YALSA President’s Report – December 2021

Greetings all! What a year it’s been! We’re a few days into the new year as I wrap up last month. Even in unsettling times, I hope you were able to experience some moments of ease and will continue to do so as we welcome in 2022. Here are some highlights from December:

Membership numbers (reported from August 2021):
Personal members of YALSA: 3,239
Renewals: 201 (this is an 11.6% increase from 2020)
New members: 90 (this is also an increase from 2020)

  • Directed the Board to continue responding to the History of Four EDI Taskforce Report recommendations
  • Submitted a President’s column for upcoming YALS issue. Co-written with social worker. (YALS is a great member-perk! Chock-full of useful information-free to members)
  • Worked on promoting the need for and appointing interested members to YALSA’s Division and Membership Promotion Committee.  (We still have openings to this important committee. Fill out the Committee Volunteer Form if you are interested!)
  • Continuing to seek a Member Manager for the Hub by reaching out to folks and updating call for applicants. Thank you Board Member, Director-At-Large Traci Glass for stepping in as interim!
  • Posted about YALSA’s partnership with Michigan State and Indiana University regarding Artificial Intelligence
  • Met with YALSA President’s Taskforce to develop ideas to continue moving forward on re-building social capital for and with teens
  • Working with AASL/ALSC to determine joint Executive Committee meeting
  • Working with Chairs and Board Members to submit board documents for January meeting (*more information will be shared on this within the next week or so)
  • Called for vote from Board Members for several Board Documents (will be linked here soon) regarding Virtual Option for Award Committees as well as Extension of Evaluating Volunteer Resources Taskforce. Others currently under discussion.

As always, grateful for the passion and work from dedicated volunteers to YALSA! Take a moment to look back on 2021 for all that you’ve accomplished and we’ll continue moving forward-one day at a time! Here’s to 2022!

Any questions or comments, feel free to post below or email: kellyczarnecki1@gmail.com.

Kelly Czarnecki (she/her)
YALSA President
2021-2022

 

“I Remember When the Future was Unevenly Distributed” by cogdogblog is licensed under CC BY 2.0

IMLS National Leadership Grant – Artificial Intelligence (AI)

You may be aware that YALSA is partnering with Michigan State University and Indiana University for an AI literacy program for youth in underserved communities. The libraries involved in the project include the San Diego Central Library (San Diego, CA), Carroll County Public Library (New Windsor, MD), and the Capital Area District Library (Lansing, MI).  The following is an interview with Dr. Heerin Lee and Dr. Kayhun Choi who are leading the project. This will be a great resource for working with teens and AI!

Q: Please introduce yourself and briefly explain how you are partnering with YALSA.

A: Heerin: Hello! I am Heerin Lee, a Principial Investigator (PI) of a project called “AI & Co-design in public libraries: Empowering underserved youth to cultivate symbiotic relationships between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and their communities.” I am an assistant professor in the department of media and information at Michigan State University, working in the field of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI). I design and evaluate robots for social good with the aim of empowering socially marginalized groups, including people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, racial minorities, and older adults.

Kahyun: Hi, I am Kahyun Choi, a co-PI of this project. I am an assistant professor of Information and Library Science at Indiana University Bloomington. I am an expert in AI models for music digital libraries. I bring my experience of developing and teaching an introductory and intuitive machine learning course to this project. When I am not working, I love to spend time with my husband and daughter, do yoga, and listen to audiobooks, podcasts, and music.

Heerin & Kahyun: YALSA as a partner will publicize our open-source education materials developed within this project to librarians all over the US. These materials will include a detailed process of how we develop our program and how we run it including a summary of each session, main takeaways, lessons learned, and suggestions for future literacy programs. YALSA will also help us develop AI literacy webinars for librarians, promote the program, and perform other marketing activities via their outlets, such as social media, weekly newsletter, e-blast and other platforms.

Q: What interests you most about AI, and what led you to it as a course of study?

A: Heerin: While AI influences many people, only a relatively small population of engineers determine how the public interacts with AI in everyday life. The public’s limited access to AI knowledge stems from the fact that it is mostly disseminated by higher education programs. In particular, these programs mostly focus on computational aspects of AI rather than on social and ethical aspects. This could reinforce a digital divide and inequity issues at a national level. Thus, I thought it is crucial to run AI literacy programs through sustainable infrastructures like public libraries where community members, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds, have access to AI knowledge.

