IMLS National Leadership Grant – Artificial Intelligence (AI)

You may be aware that YALSA is partnering with Michigan State University and Indiana University for an AI literacy program for youth in underserved communities. The libraries involved in the project include the San Diego Central Library (San Diego, CA), Carroll County Public Library (New Windsor, MD), and the Capital Area District Library (Lansing, MI).  The following is an interview with Dr. Heerin Lee and Dr. Kayhun Choi who are leading the project. This will be a great resource for working with teens and AI!

Q: Please introduce yourself and briefly explain how you are partnering with YALSA.

A: Heerin: Hello! I am Heerin Lee, a Principial Investigator (PI) of a project called “AI & Co-design in public libraries: Empowering underserved youth to cultivate symbiotic relationships between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and their communities.” I am an assistant professor in the department of media and information at Michigan State University, working in the field of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI). I design and evaluate robots for social good with the aim of empowering socially marginalized groups, including people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, racial minorities, and older adults.

Kahyun: Hi, I am Kahyun Choi, a co-PI of this project. I am an assistant professor of Information and Library Science at Indiana University Bloomington. I am an expert in AI models for music digital libraries. I bring my experience of developing and teaching an introductory and intuitive machine learning course to this project. When I am not working, I love to spend time with my husband and daughter, do yoga, and listen to audiobooks, podcasts, and music.

Heerin & Kahyun: YALSA as a partner will publicize our open-source education materials developed within this project to librarians all over the US. These materials will include a detailed process of how we develop our program and how we run it including a summary of each session, main takeaways, lessons learned, and suggestions for future literacy programs. YALSA will also help us develop AI literacy webinars for librarians, promote the program, and perform other marketing activities via their outlets, such as social media, weekly newsletter, e-blast and other platforms.

Q: What interests you most about AI, and what led you to it as a course of study?

A: Heerin: While AI influences many people, only a relatively small population of engineers determine how the public interacts with AI in everyday life. The public’s limited access to AI knowledge stems from the fact that it is mostly disseminated by higher education programs. In particular, these programs mostly focus on computational aspects of AI rather than on social and ethical aspects. This could reinforce a digital divide and inequity issues at a national level. Thus, I thought it is crucial to run AI literacy programs through sustainable infrastructures like public libraries where community members, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds, have access to AI knowledge.

Kahyun: About 15 years ago, I got fascinated by powerful emotions coming from music. Instead of becoming a singer-songwriter, I built an AI model that could understand music emotions to some degree by capturing relationships between audio signals and emotions. Ever since, I have developed AI models that can annotate music, song lyrics, and poems with topics, emotions, and genres. While developing and offering an introductory AI course based on music applications to students without technical backgrounds, I realized the importance of intuitive and accessible AI education for the public and, particularly, underserved populations.

Q: Why did you choose public libraries to focus your research?

A: Heerin & Kahyun: As I briefly explained in my answer above, I think it is significant to disseminate AI knowledge through well-developed infrastructures so that many people have access to it regardless of their socioeconomic status. Economically underserved communities, in particular, are vulnerable to AI’s negative consequences as they are largely excluded from the decision-making process of envisioning AI technologies in society. Since the internet emerged in the mid-1990s, public libraries, as early adopters, have long played a critical role in enhancing the public’s technology literacy in the US. As we enter an era of increased AI technology in our society, libraries have tremendous potential for nurturing AI literacy.

Q: Is there anything you hope that youth will gain with AI as a result of your project?

A: The two main components of our program are 1) Module 1—Understanding core concepts of AI, and 2) Module 2—Envisioning AI for local industries. With these two modules, we hope youth not only learn core AI concepts, but also get more actively engaged with their local civic issues as AI co-designers. For example, we will introduce local media stories about AI in their communities and discuss how technological issues are closely entangled with social issues. Our program will develop critical thinking capabilities, enabling youth to understand AI-related social issues in their communities and actively participate in public discourse about AI technologies.

This project particularly adopts an asset-based approach, which is a pedagogy built upon a critical race theory that views students from socially underserved communities not as people with deficits but as people with “community cultural wealth.” We hope this process help students see themselves as people with their own knowledge and position them as people who can utilize AI knowledge. This will also help them more easily become co-designers in our participatory design sessions.

Q: What is the timeline of your project -or when people can expect to see more information?

This is a two-year project that started in Aug 2021. We are currently recruiting youths and their teachers for interviews to understand how they think about AI and their career paths. Based on findings, we will build and evaluate the two AI education modules by Aug 2022. Subsequently, we will run the AI education workshops with the materials in three public libraries one by one, the Capital Area District Library in Lansing, Michigan, the San Diego Central Library in San Diego, California, and the Carroll County Public Library in New Windsor, Maryland, until May 2023. After the workshops, we will disseminate our findings and materials through YALSA, our website, and conferences.

