At this point, most of you who are planning on having teen volunteers help you out with Summer Learning Program have probably already started working with your volunteers. It’s never too late or too early to start planning for next year. In this post, I’ll go through how we promoted our Summer Learning Program volunteer positions and how we handle applications.
We were hoping to attract 20 volunteers this summer. So far we have had about 40 applicants, and we are still fielding applications. It’s always hard to pinpoint causes of success when it comes to dealing with the public, so I can’t say that we received more applicants than we hoped for because of how we marketed the positions. Our marketing approach, however, doesn’t seem to have failed. The two approaches used were personal contact and flyer distribution.
Word of mouth is an effective way to promote any event. Quite a few of the teen volunteers we have this year are individuals whom I or other staff members personally recruited. These were teens who showed some of the traits we look for in volunteers (work ethic, passion for reading, interest in the library, looking for things to do), and seemed to be a good fit. We also reached out to teens who volunteered in previous years. We keep contact information for all of our volunteers on file. Then, when an event like Summer Reading is on the horizon, we reach out and invite them to return. This has the added benefit of padding a volunteer roster with experienced volunteers.
We’re all members of YALSA, or should be, but you’re reading this blog for a variety of reasons. You love libraries. Or you love working with teens. Or you’re just trying to find out what’s happening in YALSA. But you’re here, reading this blog post. As members of YALSA we all participate in our association in a variety of ways, sometimes passively by donating to the scholarships or actively by volunteering to serve on committees, by volunteering to blog for a list, by contributing your programs to Programming HQ.
In a recent YALSA survey many respondents voiced the opinion that their voices weren’t heard or weren’t acknowledged or they felt that their perspective wasn’t represented in YALSA. And I’d be the first to admit, yes it happens, it’s the reason I got involved. There was a time when I felt that my voice wasn’t being heard or felt in the list being created by the volunteers doing committee work weren’t representing my experience or worldview. So I stepped up and started volunteering. We make our association work; if you don’t volunteer or if you decide to drop your membership because you disagree, YALSA is going to fall apart and you know who will ultimately loses? Teens! The teens we support in our libraries, whether it be academic, public, or school; we serve the teens in our hometowns, whether it’s a big city or a small country town.
When someone wants to start their own garden, there are a lot of things they have to think about–location, climate, soil, and maintenance to name a few. It is important to know what kind of soil you are dealing with before you start cultivating the ground. Determining the quality of your soil allows you to utilize the ground to produce the best crop possible.
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” -Audrey Hepburn
What does this have to do with having a teen presence and programming at the library? I have found the same principles and practices used in having a successful garden can be applied to cultivating a teen presence at your library.
I am the director of Bolivar-Hardeman County Library in Bolivar, Tennessee. We are a small and rural public library serving a diverse community. When I started nearly two years ago our teen attendance at our programs were at an all-time low—basically zero at our library. The demographic of our patrons is increasingly getting older. It was and is my passion to revitalize the library into a place where teens want to come. Shortly after I started, I became of a member of YALSA (Young Adult Library Service Association) and ARSL (Association for Rural and Small Libraries). You can become a member by going here for YALSA and here for ARSL. I was starting from ground zero on developing any type of teen programming at the library. YALSA and ARSL has and continues to provide invaluable information and resources regarding teens and young adults with little to no budgets. One example is the Future Ready with the Library grant I received to be a member of the second of cohort. Future Ready with the Library provides support for small, rural, and tribal library staff to build college and career readiness services for middle school youth. I highly encourage you to read more about Future Ready with the Library. The past several months I have been very busy with gathering information about my community, schools, and youth for the Future Ready with the Library project. Because of my recent research and community engagement it has given me a fresh perspective on Bolivar. One thing that stuck out like a sore thumb was the lack of teen involvement in the library.
Interested in Serving on YALSA’s Board of Directors?
The YALSA Board Development Committee is looking for candidates for next year’s slate for the following positions: President-Elect, Secretary, and Directors-at-Large. Successful candidates will stand for election in the spring of 2019 and begin their term during at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.
For more information on the responsibilities of each role on the Board, please visit the Governance page which includes some handy links under the topic Get Involved in Governance & Leadership.
Are you ready to put your name forward? Please submit the online nomination form soon and a committee member will be in touch.
Not quite ready yet? Please feel free to contact me, the Board Development Committee Chair, at email@example.com with any questions or to request additional information.
The Board Development Committee will also be hosting YALSA 301 at Annual 2018 in New Orleans on Saturday, June 23, from 9-10 am. Pencil it in and hope to see you there! If you can’t make it, we’ll have a virtual session this summer, too.
Thank you for considering if YALSA Board is right for you!