Kahyun: About 15 years ago, I got fascinated by powerful emotions coming from music. Instead of becoming a singer-songwriter, I built an AI model that could understand music emotions to some degree by capturing relationships between audio signals and emotions. Ever since, I have developed AI models that can annotate music, song lyrics, and poems with topics, emotions, and genres. While developing and offering an introductory AI course based on music applications to students without technical backgrounds, I realized the importance of intuitive and accessible AI education for the public and, particularly, underserved populations.

Q: Why did you choose public libraries to focus your research?

A: Heerin & Kahyun: As I briefly explained in my answer above, I think it is significant to disseminate AI knowledge through well-developed infrastructures so that many people have access to it regardless of their socioeconomic status. Economically underserved communities, in particular, are vulnerable to AI’s negative consequences as they are largely excluded from the decision-making process of envisioning AI technologies in society. Since the internet emerged in the mid-1990s, public libraries, as early adopters, have long played a critical role in enhancing the public’s technology literacy in the US. As we enter an era of increased AI technology in our society, libraries have tremendous potential for nurturing AI literacy.

Q: Is there anything you hope that youth will gain with AI as a result of your project?

A: The two main components of our program are 1) Module 1—Understanding core concepts of AI, and 2) Module 2—Envisioning AI for local industries. With these two modules, we hope youth not only learn core AI concepts, but also get more actively engaged with their local civic issues as AI co-designers. For example, we will introduce local media stories about AI in their communities and discuss how technological issues are closely entangled with social issues. Our program will develop critical thinking capabilities, enabling youth to understand AI-related social issues in their communities and actively participate in public discourse about AI technologies.

This project particularly adopts an asset-based approach, which is a pedagogy built upon a critical race theory that views students from socially underserved communities not as people with deficits but as people with “community cultural wealth.” We hope this process help students see themselves as people with their own knowledge and position them as people who can utilize AI knowledge. This will also help them more easily become co-designers in our participatory design sessions.

Q: What is the timeline of your project -or when people can expect to see more information?

This is a two-year project that started in Aug 2021. We are currently recruiting youths and their teachers for interviews to understand how they think about AI and their career paths. Based on findings, we will build and evaluate the two AI education modules by Aug 2022. Subsequently, we will run the AI education workshops with the materials in three public libraries one by one, the Capital Area District Library in Lansing, Michigan, the San Diego Central Library in San Diego, California, and the Carroll County Public Library in New Windsor, Maryland, until May 2023. After the workshops, we will disseminate our findings and materials through YALSA, our website, and conferences.

Q: If people want to read more about the grant, where can they find it online?

A: The grant proposal, which includes detailed project design, is available online. https://www.imls.gov/grants/awarded/lg-250059-ols-21 If you want more information, feel free to contact us at heerin-at-msu.edu.

 

 

 

YALSA President’s Report – September 2021

The Rolling Stones performed a live concert in my town last month (September). The night before they played, Mick Jagger was captured in a photo standing outside a local (and quirky!) establishment completely unnoticed. The photo actually made national news because he looks so unassuming. Hiding in plain sight.  (Note-the photo in this post is not the photo discussed!) It made me think-if you were hanging out at the park with your pet, shopping for groceries down the street, or out to eat somewhere-which author would cause you to change expression if you saw them and recognized them? Jason Reynolds? Jacqueline Woodson? David Levithan? What about a YALSA member or a potential YALSA member? Those rock stars in their own right who’ve won a scholarship? Put together a program you’ve admired? Presented at a conference in a way that made you feel seen? We never know who we’re crossing paths with all the time but the potential for something-a connection, recognition-is always there.  That’s a bit how I felt with all the great interactions (albeit virtual) I’ve had with members in September. In addition to meeting regularly with the YALSA Executive Director, Board and Executive Board I also:

