Teen Translator Interns @ the Sacramento Public Library

I am in charge of teen volunteers at the Arcade library and had noted that, of our approximately two dozen volunteers, many of them spoke languages other than English. At the same time, the Arcade library was seeing a large influx of new patrons who spoke said languages from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Syria; teens were also regularly asking about finding paid work in our area. I wanted to create an opportunity for the volunteers to use their linguistic skills and develop new ones related to professional working environments. It was also important to me that they be paid for their efforts.

I then came across a YALSA grant designed to monetarily support interns at one’s library and applied. I was informed that my program had been selected for one of the grants in early 2017. The amount of the grant totaled $1,000, all of which I paid directly to the interns.

The first thing I did after getting the grant was solidify the job description for the interns. I made the schedule flexible and the requirements loose – at minimum, applicants had to be at least 13 years old and be able to get to the library reliably. I highlighted the fact that teens who spoke Arabic, Persian/Dari, and/or Pashto would be given priority and that they would be paid. I also determined that, ideally, I would hire two interns – one who spoke Arabic, and one who spoke Persian/Dari, as those were the languages most often appearing in the community and that no library staff spoke. The description specified that interns were to email me with an answer to the question of why it was important for their community to have access to information.

Once this was finished, I sent the posting to teachers, administrators, and other community contacts in the Arcade area. When performing outreach, I talked about the opportunity to classes, especially those with adult ESL students, once the posting was translated into Pashto, Arabic, and Persian.

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Building a Better Library for and with Teens: Dollar General Teen Summer Intern Grant

The Teen Summer Intern Program funded through the generosity of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and YALSA provides libraries with a unique opportunity to implement the practice of building programs and services around the concept of for and with teens. Hedberg Public Library’s teen volunteer program and Teen Advisory Board (TAB) have given teens the opportunity to offer ideas, creativity and service to the library and its customers for many years. The Dollar General Teen Summer Internship Grant awarded to our library has magnified and expanded the many positives of the teen volunteer and TAB programs and has more fully demonstrated the value of providing rewarding experiences and support for teens in useful leadership roles with the goal of increasing teen engagement. Teens have reached further by mentoring their peers and by planning and carrying out activities in their own space at our library for the first time.

To get started, intern position descriptions were posted on the library’s teen web and Facebook pages and were announced during TAB meetings and Teen Volunteer Training sessions. Posters were positioned in the teen area at the library and were distributed to high school librarians. Our main local radio station broadcast an interview with library staff promoting the positions and the opportunity for teens to gain paid work experience. Applications were posted and in-person interviews were held with the Young Adult Librarian and Head of Youth Services. TAB participation or library volunteer experience was preferred for the positions but was not required. Two teens were hired to work an average of four hours per week during the summer learning program. Payments were made through two stipends paid over the summer.

Teens gained important career and workforce development skills through the application, interview and training process. Interns took part in the summer learning and summer lunch program intern/volunteer training sessions conducted by librarians and library workers. Additional training for interns covered basic library policies and procedures, safety and emergency guidelines, a full tour of the library and detailed instructions for the teen summer learning program. Following training, interns assisted teens as they registered and completed check in for the teen summer learning program at iPad kiosks in our teen area using an online tracking system. They also distributed prizes and mentored peer volunteers working with the baby/toddler and school-age programs in the children’s area.

Teen interns held a Kahoot! practice session for a middle school team preparing for our library system’s Battle of the Books competition. They guided participants as they chose a team name and team captain and helped facilitate the design of Sharpie Tie-Dye T-shirts. Senior Moments Tech Day brought teens, seniors and families together to showcase some of the cool gadgets used by teens like robots, 3D printer and more.

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Teen Summer Learning Intern or Old Bridge Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

The Old Bridge Public Library’s usage increases exponentially during the summer months while our staffing stays the same.  This makes it difficult to offer the summer learning programs that would benefit our community, but thanks to the YALSA Dollar General Grant, we were able to acquire a teen volunteer to host a myriad of STEM classes centered on the “Build a Better World” theme. 