Q: If people want to read more about the grant, where can they find it online?

A: The grant proposal, which includes detailed project design, is available online. https://www.imls.gov/grants/awarded/lg-250059-ols-21 If you want more information, feel free to contact us at heerin-at-msu.edu.

 

 

 

Future Ready with the Library: No Longer Forgotten: The Triumph and Struggles of Rural Education in America

photo from Future Ready with the Library cohort 3 memberRecently the Aspen Institute Education and Society Program sponsored a panel discussion in connection with the publication of the book, No Longer Forgotten: The Triumph and Struggles of Rural Education in America. I was particularly interested in this discussion because of the ARSL and YALSA Future Ready with the Library project that is funded by IMLS.

I was able to watch the livestream of the discussion and am very happy I did. I found the entire discussion of value and think that many library staff will too. A few of the conversation points that I want to think about more include:
Continue reading Future Ready with the Library: No Longer Forgotten: The Triumph and Struggles of Rural Education in America

Future Ready with the Library: Career Cruising @ Colorado Valley Communications

This post is written by Allison Shimek, a member of the second cohort of the YALSA Future Ready with the Library project, and a coach to members of the third cohort. Allison is the Director of the Fayette Public Library and Fayette Heritage Museum and Archives in La Grange, Texas. Contents of this post originally appeared on the Future Ready with the Library Community of Practice. Allison’s first post on her work as a part of the Future Ready project was published on the YALSAblog earlier this year.

13 teens in 6th – 11th grade attended an event at Colorado Valley Communications (CVC), a local telephone and internet provider. Of the total, eight teens were in middle school (6th – 8th grade). Most of the teens were the same from our first event at a local bank. We did also have a couple new faces.

photo of teens talking with CVC staffThe day began with four career exploration stations. The teens visited the NOC (network operation communications) room with several big screen televisions that displayed problems with towers and outages in the area. The company actually had a tower go down and a cut fiber line during the event so the teens got to see what happens in those instances and how problems appear on the screens. At another station teens learned how fiber is installed in the ground and how to splice fiber. At another station the teens explored how a fixed wireless network works and how locations for wireless are selected using Google Earth’s mapping tools. By entering their home address into the map teens had a chance to interact with the tools the telecom employees use. Last, teens learned about how technology has changed the way customers interact with CVC and how CVC markets to the community.
Continue reading Future Ready with the Library: Career Cruising @ Colorado Valley Communications

Future Ready with the Library: Career Awareness @ the Bank

This post is written by Allison Shimek, a member of the second cohort of the YALSA Future Ready with the Library project. Allison is the Director of the Fayette Public Library and Fayette Heritage Museum and Archives in La Grange, Texas Contents of this post were originally published on the Future Ready with the Library Community of Practice.

Yesterday was my first Career Cruising event for the Future Ready with the Library Project and I want to share my experience. This event was held at a local bank from 9:00 am – 3:00pm. We had 17 teens pre-registered and 12 showed up. There were seven males and five females ranging in age from 11-16. Everyone that showed up on time was entered to win a gift card and then we did a drawing and talked about why it was important to arrive on time. The entire morning was spent in small groups rotating through different areas of the bank. The teens worked the teller line and assisted the tellers help customers while learning how they count money, roll coins, and balance their registers. The second station was the loan department. Teens were given loan applications and got to decide what they would like take an imaginary loan out for and went through the process while learning about what a loan officer does. The next station was the bank’s boardroom where they learned about the Board of Directors and important decisions they are required to make. Lastly the teens went to the new accounts department where they learned what they needed to set up a bank account, how to write a check, and viewed safety deposit boxes

Continue reading Future Ready with the Library: Career Awareness @ the Bank

Future Ready with the Library: Shake it Out

As a part of the YALSA and Association for Small and Rural Libraries (ARSL), Institute of Museum and Library Services funded Future Ready with the Library project, cohort members meet monthly to talk about working with middle schoolers and community in support of social emotional learning (SEL) leading to college and career awareness. In December, the third cohort of the project spoke with LaKesha Kimbrough, the Student Success Coordinator at Washington Middle School in Seattle. LaKesha spoke about SEL, how to help library staff work successfully with middle schoolers, and how to build partnerships that build opportunities for success for middle school students.

The 38 minute video below is a compilation of clips from LaKesha’s conversation with cohort members.

