For the past two years, Defiance Public Library System (DPLS) has been in the process of revamping the summer reading program by changing the name to Summer BreakOUT and focusing on the whole child. DPLS eliminated the reading requirement and instead made reading one of the possible activities participants could choose to do. Participants could track their activities online or they could choose to play using the paper gameboard.
Eric, Defiance intern
Despite these efforts numbers are dropping. This year our goal was to increase Summer BreakOUT participation through the use of STEAM Camps and a partnership with the summer food program. The STEAM Camps were held over the course of three days for three hours each day. The camps were further divided into three grade level groups: 1-3, 4-6, and 6-8. The DPLS Youth Services Department serves three locations; with minimal staffing and lofty goals we were blessed to have received the YALSA/Dollar General Teen Summer Internship Program grant.
Summer break can be the hungriest time of the year for kids, but the Olathe Public Library in Olathe, Kansas was fighting hunger with a summer meal program at their two library locations. Youth were fed lunches Monday through Friday at both of library locations. On Fridays the community was also welcomed to participate in a free community lunch.
The Olathe Public Library received a generous grant from Dollar General to hire two interns during the 2018 summer programs. The two teen interns focused on assisting the one staff member run the lunch programs every week day starting from when school got out till the end of summer. Teen intern, Alexis Proctor, also assisted in showing movies and supervising the youth on Monday afternoons during the summer. Alexis completed almost a 100 hours this summer at our Downtown location.
Our second teen intern was Jackie Holst who completed almost 50 hours this summer at our Indian Creek location. She provided some much needed assistance to our seasonal staff member over the lunch programs by providing assistance with room set-up and leading the volunteers.
In January of 2017, I took on the exciting challenge of becoming the first Youth Services Librarian for Eastern Shore Public Library, where we have 2 branch libraries and 2 affiliate libraries serving a rural community that includes the counties of Accomack and Northampton. I have never regretted it for a moment and find priceless daily rewards in my hours working with and for young people at the libraries.
The library system works hard to compensate for having a very small staff, so we were very excited to learn we had received the Teen Intern grant from YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation! We posted the positions online and created a press release which led to an ample number of applications for our two positions. We hired two teen interns, Anna and Jenninyah, for the summer (one for each of the branch libraries) to help with all of our Summer Reading Program events, Lunch at the Library programs, and our Garden Club at our Northampton Free Library in Nassawadox. In the early stages of implementing the Teen Intern Program, there were times when it felt as if the unexpected grant might be adding more to my workload rather than the hoped-for opposite. However, at this point, I can truly say I do not know how I would have managed without the support of my wonderful Teen Interns.
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.
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 August webinar (the full video recording is available after the break) on the topic of Community and Family Engagement was moderated by Bernie Farrell, Youth Programs and Family Services Coordinator at the Hennepin County Library (HCPL). Bernie was joined by staff from the public library and from Learning Dreams one of HCPL’s community partners. In their presentation the panelists discussed how library staff and community members work together to help emerging adults build self-advocacy skills, particularly those young people who are experiencing homelessness.
Each year the YALSA president’s program serves a two-fold purpose: it is a membership meeting providing members with updates and highlighting YALSA’s accomplishments for the year under the leadership of its president, and it includes a session encompassing the theme the YALSA president has selected for the year.
During the membership meeting, YALSA President Sandra Hughes-Hassell, shared a long list of work put forth by YALSA this past year, much of which centered around equity, diversity and inclusion.
Some of the resources you can find through the YALSA website or created by YALSA around equity, diversity, and inclusion include:
During the panel presentation aligned with Sandra Hughes-Hassell’s theme of Youth Activism through Community Engagement, speakers presented on the social justice work being done for and with teens at their libraries. Presenters included Gabbie Barnes, YOUmedia Manager and Teen Services Librarian at Hartford Public Library (CT), Jose Cruz, Middle School Services Librarian at Oak Park Public Library (IL), and Julie Stivers, School Librarian at Mount Vernon Middle School (NC).