We have a thriving year round teen volunteer program with over 100 active teens and during the summer months this number increases.  So when we advertised for our summer learning intern position, we knew we would get a huge number of applicants.  Close to a hundred teens applied for the intern position.  We knew more than half of them had the tech skills and open schedule that we needed, but would they have the social skills to make this program successful?  In order to find that out, we held interviews to see if they would be able to interact with all ages, including leading a group of their own peers.

We chose Ariana, or “A” as our summer learning intern for many reasons.  Since A was a teen volunteer for 4 years working in all aspects of the library, and went to a technology high school, she already had the necessary library and technology skill set that we were looking for.  There was no need to train her on those sections.   The Teen Librarian and I gave her a brief talk on the ages that she would be serving and explained their developmental stages.  Because of this, depending on the people attending the program, she was able to alter her robotics programs to ensure that everyone was getting a valuable experience out her STEM classes.    

LED circuit droid

Our summer intern was an essential part in our summer learning programs.  Since we believe in empowering teens, A’s role was not only to act as support in librarian run programs, but to also create her own. One of the first agenda items that we went over with A was to make a list of goals and program ideas to give her some guidance on how the summer would run.

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Teen Summer Interns @ Benzie Shores Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

We’ve had a children’s librarian vacancy for almost 2 years now and I’ve been filling in as our youth services coordinator. Finding skilled help in a rural area has proven difficult, but that’s a blog post for another time. With the vacancy, I’ve been extremely grateful for the interns we’ve had this summer, made possible from a grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

The best part of having interns was the fluidity they brought to our programs. Having extra hands around to keep energetic and mobile toddlers from running amok at programs was certainly helpful. During busy times, we were able to set up a separate Summer Reading Program registration table that was manned by the interns. The first day of summer reading is usually a chaotic nightmare (in a good way…) and this year we managed the crowds with no problems, even with the record number of children and teens signing up.

At one point during the summer, I told the interns “your task today is to play Lego with a group of 1st and 2nd graders. Are you ok with that?” It was a joy watching the interns interact with our younger patrons.

Last summer, I spent countless hours maintaining our summer reading program registration spreadsheet. Our interns were able to complete this task with hardly any training. I was amazed at the little amount of oversight they required.

We had a few challenges, but all were to be expected. Teens are busy people and their schedules can change at short notice. They also have family obligations that they don’t always have control over. We had 3 interns and tried to schedule them so that we always had 2 on the schedule in case one of them couldn’t make it. Our interns were bookworms, so at times it was like monitoring kids in a candy store. Overall, they were respectful of their “library” time and stayed on task.

The intern program was so successful that I cannot imagine going through a summer without them.

 

Stacy Pasche has an MLS from Indiana University at Indianapolis and has been fortunate enough to work for the Allen County Public Library (Indiana) and the Pewaukee Public Library (Wisconsin). She is currently the Assistant Director of the Benzie Shores District Library, a small library in beautiful Frankfort, MI. As a small and rural public librarian she works with all ages and all aspects of public library services, from Teen services to cleaning the occasional bathroom. Her heart belongs to her beloved Chiweenie- and her family.

Teen Summer Intern @ Rebecca M. Arthurs Memorial Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

The internship at our library was the first job I have ever applied for, because it was really the only job that would help with my future job, which I hope to be either working with elementary, high school, or college level students teaching History. I definitely learned how to interact with children much better than I knew how to before, and I know how to help them with things they needed, like help reading directions on the projects we would have them doing. I also got to meet quite a few unforgettable children, and I have pictures they have drawn for me to thank me for little things, which was really sweet. I watched nearly all of these children open up and their personalities really came through so much more than they had at the start. Things like these around the community are wonderful for young children, I think, and it shows them how to be compassionate, helpful adults later in their lives. I also learned a lot from this internship too, not just with the children. I learn important time management skills, faster organization skills, and it’s a bit easier for me to plan out things, like to help with setting up what we did with the classes, which a few we had to do last minute because of changed plans, but everything worked out wonderfully, and most times we even had fun with it as well.

