Dollar General Grant Winner: Using teen interns to bring more services to bilingual and underserved patrons

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.
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YALSA Board update on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

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:
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Exploring Culture in Teen Programming

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.
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Research on Competency Content Area 7: Cultural Competency and Responsiveness

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.”

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Back by Popular Demand: Building Basic Leadership Skills E-Course

This course is not just for teen librarians but for any person working in libraries seeking to understand and grow themselves as a leader from the ground up. The topics covered were progressive and forward thinking, and challenged traditional leadership norms. Self reflection was a big component of this class. The instructor provided variety in the readings, assignments, and use of technology. I felt very engaged by this course and the instructor, and I will refer back to the what I have learned here as I try to improve my leadership skills.

For four weeks in winter 2018 YALSA ran the Building Basic Leadership Skills E-Course. To accommodate those on the waiting list and to provide the opportunity for more people to participate in the highly rated course, the association is offering another section starting in April. The instructor is Josie Watanabe and you can hear more about what the course covers – including information about topics and assignments – in this 18 minute audio interview with Josie.

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Transforming Teen Services Through CE Town Hall on Cultural Competency and Responsiveness

As a part of the YALSA and COSLA IMLS funded project, Transforming Teen Services Through CE, the association hosted a Town Hall on the topic of Cultural Competence and Responsiveness – with a particular focus on library staff professional learning needs in those areas. An audio recording of the session is available below:

The chat transcript – where much of the conversation took place – is also available.

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Allied Media Conference & Call for Proposals

Do you view libraries, archives, museums, and galleries through a lens of them being a leading force in social justice, activism, and community organizing? Then you may be interested in attending the Allied Media Conference (AMC) which takes place June 14-17, 2018 in Detroit. The AMC brings together themed conference tracks comprised of sessions that are all connected by the concept of media-based organizing, “or any collaborative process that uses media, art or technology to address the roots of problems and advance holistic solutions towards a more just and creative world.” This year, the Radical Libraries, Archives, and Museums track will return to Allied Media Conference and aims to share more ideas and skills while allowing individuals working in these fields to make connections and support each other in their work.

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Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: Social Emotional Learning

cover of teen services competencies for library staffFor over a year I’ve been thinking a lot about libraries and social emotional learning (SEL). In part because many school systems are developing curriculum (or integrating SEL into curriculum), in part because it’s something that library activities support – even if library staff don’t think of what they do in that way, and in part because the new Teen Services Competencies of Library Staff include Dispositions and Content Areas that strongly connect to SEL.

The most recent edition of the Future of Children journal notes, in the introduction to the issue:

Researchers, educators, and policymakers alike have trouble pinning down exactly what’s included in this broad domain—and what isn’t. The popular press has highlighted a wide array of skills, such as grit, empathy, growth mindset, social skills, and more. At its core, SEL involves children’s ability to learn about and manage their own emotions and interactions in ways that benefit themselves and others, and that help children and youth succeed in schooling, the workplace, relationships, and citizenship.”

Think about that. Wouldn’t you say. that in order for youth to gain SEL skills they need adults in their lives who help them to “learn about and manage their own emotions and interactions in ways that benefit themselves and others, and that help children and youth succeed in schooling, the workplace, relationships, and citizenship?” These adults include library staff and teachers along with family members, caregivers, community members and so on.
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Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: Cultural Competency and Responsiveness

cover of the YALSA competenciesThe introduction of the Cultural Competency and Responsiveness area of the YALSA Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff states:

“Library staff actively promote respect for and seek self-understanding of cultural diversity. They come to know and respect diverse cultural backgrounds and characteristics through interaction with individuals from diverse linguistic, cultural, socioeconomic, and other groups; and to fully integrate the culture of diverse groups into planning, implementing and evaluating culturally sustaining and bias-free programs, services, and workplaces. The development of complex, interconnected, and evolving cultural competencies on both personal and organizational levels requires dedication and cumulative and consistent work.”

Along with that introduction, the Developing Level of the content area includes the following two items for staff that are developing their Cultural Competency and Responsiveness skills:

  • Is aware of own cultural beliefs and practices
  • Recognizes barriers such as racism, ethnocentrism, classism, heterosexism, genderism, ableism, and other systems of discrimination and exclusion in the community and its institutions, including the library, and interrupts them by way of culturally competent services

The January YALSA webinar titled, Acknowledging the Elephant in the Library: Making Implicit Biases Explicit helped library staff understand what is required to gain skills in this area and ideas on how to work with colleagues, administration, and community members in advocating and leading in this work. In this session Nicole Cooke clearly addressed topics such as stereotypes and micro-aggressions and provided concrete examples of what these terms mean and the impact they have on library staff and customers. In this 13 minute YALSA Snack Break, a clip from the webinar, you can hear some of what Nicole covered.

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Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: Youth Leadership

Giving teens the chance to develop leadership skills is a component of YALSA’s Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff. In the four minute audio recording below, hear how Rachel McDonald, Teen Services Librarian at the King County Library System (KCLS). gives teens the chance to lead programs and services. In her youth leadership work Rachel demonstrates how through competencies in areas such as Youth Engagement and Leadership, Cultural Competence and Responsiveness, Interactions with Teens, and Continuous Learning, youth have opportunities to engage in experiences that are connected to, and meaningful within, their own lives.

One teen described their experience as a part of the KCLS program in this way:

“Participating in planning the Teen Voices Summit gave me a chance to experience firsthand the behind the scenes of hosting a successful event. I was given an opportunity to work with my peers to form a meaningful event for people my age. I learned to have patience and discipline. It took over a year to plan this event and at some points, it felt very tedious. After many long days of planning seeing the event finally come to fruition made me feel very gratified. What I learned will translate to future successes at school and/or in a job because like planning an event these are very long processes and in order to successfully complete them I will need to attain discipline and have the virtue of patience.”

You can also watch a video with teens taking part in the KCLS programs and hear what they have to say about the value of the experience. Continue reading