YALSAblog News of the Month – June 2016

Welcome to the YALSAblog News of the Month. In this post we highlight a few news items from the past month that we think are of interest to staff working with teens in libraries, schools, and youth development organizations.

Week of Making: The Future of Making

When I read this the other day I thought, this is a call to action for library staff:

“The Department of Education (ED) and Alliance for Excellent Education are announcing the launch of Future Ready Librarians, an expansion of the Future Ready initiative aimed at raising awareness among district and school leaders about the valuable role librarians can play in supporting the Future Ready goals of their school and district. Among other critical roles, Future Ready Librarians design collaborative library spaces that enable open-ended exploration, tinkering, and making that empower students as creators, and will serve as digital learning coaches who work side by side with teachers. In addition, a network of nationally recognized librarians, with support from Follett, will provide input on the development of strategies aligned with the Future Ready Framework, and five Future Ready Summits will be held in regional locations throughout the country and will include librarian-designed and facilitated sessions for district leadership teams on designing collaborative learning spaces. – From the White House Fact Sheet on the President’s Nation of Makers initiative.

I think that announcement is a pretty exciting one and not just because libraries are called out. (Yes, that’s awesome.) Also notice there is a strong focus on the impacts that making activities facilitated with, through, and by libraries. Read this again:

“Among other critical roles, Future Ready Librarians design collaborative library spaces that enable open-ended exploration, tinkering, and making that empower students as creators, and will serve as digital learning coaches…”

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Future Ready with the Library

photo of middle school students at lunch CC image by WoodleyWonderWorks Middle school. It can be a tough time for many tweens, teens, and the adults who live and work with them. It’s an important time for a young person (and their family) for future planning and decision making. It may seem very early to start thinking about college and career. It’s not. That’s why YALSA is offering a professional learning/funding opportunity for library staff working with middle schoolers on the college and career readiness process. As noted in The Forgotten Middle: Ensuring that All Students Are on Target for College and Career Readiness before High School

…the level of academic achievement that students attain by eighth grade has a larger impact on their college and career readiness by the time they graduate from high school than anything that happens academically in high school. This report also reveals that students’ academic readiness for college and career can be improved when students develop behaviors in the upper elementary grades and in middle school that are known to contribute to successful academic performance. The implication is clear: if we want not merely to improve but to maximize the college and career readiness of U.S. students, we need to intervene not only during high school but before high school, in the upper elementary grades and in middle school.”

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Rethinking YALSA: Virtual Town Hall on Monday!

Don’t forget to login on Monday, June 13, 2016, from 2 – 3 pm Eastern for a Town Hall Discussion!

The Town Hall will be about the Organizational Plan that the Board just approved.  See President Candice Mack’s recent blog post for more information.

The Town Hall will be led by Candice and me, and we’ll be joined by many board members, too. The agenda is as follows:

2:00 – 2:15 pm:  Overview of the Organizational Plan & Steps Already Taken

2:15 – 2:45 pm:  Discussion with Participants about Involvement & Engagement Activities

Question to Ponder: What YALSA member engagement activities have you found most meaningful?

2:45 – 3 pm: Q&A and Wrap-Up

If you can’t make it to the virtual town hall, but you’re attending ALA Annual in Orlando, we’d love to see you at the session What’s New in YALSA and How You Can Be a Part of It! The session will be on Saturday, June 25th, from 8:30-10 am at the Rosen Centre, Room Salon 03/04. It will be similar to the virtual town hall, and YALSA’s strategic guru Eric Meade will join the discussion. You can find out more about the Whole Mind Strategy Group in this interview with YALSA Board member Kate McNair.

We’ll be using a format that the Board has been using to meet virtually– Zoom. You don’t have to use video, but it does make conversation easier. And we always love when cute animals accidentally walk in front of the screen!

Email the YALSA Office soon to receive the login information: yalsa@ala.org

Rethinking YALSA: What’s New in YALSA and How You Can Be a Part of It!

The YALSA Board has been hard at work throughout this year and last year looking at YALSA’s Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action report, association capacity and sustainability, and incorporating member and stakeholder feedback to re-envision the organization’s Strategic Plan to create an association that is more nimble, more modern and more reflective of the needs of teens and our members both today and into the future.

The result is YALSA’s new Organizational Plan!

Please check it out: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/aboutyalsa/strategicplan

You can also find YALSA’s new Mission, Vision, and Impact Statements (http://www.ala.org/yalsa/aboutyalsa/mission%26vision/yalsamission) and the Implementation Plan (http://www.ala.org/yalsa/sites/ala.org.yalsa/files/content/ImplementationPlan.pdf)

Mission: Our mission is to support library staff in alleviating the challenges teens face, and in putting all teens ‒ especially those with the greatest needs ‒ on the path to successful and fulfilling lives.