I also had a wonderful opportunity to meet a teen author through this, which was really interesting for me because it’s always been a slight dream of mine to write my own books some day. I bought two of his books, and also won the competition that he had to win an advanced copy of his third book. I also learned basic skills around the library, like shelving, checking in, library card applications, and I brushed up on the Dewey Decimal system too. I also met a really cool girl my age, who I believe will be a friend of mine even after the internship is over. We hit it off right away and we related on quite a few interests too, and when we got to work together it was nonstop laughing and joking while we did what was needed. I was really happy to hear that it was someone I didn’t know, because I love meeting new people.

Amanda, who led the sessions with the children, was also nice and wonderful, and her children were there all day with us, which was awesome, as they were some of the sweetest and coolest children I’ve met. They’ve drawn me bunches of pictures and they seemed to really like me, which helped me interact with them a little easier. Amanda was super nice and caring, which helped any nervousness I had about the internship previously go right out the door, she was super friendly and really easy to get along with, and it was comfortable interactions too, we got quite a few laughs in while we worked on everything. Overall, I’m very glad I applied and I was really thankful for everything I got out of this job, as well.

My name is Hannah Stephens, I am from Brookville Pennsylvania, and I will be 17 in December! The library job was my first ever job, and I applied would be able to get to know how kids behave better than I understood them before, and to save money for a trip to Germany next summer, which will help with the World History teaching career I’d like to pursue. A few interesting fact about me would be I have a three year old shih tzu named Paisley, I collect and play the ukulele, and I currently have four of them! 

Teen Summer Interns @ Addison Public Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

When our library first began hiring teen summer interns, it was our goal to provide a first job experience and job skills training to at-risk and low-income young adults. We knew we would have to teach our kids the basics: filling out an application, showing up on time, and communicating with coworkers. We wanted them to go through the same orientation process as any other new staff member, including all the paperwork.  It was through this process that we uncovered barriers and knowledge gaps among our kids that we had not prepared for.

Many librarians are already familiar with the concept of “Summer Melt.” Up to 40 percent of low-income and first generation students that are accepted to college do not show up for their first day of class. Sometimes they face an unexpected crisis at home. For many others, though, the barrier is something relatively small. They haven’t filled out paperwork correctly. They aren’t sure how to pay for books. They forgot to turn something in on time. These are problems that could be solved, but students don’t know always where to get help.

By taking our interns through the standard orientation, we uncovered many of the same roadblocks. Of the thirteen interns we have hired in the last three years, five could not produce two forms of ID. Only two knew their social security number. At least four experienced a period of housing insecurity. One intern did not know what to do with a check. Our kids needed much more than just job training.

We also saw an opportunity to talk about topics that are usually too dull or distant to interest teens. Interns asked what we meant by “benefits.” They wanted to understand retirement savings. They had questions about paying taxes. Although many libraries have found success with programs on “life hacks” or “adulting,” it remains extremely rare to engage young adults in these more difficult subjects.

Any library considering a teen internship program should prepare to provide this kind of support. You need to know how to apply for a copy of a birth certificate in your county. You need to have a good contact at your local social services agency. Those of us that work in low-income communities consider ourselves well-versed in these services, but even we can be caught off-guard. Teens don’t always recognize that they are missing important documents and their brains aren’t wired to think about retirement, so these issues rarely come up.

The internship program creates a unique space where teens are motivated to tackle difficult, “real world” problems, but it reaches a very small percentage of our community. Our experience opened our eyes to an important role we can play in the lives of young adults, whether they are college-bound or not. The challenge for us now is to find a way to bring these services to more teens in our community.

What is your library doing to get kids ready for adulthood? What partnerships have you built in the community to reach these teens?

