Support Teens: Send this Letter to Your Local Paper

In order to continue to raise awareness about the critical role that the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) plays in supporting teens through libraries, we encourage you to consider sending a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.  We’ve created a sample letter that you can adapt. As an alternative, you might ask a teen patron or a library supporter to adapt and send the letter.  Why are letters to the editor important?   The Congressional Management Foundation says that this is an effective strategy for reaching your member of Congress and raising awareness about an issue that’s important to you.  Congressional staffers monitor news outlets looking for articles and letters that mention their member of Congress and share the item with them, because the opinions of voters influence a Congress member’s position on an issue.  For additional details about why it’s critical to advocate for IMLS, and to find out further ways you can take action, read these blog posts: March 16, and March 20

-Beth Yoke

How You Can Save Federal Funding for Libraries & Help Teens

The White House budget that was released today calls for eliminating the Institute of Museum & Library Services (IMLS), the only federal agency charged with providing support to the nation’s hundreds of thousands of libraries and museums.  ALA and YALSA need your help to ensure that IMLS is saved, because without libraries teens will not have the resources and support they need to succeed in school and prepare for college, careers, and life.  Here’s what you can do right now:

  • Between now and April 3, contact your House Rep to ask them to support two library funding bills. Ready to use messages and contact information are on the ALA site.
  • Meet with your Congress members April 8 – 23 when they’re back at home because Congress is taking a recess
  • Adapt this sample letter to the editor and send it to your local paper
  • Use the sample messages in this document to contact the offices of your members of Congress
  • Share your photo or story via this form of how support from IMLS has enabled you and your library to help the teens in your community.  YALSA will use this information to advocate against the elimination of IMLS
  • Sign up via this web page to receive updates on the #SaveIMLS effort
  • Add your name to this online petition being circulated by EveryLibrary
  • Start planning how you, your teen patrons, and library advocates will participate in National Library Legislative Day on May 2.  Use the resources on YALSA’s wiki
  • Encourage your friends, family, and colleagues to do the above as well

Don’t know much about IMLS?  Here’s a quick overview: through IMLS, every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. territories receive funding to support their state’s libraries and museums.  In FY14 the total funding IMLS distributed to states and territories was $154,800,000.  In addition, IMLS offers competitive grant opportunities that individual libraries and museums can apply for.  In FY14 they awarded 594 grants (from 1,299 applications) totaling more than $54,700,000.  Visit the IMLS site to see how much funding your state receives from them.

Want to take further action to support teens and libraries?  We salute you!  Check out the free online resources we have to make speaking up for teens and libraries easy.

30 Days of Social Justice: Students and School Culture

YouthTruth, a national nonprofit, that “harnesses student perceptions to help educators accelerate improvements in their K-12 schools and classrooms,” recently conducted a survey about school culture that answers the question: “How do students feel about the culture of their schools?” YouthTruth surveyed 80,000 students, grades five through 12 from 2013 – 2016; this was an anonymous survey across 24 states in a partnership with public schools. The results of the survey brought four major elements to light, but library staff can also use these results to make their library spaces more culturally positive.

The first alarming  fact is that only one in every three students would say their school is culturally positive. Only 30 percent of high school students believe their school is culturally positive, while 37 percent of middle school students believe this. There are many ways the library can make their spaces  culturally positive, especially if your library is located in a diverse community. Library staff can provide information, displays, book lists, and programs about cultures. Periodically, my branch offers a program to teen and adult customers called Discover Another Culture. For this, a volunteer from a specific country comes in to share about their culture. In November, the library held a program about Japan; library customers not only learned about Japan, but learned how to make origami too. There are a wealth of possibilities the library can utilize to make their spaces culturally positive to help fill in the gap that some schools are lacking.

The second fact found may not be alarming to too many. It states that students know they are less respectful to adults than adults are to them. From my experience, I would agree with this fact. Local high school teacher, Catherine Baker states:

“[Teens] think we are there to work for them, so it’s our job to be respectful and as helpful as we can possibly be to them. It’s our job to get them to pass, not the other way around.”

