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.
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?