Teens, Autonomy and TTW

Think back to when you were a teenager- no matter how long ago that was.  You probably remember fights with your parents over curfews and independence.  You wanted autonomy.  This still holds true today. One thing we routinely hear from our Teen Advisory Board is that they want to be involved, they want leadership opportunities and responsibilities.  They want to be involved in planning and implementing programs for younger children and they want to help with summer reading events for small children.  This inspired us in planning for Teen Tech Week.

Our library has wanted to hold a workshop on smartphone photography for adults and seniors.  However, the planning  of this workshop had stalled until the opportunity for Teen Tech Week came about.  What better way to give teens leadership and responsibility than by inviting them to help us plan and implement this workshop.  Teens often have technology experience and skills far beyond those of adults, so it is only natural to incorporate them into the design of this workshop.  Teens are invited to help us brainstorm a workshop to help adults learn to take quality photos with their smartphones and how to share the photos electronically.  We hope to discuss basic photography skills such as focus, zoom and basic composition as well as popular apps for editing and sharing photos.  In conjunction with this activity, teens are invited to participate in a photo contest.

Continuing the theme of utilizing teens’ skills and experience as well as their desire for leadership and independence, we are going to invite them for a discussion on what it means to be a responsible digital citizen.  Library staff will lead and guide a discussion on protecting your personal data online, and controlling your digital footprint.  We also hope to incorporate “fake news” and current events into this discussion.  Teens will then have the opportunity to create library displays, an educational bulletin board or other informational materials to share this knowledge with the community.  Again, this allows teens to creatively share their knowledge with a wider audience.  Along with this program, we will ask teens and tweens to create anti-cyberbullying posters for the library.  This will allow teens to inform younger children about how to protect themselves online, and how to stand up to cyberbullying.

Lastly, it was our goal in planning Teen Tech Week that we encourage young women in technology and other STEM studies.  We have partnered with a local college’s Women’s Engineering Club.  The club will provide hands on activities such as Makey Makey and Lego Robotics in addition to the library’s Ozobots, 3Doodlers and circuit stickers. Giving teens hands on experiences with fun technology is important.  But we also wanted to provide role models, particularly to girls.

Our plans for Teen Tech Week look to meet our teens’ needs by providing them with opportunities to share their knowledge, build their leadership skills, and foster a library environment for teens that promotes respect.   This year’s Teen Tech Week slogan, “Be the Source of Change” implores libraries to be sources of positive change, starting with our teens.  What better way to do that by giving them autonomy.

Melanie Miller is the Director of the Alfred Box of Books Library located in Alfred, NY, a recipient of YALSA’s Teen Tech Week 2017 Grant.

TTW Grant Winner: VR @ the Library

For this year’s Teen Tech Week, the Willmar Public Library will be implementing a virtual reality (VR) program for teens.  Through YALSA’s Teen Tech Week Grant, the library was able to purchase an HTC Vive, green screens, and several Steam apps for teens to test out.

VR @ the Library will be a two-part program.  On the first day, members of the library’s Teen Advisory Board (TAB) will teach their peers about VR and show them how to use several Steam VR apps.  The teens will then get to choose which VR app they would like to try and each of them will get to take a turn in using the equipment.  For the second, four-hour program, twelve registered teens will get twenty minutes each to test out the app(s) of their choice.

Through this program, the library hopes to give teens the opportunity to experience, learn and create with the Steam VR apps Job Simulator, Tilt Brush, Sound Stage, The VR Museum of Fine Art, and Google Earth VR.  TAB members selected these apps for their universal appeal and  potential to provide quality educational experiences: Job Simulator allows teens to try out four different jobs that were available before the fictional robot apocalypse, giving them a taste of what life could be like in their future careers, albeit with a humorous twist; Tilt Brush allows teens to create their own virtual world with the touch of a brush, allowing them to express themselves creatively; Sound Stage lets teens become their own DJ, making and manipulating music to create their own sound; The VR Museum of Fine Art allows teens to browse through a museum of real life art and learn about the history of each piece; and Google Earth VR lets teens travel to and explore places around the world that they may not otherwise have the chance to visit.

To prepare for the program, TAB members will install and test out the VR equipment and software to get a better idea of what the VR apps can do, what age range each app is suitable for, and estimate how much time it will take for a person to complete an activity in each of the apps.  The teens will use this experience to help set up the equipment on the day of the program and to help their peers use the apps if they are not sure what to do.

The library hopes that this program will provide a fun and safe environment for teens to explore VR technology together, while still having a quality educational experience.  The library also hopes that this VR experience will make teens feel more comfortable with using new technology and inspire them to try out other new technologies as well.

The impact and success of this program will be measured through the number of participants as well as by the teens’ evaluations after both programs and at the monthly TAB meeting. 

By the end of the program, the library expects that teens will:

  • have developed a basic understanding of VR
  • be comfortable with using VR equipment and at least one VR app
  • be able to teach their peers to use VR equipment and at least one VR app
  • feel that they have learned skills that can be applied to other areas of technology and life
  • express an interest in learning to use a new technology
  • feel comfortable approaching and learning a new technology

Evaluations will be assessed by the TAB, teen services librarian and head librarian.  The library would like to use the evaluations to plan subsequent VR programming at the library that reflects the interests and needs of the teens who attended this program.

The teens have been talking about implementing VR programming since early last year and are so excited to get started during Teen Tech Week.  Thank you again to YALSA for making this programming possible.

Emily Sovell is the Teen/Young Adult Services Librarian at Willmar Public Library.  The Willmar Public Library is the largest of a 32-library consortium, which is part of the Pioneerland Library System.  Willmar is located 90 miles west of Minneapolis/St. Paul, in West Central Minnesota.