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Tweets of the Week Update

Tweets image care of Wikimedia CommonsA bit over five years ago – October 2010 to be more exact – the YALSAblog began the Tweets of the Week feature. Now, five years later, it’s time to try something new. That means that starting later this month, the YALSAblog will unveil a new monthly feature, News of the Month. This monthly post will curate a few of the top stories that I and current Tweets of the Week blogger, Lisa Castellano, think are interesting. You’ll find links to new and interesting articles on the lives of teens, popular culture, technology, professional learning opportunities, and more in this new monthly post.

We won’t post any new Tweets of the Week this month. But, look for the new feature in just a few weeks.

If you have any questions about the new format, or would like to help us curate the content, feel free to get in touch with me or YALSA’s Blog Manager Crystle Martin.

YALSAblog Tweets of the Week – December 25, 2015

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between December 25 and January 30 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.
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YALSA joins with ISLMA and ILA to call for reinstating school librarians in Chicago Public Schools

The Illinois School Library Media Association (ISLMA) has issued a statement along with the Illinois Library Association and YALSA commending the students at DuSable High School for staging a successful read-in to protest the lay-off of their school librarian, and calls on Chicago Public Schools to reinstate school libraries in all schools across the city.  The Chicago Teachers’ Union issued a recent report indicating that only 32% of CPS high schools have a school librarian on staff.  In addition, the report reveals that schools whose student population is a majority African-American are disproportionately impacted by the cuts.  To read the full press release from ISLMA.

Sign this Petition to Protect Libraries & Patron Rights

Last week, the Michigan House and Senate passed legislation that is onerous to libraries and sent it to Governor Snyder to sign.  The library community is calling on the governor to do the right thing for libraries, schools, and parks by Vetoing SB 571.  If SB 571 becomes law, library staff could be sent to jail for sharing factual information about elections with their communities. Library boards could be fined thousands of dollars of sending out a newsletter if it shares information about what is on your local ballot. If this bill is signed into law, it will affect every Michigan library campaign 2016 (in 2014 there were at least 51 Michigan libraries on the ballot). This law, if it is not vetoed, would place a gag order on the library staff and boards’ ability to tell the truth about what the plans are to put tax money to work, and what the impact would be on community outcomes if it doesn’t pass.   Continue reading

YALSAblog Tweets of the Week – December 18, 2015

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between December 18 and December 24 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.
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Strategic Planning Update: Wicked Exciting Happenings in Boston!

Last Thursday, the YALSA Board held its monthly informal call, and we were joined by Eric Meade from the Whole Mind Strategy Group. Whole Mind is helping us create a three-year organizational plan that includes intended impact statements, theories of change, outcomes, and an implementation strategy.  YALSA’s Board of Directors, staff, and some YALSA members worked with Eric in Portland on Nov. 8-9, after the YA Services Symposium.  This month’s discussion was the first time that the entire YALSA board talked to Eric and it was an exciting experience!  The goal of our call was to set the organizational planning agenda for our meeting next month.  We are all looking forward to engaging and thought-provoking conversations in Boston.

The new organizational plan will be future-focused, and one that the Board hopes will bring about a paradigm shift initially described in the call to action in The Future of Library Services for and with Teens Report that was published in early 2014.  You can read the report online and you can even request free copies to be shared at professional development in your library or region.

In Boston, the Board will participate in discussions and activities that will lead to the development of draft documents, and ultimately an finalized organizational plan.  Board members will dive into a draft planning matrix (tentatively divided into the following areas: membership development, member engagement, organizational strengthening, advocacy, and transforming teen library services) and discuss tactics, intermediate impacts, and intended impacts.    Board meetings are always open to observers–please join us in BCEC 158 on Saturday (9 am to 5 pm), Sunday (4:30 pm – 5:30 pm), or Monday (1 pm – 2:30 pm). The Board meeting documents will be posted Dec. 23.  The Saturday meeting will focus on strategic planning.  The Sun. and Mon. meetings will be the Board’s regular business meeting.  If you’re not in Boston, follow @yalsa for live-Tweets from the Board meetings.

We would love to hear your thoughts! Please use this feedback form or contact Candice Mack or me to discuss the future of the organization. Also, look for regular strategic planning updates on the YALSAblog!