This post was written by Marijke Visser, Associate Director and Senior Policy Advocate in the ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office
Library staff are community leaders everyday. They lead with humility, making space for and including diverse voices. Libraries are hyper-local, with programs and services that respond to community needs and priorities. Libraries are mission-driven and their value is collectively determined as they serve the entire community. These may not be “big ideas” to library staff, however, as I traveled from the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. to the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado, I considered that the core values that library staff adhere to are also held up as essential by leaders across the United States, in addressing national and global social, economic, and political challenges.
At the Festival, themes of empathy, equity and inclusion, innovation, collaboration, social responsibility, and community engagement were woven across plenary and concurrent sessions in tracts as diverse as Hope Made Visible, American Renewal, Economic Progress, Conservatism, Next World Order, and Art of the Story. Throughout the Festival, speakers and attendees were prompted to consider how successful local initiatives can and should inform national and global policies. Attendees, leaders from non-profit organizations, foundations, businesses, government, philanthropy, and associations, like ALA, were also challenged to consider what kind of leader we might each be. This challenge highlighted the fact that all of us have a voice and can play a leadership role where we work and in our communities. A final common theme in the sessions I attended explicitly connected leadership, community engagement, storytelling, and advocacy.
In the novel The Most Dangerouse Place on Earth one of the female characters’ thinks to herself, “As if middle school were a safe haven…when in fact it was the most dangerous place on Earth.” Of course that sounds like teenage hyperbole, however I would say that if you think about it it’s more reality for many teens than one might want to admit. While teenage lives may have some of the outlines of a nightmare, there are many assets for library staff and community members to leverage in order to support the successful growth and development of all teens.
When I think of the assets that library staff can promote for and with teens I often think of the Santa Ana (CA) Public Library. I was fortunate to visit the main library a couple of years ago, after getting to know the teen librarian, Cheryl Eberly. The library building itself is nothing to “write home about.” The building is a 1960 structure that has quite a bit of wear and tear. However, when I was inside the building I didn’t really notice that. Why? Because from the time I walked in to the time I left (about two hours later) it was clear that this is a community library in which staff members (teens and adults) are embedded in the Santa Ana community and that the work that happens inside, and outside of the building, is completely centered on community needs.
Peer to Peer Learning is shared knowledge learning that is not done by an instructor or another person of authority. It is all about people on the same level teaching each other what they know.
Peer to Peer learning is not a new concept and can date back to Aristotle’s use of archons, student leaders and as an organized theory by Andrew Bell in 1795. It was later implemented into French and English schools in the late 19th century. Over the last 30 to 40 years, it has been increasingly popular in K-12 public schools. (Saga Briggs, (2013) How Peer Teaching Improves Student Learning and 10 Ways to Encourage It, opencolleges.edu) In Trends in Peer Learning, Keith J. Topping reviews the development of peer to peer learning from 1981-2006. He states that,
“types and definitions of peer learning are explored, together with questions of implementation integrity and consequent effectiveness and cost‐effectiveness. Benefits to helpers are now emphasized at least as much as benefits to those helped. In this previously under-theorized area, an integrated theoretical model of peer learning is now available. Peer learning has been extended in types and forms, in curriculum areas and in contexts of application beyond school. Engagement in helping now often encompasses all community members, including those with special needs. Social and emotional gains now attract as much interest as cognitive gains.” (Keith J. Topping (2005) Trends in Peer Learning, Educational Psychology, 25:6, 631-645, DOI: 10.1080/01443410500345172)
Greetings YALSA members:
Are you looking for leadership opportunities and being a part of moving YALSA forward, while networking with colleagues? Serve on one of YALSA’s strategic committees, advisory boards or task forces! Most are virtual and do not require conference attendance. I will make appointments in February and March, work starts July 1 and are one year appointments (unless noted). The Committee Volunteer Form is NOW OPEN for 2019-20 opportunities.
- AASL/ALSC/YALSA Committee on School & Public Library Cooperation
- District Days
- Division & Membership Promotion
- Editorial Advisory Board (for YALS & the YALSAblog)
- Financial Advancement
- Hub Advisory Board
- JRLYA Advisory Board
- Organization & Bylaws
- Research Committee
- Summer Learning
- Teens’ Top Ten Committee
Before submitting your Committee Volunteer Form (scroll down under “Sign Up to Participate”), view the committee FAQ and the committee responsibilities section in the YALSA handbook. Fill out the form by Feb. 1. Questions? Please contact me at email@example.com.
Todd Krueger, YALSA President-Elect
Dear YALSA members,
Each fall, the President-Elect of our organization joins the YALSA Executive Director to attend a leadership event to better understand the tenets of leading a nonprofit organization and how leadership styles may mesh and what improvements can be made to ensure a seamless transition and continuity for YALSA. Earlier this month, Executive Director Anita Mechler and I had the opportunity to attend ASAE‘s CEO Symposium in Washington DC, led by representatives from Tecker International. Tecker has worked with ALA and many of its divisions over the years to help with decision-making, strategic planning and training.