YALSA’s Spring Professional Learning is Here

Spring is just about here and YALSA is ready to support your professional learning needs with our spring Snack Breaks, webinars, and e-courses. Here’s what’s we’ve got for you:

Snack Breaks

Every month YALSA posts a new Snack Break, a short video about a topic of current interest to library staff working with teens. The March installment, produced by Megan Christine-Carlin Burton (from the Kitsap Regional Library) features teens describing what STEM means to them and how the activities they take part of in and through the library supports their teen learning.

You can check out our past Snack Breaks and find the new productions posted each month in the YALSA Snack Break playlist.
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Teen Programming in Art Museums

Room to Rise was a collaboration project and study between the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Walker Art Center, the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston, and The Museum of Contemporary Arts of Los Angeles. The research study worked to find data that shows the long-term impact of museum programs for teens, and was supported by a National Leadership Grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.

Each of the mentioned museums has “nationally recognized teen programs” and the “bring highly diverse urban youth together to work collaboratively with museum staff and artists, developing vibrant activities and events to engage teen audiences.” The programs are: Whitney Museum of American Art’s Youth Insights, Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC), Contemporary Art Museum of Houston (CAMH) Teen Council, Museum of Contemporary Art of Los Angeles (MOCA) Teen Program; they have all been active for about eight or more. These programs range from giving tours, making exhibits, performances, working with artists and museum staff, visual literacy, and fashion shows.

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A Call to Action for Graphic Novels

The New York Times shocked its readership when it announced that it was losing some of its bestsellers lists, including the graphic novels bestsellers list. It’s a devastating loss for librarians and graphic novelists alike. There has been a public outcry among graphic novelists, although there has been division even amongst the voices speaking out. Newer bestselling authors like Raina Telgemeier lay out the reasons why it disappoints her, while Neil Gaiman proudly proclaims that he never needed a separate list when Sandman first came out.

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YALSA Winter CE Not to Be Missed

There’s lots of opportunities this winter to take advantage of YALSA CE that focuses on making sure teens in your community have access to materials and services that meet their specific needs. Here’s what’s on our lineup:

Let’s Keep it Real: Library Staff Helping Teens Examine Issues of Race, Social Justice, and Equity
January 26, 2017, 2PM Eastern
Library staff play an important role in helping teens to gain skills, comfort, and confidence in making decisions and having discussions related to social justice, equity, and race. In this webinar you’ll have the chance to learn about how to help teens recognize their abilities in this area. Library Journal Mover and Shaker Amita Lomial will facilitate the webinar. Check out a portion of Amita’s 2015 webinar for YALSA on libraries and cultural competence.

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En-route to Transforming Teen Library Services

Imagine a library where tweens develop and run an oral history project, working with seniors in the community to podcast their knowledge about the community, with mentoring from the anthropology and education students at the local community college, and then create a Wikipedia page for their community.

Imagine a library where a group of teens co-design the window display for the local boutique with their merchandising managers for their spring/summer collection for teens, by doing research in the library on the upcoming weather pattern for spring/summer with a local meteorologist, and work with the faculty members and students from the School of Design at the local community college to put their designs together and present their ideas to the local boutique owners.

How do we become this kind of librarian – one who leverages technology, design, community partnerships and the latest research on learning in informal spaces?

The new, online Graduate Certificate of Professional Studies in Youth Experience (YX) is designed to give you these skills and more, in alignment with YALSA’s Leading the Transformation of Teen Library Services priority area in its new organization plan.

Working in partnership with YALSA, the ALA Office of Information Technology and Policy (OITP), an advisory board of top researchers and library leaders, and with the support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the YX Certificate is designed to answer the needs of librarians in an evolving landscape of learning and technology.

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Connected libraries: Surveying the current landscape and charting a path to the future

Library programs designed for and by teens. One-on-one professional mentorship. Makers of different age groups and cultures collaborating on projects. Partnerships with department stores, architectural firms, and design schools. These are just a few of the ways that public libraries are leveraging the principles of the connected learning framework to help to teens connect 21st century skills to their own interests and peer relationships.

A new white paper titled Connected Libraries: Surveying the Current Landscape and Charting a Path to the Future, from the ConnectedLib project collects the existing literature on connected learning in libraries to explore trends (such as treating teen volunteer programs as workforce development), opportunities (such as building community partnerships), and challenges (such as measuring the impact of a program). The white paper also describes how the ConnectedLib project addresses gaps in the existing connected learning research and resources for libraries.

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Equity in Out-of-School Stem Learning: A Reflection

STEM learning is a growing part of student’s lives now because of all the fast technology advances. There are many great ways for students to participate in STEM activities while in school, but what can “out-of-school” educators, such as librarians, offer these same students? This is the questions that a group, sponsored by the Research+Practice Collaboratory, wanted to answer. Their main question was: “How can professional learning for out-of-school staff be organized to promote equity in STEM learning?” Through this discussion, four big ideas emerged to support this.

First, “seeing, hearing, and honoring” need to be at hand with all educators, whether in school or, out of school. This means, staff working with teens, and other youths, need to listen to what customers want. The best way to design a program is to listen to what your customers want from you.

Teen volunteers work with teen customers on sharing new technology.

Teen volunteers work with teen customers on sharing new technology.

For instance, recently I had a young man reach out to me because he wanted to start a STEM Club at my library branch. Although I was timid at first, due to time and money, we decided to go ahead. The positives of having a teen led STEM Club is, they have more ideas of what they want to do, and are very knowledgeable about all different types of STEM programs and projects. When our department started having teen led programs earlier in the summer, we had great success because the teen volunteers were excited to present their ideas, and teens in the community were excited to see what their peers were doing. Seeing, hearing, and honoring has really helped my department in a big way.

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