    • Made an appointment of  YALSA representative to the PLA Committee on Family Engagement
    • Appointed a Director-At-Large position to fill a gap on the YALSA Board
    • Speaking of rock stars – sent a request for a memorial resolution to YALSA’s ALA Liaison for Teri Lesesne
    • Responded to Board Liaisons regarding August Quarterly Chair reports
    • Appointed YALSA Liaison to ALA EDI Assembly
    • Participated with YALSA Staff in the ALA Virtual Volunteer Fair
    • Held first meeting of Implementing the President’s Theme Task Force (still seeking members!)
    • Connected with 2021 YALSA Spectrum Scholar, Cordiah Hayes
    • Along with Tammy Dillard-Steels, YALSA Executive Director, shared the YALSA 2022-2025 Strategic Plan with members and potential members (link coming soon!) in webinar format
    • Issued a statement supporting the selections from YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens list
    • Met with AASL President Jennisen Lucas
    • Appointed a YALSA representative with ALA for USBBY
    • Put a call out to members for participating on the Teen Programming HQ Advisory Board
    • Took a virtual tour of Reno with Carla Jamison, YALSA Program Officer, and representatives from the Nevada area (public, university library, etc.) for the YALSA Symposium (super excited!) in November

Any questions or comments, feel free to post below or email: kellyczarnecki1@gmail.com.

 

2020-2021 YALSA President-Elect Kelly Czarnecki

 

 

 

Kelly Czarnecki (she/her)
YALSA President
2021-2022

Photo credit: “Silhouette at a Sigur Ros Concert” by Tom Olliver

Finding a New Groove with Community Collaboration

In August of 2020, I started my seventeenth year in education and my fourteenth year in a school library at Liberty High School in Lake St. Louis, MO. As I began to plan for the year, I felt the overwhelm that I know all of us, regardless of tenure in our libraries, experienced. The programming, the flexible spaces, the collection of tech–many of the “Future-Ready” elements I had dedicated time and money to build or curate–suddenly weren’t what teens or staff needed as our school district launched with a hybrid schedule. And that general “groove” I’d found myself in professionally for the last few years? It was gone. I felt scared, I questioned my value, I didn’t know how to help.

I did, however, have a dynamite network of local school librarians I had grown even closer to in the first few months of the pandemic, thanks majorly to our frequent Zoom meet-ups. And as I began to kick around the idea of trying a school-wide shared reading experience, I felt safe asking for their opinions and guidance. Was I too ambitious? What did they think about my book choice? Would they be interested in collaborating? These amazing women were immediately supportive and open to working together so the project could benefit not just my school community, but theirs as well. We dove in as a team, choosing Kate Moore’s The Radium Girls, titling the program, “One Read,” and dividing the work.

Our visit to one of the towns featured in The Radium Girls

Through our collaboration, we created a shared slidedeck full of lesson ideas, discussion questions, video links, activities, and more. We connected the book to various curricula including science, health, English language arts, business, art, and social studies, and we even took a group trip to film a virtual field trip of one of the towns featured prominently in the book. We agreed on a program hashtag, created a kick-off video, and created our own t-shirts. We even got our hands on a couple of Geiger Counters to enhance our students’ learning. We geeked out! Multiple switches to and from remote learning in my district complicated our efforts to talk with students about their One Read experiences, but teachers shared grateful emails and visited us in person to speak about how they were engaging students with the content. Continue reading Finding a New Groove with Community Collaboration

ALA and Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission Book Set Giveaway

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, the American Library Association has partnered with the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission to distribute 6000 sets of books for youth to libraries across the country. The books bring the story of women’s struggle for voting rights alive and will be accompanied by an annotated list of additional recommended books about suffrage, along with ideas for displays and programming about voting in the United States. The project examines an important chapter in our nation’s struggle towards a more perfect union and the ongoing fight for access to full participation in our democracy.

Each set consists of three books corresponding to different reading levels: “Around America to Win the Vote” by Mara Rockliff for elementary readers; “The Woman’s Hour: Our Fight for the Right to Vote” by Elaine Weiss for middle schoolers; and the “National Park Service Women’s Suffrage Reader,” an anthology of essays for high school readers.

Learn more and apply by June 15th.

Meet 2020 YALSA Emerging Leader Sue Yang-Peace!

At the Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia in January, YALSA leadership met Emerging Leader Sue Yang-Peace and asked her to write about her experiences in the field and as the 2020 YALSA-sponsored Emerging Leader. 

—–

First of all, I would like to thank YALSA, Todd, Tammy and Amanda for crashing the Emerging Leaders Social. It was such a pleasure to see them and put a face to such an amazing organization.

I had a bit of an unconventional start into the library world. I began as a patron looking to print coupons since both my husband and I were out of work. Essentially, we had to start over in our careers. The library was, to say the least, a miracle in our lives. I started as a volunteer and now, five years later I am a Youth Services Librarian for the Las Vegas Clark County (NV) Library District, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Every day I come into work absolutely loving what I do.

