14, 2015 when we celebrate Teen Tech Week with the theme “Libraries are for Making ____________.”

For more information about the printers, please contact Neal Orringer at Neal.Orringer@3DSystems.com

Let it Go…the End of a Partnership

Creating and sustaining a partnership between your library and another community organization can be a feather in your professional cap; both the entities meet their goals, you get to shine in the eyes of administrators, and future possibilities seem endless.’  Then…Something changes.’  Communication fades.’  The project that went so smoothly one week/month/year ago seems to suddenly be covered in obstacles.’  Cue hair-tearing and a bevy of emotions connected to what we think should be happening.’  Should I have written more email?’  Less email?’  Should I have set different goals?’  Should I just wait and see if things get better?

Regardless of the answers to these questions, guilt or fear of failure needn’t keep you from an eyes-wide-open assessment that could lead to the end of the partnership or project.’  Linda Braun’s recent YALSA Blog article on how to fail offers particular insight: “…at the end of the process look at what worked and didn’t work and then decide next steps. What were you looking for in the partnership and did you achieve that – why/why not?”

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