Catch Up With a Past Grant Winner — Part 2

Thinking of applying for a Dollar General summer grant? Hear firsthand from 2015 summer learning grant winner Emily Otis, in Q&A style, about her 2015 summer program for Anaheim Public Library in California and how receiving the grant helped her and her teen patrons. This is the second of a short series in which we catch up with previous grant winners.

1. Please tell us a little bit about your library and your 2015 summer reading program.

2015 was the first time in many years that the Teen SRP was run by a dedicated Teen Librarian. After budget cuts and layoffs about 5 years before, one librarian shared responsibility for adult and teen collections and services. I was hired as Teen Librarian in the fall of 2014, and saw right away that YA collection development and teen programs had languished (as would be expected). Our SRP numbers from the year before had been relatively low, and there had been no programming. The theme for 2015 was Read To the Rhythm, so I planned musically inspired programs, had teen volunteers create a musical mural to hang in the teen space, and went out to the high school to promote the program and drum up participation. See More

The summer learning grant applications are open now until January 1st, 2018. There are two types of grants available, valued at $1000 each, and 40 total grants will be awarded. Eligibility requirements apply. More information and applications can be found here.

Catch Up With a Past Summer Grant Winner

Want to hear firsthand the benefits of applying for a Dollar General summer grant? 2015 summer learning grant winner Bill Stea, in a Q&A style spoke about his summer program for Walford West Library in Maryland and how receiving the grant helped him and his teen patrons. This is the first of a short series in which we catch up with previous grant winners.

  1. Please tell us a little bit about your library and your 2015 summer reading program

Waldorf West Library is the largest and newest of the four branches in the Charles County Public Library system in Southern Maryland. Our library serves the citizens and community of Charles County, a suburban county below the Washington, DC beltway. According to the 2013 US Census American Community Survey, 8,818 county residents are currently enrolled in Grades 9 through 12 in public school and 8,475 of teens in that age range have library cards. See more.

The summer learning grant applications are open now until January 1st, 2018. There are two types of grants available, valued at $1000 each, and 40 total grants will be awarded. Eligibility requirements apply. More information and applications can be found here.

YALSA Snack Break: Reaching Outcomes

Each month YALSA posts a new Snack Break. These short videos are designed to give those working with and for teens a chance to learn something in a short amount of time.

In the latest YALSA Snack Break, Homer, Alaska, Youth Services Librarian, Claudia Haines talks about the value of working towards achieving impact with and for teens, even when an activity only is attended by just a few youth.

You can view the full YALSA Snack Break Playlist on YouTube

Putting Teens First In Library Services: A Road Map

Check out this 20 minute video in which I talk with Shannon Peterson, Youth Services Manager, Kitsap (WA) Regional Library, about the new book, Putting Teens First in Library Services: A Road Map, we edited for YALSA. During our conversation we talk about each of the topics (continuous learning, connected learning, youth voice, community engagement, and outcomes) covered in the volume. We also discuss some of the ways that the title will be useful to a wide-range of library staff from those just starting out to those who have been working with and for teens for many years.

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Interpreting the Teen Read Week 2016 Survey Findings

When analyzing the success and challenges of the recent Teen Read Week, we look to the survey results to offer insight. It may come as no surprise that the “Read for the Fun of It” theme remains relevant to the needs of teens, seen in the 78.61% of respondents who utilized the multicultural theme and the 82.08% who participated in the initiative in order for teens to “develop an appreciation for reading.” Other respondents shared anecdotes of their libraries utilizing an alternative theme selected by teen patrons, which highlights the importance of reading and of creating flexible participation in teen interest driven environments.

Additionally, the survey helps the committee prioritize their work for the following year and to address resource gaps voiced by survey respondents. The TRW committee creates both free and inexpensive resources and it can be difficult to assess their importance, such as the TRW Pinterest board – a board with 1.1k followers geared towards programming and display ideas and related infographics. Some of these pins receive a high engagement rate of repinning and implementation (Pinterest’s “tried it” option). However, it is not known if the board is useful to libraries or the vast Pinterest audience. When asked to select their top three YALSA TRW resources, 23.70% survey respondents selected Pinterest as the fourth most useful resource, placing its importance behind the downloadable logo (63.58%), TRW website (61.27%) and themed products (27.17%). This response supports the significance and continued existence of a yearly TRW related Pinterest board.

