Learn with YALSA this Spring

graphic line drawing of a person surrounded by question marksWhat are you doing this spring? Why not consider participating in one of YALSA’s CE opportunities which include a brand new e-course and three webinars all focusing on topics that help all library staff working with and for teens to support youth and their communities. Read on to find out what the association has coming up:

New E-Course

More Than Just a Ramp: Disability Services Beyond the ADA
April 28 – June 8
This 6-week e-course will take you through all aspects of making your library accessible to patrons with disabilities by going beyond ramps and accessible bathroom stalls. Along with building a base knowledge of disability, ableism, and accessibility, this course covers topics such as disability etiquette, teen mental health, and disability in the workplace. Through weekly reading and optional live Zoom meetings, participants will gain deeper understanding of disability services and actionable strategies for making the library more accessible. A project participants will develop during the last three weeks of the class will offer opportunities for real world practice and an opportunity to be published on the YALSAblog and/or the YALSA Programming HQ.Students in the course should expect to spend about 2 hours per week on course content.

Learn more and register for this E-Course.
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Get In Where You Fit In: Engaging Busy Teens @ Your Library

We all know that today’s teens are busy with the demands of school, employment, and extracurricular activities. This does not mean they devalue the library and its offerings. Just because they do not have time for extensive programs does not mean they do not have time for the library. It means we need to take a step back and evaluate how we can still fit into their lives.

“Teens are good for libraries because many of them have grown accustomed to outstanding library services as children. In libraries with a children’s department, kids are used to being served by specially trained services and special programming, in a unique,’child-friendly’ section of the facility. We know that teens will soon enough become the parents, voters, school board, and library board members who will, among other things, make important decisions that help decide the fate of our libraries.” (Honnold,2003,p.xv)

Libraries are made up of caring staff members that have the interests and needs of their patrons at heart. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to meet with such people at a county-wide youth service meeting that meets frequently throughout the year. At these meetings, we are able to share ideas, challenges, and passion projects that benefit our community as well as get support from our District Library Youth Services Consultant.

Try Some of Our Ideas…

  1. Take-Home Packets: At the Sinking Spring Public Library, Christine Weida—Children and Teens’ Librarian—engages both tweens and teens by creating STEM take-home packets. They contain a brief intro to the subject, an article or link to more information, an item, and an experiment. Her packet for April is Whoopee. In the past, she has focused on lenticular images, coding, math magic tricks, and magic eyes.  “The parents love to take these home to try and the kids get really excited too when they see them. I give them hints but don’t tell them what exactly is inside. I always learn a lot when I make them as well, so I enjoy that aspect. I try to choose things that aren’t mainstream,” she says.
  2. Makerspaces: Makerspaces are important for self-exploration. In my YALSA blog post on the subject, you will find detailed information and ideas on how to start your own. (Why Makerspaces Are So Important in Public Libraries—November 2018)
  3. Interactive Displays and Games: Having supplies available for free play and social engagement can make the teen section of your library feel personable and welcoming. At the Mifflin Public Library, Youth Services Librarian Andrea Hunter has a magnetic poetry board, card games, and an interactive bulletin board where she posts a monthly prompt. “So far we have done thing such as New Year’s Resolutions, and Which Hogwarts House Are You [From].”
  4. Drop-In Craft Activities: At the Reading Public Library Teen Loft, every Friday we have drop-in crafts where teens can show up during an allotted time period to create.  We choose things that do not need a staff member to facilitate. Instead, we introduce the project of the day and leave the participants to socialize with each other and make. This is a great way to use materials from past programs so that nothing goes to waste.

    Instructions for a craft using popsicle sticks is pictured next to craft materials.

  5. Flexible Programs: Having a few programs on your schedule that are flexible—such as Drop-In Crafts—is necessary. Busy teens need to know they will not be an interruption if they cannot come at the start of a program and that they are still welcome to participate.
  6. Use Pop-Culture to Your Advantage: Think of all the books you have on the shelves that have now been turned into movies or shows. I like to create “Read It Before You See It” displays to encourage patrons to read.  Many times they are unaware that their favorite movies and shows are derived from books.
  7. Online Programs using Social Media: Go where your busy teens are—online. Find the social media platform your teens use the most. You can interact with them by posting the same questions you may have on your bulletin boards. Tell them about books that were turned into movies or shows that they can checkout from your e-book sites. Talk about upcoming programs in-house and create virtual ones. Take pictures and show them what they are missing at your library. The possibilities are endless.

