As a part of the YALSA and Association for Small and Rural Libraries (ARSL), Institute of Museum and Library Services funded Future Ready with the Library project, cohort members meet monthly to talk about working with middle schoolers and community in support of social emotional learning (SEL) leading to college and career awareness. In December, the third cohort of the project spoke with LaKesha Kimbrough, the Student Success Coordinator at Washington Middle School in Seattle. LaKesha spoke about SEL, how to help library staff work successfully with middle schoolers, and how to build partnerships that build opportunities for success for middle school students.
The 38 minute video below is a compilation of clips from LaKesha’s conversation with cohort members.
One of the best decisions I ever made in my life was becoming a librarian…twice. Once as a school librarian and again as a public library consultant. As an English teacher, I loved sharing great short stories and books with my students. It was one of the best parts of the profession. So when I heard about an alternative certification program to become a school librarian, I jumped at that chance. I realized quickly that I didn’t truly know all of the things school librarians were responsible for and all of the things they did. However, I learned very quickly. While I was working on becoming certified as a school librarian and earning my MLS, my journey began. I had no clue I would one day become…The Dual Librarian!
Being a School Librarian
I am so thankful that I had a support system through my alternative certification (AC) program when I became a school librarian. It was a lot of on-the-job training since during the AC program, you became a full-time school librarian as you learned and became certified. When I first start programming for my middle school students, it was difficult because none of them stayed after school – they were all bus riders. I had to get creative. I realized that our students had plenty of time in the morning after they ate breakfast and sat and socialized in the open “auditorium” area. So I began doing programs before school! During one Teen Read Week, I got the teachers involved and did competitions such as Are You Smarter than a Middle Schooler and Name That Tune. It was great! It gave our students something constructive to do and let students and teachers learn more about each other and see each other in different ways. It also helped them see the library as a fun place and more students started to be active in the library.
In high school where my students did stay after school, I started programming with only academics in mind. However, I quickly realized that I could program events that were not academic at all, like scary movie nights and game nights just to get students in the library. Other events were connected to academia like book trivia, book clubs, and the Straight Talk program which went over topics that students were interested in like college readiness and health. I learned I needed to do anything I could to connect to the culture of the school and do programs that my students really wanted. Right as I was beginning to get my in my groove and feel successful as a school librarian, an opportunity came up to shake up my world.
The Johnson City Public Library (Johnson City, TN) began a new teen program called Stories to Service after receiving the YALSA Symposium Programming Challenge Award in 2018. Stories to Service is a teen volunteer program that combines literature with volunteerism through service projects and book clubs. The projects are both planned and implemented by teen volunteers between ages 12-18. Participants will gather to decide what service area they would like to focus on. Then the participants will read a book centered on their selected topic, discuss it together, and complete a project related to the book.
JCPL’s Teen Services Manager, Katelyn Wolfe, drew inspiration for this program from various discussions at the YALSA Symposium in November 2017, including presentations on teen volunteers and an author panel discussing Rudine Sims Bishop’s essay Windows, Mirrors, and Sliding Glass Doors. Her goal was to create a program that accommodated the large number of teens who needed volunteer hours but also gave them an opportunity to connect with their community in new ways. Upon returning to the library, Katelyn brought the idea to the Teen Advisory Board members, who were immediately on board and began brain-storming possible ideas. Continue reading
A close friendship between two librarians, a school librarian and a teen services librarian, led to the creation of the Jane Addams Book Club, a collaborative program between Southold Free Library and the Southold Junior/Senior High School Library, featured in the Public Library and School Library Collaboration Toolkit. Students in grades 5-7 read the winners of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, which recognizes children’s literature that encourages young people to think critically about “peace, social justice, global community, and equity for all people.” Through lively discussion, database research, and making connections to their own lives, students learned how social justice and equity can impact their lives and the wider global community.
