Equity and YALSA’s Competencies

Hello again,

In this post we are going to examine the concept of equity, and what it means within this year’s theme Striving for Equity Using YALSA’s Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff.

Equity is often confused with equality, and it seems to be the least understood of the three concepts of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. There is a well-known graphic, the original by Craig Froehle and updated by Angus Maguire (below), of three boys attempting to watch a ballgame over a fence, and how the concepts of Equality and Equity are very different. (Interestingly, this graphic may not satisfy everyone, as this Cultural Organizing blog post, and others, explain.) There, too, have been many variations and additions to this graphic’s differentiation, which we will get into as the year goes on.

There are many definitions of equity. One that deftly explains the differences between equity, diversity and inclusion is the “table” analogy. Diversity attempts to invite people from various backgrounds to the table. Inclusion ensures that the voices of those invited to the table are heard. Equity looks at the actual structure of that table to determine if the table itself is what is preventing full participation from folks of all backgrounds.

The Independent Sector clearly defines Equity as: “the fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. Improving equity involves increasing justice and fairness within the procedures and processes of institutions or systems, as well as in their distribution of resources. Tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities within our society.”

There are many inequities, and although we will attempt to look at ways to mitigate them this year through the lens of each of the YALSA Teen Competencies for Library Staff, it will not be possible to cover them all in detail. But as an example of the sort of inequities we will explore this year, the chart below from the University of Southern California School of Social Work blog MSW@USC’s Diversity Toolkit (attributed to Jeremy Goldbach) is a place to start. Keep in mind that this perspective is that of a typical “western” society; other cultures may and will have different points of view of who the target and non-target groups would be.

Next week, we will start to explore some of the engagement strategies that we will be examining in the months ahead.

Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020    Twitter: @toddbcpl

What are the YALSA Teen Competencies for Library Staff?

Hello again!

As a reminder from last week, the theme of this year is Striving for Equity using YALSA’s Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff.

So, what are these Competencies, and how did they come about? If you have seen the one-page snapshot below either in print, on Twitter, or elsewhere, you’ve come to realize that there are ten components of the Teen Services Competencies (TSC). There are also two much more in-depth versions of the TSC, which are highly recommended. The “full” version, along with expounding on the TSC themselves, gives a great understanding of the history and background of the TSC. The “mid-sized” version explains in clear bullet points the three levels of service: Developing, Practicing, and Transforming. Having a baseline understanding of the TSC goes a long way to help you provide excellent service to teens in your institution and community.

After the development and implementation of the watershed project report “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action” in 2014, it quickly became clear that YALSA’s previous edition of teen services competencies, published in 2010, needed updating. This overhaul resulted in the TSC that were released in late 2017.

In the development of this edition of the TSC, a number of documents were reviewed to look for an appropriate model. Those of the National Afterschool Association were selected as a framework, as these “allowed YALSA to create a document that puts teens first and communicates to library staff the need to work with teens, their families, and their communities to provide high-quality library services.” As promised, we will further discuss the teens first concept as the year goes on. We will also look at the various levels of the Competencies, and where members and non-members can receive more information about each of them.

In the coming weeks, we will also tackle that other important element of this year’s theme: Equity. We will investigate how we can define it, what it means today, and the myriad ways it relates to the Teen Services Competencies.

Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020

 

 

You Don’t Want to Miss it

YALSA’s new five week e-course, Start at the End: Backwards Design for Library, Programming, starts on July 8, 2019. Over the past few days I’ve been previewing the course materials, designed by the instructor Casey Rawson, and I can easily say, you don’t want to miss this learning opportunity. You don’t have to take my word for it, check out this 5 minute video in which Casey talks about the course and you get to know her a little too.

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The Most Dangerous Place on Earth

In the novel The Most Dangerouse Place on Earth one of the female characters’ thinks to herself, “As if middle school were a safe haven…when in fact it was the most dangerous place on Earth.” Of course that sounds like teenage hyperbole, however I would say that if you think about it it’s more reality for many teens than one might want to admit. While teenage lives may have some of the outlines of a nightmare, there are many assets for library staff and community members to leverage in order to support the successful growth and development of all teens.

When I think of the assets that library staff can promote for and with teens I often think of the Santa Ana (CA) Public Library. I was fortunate to visit the main library a couple of years ago, after getting to know the teen librarian, Cheryl Eberly. The library building itself is nothing to “write home about.” The building is a 1960 structure that has quite a bit of wear and tear. However, when I was inside the building I didn’t really notice that. Why? Because from the time I walked in to the time I left (about two hours later) it was clear that this is a community library in which staff members (teens and adults) are embedded in the Santa Ana community and that the work that happens inside, and outside of the building, is completely centered on community needs.
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Learning with YALSA This Summer

drawing of hands raised The teens in your community might be out of school for the summer (or just about to get out of school) however, library staff never stop learning. That’s why YALSA has some great options for you to keep your learning going this summer. Here’s what’s on YALSA’s continuing education calendar for June, July, and August:

New E-Course

Start at the End: Backward Design for Library Programming
7/8/2019 – 8/11/2019

This new online course, taught by Casey Rawson, a Teaching Assistant Professor at UNC Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science, gives participants the chance think about what they would like their library activities for and with teens to achieve. Then with that in mind work backwards to determine what programs they might provide in order to reach that goal/impact. During the five week course participants will learn about the backwards design framework for planning. They will also have the chance to develop learning goals for their activities for and with teens and through those goals better articulate the value of the work that they do. You can learn more and register for this e-course on the YALSA website.
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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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