Vision: Our vision is that all teens have access to quality library programs and services ‒ no matter where they occur ‒ that link them to resources, connected learning opportunities, coaching, and mentoring that are tailored to the unique circumstances of the community and that create new opportunities for all teens’ personal growth, academic success, and career development

Intended Impact Statement: To meaningfully address the challenges teens face today and to put more teens on the path to a successful and fulfilling life, YALSA will support library staff who work for and with teens in the transformation of teen library services so that:

  • Libraries reach out to and serve ALL teens in the community no matter what their backgrounds, interests, needs, or abilities, and whether or not they frequent the library space.
  • The library “space” is at once both physical and virtual. It connects teens to other people, printed materials, technology, and digital content, not limiting teens to a designated teen area but rather inviting them into the full scope of the library’s assets and offerings.
  • Teens co-create, co-evaluate, and co-evolve library programs and activities with library staff and skilled volunteers (including mentors and coaches) based on their passions and interests. These programs and activities are connected to teens’ personal, work, or academic interests across multiple literacies; generate measurable outcomes for teens’ skills and knowledge; and are tailored to the unique circumstances of the community.

To achieve this impact, the YALSA Board identified the following priority areas:

  • Leading the transformation of teen library services (including a cultural competency component)
  • Advocacy to policy makers at all levels to increase support for teen library services
  • Funder and partner development

We’re really excited about the new plan and our #TeensFirst focus and we want to know what your thoughts and/or questions are!

To that end, we’ve put together an Organizational Plan FAQ: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/organizational-plan-faq-2016-2018

YALSA President-Elect Sarah Hill and I are also hosting a virtual video townhall on Monday, June 13th, from 2-3 p.m. Eastern via Zoom.  Please contact the YALSA Office at yalsa@ala.org for the access information.

And, if you’re attending ALA Annual in Orlando next month, we will also be hosting a face to face session on YALSA’s new Organizational Plan on Saturday, June 25th, from 8:30-10 a.m. at the Rosen Centre, Room Salon 03/04, called What’s New in YALSA and How You Can Be a Part of It!

If you have any other questions, comments, concerns and/or compliments, feel free to email me at candice. YALSA [at] gmail.com or reach me via Twitter @tinylibrarian! Hope to see you online and/or in person at our Townhall and at ALA Annual!

YALSA Professional Learning: The Future of Library Services for and with Teens – Thinking Differently

photo of kid feet in sneakers surrounded by books, notebooks, tablet, and smartphone Welcome to the first in YALSA’s new monthly professional learning series. Each month we’ll highlight a topic and give readers the chance to learn about it as well as discuss it with others. Here’s how it works:

  • On the first of each month the YALSAblog will post an overview of the topic of the month. That overview will include links to resources to read, watch, listen to, etc.
  • If you are interested in participating in the learning during the month, comment on the initial blog post to say something like, “yes, I’m in.”
  • Each week the facilitator of the topic – that’s me this month – will check-in with participants with a post that poses questions and helps to focus conversation on the topic.
  • Participants can converse with others about the topic by commenting on those posts.

We hope this is a low-stress way to learn something new or expand your knowledge on a topic. There is no pressure, just a desire to learn and discuss your learning.

Onto this month’s theme – Thinking Differently
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Create it at Your Library: Preparing for Teen Tech Week 2016

Teen Tech Week is YALSA’s yearly initiative encouraging libraries to engage their teen community with resources that enhance their digital literacy skills. During March 6-12, libraries across the country will be buzzing with tech programs, STEM activities, and will be showcasing their digital resources with pride. Not only does this week in March allow us to engage teens with exciting opportunities, but it also gives libraries the ability to demonstrate their incredible value to the larger community. As library staff, we understand how imperative it is that our teens enter college and the workforce with skills that will allow them to hit the ground running. For some, this is an exciting task that they feel well equipped to tackle. For others, it’s a struggle; budgets are tight and technology can be pricey. However, no matter what the technological climate is in your community, there are a myriad of ways to prepare for Teen Tech Week that don’t involve dumping loads of cash into a new 3D printer. With the help of some great resources and inspiration, you’ll be well on your way to hosting the best Teen Tech Week ever.

Taking incremental steps is the best way to begin your preparation. Head over to YALSA’s Teen Tech Week site and register for a free account to access all of the resources that are available to new members. Under the “Resources” tab, you’ll find toolkits that will help you advocate for teens and technology, develop programs and activities, and publicize this exciting week in your library. As you explore the site, you’ll be ready to integrate the maker mindset into your programs and services. Use the Easy Advocacy toolkit to get your administration on board and word out to local policy makers and community leaders. Understanding the importance of this initiative will ensure their support and help you out in the long run.

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INSTAGRAM OF THE WEEK — FEBRUARY 8

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

Following up on his final State of the Union address, President Obama announced the “Computer Science for All Initiative.” In his weekly address on January 30th, Mr. Obama said that computer science is a “basic skill right along with the three R’s” that is vital for the 21st century economy. Details of the initiative include $4 billion in state funding and $100 million directly for local districts to provide training and support for increased access to computer science courses, particularly for girls and minorities. Libraries are already embracing the youth coding movement, but we have more work to do.