Advocacy is something that library staff working with teens sometimes find difficult to take on. It can seem scary. It can seem time consuming. It can seem like something that someone else can do. However, advocating for the value of library teen services and the value of supporting the successful growth and development of teens is something that every library staff member needs to take on. As a way to help library staff understand some of the ins and outs of advocating for and with teens, YALSA just added three new Snack Break videos on that topic.
One way to get started with advocacy work is through engaging teens in activities that help them gain advocacy skills. In the video below, Jane Gov, Youth Services Librarian, Pasadena (CA) Public Library, provides tips on how to do just that.
Recently, I had the pleasure of catching up with Laurie Doan, a 2017 recipient of the ALA I Love My Librarian Award. She currently serves as a Young Adult Librarian at the Tredyffrin Public Library in Wayne, Pennsylvania. One of only ten librarians to earn this year’s recognition, she was nominated for her extraordinary work in fostering educational opportunities for the teens in her community, and for encouraging a wide variety of creative pursuits. Among the countless projects she supports, an alternative theater program within the library has been wildly successful with teens and adults alike. We discussed this and other aspects of her work when we spoke earlier this month.
One of the topics you want to consider when reviewing the Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff is what impact the document has on job descriptions within your organization. Does your job description reflect what’s included in the Competencies? Do your staff member’s job descriptions support what’s in the Competencies? Do your colleague’s job descriptions make it possible to maintain the ideas of the Competencies in your organization? As you ask yourself these questions perhaps you will realize that it’s time to re-envision the job descriptions in your institution to better reflect the Competencies.
Get started by reviewing job descriptions and asking questions like these:
- What in the job description supports the dispositions outlined in the Competencies? Are there areas where it’s clear that the dispositions listed are required in order to perform the job successfully?
- How do the tasks outlined in the job description reflect the skills and knowledge needed by library staff?
- What opportunities does the job description provide for improving/leveling up within the different content areas of the Competencies?
Giving teens the chance to develop leadership skills is a component of YALSA’s Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff
. In the four minute audio recording below, hear how Rachel McDonald, Teen Services Librarian at the King County Library System (KCLS). gives teens the chance to lead programs and services. In her youth leadership work Rachel demonstrates how through competencies in areas such as Youth Engagement and Leadership, Cultural Competence and Responsiveness, Interactions with Teens, and Continuous Learning, youth have opportunities to engage in experiences that are connected to, and meaningful within, their own lives.
One teen described their experience as a part of the KCLS program in this way:
“Participating in planning the Teen Voices Summit gave me a chance to experience firsthand the behind the scenes of hosting a successful event. I was given an opportunity to work with my peers to form a meaningful event for people my age. I learned to have patience and discipline. It took over a year to plan this event and at some points, it felt very tedious. After many long days of planning seeing the event finally come to fruition made me feel very gratified. What I learned will translate to future successes at school and/or in a job because like planning an event these are very long processes and in order to successfully complete them I will need to attain discipline and have the virtue of patience.”
You can also watch a video with teens taking part in the KCLS programs and hear what they have to say about the value of the experience. Continue reading
Recently there was a discussion on the listserv for the Association of Rural and Small Libraries about what activities are good to undertake at the end of the year. It seemed like a good topic for the YALSAblog, too, so I’ve adapted my answers to make them more focused on serving youth:
Reflecting on this year
- Send thank you notes to volunteers, supporters, and anyone who gave a helping hand or moral support.
- Do a post-mortem of your overall efforts to serve teens in 2017. What was successful? What failed and why? What will you do differently next year? For more about taking the time to reflect, read this article, Time to Reflect: why does it matter in the workplace?
- Conduct a review library policies and procedures to see if they need updating. Some useful information is on the ALA site and YALSA’s wiki.
- Conduct a review the teen pages on your school or library’s web site and social media sites to see what needs updating or improving. Check out ASCLA’s web accessibility resources. Review content and style for inclusive language, professional content versus personal beliefs, and potential sexist, discriminatory, or similarly insensitive language or images. Ensure graphics do not show people in stereotypical roles.
Currently a petition is circulating among ALA members that attempts to put a measure on the ALA spring ballot in an effort to overturn the most recent decision by ALA Council to change the language of the job announcement for the next ALA Executive Director from “MLIS preferred” (or CAEP/school librarian equivalent) back to MLIS required. YALSA’s Board of Directors strongly favors retaining the current status that prefers that candidates hold the MLIS/CAEP degree rather than require it. We feel that in order to effectively lead a professional organization the size and scope of ALA, a person’s skill as an association executive is critical. If there is a degreed librarian with these skills, that would be most desirable.