Often the loudest and more numerous thread found throughout several different comment sections of the survey was the need for more programming resources: more diverse, passive and school focused programming. Yet other respondents shared their successfully themed TRW programs, such as daily trivia contests in both English and Spanish, students writing TRW articles for the school’s online newspaper and school librarians involving coaches and other educators to lead discussions about reading. In addition to offering programming ideas on the TRW Pinterest board, the TRW committee also submits vetted and tried programs to the YALSAblog and the yearly updated Teen Read Week manual. Despite these efforts, there remains a disconnect between the individuals who have great programs, like the ones previously mentioned, and those who need to hear and be inspired by them.

Interestingly, only 45.66% of TRW survey respondents were YALSA members, which further supports the need for you to share your successful, rich and Futures aligned programs through YALSA’s Teen Programming HQ site. We also need to demonstrate on the HQ site how easy program evaluation can be to implement and showcase its importance. The TRW survey revealed that the majority 62.43% did not use any form of evaluation. Sharing our experiences in measuring success may be as simple as describing the 80 teen students who downloaded the Overdrive app as one such respondent described. Furthermore, as 1.16% of survey participants heard about TRW through the YALSA blog, it is now your responsibility, if you’ve read this far, to reach out to your peers and support these findings.
Amanda Barnhart is a Teen Librarian for the Kansas City Public Library Trails West branch and the current YALSA Teen Read Week chair.

Teen Read Week: Board Game Collection Encourages English Language Learners To “Read For the Fun of It”

Every year the Teen Read Week Committee selects the recipients of the Teen Read Week grants funded by contributions from YALSA and Dollar General.   Cynthia Shutts at the White Oak Public Library (IL) was awarded one of this year’s Teen Read Week grants to create a circulating board game collection that focused on literacy skills to encourage the English Language Learners in the community to ‘Read for the Fun of It’. I spoke with Shutts recently to discuss the Teen Read Week Grant process, and evaluate the outcomes of the grant-funded program.

Shutts used Teen Read Week Grant funds to purchase a circulating board game collection focusing on literacy-based games. The White Oak Library plans to market this new collection to English as Second Language classes and other patrons who are learning English. The Library held a game night launch program during Teen Read Week. Shutts expects word to grow slowly but steadily about the game collection. The Library has promoted this new collection through many avenues, but the hope is that word of mouth will help increase knowledge of this service.  By launching the board game collection during Teen Read Week, the hope was that teens and their families would come to the launch night.

The Illinois state budget crisis has hit White Oak Library hard, and because of this the programming budgets had been cut deeply. It would not have been possible to start this program without the generous grant from YALSA and Dollar General. Shutts used the Teen Programming Guidelines, and focused on aligning programs with community and library priorities. The White Oak Library has recently updated its strategic plan to include increased support for second language learners. The Library started conversation clubs and are adding a lot of books in Spanish to the Library’s collection. The next step in this plan was creating a collection focusing on literacy games.

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Make Do Share: STEM Program Design and Partnerships

In 2015, Kitsap Regional Library received a three year National Leadership grant from the Institute of Museum and Libraries to design and implement a sustainable STEM programming model for public libraries. The project, entitled Make Do Share, collects tools and resources to support staff in planning, facilitating and improving STEM programs for and with youth.

For more information on the project, read the full grant proposal. You can also access various project resources via YALSA and WebJunction.

Downloadable resources

Kitsap Regional Library created a downloadable guide to serve as a primary resource for those interested in STEM programming for and with youth.  The Road Map portion of the guide provides an introduction to concepts and activities which support staff learning and planning. The Playbook portion outlines potential program types, provides examples of sample programs, and describes strategies to support successful facilitation.