Receiving the news that I was going to be a part of the 2020 Emerging Leaders brought tears to my eyes, because it further validated my work as a librarian. I have always felt out of sorts, like an outsider coming into this line of work and I was always finding ways to feel validated in the work I do such as becoming a Spectrum Scholar. More importantly, being a part of Emerging Leaders, YALSA, ALSC, APALA, and ALA has connected me with the people that feel as passionately as I do about this field and motivate me to do more.

For the Emerging Leaders Project, I will be working on the 40th Anniversary of APALA along with five other Emerging Leaders. For this project we plan on interviewing library leaders about what APALA and ALA means to them, how APALA and ALA has led the way in various capacities, and their vision of APALA’s future.

Along with my work on Emerging Leaders, I am also on the ALSC Notable Children’s’ Media Committee and work full time as a Youth Services Librarian doing programs for ages 0-18. In the start of my career my strength was in early childhood, but now teens are my passion. On any given day, fifty or so teens walk into the library and say hi and we chat about their day. In order to engage them in the resources of the library, I experiment with all kinds of programs from bullet journals, knitting, lock-ins, painting, and whatever they ask for I try to accommodate and get the resources. It is definitely known throughout my library that I have a connection with the teens. People wonder how I do this and I really don’t do anything special. I see them, they are our patrons after all, and I treat them with the same respect as I would any other patron. I make sure they are seen and heard. I make sure they know that they are wanted at the library by making time to talk to them and listen to whatever it is they have to say. I do not see them as anything other than patrons and they deserve our help just any everyone else.

Thank you to YALSA for your support of my Emerging Leaders Program and I look forward to working more with YALSA in the future.

——

Thanks, Sue, for sharing your story and inspiring teens and those who work with teens to love every day they walk into their own libraries!

Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020 | Twitter: @toddbcpl

Photo credit: Tammy Dillard-Steels (l. to r. YALSA President-elect Amanda Barnhart; 2020 YALSA Emerging Leader Sue Yang-Peace; YALSA President Todd Krueger)

Community and Family Engagement – a Teen-led Discussion of Homelessness

Guest blogger Dorcas Wong of the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) provides this entry on her experience with a teen-led discussion of homelessness

In the Summer of 2019, with the help of teen librarian, Marla Bergman, a group of high school teens in the YELL program (Youth Engaged in Library Leadership) at the Excelsior Branch of the San Francisco Public Library developed and led a project on homelessness. They titled it Life in SF: Luck, Loss & Gain.

Current reports state that the Bay Area has the 3rd largest homeless population in the nation (bayareaeconomy.org). In response to this crisis, the YELL team chose to explore homelessness in San Francisco, along with socioeconomic inequality. The intention was to provide a platform to:

  • Educate the community on these issues
  • Foster more empathy for the people facing these challenges
  • And, hopefully, inspire advocacy for positive change

There were two parts to this event.

First, participants played a board game. This game was effectively a modified Monopoly, inspired by a West Point teacher who altered the board game so his students would have a visceral experience of some of the obstacles of living in poverty (PaulsJusticePage.com). The game the teens designed was further altered to reflect San Francisco (e.g. properties, BART lines, and unique event cards).

For the second half, patrons were treated to an informative and animated panel discussion. This panel included:

  • Ricky, a person experiencing homelessness (and patron grateful for library resources)
  • Jessica Soto, a Health and Safety Associate part of the SFPL and SF Homeless Outreach Team
  • Meghan Freebeck, CEO, Project Homeless Connect, Founder of Simply the Basics
  • Manuel Rodriguez, Director, Community Action Partnerships, Urban Services YMCA
  • Gayle Roberts, CDO, Larkin Street Youth Services

All questions were written and delivered by YELL members, who also created booklists, resource sheets, and publicity materials.

24 teens and adults attended this event, which was highly regarded by staff, the local community, and the library commission. There was one person who even wanted to purchase a game board to take back and share.


Thanks, Dorcas, for reporting on this event at San Francisco Public Library!

And as always, thanks for the work that you all do for and with teens.

Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020 | Twitter: @toddbcpl

Community and Family Engagement – Partnering with Organizations

Hi everyone, and Happy 2020!