    Hands are pictured, with hashtags written on them. One says "Power in numbers #sisterhood."

  8. School Connections: This is not always the easiest thing for Youth Service staff in public libraries. It can be a true challenge to find an advocate in your local school, whether it be the school librarian or school counselors. But it is worth it. Each month, I send calendars with a cover letter highlighting some of the programs. Frequently, the teens will tell me they got a calendar at school and that is why they came to a program.

Programs such as these can be a win-win for both patrons and staff. Some benefits are that less staff is required, there is time flexibility for both patrons and staff, the library is promoting self-exploration, the programs attract both regular patrons and newbies, and if the program did not generate the participation you anticipated, you did not spend a lot of time prepping.

Over the years I have found that you need to find your library’s “programming patterns.” This can help you determine where and when to spend more time on extensive programs versus passive programs. I do my most extensive programs during the summer because I know teens will have free time and will be looking for things to do. In fall, there is still some buzz and the weather is still nice enough for them to attend scheduled events. During winter, I try to reuse leftover materials and engage my busy teens the best way possible by using these ideas.

A white t-shirt is being decorated with iron-on letters and patches.

Remember your teens. Just because they are busy does not mean that they do not need our services or that they have forgotten about us. I always love to have conversations with patrons I have not seen in a while. We catch up, talk about exciting things that are happening in their lives, and I let them know what is new at the library. Many of the conversations start with phrases such as, “I am so happy I’m here. I was just so busy,” or “I’ve wanted to stop by so many times, but I’ve been so busy.” We are still on their minds.  We are a place that will continue to be near and dear to their hearts. We just need to get in where we fit in.

New YALSA E-Course – ConnectedLib: Creating Learning Connections for Youth

ConnectedLib logo graphic

Did you know? YALSA is launching a new e-course titled ConnectedLib: Creating Learning Connections for Youth. Those enrolled in the course will learn how to create engaging teen services using the Connected Learning framework. The course will be taught by Kelly Hoffman, a Doctoral candidate at the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. Kelly also was a core team member on the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) funded ConnectedLib project. The course is scheduled for five weeks from March 17 – April 20, 2019

Participants will need to spend approximately two hours per week on course work. Activities will include reading, watching videos, providing peer feedback, discussion, and reflection activities. Over the five weeks of the course, participants will evaluate their teen programs and their library’s capacity for connected learning; identify community resources that could enhance teens’ learning experiences; and put what they learn into practice by creating an outline for their own connected learning program or by revising an existing program in order to have a greater impact with and for teens and communities.

Learn more about the e-course and register on the YALSA website.


The Liberation of Not Knowing All the Answers

This post was written by Jill O’Connor who was a school librarian for 12 years before making the switch to a public library and, as the Youth Services Librarian at the Merrill Memorial Library in Yarmouth, Maine, she is  loving the freedom to craft programs for a willing audience. She is an avid reader of YA and middle grade books and a book reviewer with the Maine State Library Book Review group. When not thinking up glorious new STEM programming, she can be found driving to her son’s hockey games or her daughter’s dance classes, routing for the local baseball team, or cooking up new foods to tantalize her family.

As a former school librarian, I am new to the public library world. In the public library setting, programming looks very different than it did in school where you are a teacher, on par with all other educators in the school with learning objectives and curricula in hand. A school offers an audience of a knowable set of bodies in your class every day. You plan classes (programs) that hit your objectives and you present information. You don’t have to know everything, and it’s okay to say, “I don’t know, let’s look it up,” but for the most part, I always felt that I had to be the one in the know and in the position of teaching my audience something.

Fast forward to this past fall, I am the shiny new Youth Services Librarian at a public library, excited to try new things in a completely different setting, no longer hostage to the multiple classes-per-day grind. My domain is 3rd through 12th grade, and I am in charge of collection development, reader’s advisory, and all programming for the patrons within my assigned demographic. I know that I have to offer some STEM programming; it’s being asked for by parents and it’s a sensible and sought-after topic for all kids to be participating in, but what to do?!