Elizabeth Lynch is the Teen Services Coordinator at Addison Public Library in Addison, IL.

Teen Summer Interns @ Charles Ralph Holland Memorial Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

As a part of the Summer Reading Program at the Charles Ralph Holland Memorial Library, five local teenagers were chosen as interns for the purpose of assisting the staff of the library in an effort to make this year’s Summer Reading Programming bigger and better than ever.   Our summer interns worked hard assisting staff members every Thursday during the Summer Reading Program doing things such as preparing the craft and helping children with their crafts, setting up games outside the library, being present as chaperones to the children as they played with Legos and Minecraft in different areas of the library, and assisting in handing out meals provided by the ETHRA Summer Food Program.  Once the program had concluded for the day, the teen interns would assist staff around the library with things such as breaking down sets, cleaning up, assisting patrons, and shelving library books.  Two of the interns worked outdoors on helping plant the library’s community garden and paint the ‘Patron Pantry’ that holds donated canned foods, school supplies, and hygienic items.  Another two teen interns updated our social media sites and tweeted out all of our events.  You can catch these pictures and hash tags on Twitter and Facebook.  The last intern resurfaced all of the library’s damaged DVDs and helped staff organize teen event supplies. 

Some of the teen interns had volunteered at the library before, but most were unaware of all the work that goes into running children’s programming and maintaining a library. Our interns gained skills in customer service by working daily with both adults and children.  Each teen intern got to actively participate in engaging young people while being pulled in multiple directions by energetic children.  The interns helped kids build Legos, play games, and read children’s stories aloud. They even helped record the events by taking turns as event photographer. Without them I feel many of the precious moments during the summer would have been lost. A few of the interns expressed interest in pursuing a career in working with children and found helpful that the internship provided hands on experience in dealing with children. I feel the internship presented the teens with the opportunity to learn whether a public service job interested them and educated them on the role of the library in a community.

On the last day of the summer intern program, the five teenagers were asked to take part in an interview that allowed them to answer questions about their time at the library.  One of the questions that asked was, “What was your favorite experience during the summer?”  Every teen responded with “being with the kids” as one of their favorite.  They loved crafting and reading to our summer readers and we know everyone enjoyed their company.  Teens handed in evaluations to help the library better cater future programming. The teen summer interns were provided with a stipend for all their services during the summer.  Funding from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and the Young Adult Library Services Association made the Teen Summer Intern Program possible. The hard work and determinations of teens selected for awards made the 2017 Charles Ralph Holland Memorial Library Summer Reading Program a huge success by breaking all previous records recorded by library staff in programming and attendance.

Hello, my Name is Kathrine Chalman, and I’ve served as director of the Charles Ralph Holland Memorial Library since July 2015. Having earned a Masters of Information Science Degree from the University of Tennessee, and started a number of library programs for teens, children, and adults this year, including a Story Time for Kids, Teen Board Game Night, Coffee and Coloring, and Young Adult Book Club. I recently taught a basic coding course at the local high school and am eager to share ideas and learn new programming methods.  With the completion of the library’s 2017 Summer Reading Program, I plan to start additional teen programming, including art and more coding courses. The Charles Ralph Holland Memorial Library 2017 Summer Reading Program set record breaking numbers in both attendance, community partnerships, and programming outreach.

Teen Summer Interns at Lawrence Public Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

This past summer the Lawrence Public Library had an amazing experience working with our first ever paid teen interns. Providing the teens in our community with paying jobs is something that we had been wanting to do for a long time. We have an amazingly dedicated group of teen volunteers, without whom we really wouldn’t be able to do nearly as much as we do, but finding the funds to give teens job experience wasn’t in the cards. Thanks to a $1,000 grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, though, we were finally able to make the dream a reality.