The book club met at the public library and book club members used both the public and school library resources for their research. The subject matter of the books wasn’t the only topic up for discussion. Book club members did research on, and discussed their findings about, the authors and illustrators of the award winners in preparation for a trip to New York City to attend the award presentation. Penny Kelley, the Teen Services Librarian at Southold Free Library and co-creator of the book club, observed that, “meeting the authors and illustrators and hearing their stories, had a lasting effect on the students.” Students were inspired by the connections they had to the authors and were motivated to use art as a platform for change.
When asked for tips and tricks for building a collaborative relationship between public and school libraries, Ms. Kelley said an important thing to do is get school administration involved. She has developed an excellent relationship with the school principal and works closely with the school social workers and the guidance counselor. The school librarian is her most important ally. They collaborate on a number of additional projects including an Escape Room program and a talent show.
The Jane Addams Book Club hasn’t met since 2016, but Ms. Kelley mentioned that it’s time to reconvene. She is inspired to start the program again and is excited to get students together to talk about the newest award winners. “It really was a remarkable experience for the students and for the adults, too.”
Abby Moore is Associate Professor and Education Librarian at University of North Carolina Charlotte, and a member of the Interdivisional Committee on School and Public Library Cooperation.
Do you ever say to yourself or others, “We are in competition with <insert name of an out of school time or school-based program>?” If you do, it’s time to stop. To serve teens successfully we have to stop thinking we are in competition with others and instead focus on what others are already providing, where there are gaps in what’s available, and what libraries can do with others in the community to fill those gaps.
Frequently I hear staff saying they can’t get anyone to come to this or that program because so and so is also doing it. So, that should be a clue to several things:
First the program may very well not be needed if someone else is already doing it.
Second, it could be really useful to meet with those that are already providing that program or service and find out what they would like to be able to do but can’t, and/or how the library can provide support for that program or service.
Third, it’s time to look at where the gaps are in serving teens in the community and focus on working with community to fill in those gaps instead of doing something someone else is already doing, simply because it seems like a topic or activity the library should be focused on..
I think a lot about Josie Watanabe, the Student Success Program Manager at the Seattle Public Library. Josie manages an afterschool homework help program. A few years ago she discovered that at one library branch, which was a homework help site, numbers were going down. Josie did some investigating and discovered that a nearby elementary school received funding to start a school-based homework help program. What did Josie do? She said to herself, and others, “OK in that neighborhood the need for afterschool homework help is now being taken care of by another community organization, that means the public library can stop this service in this neighborhood, the library can support the school-based program by providing training to tutors, and hey let me see what other needs there are in this neighborhood that we can help fill without competing or duplicating.” Continue reading
Libraries and afterschool programs just click. We share so many passions, like fostering lifelong learning, encouraging family engagement, and serving the members of our community with the greatest need. It’s not uncommon for many libraries to host their own afterschool programs or to partner with local programs to make the most of their pooled resources and expertise. Together, we become champions for engaging children and young people in exciting, engaging learning opportunities during the school year and beyond.
On Thursday, October 25, approximately 8,000 afterschool programs across the country will open their doors to one million Americans in the nation’s only rally for afterschool. It’s a day to celebrate out-of-school time learning programs and everything they do to keep our kids safe and engaged after the school bell rings. Continue reading
This post was written by Megan Burton, STEM and Learning Supervisor at Kitsap Regional Library in Washington State and originally published by the Afterschool Alliance on August 30, 2018. Read the original post.
“It is a real collaboration,” said Nicole Rawlinson, Teen Services Librarian at the Sylvan Way branch of the Kitsap Regional Library describing her work with the local Boys and Girls Club.
In the middle of summer, a large construction project near the Boys and Girls Club put a damper on their planned activities. The Club’s Site Coordinators had to think fast. Where could they bring nearly 80 youth where they knew they could continue to offer high quality youth programming? They had a lightbulb moment– the library.
The partnership between the Library and the Boys and Girls Club is one built on trust, strengthened by a mutual understanding and a shared purpose. Over time these partners moved beyond simply sharing resources and began to think of ways they could engage in deeper partner activities. Throughout the summer, the Library and the Boys and Girls Club hosted an 8-week journalism program with the goal of co-supporting youth in creating their own magazine. Continue reading
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!
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 TranscendentKatelyn 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.
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.