Using Teen Interns to Assist in Feeding Youth & the Community

Summer break can be the hungriest time of the year for kids, but the Olathe Public Library in Olathe, Kansas was fighting hunger with a summer meal program at their two library locations. Youth were fed lunches Monday through Friday at both of library locations. On Fridays the community was also welcomed to participate in a free community lunch.

The Olathe Public Library received a generous grant from Dollar General to hire two interns during the 2018 summer programs. The two teen interns focused on assisting the one staff member run the lunch programs every week day starting from when school got out till the end of summer. Teen intern, Alexis Proctor, also assisted in showing movies and supervising the youth on Monday afternoons during the summer. Alexis completed almost a 100 hours this summer at our Downtown location.

Our second teen intern was Jackie Holst who completed almost 50 hours this summer at our Indian Creek location. She provided some much needed assistance to our seasonal staff member over the lunch programs by providing assistance with room set-up and leading the volunteers.

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Teen Gives Back to Community at the Public Library of Silver City

For the summer of 2018, our library was approved for the YALSA/Dollar General Summer Teen Intern Grant. This was a wonderful opportunity for a lucky teen in our community to get broad experience working in a very busy but small public library. It was also great for our library to have a teen face for our summer reading program, not to mention the extra help in implementing all of our activities.

Historically our library has had a hard time reaching teenage patrons, but with an increased focus on improving the collection and opportunities for teen programs we are beginning to change that. Our intern for the summer, Logan, was a big help in not only engaging teenagers, but children of all ages.

Logan worked 16 hours a week gaining a thorough knowledge of how a small public library works and why it is valuable to the community. Over the summer Logan had the opportunity to learn from the different professional members of the staff to see what their job responsibilities are and why they enjoyed serving the community working in the Public Library. Logan was very helpful in setting up for programs, helping at the circulation and reference desks, and giving out prizes for the summer reading program. Logan’s biggest contributions were in helping us with our weekly crafts, makerspace, and library arcade.

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Dollar General Grant Winner: Jackson County Public Library

I have discovered that hiring teenagers is an interesting process and is completely different from hiring adults. Teens might not know how to properly answer the phone or might have “jokes” set up as a voicemail message. They might not know how to answer interview questions and talk about their accomplishments.

This helped us realize that we needed to add an interviewing skills class to our programs. We learned that teens are all different and all awesome! We hired two teens who were as different as night and day – one quiet and introverted, one outgoing and self-directed – and loved having them both here!

Mary and Anna covering the Book Walk at our Medora SLP Family Fun Day

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Dollar General Grant Winner: Sioux Center Public Library

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.

Back to the Basics: Why Getting Teens Writing is Important

The Reading Public Library, Teen Loft located in Reading, PA provided three three-hour writing workshops this summer facilitated by professionals funded by the YALSA/Dollar General Summer Learning Grant.

  • Ekphrastic Poetry: Motivos, a bilingual print magazine run by founder/publisher and former ALA National presenter Jenee Chizick-Aguero, provided a workshop on ekphrastic poetry. Teens used the elements around them and drew inspiration from things that were familiar to them such as music, movies, and artwork to find their creative voice. Jenee also encouraged them to submit their writing to her magazine for publication. She also shared resources her magazine provided such as scholarship information. The RPL also subscribes to her magazine so that they are available at all times.

  • Short Story Writing: Young Adult author of Immaculate and Transcendent Katelyn Detweiler began with a discussion about how she got into writing, the challenges she faces and working for a publishing company in New York which gave teens insight into how a book is created from start to finish. Teens were then given prompts to help get them started.
  • Comic Book Panels: Author and artist Jean Esther taught teens how to make their own comic book and the challenges he faced when creating his own. He also spoke about his journey as an artist. The workshop started off with basic drawing tips and tricks they could use to bring their drawings to the next level. After they created their main characters, they were ready to work on their storylines and share their work.

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Dollar General Grant Winner: Eastern Shore Public Library

In January of 2017, I took on the exciting challenge of becoming the first Youth Services Librarian for Eastern Shore Public Library, where we have 2 branch libraries and 2 affiliate libraries serving a rural community that includes the counties of Accomack and Northampton. I have never regretted it for a moment and find priceless daily rewards in my hours working with and for young people at the libraries.

The library system works hard to compensate for having a very small staff, so we were very excited to learn we had received the Teen Intern grant from YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation! We posted the positions online and created a press release which led to an ample number of applications for our two positions. We hired two teen interns, Anna and Jenninyah, for the summer (one for each of the branch libraries) to help with all of our Summer Reading Program events, Lunch at the Library programs, and our Garden Club at our Northampton Free Library in Nassawadox. In the early stages of implementing the Teen Intern Program, there were times when it felt as if the unexpected grant might be adding more to my workload rather than the hoped-for opposite. However, at this point, I can truly say I do not know how I would have managed without the support of my wonderful Teen Interns.