Our two paid intern positions were advertised widely at all of our local public and private schools, in the library, through email newsletters and social media. We received a number of great applications for the positions and were able to see yet again just how wonderful the teens in our community are. Although the decision was difficult, we finally decided to offer the positions to Bryce and Doha, and in May they began to work for the library.

Our two teen interns hit the ground running helping our staff plan and prepare for ongoing summer reading programs for children over the summer. Each week they spent two hours planning crafts and activities, and then three hours setting up for, running, and cleaning up after that week’s program. The next week the process began again.

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A Teen’s Thoughts on Interning @ Kern County Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

The YALSA/Dollar General internship grant was a huge success for both the teen and the library. The Kern County Arvin Branch Library had its second Lunch at the Library program this summer. It was such a huge success last year that we just knew we could double our numbers this year. In order to make this possible we would need someone who was willing and ready to take any task that may arise. Luckily we found a great student, Jazmin, with a great recommendation from her science teacher. She was selected and did a great job at setting up and for our Lunch @ the Library program every day. She hosted a few programs such as Legos Club, a few arts and crafts programs, and Xbox Kinect. Jazmin was doing such a great job that we decided to utilize her in many other areas as well. She helped signing up students for summer reading, and sorting and shelving books. One great trait about Jazmin is she takes initiative. She does not wait to be told what to do. Once she understood the routine at the library, she assimilated right into our work day. Here is Jazmin’s experience in her own words:

As a sophomore in high school a job should be the last subject in mind as school is coming to an end. Extracurricular activities were still on, teachers were assigning homework, tests were being jammed into our hands, and social life did not wait for anyone; nonetheless, a job was on my mind for the summer. Juggling what a teen could in high school my parents decided that I needed one more ball to do the trick, I began to look for a job and our family business was not an option. Thanks to a friend I received information towards an internship for the Arvin Branch Library, so I went into my high school’s career center and got an application. I turned the application in to the library and waited for a phone call.

 

A week passed and I finally received a call giving me information for an interview. I believe I stopped breathing. This was in fact my very first, serious job so I had to keep in mind that the only time I ever practiced for an interview was once in Academic Decathlon. You guessed it, I was a nervous wreck just thinking about it. The day arrived and my hands were clammy, sweaty, and shaking as I walked into the room and sat in front of my hopefully-future boss. I hoped that I would not stutter. Keeping a good posture and a steady breath, I willed myself to relax. Before I knew it, the interview was over and I had survived. I was given constructive criticism as to what I did well and what I could work on for future interviews. After a hand shake, some nods, a ‘thank you,’ and another week, I was given the job.

 

I believed my first day on the job would involve confusion; instead I received more information, food trays, and kids – so much better. The day began with a tour around the library and the system it runs on. I memorized where each genre of books should be placed and I began shelving and fixing misplaced books. Later on I met other employees and built friendships with them. My second job consisted of giving kids food in the Summer Reading Program and getting to interact with them in fun activities. Little by little I received more jobs and I kept learning from everyone each week. All of it was very exciting and I loved to play with the kids; unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.

My experience in the Summer Reading Program was enjoyable, as well as learning about the way things are run in a library. One of the reasons for why I decided to fill in the application for the internship was to help and give back to the community in anyway and it was possible. This job and the program has allowed me to meet new people, help others, make connections, and – in a way – helped me face my small fear for interviews. I am absolutely thankful that I was given the opportunity to learn every day and I wish that it could have been longer.

 

We are glad we were able to provide real work experience. From first real interview, to building new connections that will help her in future job opportunities. We’d like to thank YALSA and hope we can participate in similar programs in the future.

Written by Rafael Moreno. I started working for the Kern County Library in December 2005 and became a permanent employee in April 2007. From June 2006 through July 2017 I supervised the Arvin and Lamont Branch Libraries. During that time I successfully raised Summer Reading statistics 8 out of the 11 years at those locations. My Spanish speaking skills are essential in the communities I served. The Kern County Library’s YouTube online bilingual storytime was good enough to be noticed by ALA who interviewed me for an online article on bilingual programs. Working on my Master’s has been a personal priority outside of work. I recently graduated from San Jose State University with a Master’s in Library Informational Science. Timing was perfect. A spot recently opened up and I am in the process of being promoted to Librarian for the Southwest Branch Library. It is a different community with a larger and more diverse demographics which I plan to serve well.

