Reflections of National Library Legislative Day

by Sarah Levin

It was with a lot of enthusiasm that I applied for the YALSA NLLD travel stipend in late January. I honestly didn’t know a lot about legislative issues, but I did have a nagging feeling that I should be advocating for libraries, and specifically for teens. As a librarian at an independent high school in San Francisco, I need to act on behalf of teens that need a place to study on the weekends, to get job skills and volunteer. A place where kids who go to public schools that are underfunded can go and get both the help they need for school and books they want to read for fun.

I was eager to see what actually happens in DC and what kinds of people attend NLLD (all sorts of librarians and even trustees, as it turns out!). I also wanted to bring back advocacy issues to my community of teens, faculty, and other bay area librarians . When I found out I had received the funding, I felt excited and grateful, but I have to admit I was also nervous.

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Me with Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

As the date approached, I asked myself why I was going to NLLD. I am fortunate to be able to give my students the resources they need thanks to a supportive administration. Even though government funding doesn’t directly affect my library, I feel the need to act on behalf of those libraries that rely on it to survive. Still, I was a bit anxious about going. Would I be able to effectively advocate for teens?

Thankfully, our state coordinator called me about six weeks prior to NLLD and provided me with the necessary steps to get started. I made appointments with the offices of Nancy Pelosi (representing the district in which I teach) and Barbara Lee (representing the district in which I live). When I arrived in DC, ALA had planned a pre-conference for those of us who had little experience with the legislative process, as well as a briefing day to provide us with the information we’d need to advocate.

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Reflections on National Library Legislative Day

By Maribel Lechuga

If you don’t know, the Friends of YALSA funds a $1000 travel stipend to attend National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) in Washington, D.C. This May, I was one of three recipients who had the opportunity to advocate for teens and engage in the legislative process by lobbying for libraries. I had no clue about this process but was motivated to apply for the stipend to practice advocacy in a broader arena, expand my understanding of library issues beyond those in my own branch and library system, and visit Washington D.C. for the first time ever!

I felt nervous to converse with my state Senators and Representatives but was not unprepared. ALA spends an entire day prior to NLLD briefing every participant on key issues. I was also fortunate to work with my state delegation, Washington Library Association President, Nancy Ledeboer and John Sheller, King County Library Manager, both fabulous teachers and partners in this process. I came to understand that the congressional staff that we met are probably inundated with key issues brought forth by many organizations each day. I learned that as a Youth Services Librarian, I was able to offer specific examples and frontline stories about how libraries foster learning, personal and professional development, social opportunities, and refuge for teens, children, and families.

The NLLD is one of several opportunities that YALSA offers its members to grow professionally. And frontline stories like yours are needed to help others relate to and remember what libraries do for teens. For more information about NLLD 2015 and other YALSA awards, grants, and scholarships, go to http://www.ala.org/yalsa/awardsandgrants/yalsaawardsgrants

Please consider giving to Friends of YALSA support more professional opportunities like this.

Amplified: National Library Legislative Day

During the next few days, YALSA’s Executive Director and I will be in Washington DC for National Library Legislative Day. We’ll be talking to Congressional Staff and policy makers at key foundations and organizations about the vital role libraries and library staff play in helping teens succeed in school and prepare for careers.

In order for our conversations to have any lasting impact though, they need to be supported by a grassroots effort from members and supporters. Without your participation in NLLD via Tweets #NLLD14), emails and phone calls, we’ll be just two people talking. We need you to amplify, to show that we are all working together to improve teens’ lives.

As of today, just over 300 individuals have signed on to support YALSA’s NLLD Thunderclap. While that’s a start, YALSA has 5,138 members. All of those members have friends, families, colleagues, and patrons who stand behind the important work that we do everyday. So please, take a few moments out of your day to help your teen patrons, your library and your livelihood. Sign our Thunderclapreach out to your members of Congress and encourage others to do the same. Let’s leverage social media to amplify our voices and make real change for libraries and our patrons! The future of teens and libraries depends on us. #Act4Teens now.

How CIPA Affects the Future of Libraries and Teens

275690-teen-computer At the end of July the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) and the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) teamed up to host a conversation on Revisiting the Children’s Internet Protection Act: 10 Years Later. This symposium, funded by Google, brought together thirty five experts from within and outside of the library community to discuss the long-term impact of implementing CIPA. The associated Twitter conversation that can be viewed with the hashtag: #CIPA_ALA2013.

Both Part I and Part II are archived on YouTube, and they’re definitely relevant for both public and school librarians in working with youth today.

For example:

• The efficacy/success rates for most filters (shown repeatedly in study after study) is 80% and less than 50% for image/video filters.

• Both filters in public libraries and school libraries block far beyond what CIPA requires (i.e. certain topics such as GLBTQ is one example of a frequent “overblock”)

• Getting around filters can be extraordinarily easy for patrons (misspelling words for example).

• CIPA doesn’t require filtering of social media, yet sites such as YouTube, FaceBook, and Google docs are often blocked.

