YALSA Dollar General Grant Implementation and School Collaboration

This is my second year working as the children & youth services librarian at my small library in Bath County, Kentucky on the edge of Appalachia. Last year, it was nearly impossible to get teens into the library — I averaged one every two weeks! So in September 2017, I approached the high school librarian and proposed hosting a morning book club at the high school library. With her help promoting to students in school, we met with about 20 teens every Monday morning during their study zone. We covered many of the YA novels that were nominated for a 2017-2018 Kentucky Bluegrass Award and concluded the school year with a lesson on adulting (at the request of the teens!). Through this weekly book club, the teens began to get to know me and request books from the public library that I was able to check out to them using the mobile app for our library ILS.

Our final project for summer reading – a mental health display with inspirational quotes, random acts of kindness, and book suggestions.

I applied for the YALSA/Dollar General Summer Learning grant in the spring and when I received it, I knew exactly how I would get more than the 1 or 2 teens I had the previous summer. I started by offering my book club group the opportunity to form an advisory council at the public library and I lured them in with food. This got the teens into the library and gave them some ownership over the YA stacks. Of the twenty teens in the book club, five formed the Teen Advisory Council. Through their suggestions on programming needs and books, I was able to create a series of programs that would fit into the CSLP theme “Libraries Rock” and would provide the teens with much needed mental health and self-care resources.

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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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Career Readiness Learning Day for our Summer Youth Leaders @ Pearl Bailey Library

We last checked into our Summer Youth Leaders @ Pearl Bailey Branch in Newport News here. Along with all of the training they get as part of the Wickham Avenue Alliance Youth Leadership Program and with their work helping us in our library, these teens also learn valuable skills related to joining the workforce. Using the Career Investigations Curriculum, and thanks to the generosity of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and YALSA, we designed an interactive day of activities to teach our Summer Youth Leaders (14-15 year olds) where to look to apply for jobs online, all of the rules regarding youth employment in the state of Virginia, help them to design a resume, and how to prepare for and participate in a job interview.

Career Readiness Training Day was a hit with our Summer Youth Leaders, thanks to the teaching and patience of Ms. Andreia Nelson of the C. Waldo Scott Center, a partner in the Wickham Avenue Alliance. They first took a short pre-test to see what they knew of workplace etiquette, then they worked together to correct mistakes in a sample resume. Everyone then took a Kahoot quiz (online or on their phones) on state labor laws or regulations, with a Dollar General gift card prize for the winner!

Following that contest, each of the youth leaders were given a free flash drive and worked together to create their own resume, geared toward a job that they might like to have. Following that, we provided them with materials and showed videos that demonstrated what to do (and not to do) in a job interview. All of the Youth Leaders had interesting questions about the process of getting a job, and asked both of us facilitators what we looked for when we interviewed a job candidate. The quick answer: someone who shows up on time, comes prepared, demonstrates that they care about fulfilling a customer’s needs and answering their questions, and isn’t afraid to ask questions of their own if they don’t get it. At first, they were confused by our “post-interview professional handshake” contest, but they all succeeded in the end.

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No, Forbes, Libraries Cannot be Replaced by Amazon

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.

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Summer Youth Leaders @ Pearl Bailey Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

Thanks to the generosity of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and YALSA, this year Pearl Bailey Library has three summer Youth Leaders: Sari, Na’quan, and Alysse. These three will learn valuable workforce skills while helping us successfully pull off all of our Summer Reading activities and summer outreach events, as well as organizing the youth during programs and activities, and keeping the library organized as well. While in our Youth Leaders Program across the Wickham Avenue Alliance, they also receive career research training, learn teamwork skills and conflict resolution, all based on the Career Investigations Curriculum. The Youth Leaders also receive customer service training taught by experts from Starbucks, and they take money management workshops from Bayport Credit Union. 

Without further ado, let’s introduce you to the 2018 Youth Leaders at Pearl Bailey Library:

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Suffolk Public Library Young Adult Readers Delighted to Discover New Reads

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.

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Get Involved: Join the Financial Advancement Committee

YALSA is currently looking for members to join the Financial Advancement Committee.  What is FAC? This committee is tasked with the important job of working with the Board to implement virtual fundraising campaigns and fundraising efforts at conferences, aimed at both members and nonmembers, to support the $19,595 worth of scholarships and stipends YALSA gives out annually.

Being on FAC is a one year commitment and conference attendance is not required. FAC members work together virtually to plan and promote fundraisers throughout the year, focusing on different scholarships and stipends as we go along. For example, we are currently raising money for a National Library Legislative Day travel stipend, so YALSA can send members to Washington D.C. to advocate for teen services. We also raise money for other grants and awards that don’t have corporate sponsors, such as YALSA’s Spectrum Scholar, an Emerging Leader, a Board Fellow and a Midwinter Paper Presentation.

