YALS 2017 Spring Resources: Libraries as Refuge for Marginalized Youth

In the Spring 2017 issue of YALS, (digital edition available now
to members & subscribers via the Members Only section of the YALSA website) Rica G shares her experience of teaching Hip Hop as a way of life and a means to empower youth. Her article includes references and resources that shouldn’t be missed. The full list of those resources follows:

Brundin, Jenny. “Denver Teachers, Students Are Confronting The Anxiety Of A Trump Presidency.”CPR.org. November 16, 2016. http://www.cpr.org/news/story/denver-teachers-students-are-confronting-the-anxiety-of-a-trump-presidency

Debraski, Sara, Finney, Meg, Kolderup, Gretchen, Lalitha Nataraj, et al. “Core Professional Values for the Teen Services Profession,” Young Adult Library Services Association, July 25, 2015, http://www.ala.org/yalsa/sites/ala.org.yalsa/files/content/YALSA_CoreProfessionalValues.pdf.

National Safe Space. “What is Safe Place?” Nationalsafespace.org. December 22, 2016. http://nationalsafeplace.org/what-is-safe-place/

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Advocacy – Resources for District Days

Hello YALSA Friends!

Let’s face it, advocacy can be an intimidating charge. The thought of “taking legislative action” can conjure thoughts of putting on an interview-style suit, marching to the state capitol’s doors, and spouting as much legal jargon as possible. In reality, I’ve found that while library advocacy can involve sharp suits and capitol visits, it can also involve a tweet. Or a simple invitation to a library program. Or just introducing yourself to your local, state, or federal lawmaker. I promise this process is not as scary as it sounds.

That said, we’re library people, and our problem-solving skills typically involve some kind of book… right? So here are a couple of short, accessible reads to get an idea of why advocacy matters in our profession and how to get started with doing more of it!

Citizens in Action: A Guide to Lobbying and Influencing Government by Stephanie Vance

Stephanie Vance is pretty fantastic! She spoke at this year’s ALA Legislative Day in DC, and I was blown away by how concise, intelligent, and useful her message was. I used to work in the state capitol building, but even with some experience under my belt, I’ve found this book to be immensely useful. Like her public speaking, Vance’s book is practical and direct. Great stuff for librarians (and all citizens, really) to know about approaching legislators in a poised and prepared fashion.

Grassroots Library Advocacy by Lauren Comito, Aliqae Geraci, and Christian Zabriskie

Co-author Christian Zabriskie from the Queens Library is the Executive Director of Urban Librarians Unite. He has contributed to the Hub on the very topic of library/teen advocacy. I highly recommend this book for a number of reasons: firstly, I read it on a 2-hour plane flight; secondly, it leaves you with a number of practical ideas/takeaways; thirdly, it’s a fantastic introduction, especially if you have little-to-no legislative advocacy experience.

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Afterschool programs in libraries are awesome –go tell someone!

Libraries and schools have a longstanding partnership, working together to support kids and teens in a variety of ways.  The most obvious way libraries have assisted schools is through simply loaning books, but many take this further by providing tutors, carrying special collections aligned with school reading lists, and conducting school visits and research assistance in the library.  And as the title of this post hints, lots of libraries offer afterschool programs specifically aimed at taking over where the school day ends.

Before getting into the wealth of assistance libraries provide, let’s look at the existing need.  A 2014 study found that more than 15 million students are on their own without supervision from 3 to 6 p.m., the window with the highest levels of youth crime and high-risk behavior, and largest percentage of crimes committed against children and teens.[1]  On the flip side, participation in afterschool programs is correlated with lower crime levels, safer overall behavior, greater school attendance and engagement, higher test scores, better self-esteem, and much more.[2]  These outcomes are found across all sectors, and are strongest for at-risk students – a fact that may seem counterintuitive to some.

In 2015 over one third of public libraries reported offering regular afterschool programs,[3] which doesn’t include standalone or ad hoc programs.  With the increasing surge of STEM programming in libraries and establishment of maker spaces and learning labs for patrons of all ages, this number has certainly grown.  Take a look at your local library’s program calendar and you are sure to find an array of afterschool offerings.  Yay, libraries are awesome, and they change lives in very real and important ways!

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District Days Program @ Your Library!

We’re in the middle of District Days, which means our elected officials are taking a break from Washington to visit constituents in their home districts. Many of us who work in public and school libraries are also in the transition space between epic summer reading and prepping our fall program and class schedule. Maybe we’re even trying to squeeze in a little summer for ourselves. This puts us in a tricky position to find ways to #act4teens.

What about a self-directed postcard station? Teens can write a short note to their elected officials and the library will deliver or mail them to the district’s elected officials. This program not only amplifies the youth voice, it also creates a nice opportunity to highlight what libraries do for teens inside the building. Members of the Teen Advisory Group at Lewis & Clark Library built a display and designed the postcard. I photocopied the design onto cardstock and supplied pens and a collection box. I’ll mail the first batch this week, along with a letter and copies of What Public Libraries Do for Teens and the Why Teens Need Libraries brochure.

