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.
Given the predominant whiteness and femaleness of the library profession and the increasing diversity of the populations served by libraries, it is crucial that Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) are at the forefront of our member’s minds and that we as an organization work to make YALSA a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization. Last Fall, as part of our EDI efforts, the YALSA Board assembled a taskforce, chaired by Nicole Cooke, to explore the challenges and opportunities library staff of diverse backgrounds face when connecting with YALSA by seeking feedback from both members and potential members and by researching industry best practices in EDI. Cooke and taskforce members Julie Winkelstein, Veronica Koven-Matasy, and Alice Son submitted their findings and recommendations to the Board in the Spring. The report was adopted by the Board and included as an attachment to Board document #4 which was approved prior to ALA Annual 2018. To make the report more visible to our members and to publicly recognize the work of the taskforce, we have included a link to the full report on the YALSA webpage. The Board thanks the Advancing Diversity Taskforce for their work and for laying the groundwork for YALSA to affirm our commitment to EDI.
Since receiving the report, the YALSA Board has taken a number of actions that were a direct result of the Advancing Diversity Taskforce’s recommendations. These include: adopting Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Next Steps, a Value of EDI Statement, and appointing a board member to serve as YALSA’s official liaison to the ALA Affiliates and Round Tables that focus on serving one or more traditionally underrepresented groups. We are currently in the process of updating the YALSA vision statement and intended impact statement for EDI inclusivity. As soon as the revised statements have been approved by the Board, both will be posted to the YALSA website. The Board is also in the final stages of completing an EDI Plan.
While YALSA has made progress on EDI, our work is far from over. Crystle Martin has chosen Supporting Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion through Outcomes and Assessment as her presidential theme for 2018-2019. Specifically, she will focus on how assessment and outcomes can support EDI through the questions asked and approaches taken. It builds off the recommendations made by the Advancing Diversity Taskforce and expands YALSA’s commitment to EDI. Additionally, the YALSA Board is in the beginning stages of strategic planning. EDI will be a core component of the planning process and of our new strategic plan.
We will continue to provide updates on the YALSA blog and through other YALSA communication channels. We welcome your thoughts and ideas as we continue to work with you to ensure that all teens feel included and empowered in library and information spaces.
Thanks for all you do for teens and for YALSA.
YALSA Immediate Past President
When I read Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds for the first time last year, I was completely overwhelmed–this story was about my students! So many of them have lost family and friends due to gun violence, and many of them have been faced with similar emotional tragedies in their lives. So I wanted them to see that their feelings and experiences are valid by reading a book written by a man who looks like them and understands them and IS them. But being a Title 1 school means funds are tight, and purchasing class sets of books (especially enough for all classes to read at the same time) is just not in our budget without help. YALSA’s Teen Read Week Grant is that help, and I am incredibly grateful.
When I saw that the Teen Read Week Grant was open for applications in May, I immediately texted my reading teacher and asked her what she thought about the potential of doing a school-wide read next year with a Jason Reynolds book. She responded with a resounding “YES” and I filled out the application. And then we were selected, and the brainstorming began.
But how do you plan a reading program for students who are reluctant readers? You make it relevant!
The Octavia Fellin Public Library (OFPL) in Gallup, NM used the funds from the Summer Learning Resource Grant to purchase equipment to begin a Youth Media Lab where tweens and teens would have access to film and audio equipment as well as editing software. At the end of May OFPL was approached by the Miss Navajo Council, Inc. seeking help for creating a multimedia project to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of 1868, which allowed the Navajo Tribe to return to their ancestral homelands after being deported to the Bosque Redondo Reservation. We partnered with the organization utilizing our new equipment and community members to create an intergenerational reading of the Treaty accessible to a modern audience.
The resulting project involved 14 community participants (youth and adult) from the community, and historical photographs from the Library of Congress and National Archives. It was shown at 3 commemoration events in Flagstaff, Arizona; Farmington, New Mexico; and Gallup, New Mexico. OFPL also hosted an exhibit detailing the importance of the treaty and its lasting impacts.
Each month, through December, YALSA is sponsoring free webinars (for members and non-members) on topics related to the Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff.
The September webinar (the full video recording is available after the break) on the topic of Cultural Competence and Responsiveness. The focus of the session was on creating inclusive computer science opportunities for youth and was by Lecia Barker from the National Center for Women and Informational Technology (NCWIT) and Cheryl Eberly from the Santa Ana Public Library.