When FAC isn’t working on fundraising, we spend time contributing content to the YALSA Blog, helping members and non-members understand the long-term value of YALSA’s mission and work and we periodically update and promote YALSA’s Fundraising Toolkit. FAC also makes sure to thank all of the generous donors that give to YALSA.

Don’t have any experience fundraising? Don’t let that stop you! All you need is the ability to work virtually, creativity and a passion for YALSA’s mission! Being on FAC this year has been a very rewarding experience, and I hope you will join me in July for another great year.

If you think you would be a good fit for this exciting committee, please contact YALSA President-Elect Crystle Martin at crystle.martin@gmail.com

Preparing for National Library Legislative Day

I’m getting ready to head to Washington D.C. for National Library Legislative Day on May 7 and 8. And that means more than just watching reruns of Parks and Rec and Veep! It means taking the time to prepare for the conversations we will have with representatives to advocate for libraries. You don’t have to be in Washington in May to advocate for libraries, you can call and email your representatives, too!  Register via the ALA site (it’s free) and they’ll send you free resources so you can easily participate from home. Here are some great tips from a recent NLLD webinar:

Know Your Audience

Create a legislator profile for the person you are contacting. Know their committee assignments, their history on library support and funding and try to find a personal connection if you can (you both have young kids, you both went to University of Pawnee, they are the caretaker of an aging parent). Whether you are talking to your elected official or their staff, this shows that you took the time to prepare and you really care! Continue reading

Digging into the IMLS Strategic Plan

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has been an essential resource for libraries and library schools since its inception over two decades ago. According to its mission statement, this agency works “to advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grant-making, research, and policy development.” On the ground, the work supported by the IMLS takes the form of anything from STEAM programming to data-rich research projects. “Transforming Communities,” the recently published 2018-2022 IMLS Strategic Plan, reviews specific successes and focuses on broader strategies to lead us into the next few years. Certain aspects of the plan—approaches to learning and literacy, library engagement statistics, and serving the under-served—might be of particular interest to library staff who work with youth.

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#FundLibraries: Advocacy Season is Upon Us & We Need YOU!

The proposed White House budget for FY19 that was released February 12, 2018 calls for eliminating federal funds for libraries and the Institute of Museum & Library Services (IMLS), the only federal agency charged with providing support to the nation’s hundreds of thousands of libraries and museums. Now it’s up to Congress to decide whether or not they want to change that.  ALA and YALSA need your help to ensure that IMLS and federal funds for libraries are saved, because without libraries teens will not have the resources and support they need to succeed in school and prepare for college, careers, and life.  Here’s what you can do right now:

  1. Send an email or Tweet to your members of Congress.  ALA has ready-to-use messages waiting for you in their Action Center.
  2. Sign up via the ALA site to receive action alerts so you can easily email or call the offices of your Congress members at critical times during the budget process between now and Sept.
  3. Read and subscribe to District Dispatch, the ALA Washington Office’s blog, to stay up to date on the issues.
  4. Encourage your library users to share their stories about what their local library means to them.  ALA will use these with their advocacy efforts.  Direct patrons to this quick and easy form.
  5. Brush up on your advocacy knowledge and skills by checking out the resources on ALA’s shiny, new ala.org/fund-libraries site and YALSA’s web site.
  6. Sign up to participate in National Library Legislative Day on May 8, online, at your library, or in Washington DC, and check out YALSA’s NLLD resources.
  7. Connect with your members of Congress when they’re in their home districts to keep them informed about the many ways the library helps community members.  Congress is typically not in session the week of a national holiday, like Presidents’ Day.  Schedule a meeting at their local office, and/or invite them to your library.  YALSA has free resources and tips to make this an easy task!
  8. Join YALSA, or make a donation, because together we’re stronger.  YALSA’s the only national organization that focuses its support and advocacy on teen library services. Dues start at $63 per year.  Your support will build our capacity to advocate for teens and libraries.
  9. Encourage your patrons, advocates groups, friends, family, and colleagues to do the above as well.

Don’t know much about IMLS?  Here’s a quick overview: through IMLS, every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. territories receive funding to support their state or territory’s libraries and museums.  In FY17 the total funding IMLS distributed to states and territories was $156,103,000.  In addition, IMLS offers competitive grant opportunities that individual libraries and museums can apply for.  In FY17 they awarded competitive grants to libraries and library-supporting institutions totaling more than $27,469,000.  Visit the IMLS site to see how much funding your state receives from them.

Want to take further action to support teens and libraries?  We salute you!  Check out the free online resources we have to make speaking up for teens and libraries easy.