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Research Roundup: Community Colleges and Teens

Welcome to Research Roundup. The purpose of this recurring column is to make the vast amount of research related to youth and families accessible to you. To match the theme of the fall issue, this column focuses on year-round teen services by examining current articles that share opportunities to mentor teens and support their leadership development.

Boerner, H. (2016). An Incubator for Better Outcomes: Innovation at work at Prince George’s Community College. Community College Journal, 86(4), 18–23.

Prince George’s Community College in Maryland partnered with the Prince George’s County Public Schools by actually creating a high school on campus.  Students who attend the high school have an opportunity to also take courses at the community college. Many of those students graduate with an associates degree as well as their high school diploma.  A collaboration like this one allows easier access to everyone and curriculum alignment is definitely at the forefront of the high school.

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Peer to Peer Learning and Libraries: A Recipe for Success

Peer to Peer Learning is shared knowledge learning that is not done by an instructor or another person of authority. It is all about people on the same level teaching each other what they know. 

Peer to Peer learning is not a new concept and can date back to Aristotle’s use of archons, student leaders and as an organized theory by Andrew Bell in 1795. It was later implemented into French and English schools in the late 19th century. Over the last 30 to 40 years, it has been increasingly popular in K-12 public schools. (Saga Briggs, (2013) How Peer Teaching Improves Student Learning and 10 Ways to Encourage It, opencolleges.edu) In Trends in Peer Learning, Keith J. Topping reviews the development of peer to peer learning from 1981-2006. He states that,

“types and definitions of peer learning are explored, together with questions of implementation integrity and consequent effectiveness and cost‐effectiveness. Benefits to helpers are now emphasized at least as much as benefits to those helped. In this previously under-theorized area, an integrated theoretical model of peer learning is now available. Peer learning has been extended in types and forms, in curriculum areas and in contexts of application beyond school. Engagement in helping now often encompasses all community members, including those with special needs. Social and emotional gains now attract as much interest as cognitive gains.” (Keith J. Topping (2005) Trends in Peer Learning, Educational Psychology, 25:6, 631-645, DOI: 10.1080/01443410500345172

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Future Ready with the Library: Shake it Out

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.

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Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff Webinar: Continuous Learning

cover of YALSA's Teen Services Competencies for Library StaffThe final webinar in our series related to the Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff took place on December 13. The theme was continuous learning and it was facilitated by Casey Rawson and Ness Shortley. Casey and Ness are two of the authors of the book Instruction and Pedagogy for Youth in Public Libraries.

In the webinar Casey and Ness discussed how through co-learning with teens and through a focus on outcomes library staff can continue their own learning while providing meaningful services for and with teens.

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New in 2019: Subscribe to YALSA Webinars!

subscribe image with subscribe text in red and whiteStarting in January 2019, non-YALSA members will be able to attend YALSA’s live monthly webinars via a paid yearly subscription. Webinar subscribers will be able to attend live sessions and access recordings. This is a new opportunity as previously non-members were only able to purchase webinar recordings.

Subscription prices are:

$59 for individuals for 12 months of webinars
$129 for group subscriptions for 12 months of webinars

State library agencies should contact Linda W. Braun, YALSA CE Consultant, for subscription pricing for your state.

YALSA members will continue to have full access to live webinar sessions and all recordings as a part of association membership.

Non-YALSA members interested in purchasing individual webinars on an a la carte basis can still do so. January through April 2019 individual webinar purchase and registration is available on the ALA website. A la carte webinar purchase is $29 for individuals and $99 for groups.

For more information on subscriptions and subscription pricing contact Linda W. Braun, YALSA CE Consultant.

Picture Books are for Teens Too!

Image from the Pajama Program

When librarians think of picture books, the first thing that comes to mind is of story time and lots of children. Picture books have long been associated with  early literacy and encouraging young children to fall in love with reading. Not to mention, the countless memories created stories before bed or reading to a newborn. However, picture books aren’t JUST for children, but for teens as well. While it’s essential that children have access to picture books, teens need them to whether they admit it or not. In fact, authors like Dr. Seuss, Patricia Polacco, Chris Van Allsburg, David Wiesner, and Walter Dean Myers have been writing books for elementary school aged children without realizing that these stories have the power to connect with teens as well .  While most picture books are marketed to specific age groups, or reading levels, many picture books go above and beyond to draw in a wider audience. Here are a few of my favorites:

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