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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Preparing students for Life After High School.

Free Events for Life After High SchoolFor me, my focus on helping teens transition from high school to adulthood began during the recession. I was working the help desk and there was a customer who was trying to complete the FAFSA on a paid website. I redirected them to FAFSA.ed.gov, but a few days later there was another customer who was doing a similar thing, only they had paid $80 for someone to fill out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

It may be the beginning of the school year, but one of my focuses this year is partnering with other organizations to ensure that accurate information gets to students and recent grads about college and alternatives to college. Continue reading

Back to School: Building the Resume

Many libraries are in a great position to help teens develop skills and experience they can add to their resume. Whether it be volunteering on a regular basis or honing graphic design or other useful technology proficiency, teens can gain that needed edge through the library for when they seek out other opportunities.

Last school year, I stumbled across a program at my local public school system that gives students school credit for being part of a library program such as volunteering! What a win-win situation for all! Read on for more details on how the program works. Continue reading

Back to School: iBooks Author

Whether you’re a school librarian or a public librarian, this is a great time to start considering how to work with teachers or school library media specialists in the coming school year. With so few schools being able to afford to have librarians anymore (an issue for another time), public librarians are in a great position to offer their support and create a mutual network between school teachers where both parties can learn and benefit. And school librarians can do the same.

This year I was inspired by an English teacher at my school who used iBooks Author to create an interactive textbook for her sixth graders. Since the units she was teaching involved folk tales, fairy tales, and mythology around the world, iBooks Author allowed her to compile myriad resources, from text to images to videos, into one place for her students. Then, because iBooks are for Internet-enabled devices, of course, those same resources can then be clicked on and link the students to the sources they come from so they can learn even more about what they’re reading. Goodbye to the readers I used in high school and college, where short stories and essays on our syllabus were compiled into a cheaply bound booklet after the library and the bookstore collaborated to get the legal rights squared away. Continue reading

Community Partners: Teen Services in a Rural Library

Taiko Drums

An interactive Taiko performance–forming new connections brings fresh knowledge to the library.

Rural librarianship can mean a small staff, but it can also mean a tight-knit community full of residents and organizations happy to share their knowledge. Working with other organizations and local experts helps maximize impact and expand services to new audiences without overburdening librarians.’ How do you find new partners? Leave the library!

Earlier this week, April Witteveen wrote an installment in the YALSA Blog’s Back to School series about making new connections within the school system. ‘ She recommends “stepping outside your comfort zone” which’ also applies to forming community partnerships. If you want to form a partnership to deliver new programming opportunities, step outside the building and strike up a conversation.’ ‘  Continue reading