So, how CIPA is contributing towards a digitally literate society? First, look at what exactly CIPA is… Continue reading

ALA Council at 2013 Annual and Youth Issues

ALA Council is the governing body of ALA. Council meets during Midwinter and Annual, with significant electronic communication in between.

In January, I posted about Council decisions related to youth issues after Midwinter.

A brief summary of issues with implications for the youth we serve that were taken up by Council at the most recent conference can be found below:

  • Council adopted a resolution (CD#37) Reaffirming ALA’s Commitment to Basic Literacy. While there was discussion disputing the need for such a resolution as well as the perceived implication that one literacy was being privileged over another, the majority passed a statement of support. This resolution can serve as a reminder that literacy is a core service all libraries support and is essential in helping teens become productive adults. Continue reading

Advocacy Spotlight – Teen Trips

In March 2013, staff members of the Youth Services department at the Kansas City Public Library took a group of teens on a field trip to the Missouri State Capital in Jefferson City.  This trip was just one of many that have come from a partnership between the Kansas City Public Library and Truman Medical Center (Kansas City, MO).  Not only are teens able to expand their knowledge of places in the Missouri area, but they are getting an opportunity to see different things that may affect their lives.  Teens are experiencing a host of activities that are enriching, educational, and fun.  The impact of these trips is obvious to us as librarians – we are hoping to create lifelong learners.  To those outside of our profession, we must advocate for teens, libraries, and the magical experiences in between.

Crystal Faris, the Director of Teen Services at the Kansas City Public Library, took the time to answer a few questions about the teen trips and the effect on teen programming at the library.

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February President’s Report

What in the world have I been up to lately? It’s all here.

Key Activities:

Worked with the Board to appoint the fabulous Carla Land as the 2013-14 YALSA Board Fellow. We are thrilled to have her as part of the team!

Worked with the Board to appoint Pam Spencer Holley to fill the vacant position of Fiscal Officer. Pam will be working closely with the Board, the Executive Committee and the FInancial Advancement Committee Chair to help YALSA members and the public better understand YALSA’s finances. Thank you, Pam!

Had an inspiring, eye-opening, amazing time at the Summit on Teens & Libraries. We learned about teens, technology, Connected Learning and so much more. Save the date for March 19 so you can participate in the first virtual town hall on leveraging partnerships between libraries and other organizations: www.ala.org/yaforum & on Twitter: #yalsaforum.
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New Canaan High School Leading the Way for Library Advocacy with Michelle Luhtala

I had a chance to speak with Michelle Luhtala, department chair of New Canaan (CT) High School Library, late last year about her students winning the American Library Association’s teen video Contest, “Why I NEED My Library!” in 2011. After learning that the American Library Association was sponsoring the teen video contest, “Why I NEED My Library!” , Michelle Luhtala, school librarian at New Canaan High School (CT) sent the information to a group of students interested in videography.  She let the students ponder the idea of the contest and they did the rest… ultimately winning the top prize of $3,000.00 cash.  The focus of the video was the library and the services offered.  Michele said the $3,000.00 cash prize was a huge incentive for the students.

Even thought they did not get to keep the money for themselves, the students did get to decide how to spend the money for the benefit of the school library, a way to leave their legacy.  Ultimately, 5 iPads were purchased for the school.  Each iPad is individually engraved with the student’s name and has its own cover which represents each of the award winning students.  Since receiving the iPads, Michelle said that many students come to the desk requesting to check out “The TIM” or “The Nick” iPad.

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ALA Council at Midwinter 2013 and Youth Issues

8430121091_c719b48483ALA Council is the governing body of ALA. Council meets during Midwinter and Annual, with significant electronic communication in between.

I’m an ‘at-large’ Councilor, which means I’m not representing a particular state, ALA division, or roundtable like some other Councilors do. For example, all divisions (like the youth ones, ALSC, AASL, and YALSA) have an ALA Council representative. There’s also an Executive Board and Council Officers as well. While the structure of Council might sound complicated and can be at times, every Councilor there has an important role.

Though not every issue Council discussed at Midwinter had to do with our service population, I have briefly summarized those issues which did apply below:

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Advocacy Spotlight-Karen Jensen

Karen JensenHow did you become involved with libraries?

As an undergraudate student, I was referred to the local public library – The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County in Ohio – for a job listing. The rest is, as they say, history. I became their Young Adult Services Assistant, and I had no idea what I was doing. But I loved it and worked hard to learn, eventually getting my MLS from Kent State University in 2002.

How long have you worked or supported libraries?  

I have worked in public libraries for 19 years now, always working as a young adult librarian and either youth services or adult services. I have worked in 4 different libraries, each having a different structure, size, and level of funding. Leaving my last library and my teens at Marion Public Library was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but the economy hit Ohio hard and my husband found employment in Texas so we moved. I now work part-time at the Betty Warmack Branch Library in Grand Prairie. And the only thing I can say that I have loved about the move is how it lead me to start my advocacy project, Teen Librarian Toolbox, and how it has resulted in my growing so much as both a librarian and an advocate.
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