From programming with Ozobots and MaKey MaKey sets to hosting video game design competitions, school and public libraries are engaging teens in exciting ways to promote computer science skills. While it may seem daunting to offer coding classes for youth in your library, rethinking our role as co-learner and creating strategic partnerships will ensure successful learning outcomes. The Future of Library Services for and with Teens emphasizes that we are not expected to be experts nor keepers of information, but must learn to be comfortable working alongside teens to learn together. Meanwhile, libraries are partnering with their local CoderDojo, FIRST Robotics leagues, and makerspaces to connect STEM-based learning opportunities within their communities. Promoting outreach with women and minority-based groups such as Girls Who Code and Black Girls Code will support efforts to get more girls hooked into STEM and encourage young women to choose technical careers. As The Future of Library Services for and with Teens explains, when libraries embrace our role as both formal and informal learning environments, teens are able to develop 21st century skills, content knowledge, and expertise, engage in peer-supported learning, and connect with a broader community based on common interests. However, more needs to be done to widen our efforts.

In Linda Braun’s recent YALSAblog post, she says that annual events like CSEdWeek and the Hour of Code are great opportunities to celebrate coding in the community, but they need to be a part of something bigger. She asks “what if libraries and other formal and informal learning organizations focused on Hour of Code as a way to expand and enhance STEM learning and 21st Century Skill development and used the event as a way to celebrate that learning? Or, what if learning organizations participated in Hour of Code as a piece of a broader program focused on skill development and/or college and career readiness?”

How will your library answer the call?

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My Problem with Hour of Code

code.org public domain logoI’ve been a proponent for many years of the idea that coding is something that all youth should learn. I firmly believe that, through coding, youth gain a variety of 21st century, college and career readiness, and STEM skills. But, when I hear people talk about Hour of Code, and in December when I saw all the Tweets and Facebook posts and so on about the events being sponsored by libraries, schools, and out of school-time-institutions in honor of Hour of Code, I have to admit, I cringed a bit. Here’s why. It seemed to me that for many of the institutions that I was reading about, the work was being done as a one-time event. And, I don’t believe we can help youth gain the skills that coding activities lead to in an isolated once-a-year program. Hour of Code is a great way to celebrate what learning to code can bring to youth, but it should be the start or middle or end of something bigger. It should not be a one-and-done experience.

This idea is highlighted on the Code.org website on the page titled, What’s the Impact of the Hour of Code. One point really stood out to me on that page when thinking about my “problem” with Hour of Code (bolding and caps added by me): Continue reading

YALSA Board @ Midwinter – Overview

Happy post-Midwinter!

The YALSA board started off Midwinter on Friday with training session on best practices in association governance. All day Saturday, Board members worked with a consultant from the Whole Mind Strategy Group on organizational planning.

Based on those discussions, several key topics rose to the top as ones most likely to become the focus of the organizational plan. They were: advocacy, continuing education, cultural competency promotion, leadership development, partner/funder relations, and state level outreach.

The goal is to develop a focused and responsive plan which will help YALSA meet the needs of members and advance teen services in libraries across the country. Based on the outcomes of the organizational planning discussions, the consultant will help the Board draft a new, 3 year plan.

We hope to have that in place by March 1st.

While the planning discussion took up all of the Board’s meeting time on Saturday, there were still other topics that the Board discussed at the business portion of their meeting on Sun. and Mon.

Those topics included:

  • Diversity on YALSA’s Board: the board voted to approved the taskforce’s recommended updates to the nominating committees’ charges and asked the taskforce to submit a formal request to the board for adoption of a diversity definition for YALSA. The board had some questions and feedback regarding the proposed checklist for nominating committees’ use and sent that document back to the taskforce for further work
  • Dues categories & rates: the board voted to table this issue until after organizational planning is complete
  • Updating YALSA’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth: the board reviewed the latest draft and had further recommendations for refinement
  • YALSA’s portfolio of guidelines and position papers: the board approved the proposal to have staff work on updating some of these documents in the short-term

Check out the full board agenda and documents online to get the details of what the board talked about. We will also be posting meeting minutes there in the next week or so. You can also read the accompanying blog posts on the YALSAblog that other Board members have been sharing out since we’ve returned from Boston.

If you have question about a particular agenda item or issue or would like more details about it, feel free to e-mail me or any of YALSA’s Board members.

I will also be hosting another virtual town hall via a Twitter chat on Fri. February 5th from noon to 1:00 p.m., Eastern, and I hope you can join in!

Drop in any time during the hour to learn more about organizational planning and board activities and follow along with #yalsachat.

I would love to hear your thoughts about the potential focus areas for the new plan: advocacy, continuing education, cultural competency promotion, leadership development, partner/funder relations, and state level outreach.

Also, feel free to follow Executive Director Beth Yoke (@yalsa_director), myself (@tinylibrarian), and/or other YALSA Board members for tweets about the work of the board!