Middle School Monday: Building a Middle School Public Library Collection, Part 1

A year and a half ago, I was tasked with creating a collection of reading materials aimed at middle schoolers for my public library.  These types of collections—sometimes called junior high or tween collections—are becoming more popular in response to growing demand from patrons, but creating them poses some unique challenges.  In my next two blog posts, I’ll share some information on my Library’s process: we did, why we did it, what we learned, what, and how you might begin your own process of creating such a collection.  This can only serve as a guideline.  You will need to develop your own methods to build a collection that meets the specific needs of your community.

In this post, I will discuss reasons for having a middle school collection in the public library and first steps to creating one.  The next post will be about selection guidelines for the collection, and how to use those selection guidelines.

I will use the term “middle school collection” to refer to any collection designed to serve readers in the range of ages 10-14.

This is my library’s Middle Ground collection as it currently appears. We are working on expanding it to some additional shelving.

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School Summer Reading: An Opportunity to Evangelize for Pleasure Reading

 

When it is difficult to determine who dislikes your high school’s summer reading program more – the students who have to produce evidence of having done their reading or the teachers who have to assess grudgingly penned essays – it is probably a wise idea to consider a revamp. Such was the case nine years ago at San Jose, CA’s Harker School. My then campus librarian and now director, Sue Smith and I longed to refocus our students’ summer habits on pleasure reading. We sketched out a plan and appealed to our head of school to take a leap of faith. ReCreate Reading, a program title that cued the philosophical shift toward the recreational, was born.

ReCreate Reading asks all teachers to select a book they would like to discuss with a small group of students. As librarians, we encourage sponsorship of popular mysteries, science fiction and fantasy appropriate for teens. Each spring we create a LibGuide that features a page for each title. Last year, we had over 70 books on offer. Titles ranged from intellectually challenging (Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens, Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup), to culturally significant (Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything), to awarding-winning YA (Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun, E Lockhart’s We Were Liars), to pure fun (Erika Johansen’s The Queen of Tearling, Hugh Howey’s Wool). Students are required to register for one book, with upper classmen getting first shot at the 16 seats in a group.

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YALSA’s Literacies Resource Retreat Toolkit Creation

The set up

At the end of November, seven librarians were asked to participate in YALSA’s first resource retreat. The mission of the retreat was to create a literacies toolkit, expanding on the discussion that began in the 2014 report: “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action”. We were asked to create a document that was user friendly and accessible to both librarians and library staff who work directly for and with teens. The rest was really up to us, which was both exciting and a little daunting.

The retreat was scheduled for the Friday of Midwinter. Since this was YALSA’s first time trying a resource retreat, everything new to us was also new to YALSA. We were given a stipend to help defray travel and lodging costs and were asked to attend one phone conference before Midwinter to plan out a few logistical elements. In the phone call, we realized we needed a Google doc to keep our ideas in one place. This document proved to be a crucial element of our success during the retreat. We were glad we had done some leg work ahead of time to make the actual day of writing go a tad smoother.

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YALSA Offers Baker & Taylor Collection Development Grant

Do you wish there was extra money to buy more items for your library’s teen section? Are your teens wishing they had a larger selection of materials at their public library? Then this might be your lucky day! The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) is now accepting applications for the Baker & Taylor/YALSA Collection Development Grant. The $1,000 grant, made possible by Baker & Taylor, will be awarded to up to two YALSA members to be used to support the purchase of new materials to support collection development in public libraries. The grant is also designed to recognize the excellent work of those YALSA members working directly with young adults ages 12-18 in a public library.
 
The committee is looking for proposals that present innovative ideas on how to expand young adult collections. Applicants will be judged on the basis of the degree of need for additional materials for young adults in their library, the degree of their current collection’s use, and the benefits this grant will bring to young adults. Other criteria, grant information and the application form can be found on the YALSA Awards and Grants website, http://www.ala.org/yalsa/awardsandgrants/bwi. Applications must be submitted online no later than December 1, 2016.
Sara Ray, Teen Services Librarian, and B&T Collection Development Grant Chair is excited to offer this opportunity to YALSA members.

Stuck in the Middle: Serving Tweens and Young Teens

It wasn’t all that long ago that adolescence was first recognized as a distinct stage of life. But anyone who works with teens can tell you that a twelve-year-old’s adolescence looks a lot different from an eighteen-year-old’s. Over the teen years, the brain undergoes dramatic growth and change. The Office of Head Start and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (part 1 and part 2) point out significant differences in the mental, physical, and emotional development of younger teens versus older ones. One way for libraries to meet this variety of needs, and perhaps to better serve our patrons, is to offer services for tweens and young teens that are separate from those for older teens.

Special services for pre-teens and young teens are a growing trend, and they come under many different names: tween services, middle school services, junior high services, in-betweens. School Library Journal recently created a monthly e-mail newsletter called Be Tween, for “those kids who are not little children anymore—but not quite young adults, either.” Members of a large library system in my state just started a tween services group for staff serving these patrons to network and share ideas. Continue reading

YALSA @ ALA Annual 2016: Update on Board Meetings, Discussions & Actions

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July!

As we celebrated our country’s independence last weekend, YALSA, too, has sought to break free from past models of association work and is currently exploring new ways to engage our members that better meet their interests, skills and busy lifestyles.

It was with those #teensfirst  and members’ first ideals in mind that the 2015-2016 YALSA Board approached our work before and during ALA Annual last month as we worked on aligning existing YALSA groups, programs and services with the association’s new Organizational Plan.

Here are some highlights:

– The Board adopted the following consent items, which were items that were discussed and voted on previous to annual, including:

– The Board also approved a more concrete structure to support and revitalize interest groups.

– The Board approved experimenting with new kinds of member engagement opportunities, especially virtual and short-term ones.

As part of its effort to align YALSA’s existing work with the new Organizational Plan, as well as update member engagement opportunities so that they better meet member needs, the Board began a review of all existing member groups at our June meeting.  While the Board was not able complete the review, we did come to decisions about some of the groups.

– The Board agreed that the following committees’ structure and workflow will remain as they currently are:

  • Alex Award Committee
  • Editorial Advisory Board for YALS/YALSAblog
  • Financial Advancement Committee
  • Margaret Edwards Award Committee
  • Mentoring Task Force
  • Michael Printz Award Committee
  • Morris Award Committee
  • Nonfiction Award Committee
  • Odyssey Award Interdivisional Committee
  • Organization and Bylaws Committee
  • The Hub Advisory Board

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YALS Summer 2016 – College & Career Readiness

cover of summer 2016 YALS showing map with paths to different college career related iconsAny day now YALSA members and YALS subscribers should find in their mailboxes the latest issue of YALS. (The digital edition is already available on the Members Only section of the YALSA website.) The summer 2016 theme is college & career readiness (CCR) and includes articles on:

  • Developing space that supports helping youth gain CCR skills and information
  • Developing activities and a program of service that supports teen acquisition of CCR skills and information
  • The role of digital equity in CCR
  • What Project Lead The Way is all about
  • How creating tinkering opportunities supports teen ability to gain 21st century skills
  • The skills library staff need to succeed in the 21st century work place

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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!