Summer Teen Interns @ Onslow County Public Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

The Onslow County Public Library received the YALSA/Dollar General Summer Teen Intern Grant, which allocated a $1,000 donation to implement a teen intern program. We were thrilled to receive the grant and excited to see what would come of the program!

Teens applied, were interviewed, and were selected to be either lead (rising seniors) or assistant (rising juniors) interns. Our library system includes four library branches, and one lead and one assistant intern were hired for each branch. They completed training and dedicated 2-5 hours of work per week at their branch. Interns were responsible for planning, preparing for, and facilitating a genre book club for children in 3rd-5th grade. Other projects were assigned as needed.

Goals:

  • Give teens relevant experience in applying and interviewing for jobs.
  • Give interns experience working collaboratively and using creativity and resources to plan, prepare for, and lead a book club.
  • Gain experience in showing commitment to a schedule and learn about how library programs are planned and facilitated.

For the first year running and minimal marketing, the program was a success, with 13 applicants and 8 selected interns! The interns shared some of what they learned at the end of the summer:

“I learned that interviews are not as scary as I thought they would be, and interviewers are just people too.” – Loren

“A lot more goes into library programs than I thought.” – Josh

“Dress to impress!” – Ariana

The goals of the program were undoubtedly met and exceeded the expectations of the original grant. The teens were not only able to gain valuable experience in library programming, job skills and work ethic, but also gained a deeper understanding of the library and its mission. The teens learned that it is not only job skills and knowledge that make successful employees.

“I learned that it is important to get along with others and listen to ideas that are different than mine. Sometimes you have to change what you think to work on a team.” – Gabe

“It can be difficult to manage time and keep up with all the commitments you’ve made.” – Josh

These teens learned real-life lessons that will help them plan for the future and become more dependable and better communicators.

The interns impressed both the library staff and the patrons with their creative ideas and passionate love of reading. They were able to share this with the children, further proving the worth of this program. The children got to see people that they admire reading and enjoying reading. The activities helped to bring the books to life and show children that reading isn’t just words on a page.

I personally gained a wealth of new experience through this program. Before this summer, I had only worked with teens in libraries in an assisting capacity, never taking the lead. This program unexpectedly fell onto my list of responsibilities due to staff changes and I am incredibly grateful. I learned that teens are an invaluable resource to libraries, that marketing is an integral part of library programming and requires careful planning, and that evaluation is just as essential as planning.

The teens were capable of much more than we originally planned for and would have benefitted from more responsibilities and more assigned hours. While we were able to pay them thanks to the grant, we did not want to ask them to work too many hours. This was an error that was revealed in the evaluation phase. The teens were willing and able to work more hours and would have benefitted through a wider variety of projects.

In addition, we learned through post-program evaluation that more marketing and promotion was needed. While we were thrilled to receive 13 applicants to the internship, visits to the high schools would have garnered a much better response. The book club that the interns led would have also had a better turnout if the program had been promoted more effectively.

Teen interns are an incredible addition to the summer reading team due to their creativity, energy, and excitement. I highly recommend starting a teen intern program to all those working in libraries with young adults. Thank you, Dollar General and YALSA, for giving these teens the opportunity to show us how they stacked up!

My name is Jenna Kirkhart and I worked in child care and preschool after receiving my bachelor’s in Child Development. I found my passion for library youth services when a friend recommended I apply for a position at Onslow County Public Library. Since beginning my career here, I have done early literacy programs, book clubs, dance parties, and helped with more than I could list here! I especially enjoyed coordinating this teen intern program and hope to continue exploring new areas of library services.