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Dollar General Grant Winner: ¡Vamos a Jugar! Bilingual Gaming

This summer, with support from the 2018 YALSA/Dollar General Summer Reading Learning Resources Grant, the Dover Public Library hosted two ¡Vamos a Jugar! (Let’s Play!) events featuring bilingual and vocabulary-building board games. From bilingual Bingo to You’ve Been Sentenced, I selected a wide variety of games to challenge and entertain Dover teens. Now that the teens and I have tested our collection, we can give you our top picks.

Juego de Palabras

Librarian Picks:

KLOO’s Learn to Speak Spanish and Race to Madrid

KLOO’s Learn to Speak Spanish is a card game that teaches players Spanish with color coded cards. The Race to Madrid board and pieces turn the card game into a journey to the finish line, eliminating the need for a score sheet. While this is the most inventive, educational game on my list, the teens were not as interested as I had hoped. On a different day or with a different crowd, I think we could have a lot of fun expanding the game, making our own boards, and learning more Spanish together.

Fitz It

Fitz It is a card game that plays a little bit like Scrabble and a little bit like a riddle. The Fitz It deck contains over 250 cards with various phrases. The games begins with one randomly selected card in the middle of the table. Players then add to the grid with their own cards, but they have to say a noun that fits the description of all the cards in the row or column. A little difficult to explain, this game is a fun challenge once the initial concept clicks.

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Future Ready with the Library: Bringing Social Emotional Learning to Teens, Families, & Community

This post was written by YALSA Future Ready with the Library Cohort 2 member Vicki Bartz, County Librarian, Ortonville and Graceville (MN) Public Library.

SEL wheel created by CASEL - https://casel.org/what-is-sel/For the Ortonville and Graceville (MN) Library’s Future Ready with the Library project I am working with a committee of family and community members to develop our college career readiness services for middle school youth and their families. The planning process has been interesting as we learn how best to connect with the schools and other community members to develop a successful service. We want to focus on middle school social emotional learning as a step towards college career success. However, while some of those we are working with see great value in helping middle school teens gain social emotional skills in order to prepare for life success, others have not been so certain that this focus is important to this work.

After working with our planning committee we decided to host a meeting of parents and teens with a focus on social emotional learning. At the meeting we talked with parents about the five skills teens need in order to be successful in life. As we had this discussion with parents, the middle schoolers worked on the 5 Love Languages Mystery Game. This game gives young people the chance to think about what they most would like to recieve from a caring adult – a hug, having someone else clean their room, getting a surprise, and so on. From this teens gain an understanding of the types of support they would like to receive from adults.
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Dollar General Grant Winner: Interview with a Teen Intern

I am one of the 2018 YALSA/Dollar General Teen Intern grantees. This was our library’s first summer running a teen internship program. As we wrap up our program for the summer, I’m reflecting on how it went.

Our library serves a community where there are not many job opportunities for teens. Every time I visit schools and ask teens what they want to see at the library, one of their first answers is “jobs” (followed by “slime”). Therefore, our goal with this internship was to create a supportive and engaging “first job” experience for teens. We asked them to fill out an application and go through an interview process. We interviewed six teens for two positions. My hope is that this was a learning experience in a supportive environment, even for teens who were not offered the internship.

Once we selected our two interns, I worked to establish schedules and expectations with them. I also worked to create a list of tasks for them to complete over the course of the summer. I am glad I followed YALSA’s advice to plan more work than I thought they needed, because both interns learned quickly and finished tasks quickly. Both of our interns supported our summer reading program by helping prepare for and host children’s and teen programs. They also worked on various projects to help children and teens engage with our library space and collection, by creating displays, passive programs, and more. One of my goals for the year was to re-invent our teen space and collection by finding ways to give teens ownership of the space. There’s no better way to do this than to hire a teen to help!

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Dollar General Grant Winner: Teen Interns @ Bartlett Public Library District

The Bartlett Public Library District had nine teen interns during the summer of 2018 which was made possible by the generosity of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and YALSA. The nine teen interns (Ayesha, Abby, Abigail, Andrew, Cailin, Emily, Ian, Safa, and Sakhee) learned about teamwork, problem solving, and customer service skills by working with and for library staff as the teens designed and facilitated programs for youth. The assistance of the teen interns made it possible to offer four more programs that did not require registration each week at the Bartlett Public Library.

Abigail shows off a puppet craft that she taught to youth.

The nine interns were split into different groups: one assisted library staff with a Readers’ Theater program, four were STEM/LEGO program interns, and four were Craft program interns. Each group had an hour each week for planning and preparation of their activity and then an hour to run the program. Each week, Ruth Anne Mielke and I (the direct supervisors’ for the interns) checked in with the teen interns to make sure that they had the supplies they needed and to see how comfortable they felt with how the program ran that day and if they had suggestions for the next week. This weekly check-in was an essential part of engaging with the teen interns and ensuring that their internship was beneficial to them and the library.

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