Held at the historic Watergate Hotel, this year’s event was of particular importance to YALSA leadership, as it was the first time that Anita had attended the event, so both of us were new to the training. Before the program started on Thursday, we took the opportunity on Wednesday afternoon to meet with local partners. Anita met with the ALA Washington Office and discussed matters of advocacy affecting YALSA and teens in general. Then the two of us connected and met with Kelcy Shepherd, Tim Carrigan and Sarah Fuller of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) where we had a very fruitful meeting discussing potential grant opportunities and partnerships that our organizations could jointly tackle. Finally, it was our great pleasure to meet with Abby Kiesa of 22×20 to further establish our working relationship. More information about all of these relationships will be forthcoming.
The ASAE CEO Symposium brought hundreds of nonprofit leaders from various fields together to discuss Board and leadership issues, trends, and behaviors. Key to the two-day event was the time that Anita and I spent speaking one-on-one on how our backgrounds and knowledge inform our decision-making and leadership styles. We took a modified Myers-Briggs test and learned our strengths and potential pitfalls as individuals and as partner leaders. Responsibilities of Board members, fiduciary issues, governance models, and case studies were all covered in this whirlwind learning opportunity. As the next YALSA Strategic Plan will be determined in the coming months, the timing of this event was fortuitous to create a strong understanding between the Board leadership and our Executive Director. An added bonus was to spend time with fellow attendees ALSC Executive Director Aimee Strittmatter and ALSC President-Elect Cecilia McGowan. The four of us talked at great length about potential partnerships, both official and unofficial, between our divisions and simply enjoyed getting to know each other.
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
Todd Krueger, YALSA President-Elect
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.
The YALSA Board is excited to announce a new member award – the Innovation in Teen Services Award. The award, funded by Friends of YALSA (FOY), was established in 2018 by the YALSA Board to recognize a member who has developed an innovative program in their library that has benefited teens in their community and that illustrates YALSA’s vision for teen services as outlined in the report: “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action” and “Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff.” Innovation includes leveraging creative thinking, problem solving, and/or identifying novel solutions to challenges. Innovation often involves risk-taking.
Nominations for this $500 award are open now through December 1, 2018. Self-nominations are welcome. To be eligible the nominee:
- Must be a current personal member of ALA &YALSA.
- Must work for and with teens in a library setting.
More about the award criteria and application materials can be found here.
Submit an application by December 1.
If you have any questions please contact Letitia Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at: 800/545-2433 x 4390.
The Board is looking forward to learning about the wonderful innovative projects our members are engaged in!
Thanks for all you do for teens and for YALSA!
YALSA Immediate Past President
Thanks so much to YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation for all they do to promote literacy through funding libraries. With the funding from their foundation, this year we were able to hire 3 teen interns from the community. Our interns were able to help with existing programs as well as design and implement one of their own programs.
Our Teen Interns were Tabetha, Aysha, and Philip; each had their strengths in helping out with programs. Tabetha and Aysha helped with our Summer Splash program where kids come and learn about the summer reading topic (Libraries Rock!) and create a craft relating to it. This year in Summer Splash, the interns helped with activities such as musical chairs, making kazoos out of popsicle sticks, and drums out of oatmeal containers. They were even able to share some of their musical abilities playing instruments like the cello.
Philip helped with programs such as Lego Club & STEM Club and lent his technology expertise. One of the teens implemented a Java Coding Class that met biweekly June through August where middle school age kids could learn about the basics of Java coding language on the Eclipse platform.
There was much that the teens learned in helping out with the programming and much that we learned as well, with this being our first time receiving this grant. The teens developed skills in leadership, punctuality, organizing, teamwork skills, and conflict resolution with the kids. We really appreciated having the teens help us and teaching them some valuable skills as well. Some of the teens’ takeaways or favorite moments of the program were making friends with the kids. They felt like they could fit in with them and get to know who they are. One of the interns said it was a great experience to learn behavior management, which will help with their future since they desire to be a teacher. Another said that they realized teaching is a good experience, but harder than they realized. They liked helping with classes and getting to watch kids make something whether they wrote a simple computer program or built a Lego Castle.
Maria Vander Plaats is the Teen Services Librarian & Program Assistant at the Sioux Center Public Library.
A colleague and I recently had a debate. She said she thought a specific library was progressive and I disagreed. Why? Because as I see it the library she was talking about isn’t progressive as a system. There are a couple of staff that manage programs that are certainly progressive, but the library overall, not so much.
I think this distinction is important to consider. Think about it, if we want teen services to be future and teens first focused – as defined by YALSA in recent reports, blog posts, and books – then we can’t simply assume that if a library has a few good programs led by awesome people that the whole institution is progressive, future focused, and teens first focused. Thinking about this I asked my colleague, “What happens if the people facilitating the progressive activities leave the library system? Would the library still be progressive in your mind?”
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.