Call for partnering libraries

As part of their dissemination plan, Kitsap Regional Library has committed to partnering with two small and/or rural public libraries to regularly support the planning and implementation of sustainable STEM programming in those communities.

What to expect as a partnering library

Partner libraries will walk through the Make Do Share resource guide with the support and guidance of Kitsap Regional Library staff during weekly virtual meetings and through scheduled assignments.  Content areas include:

  • Community Discovery and Engagement
  • Facilitation
  • Outcomes Based Planning and Reflection
  • Continuous Learning
  • STEM Program Design and Implementation
  • Youth Voice

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Teen Read Week: A Time to Come Together

Teen Read Week at our school, Findlay High in Findlay, Ohio, has become a time when the library opens wide its doors and invites in a huge variety of people to come share themselves with the school. Last year this included culinary students one day and a menagerie of animals another day. This year we are bringing together the international students from a local university together with our high school students to explore language and culture in a variety of ways in our library.

The networking that comes about from coordinating these events is fantastic. I made contact with the Japanese Outreach Initiative Coordinator at the university. This contact has opened up the opportunity to involve Japanese exchange students to our programming events. The more the merrier! The JOI Coordinator also asked if we would be interested in having a Korean student do a bit of programming, and we were thrilled to welcome her, as well. Once we connect with the student organizations when they return to campus, we will include students from India, Saudi Arabia, and Nepal, as well.

As a high school with 82% of students identifying as White, in a city where 91% of the population in the 2010 census identified as white, there is not a lot of opportunity for students to talk to and learn from people who grew up in other countries and speak different languages. This experience will be good for our students, and I hope it will be enriching for our staff, as well.

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YALSA Snack Break: Supporting Teen Success Through School Library Partnerships

The latest YALSA Snack Break is ready and waiting for you to take a look.

Along with including some great insights and ideas on how to support teen success, the video highlights YALSA’s September webinar. This webinar will be facilitated by a stellar group of people, Erica Compton (Program Manager, ID STEM Action Network), Audrey Hopkins (Teen Services Librarian at Rita & Truett Smith Public Library, Plano TX), and Shanna Miles (Library Media Specialist, South Atlanta (GA) High School) who are ready to talk about the topic and answer your questions.
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Personal Service Priority Plan, Part 6

Each summer I’m faced with the same dilemma: a huge number of community events at which I could do outreach but only one of myself! The problem becomes compounded by the fact that I can’t be both in and out of the library building at the same time. When school is out for the summer, I want to be available to youth and families who come to my branch searching for me. 

Summer Festival Outreach

Summer Festival Outreach

I’ve worked hard to build relationships with those youth, and I want them to feel personally welcomed as much as possible when they come to “their” library. However, as we know from YALSA’s Intended Impact Statement, it is critical that we “reach out to serve ALL teens in the community…whether or not they frequent the library space.”

It’s a micro version of what all libraries face: we recognize that we must provide excellent service and opportunities for learning both in and out of our buildings, but we often don’t have the number of staff needed to provide the same levels of service in and out of the buildings at the same time. The community branch youth services librarian can’t be simultaneously meeting with youth outside the building and working with youth at the branch. Our colleagues do a fantastic job of providing service to youth in our branches while we’re out in the community, but the very nature of working effectively with youth calls for consistency and trust. The YALSA vision calls for quality services like coaching and mentoring as well as tailoring to the community – wonderful and worthy goals that are difficult to achieve if individual youth services staff are in a staffing position where they can’t consistently work to build and maintain relationships with individual youth.

At the core of this dilemma is the bigger philosophical question: is the goal of outreach to get people to come to our library branches and use our services here, or is it to take library services out of the building into the community without the expectation that the patrons we’re reaching in that way will ever enter a library building? From a youth services perspective, if we attend community events to meet teens we’re not seeing at the branches with the end goal of attracting them to the branch, it makes sense that the person they see at the community event should, whenever possible, be the same person they see when they come to the branch.  Continue reading