This summer, with support from the 2018 YALSA/Dollar General Summer Reading Learning Resources Grant, the Dover Public Library hosted two ¡Vamos a Jugar! (Let’s Play!) events featuring bilingual and vocabulary-building board games. From bilingual Bingo to You’ve Been Sentenced, I selected a wide variety of games to challenge and entertain Dover teens. Now that the teens and I have tested our collection, we can give you our top picks.
Juego de Palabras
KLOO’s Learn to Speak Spanish and Race to Madrid
KLOO’s Learn to Speak Spanish is a card game that teaches players Spanish with color coded cards. The Race to Madrid board and pieces turn the card game into a journey to the finish line, eliminating the need for a score sheet. While this is the most inventive, educational game on my list, the teens were not as interested as I had hoped. On a different day or with a different crowd, I think we could have a lot of fun expanding the game, making our own boards, and learning more Spanish together.
Fitz It is a card game that plays a little bit like Scrabble and a little bit like a riddle. The Fitz It deck contains over 250 cards with various phrases. The games begins with one randomly selected card in the middle of the table. Players then add to the grid with their own cards, but they have to say a noun that fits the description of all the cards in the row or column. A little difficult to explain, this game is a fun challenge once the initial concept clicks.
The Hall County Library System in Gainesville, Georgia serves a diverse community, with over 28% of the population Hispanic. The library system has made it a priority to better serve the county’s diverse community, as well as to provide more outreach services, especially in the eastern part of the county where the East Hall Branch had been closed due to budget cuts.
Allysa reviewing the children’s Spanish books with me. Photo by Deborah Hakes with GPLS.
HCLS received a generous grant from Dollar General to hire two bilingual interns to help during the 2018 Summer Reading Program. Their work would mainly focus on helping develop better library services to Hispanic youth and families. In addition, they would help assist at the summer pop up library and programs at the East Hall Community Center. One intern worked 16 hours a week in June and the second intern worked in July. Rising junior, Alyssa Ramos and rising senior, Doris Toledo were selected out of several applications. The first week of the summer reading program, Alyssa Ramos helped sign up patrons for library cards and the summer reading program at the Hispanic Alliance’s Health Fair. Alyssa and Doris also helped translate into Spanish new library marketing materials and community services information.
In New Orleans at the 2018 Annual Conference, the YALSA Board discussed several documents related to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. YALSA is committed to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and to make this commitment a reality the Board took several steps.
First, the Board approved the prioritization of the recommendations made by the Advancing Diversity Taskforce, which completed its work earlier this Spring. The recommendations of the committee were ranked by the board as High, Medium, and Low. The items ranked High Priority are currently being implemented. Those ranked Medium Priority will be tackled during the 2018-2019 board. Those that are ranked Low Priority will be re-evaluated at the beginning of the 2019-2020 board to determine what still needs to be done.
One of the High Priority recommendations was to evaluate YALSA’s current Mission, Vision, Intended Impact Statement, and Statement on Diversity. Jane Gov and Kate Denier offered a board document that recommends changes:
Exploring Culture in Teen Programming
I first got this program idea from reading the YALSA Teen Literacies Toolkit. I’ve been curious about library programming and the intersection with community identity. The definition of literacy is evolving and it’s exciting to see that these additions are relevant to the audiences we serve.
One of the competencies listed is Cultural Competence. The definition given for this concept is:
Ability to recognize the significance of culture in one’s own life and in the lives of others; and to come to know and respect diverse cultural backgrounds and characteristics through interaction with individuals from diverse linguistic, cultural, and socioeconomic groups; and to fully integrate the culture of diverse groups into services, work, and institutions to enhance the lives of both those being served by the library profession and those engaged in service (Overall, 2009)
This topic is actually very close to my heart. My parents moved to the United States when I was ten years old which makes me into a first-generation immigrant. Growing up, I’ve always felt that I was a part of both the Middle Eastern culture and the American culture. At times, I felt that I needed to pick one and other times I refused to choose and just called myself a “Global Citizen”. I didn’t see that as an intellectual activity at first, culture was always something I explored on my own, it was my hobbies that gave me a love of Reggaetón and Korean fried Chicken.
Authored by the YALSA Research Committee
This post is part of the YALSA Research Committee’s efforts to shed light on some current research related to the Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff. Here, we’ll briefly review some scholarship that addresses competency content area number seven: cultural competency and responsiveness, described in the standards as “actively promot[ing] respect for cultural diversity and creat[ing] an inclusive, welcoming, and respectful library atmosphere that embraces diversity.”