Please consider participating in District Days and contacting your Senators and Representatives. Strong library services for teens are crucial in every community. Be an advocate!

Heather Dickerson is chair of the YALSA Legislation Committee and Teen Services Librarian at Lewis & Clark Library in Helena, Montana.

 

District Days: Griffin High School

My name is Nell German, and I have been a high school media specialist for three years, one in Illinois, and two in Georgia.  I have had the blessing to work in two public libraries and a law school library, so I have sort of covered the gambit.

We have a unique opportunity during the month of August, to really advocate for our libraries, at all levels.  How, you may ask?  By taking advantage of the Congressional break and inviting our legislators into our libraries.

Illinois has not had a state budget for two years.  School districts are having to cut certified media specialist in most, if not all of their schools.  I interviewed for a position where I would have been a district media specialist for a district with one high school (1600 students), two middle schools, and six elementary schools.  The two middles schools would have had an aide, and the elementary schools relied on parent volunteers.  There was no budget for additional collection development.

In Georgia, the public libraries are severely underfunded.  Despite the herculean efforts of the staff, many public libraries are not able to add even the most popular new titles to their collections.

We all know how crucial our school and public libraries are, let’s get our legislators into our libraries and let them know the struggles we are all dealing with.  YALSA and the legislative committee have some great resources available to you.  The one to start with is the brief webinar of how to approach your legislator and how to open these very necessary conversations.

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YALS Summer 2016 – A Library’s Role in Digital Equity

YALS-Summer-2016-CoverWhen initially looking at the Pew Research Report statistics Crystle Martin referred to in her YALS article, A Library’s Role in Digital Equity, one may assume the digital divide is coming to a close with the rise of teen’s access to technology. According to the 2015 study:

87% of teens have access to a desktop/laptop computer
73% of teens have access to a smartphone
58% of teens have access to a tablet computer

The report also shares the primary way teens access the internet with 91% of them using mobile devices at least occasionally. This means if a teen has a mobile phone with internet access they are adequately connected to the digital world, right? Martin counters this argument by throwing down more facts such as, “one-quarter of those earning below the median income and one-third of those living below poverty level accessed the Internet only through their mobile devices.” Resulting in a significant part of the population being under-connected according to the “Opportunity For All?” findings.

What does this have to do with libraries, though? In the current trend of libraries increasingly adding “innovation” to mission statements and “technology skills” to job descriptions while working towards increasing access we may be missing the key element in creating digital equity, or equal access and opportunity. Giving teens school tablets or providing free library wifi is a great start, but what happens when that teen lives in a home without an internet connection or lives too far away from the library to attend on weekends? When used correctly technology can be a valuable tool in fostering digital participation, but our approach as educators is the most important action to take.

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Personal Service Priority Plan, Part 6

Each summer I’m faced with the same dilemma: a huge number of community events at which I could do outreach but only one of myself! The problem becomes compounded by the fact that I can’t be both in and out of the library building at the same time. When school is out for the summer, I want to be available to youth and families who come to my branch searching for me. 

Summer Festival Outreach

Summer Festival Outreach

I’ve worked hard to build relationships with those youth, and I want them to feel personally welcomed as much as possible when they come to “their” library. However, as we know from YALSA’s Intended Impact Statement, it is critical that we “reach out to serve ALL teens in the community…whether or not they frequent the library space.”

It’s a micro version of what all libraries face: we recognize that we must provide excellent service and opportunities for learning both in and out of our buildings, but we often don’t have the number of staff needed to provide the same levels of service in and out of the buildings at the same time. The community branch youth services librarian can’t be simultaneously meeting with youth outside the building and working with youth at the branch. Our colleagues do a fantastic job of providing service to youth in our branches while we’re out in the community, but the very nature of working effectively with youth calls for consistency and trust. The YALSA vision calls for quality services like coaching and mentoring as well as tailoring to the community – wonderful and worthy goals that are difficult to achieve if individual youth services staff are in a staffing position where they can’t consistently work to build and maintain relationships with individual youth.

At the core of this dilemma is the bigger philosophical question: is the goal of outreach to get people to come to our library branches and use our services here, or is it to take library services out of the building into the community without the expectation that the patrons we’re reaching in that way will ever enter a library building? From a youth services perspective, if we attend community events to meet teens we’re not seeing at the branches with the end goal of attracting them to the branch, it makes sense that the person they see at the community event should, whenever possible, be the same person they see when they come to the branch.  Continue reading

YALSA @ ALA Annual 2016: Update on Board Meetings, Discussions & Actions

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July!

As we celebrated our country’s independence last weekend, YALSA, too, has sought to break free from past models of association work and is currently exploring new ways to engage our members that better meet their interests, skills and busy lifestyles.

It was with those #teensfirst  and members’ first ideals in mind that the 2015-2016 YALSA Board approached our work before and during ALA Annual last month as we worked on aligning existing YALSA groups, programs and services with the association’s new Organizational Plan.

Here are some highlights:

– The Board adopted the following consent items, which were items that were discussed and voted on previous to annual, including:

– The Board also approved a more concrete structure to support and revitalize interest groups.