Continue reading Future Ready with the Library: Shake it Out

Teen Read Week at Rancho Cucamonga Public Library

Greetings from the Rancho Cucamonga Public Library in Rancho Cucamonga, CA! We are honored to receive this year’s Teen Read Week Grant and are excited to share our plans for our upcoming programs.

Following this year’s Teen Read Week theme “It’s Written in the Stars… READ,” our programs are centered around an outer space theme. We also chose the book Railhead by Philip Reeve (which is set in several galaxies) to be our focal point. With the help of the grant, we will be able to purchase several copies of Railhead, which will be distributed a month prior to our programs to our teens. The goal here is to provide our teens with the reading material so they can discuss and analyze the novel while relating it to their hands-on experiences during the programs.

Continue reading Teen Read Week at Rancho Cucamonga Public Library

Research Roundup Blog – Year-Round Teen Services

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.

“The Value of Continuous Teen Services: A YALSA Position Paper” available at http://www.ala.org/yalsa/value-continuous-teen-services-yalsa-position-paper. In April 2018, YALSA published a position paper recommending school and public librarians “support healthy adolescent development, teen interests, and work to help mitigate the issues teens face by providing year-round teen services.” Current research also points to the value of including teens in the planning process to ensure authentic learning experiences and provide young adults with opportunities for leadership and personal growth.

“Adulting 101: When libraries teach basic life skills” available at https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/05/01/adulting-101-library-programming/. A popular new idea in year-round teen services involves teaching basic life skills. Adulting 101 programs might have originally been planned for older patrons, however librarians are reporting high attendance from teenagers. Teresa Lucas, assistant director of North Bend Public Library in Oregon, and library assistant Clara Piazzola “created a monthly series of six programs focused on cooking, finances, job hunting, news literacy, apartment living, and miscellaneous topics such as cleaning an oven and checking engine oil” (Ford 2018). Programming costs are minimal and oftentimes community members volunteer to teach specific areas of expertise. Adulting 101 series provide a meaningful service to teenagers preparing for their future.

Continue reading Research Roundup Blog – Year-Round Teen Services

Teen Summer Internship @ Laurel Public Library

We had a very successful Teen Summer Internship program last summer at the Laurel Public Library and when we received a grant through the generosity of the Dollar General literacy Foundation and YALSA we knew we would do a similar program again for our teens. We have a very strong teen volunteer program already in place so we knew this would be a great opportunity for our teens.

The process to be considered for an internship for the summer of 2018 started by requiring the teens to attend a mentoring program offered by a local community leader. The course was designed to run for eight weeks and during this time the teens learned many skills such as life skills, leadership skills, personal presentation, and public speaking. We initially started with eight teens, but regular attendance was an issue with the majority of the teens and we ended up with only three who completed the mentoring program and of those three, only two were selected for the internship. We also brought back one of last year’s interns, for a total of three for the summer.

Continue reading Teen Summer Internship @ Laurel Public Library

STEM Night @ Garland County Library

This year, through the Dollar General and YALSA partnership, our library received a grant to purchase supplies for an after-hours STEM Night. Our library has previously hosted a STEM Night and it was a big success. One thing that we learned from that program was the we needed a bigger supply of gadgets. Although our library has a large budget, we do not always have the funding to spend on supplies like robots, LEGO sets, etc. This grant made it possible for our library to buy various new items for our STEM gadget collection. Although the patrons are not allowed to check these items out, we have hosted several coding workshops in the past, and we plan to host even more in the future to fully utilize our new items.

For this year’s STEM Night, we utilized the entire library building and meeting rooms. This allowed us to showcase both the old and new gadgets that the library has to offer our patrons. Below is a list of activities that we had going on during STEM Night.

Continue reading STEM Night @ Garland County Library

Summer Teen Intern grant allows three young patrons to build their first resumes

Our teen interns assisted us in a variety of ways! They ran our summer reading registration table (data entry, prize distribution/inventory), interacted with children (assisted with computers) and adults of all ages, assisted in weekly programs/activities (spray painted rocks, room set-up and tear down, created sample crafts), unpacked deliveries, pulled hold lists, etc.

Our goals for summer teen interns were:

  • Introduce them to being a part of a professional environment

o   Teamwork

o   Decision making

  • Independent thinking
  • Build confidence
  • Gain diverse experience working with their community
  • Build resume

We see all three of our teens feeling empowered as they succeed in their role as summer interns. We want them to leave with the confidence and knowledge that they are a vital part of our community!

Kristine Swanson is the outreach librarian for the Public Libraries of Saginaw. She has the privilege of taking the library to underserved groups of people in her community including the juvenile detention center, assisted living communities and memory care units. She feels blessed every day to be doing what she is doing!