One of the projects that Gabbie highlighted was the teen-led “Tell ‘Em Why You Mad” unconference led by YOUmedia Hartford teens in partnership with Grow Hartford Youth Program and COMPASS Youth Peacebuilders. The teens heavily utilized the Black Panther’s 10-point plan. As Gabbie notes, “I’m most proud of the hard work that the teens who organized the event put forth. I’m proud of their desire to honor their elders with the 10-point plan. I’m proud that we were able to support their ideas and their goals with funds, space, and resources.”
On July 21, Forbes magazine published a piece on its website called “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money,” which was written by contributor Panos Mourdoukoutas, Chair of the Department of Economics at Long Island University. The piece was removed from their site today, but you can read it here. The author’s reasoning behind shuttering the nation’s 17,000+ public libraries and replacing them with Amazon bookstores was narrowly focused on his perception that libraries are just about two things: stuff and places. Mourdoukoutas manages to overlook the oodles of reasons why libraries are vital, including but not limited to their role in defending free speech, protecting the privacy of users, supporting lifelong learning, and creating an informed citizenry who can participate in the democratic process. But perhaps what is most disturbing about his suggestion is that he completely ignores the fact that there are millions of Americans living in poverty who cannot afford to purchase books and other materials, and who do not have access in their homes to current digital tools or high speed Internet.
Written by Julie Stivers
Is there anyone more equipped to meaningfully speak on the concept of inclusive libraries than our students or patrons? Of course not. Of course not. To leverage students’ experience, perspective, and wisdom—and to create student-driven PD—I worked with three of our amazing 8th grade students at Mount Vernon Middle School to develop student-led training for librarians.
In April of this year, Jaida Morris, Cesar Falcon, Jose Gomez and I unveiled our #LibFive concept—Five Key Foundations for Building Inclusive Libraries—at our district conference, WCPSS Convergence. Several weeks ago, I was lucky to share our ideas at ALA’s National Conference during the YALSA Presidential Program, a Panel on Youth Activism.
My students and I continue to work on crafting this professional development, but we’d like to share the work that we’ve already completed in this forum.
Our project was based on an initiative from the Chapel Hill Blue Ribbon Mentors called the Student Six, which is a student led professional development for teachers centering on six culturally sustaining strategies for educators to use to better connect with their students of color. I had seen the wonderful teens and educator Teresa Bunner presenting on the Student Six and each time, a question came up from the audience of mostly librarians. [You can probably guess what it was.] What was your experience with school libraries? Well, the answers were lukewarm at best and none of the teens in attendance had meaningful, positive stories or experiences with their school libraries or librarians. Which was, and is, heartbreaking.
This year the Division Presidents are aligning their theme and all will focus on different aspects of EDI that speak to their Division. My Presidential theme will focus on supporting Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) through assessment and outcomes by identifying, overseeing planning, and implementing activities. The theme will build on the ground work laid by the Advancing Diversity Taskforce and Sandra Hughes-Hassell’s Presidential Theme promoting youth advocacy. It also speaks to the needs of members who are looking for guidance on impactful outcomes and assessment, and moves YALSA closer to reaching the goals it laid out in its implementation plan. It is an ambitious plan, but has potential for impact.
The Taskforce will last for a year tackling a variety of activities throughout. Activities will include:
Advocacy & Activism
- Incorporate the theme into summer learning, Teen Read Week™ and Teen Tech Week™
- Create position and/or issue papers on the theme
Leading the Transformation of Teen Services
Before the YALSA Great Books Giveaway books even reached our shelves, young adult readers eagerly snatched up something exciting to read at Suffolk Public Library’s Morgan Memorial Library. Situated in downtown Suffolk, VA, Morgan Memorial Library, one of three Suffolk Public Library locations, sees a lot of foot traffic from local teens and young adults. The Young Adult Collection at MML, though heavily used by these individuals, was dated and rather sparse. Receiving the YALSA Great Books Giveaway Grant allowed us to fill the young adult shelves providing an array of new books for these enthusiastic readers.
With three library locations spread out across 429 square miles of land, Suffolk Public Library sees a diverse group of young adult library visitors. When we came across the YALSA Great Books Giveaway Grant we knew that this was a valuable opportunity to support our efforts with our young adult community not just at our downtown library location but at all three of our library locations and even our bookmobile, known as the Library 2 Go. This grant has been such a positive force in helping to build up our young adult collection and in enhancing the services we provide to our young adult readers.