– The Board approved experimenting with new kinds of member engagement opportunities, especially virtual and short-term ones.

As part of its effort to align YALSA’s existing work with the new Organizational Plan, as well as update member engagement opportunities so that they better meet member needs, the Board began a review of all existing member groups at our June meeting.  While the Board was not able complete the review, we did come to decisions about some of the groups.

– The Board agreed that the following committees’ structure and workflow will remain as they currently are:

  • Alex Award Committee
  • Editorial Advisory Board for YALS/YALSAblog
  • Financial Advancement Committee
  • Margaret Edwards Award Committee
  • Mentoring Task Force
  • Michael Printz Award Committee
  • Morris Award Committee
  • Nonfiction Award Committee
  • Odyssey Award Interdivisional Committee
  • Organization and Bylaws Committee
  • The Hub Advisory Board

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Week of Making: Bringing makerspaces to teens

CC: SJPL Pop-Up Mobile Maker's Space by San Jose Library

CC Image courtesy of San José Library on Flickr

Just over a month ago I became the first STEAM Librarian at the San José Public Library, located in the heart of Silicon Valley. While my title is new, STEAM programming is far from new to my urban library system. Surrounded by so many technology resources and partners, we are lucky to have passionate library staff leading STEAMstacks programs and participating in worldwide events like Hour of Code.

Before my position was even created our Innovations Manager brainstormed ways to extend STEAM programming to the city’s underserved neighborhoods. Part of the envisioned future stated in The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action is for library staff to “leave the physical school library or public library space regularly and provide services to targeted communities of teens (e.g. those who are incarcerated, homeless, in foster care, or in classrooms and other in school locations) where they are, rather than waiting for teens to find a way to get to the physical library space.” The Maker[Space]Ship, a mobile makerspace, is designed to do just that.

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Rethinking YALSA: What’s New in YALSA and How You Can Be a Part of It!

The YALSA Board has been hard at work throughout this year and last year looking at YALSA’s Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action report, association capacity and sustainability, and incorporating member and stakeholder feedback to re-envision the organization’s Strategic Plan to create an association that is more nimble, more modern and more reflective of the needs of teens and our members both today and into the future.

The result is YALSA’s new Organizational Plan!

Please check it out: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/aboutyalsa/strategicplan

You can also find YALSA’s new Mission, Vision, and Impact Statements (http://www.ala.org/yalsa/aboutyalsa/mission%26vision/yalsamission) and the Implementation Plan (http://www.ala.org/yalsa/sites/ala.org.yalsa/files/content/ImplementationPlan.pdf)

Mission: Our mission is to support library staff in alleviating the challenges teens face, and in putting all teens ‒ especially those with the greatest needs ‒ on the path to successful and fulfilling lives.

Vision: Our vision is that all teens have access to quality library programs and services ‒ no matter where they occur ‒ that link them to resources, connected learning opportunities, coaching, and mentoring that are tailored to the unique circumstances of the community and that create new opportunities for all teens’ personal growth, academic success, and career development

Intended Impact Statement: To meaningfully address the challenges teens face today and to put more teens on the path to a successful and fulfilling life, YALSA will support library staff who work for and with teens in the transformation of teen library services so that:

  • Libraries reach out to and serve ALL teens in the community no matter what their backgrounds, interests, needs, or abilities, and whether or not they frequent the library space.
  • The library “space” is at once both physical and virtual. It connects teens to other people, printed materials, technology, and digital content, not limiting teens to a designated teen area but rather inviting them into the full scope of the library’s assets and offerings.
  • Teens co-create, co-evaluate, and co-evolve library programs and activities with library staff and skilled volunteers (including mentors and coaches) based on their passions and interests. These programs and activities are connected to teens’ personal, work, or academic interests across multiple literacies; generate measurable outcomes for teens’ skills and knowledge; and are tailored to the unique circumstances of the community.

To achieve this impact, the YALSA Board identified the following priority areas:

  • Leading the transformation of teen library services (including a cultural competency component)
  • Advocacy to policy makers at all levels to increase support for teen library services
  • Funder and partner development

We’re really excited about the new plan and our #TeensFirst focus and we want to know what your thoughts and/or questions are!

To that end, we’ve put together an Organizational Plan FAQ: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/organizational-plan-faq-2016-2018

YALSA President-Elect Sarah Hill and I are also hosting a virtual video townhall on Monday, June 13th, from 2-3 p.m. Eastern via Zoom.  Please contact the YALSA Office at yalsa@ala.org for the access information.

And, if you’re attending ALA Annual in Orlando next month, we will also be hosting a face to face session on YALSA’s new Organizational Plan on Saturday, June 25th, from 8:30-10 a.m. at the Rosen Centre, Room Salon 03/04, called What’s New in YALSA and How You Can Be a Part of It!

If you have any other questions, comments, concerns and/or compliments, feel free to email me at candice. YALSA [at] gmail.com or reach me via Twitter @tinylibrarian! Hope to see you online and/or in person at our Townhall and at ALA Annual!