The sixth of YALSA’s Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff is Community and Family Engagement. YALSA is currently exploring partnerships with organizations that can provide resources to teens and those working with teens in libraries that can be beneficial to both elements of these partnerships. An example of this is the nonprofit organization Back 2 School America. This group, founded in Chicago in 2010, provides no-cost school supplies to kids and teens who would otherwise go without. One of the elements of the school kit is a “Note of Inspiration” that is included in order to both inspire recipients and personalize the kit. At the YALSA Symposium in November in Memphis, attendees were asked to write a Note of Inspiration to be included in kits to be distributed to middle and high schoolers.

Matthew Kurtzman, founder and CEO of Back 2 School America, describes the value of these school supplies kits: “What’s important about this is we not only literally are giving the kids the tools they need to do their work, but we’re also impacting their self worth, their self-esteem.” It’s critical that students not start their school years at a deficit from their classmates, both lacking core materials to do their work, and also feeling lesser than their classmates and suffering the need to ask their teachers or peers for basic supplies. The organization works directly with school systems, but also other organizations such as the YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs, Operation Homefront in support of military families, and others, who can best identify the kids and teens who are most in need of the supplies.

For many students, this is not only a need at the beginning of the school year. For reasons such as evictions or other displacement, intentional relocation, homelessness, or simply running out of the supplies provided, some students are in need of these items at times throughout the school year. Lists of required school supplies have grown longer and more expensive for families as school budgets have stagnated in many parts of the country. What was once provided by the school or generous teachers may no longer be available, putting the onus of these costs on the students.

The work of the Back 2 School America organization mirrors YALSA’s mission statement “to alleviate challenges teens face… especially those with the greatest needs.”As we explore ways to help teens on the path to successful and fulfilling lives, we  can partner with community organizations who are helping teens in a variety of ways. We can focus on what we bring to a partnership and allow these partners to impart their expertise as well.

A free webinar on Community and Family Engagement is available to explore other issues and ideas regarding this competency.

Thanks for reading, and thank you for all the work you do for and with teens.

Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020 | Twitter: @toddbcpl

2019 Summer Learning Resources Grant: Teen Literacy Kit Outreach Program

Our goal for the Teen Literacy Kit Outreach program was two-fold.  We wanted to encourage teens from high poverty and homeless families to continue building their reading and writing skills over the summer.  We also wanted to bring our library-based programs to the teens in our area who didn’t have transportation to the library during our regularly scheduled programs.  To accomplish these goals, we contacted our local Dollar General store and asked them to let us block off part of their parking lot and turn it into a Teen Program space once a month during the June/July summer break.  They enthusiastically agreed, and we got to work.  

Step 1:  Create Literacy Kits

Teen literacy kit contents.

Our concern centered on the large number of teens that are enrolled in the local middle and high schools who don’t have a consistent place to call home, much less a space to store books and journals.  My Children’s Librarian and I (Library Manager) wanted to find a way to give those teens portable reading and writing materials, so we came up with the idea of literacy kits: drawstring bags with a book, unlined note book, bookmark, pen, toy, writing prompts and word games, and a Frequent Readers card donated by our local Dairy Queen.  We also decided on an Honor Library so that the teens could take books and not worry about returning them.

Step 2:  Design Teen Programming for a Parking Lot

A tent is set up in a parking lot with library kits on display.

This was the most challenging aspect of the program.  Whatever we planned to do, we would have to bring everything from tables and tents to craft supplies.  We decided to go with science experiments that could be done individually or as a team and didn’t need a lot of supplies to complete.  Each experiment had goals that would allow the teens to earn points towards a prize: a coupon for a free dilly bar at Dairy Queen. We had planned to run the program like one of our library programs with a set beginning and end time, and we advertised it that way, but we found that teens trickled in throughout the program time and could only spend an average of 15 minutes with us.  We modified the book talk to make it a quick introduction to the book and got the kids started on the experiments to keep them with us as long as possible. We passed out literacy kits to any teen who stopped by the tent and even a few that we chased down leaving the store. We only had 17 teens come to the first program and 12 teens come to the second program.

Step 3:  Get Your Local Schools Involved

 

Since the parking lot programs didn’t reach our target of 50 teens, we reached out to the middle school up the road from the Dollar General store.  They provide washers/dryers for homeless families in our area, and they also have a food pantry and used clothing rack. The school let us set up outside and pass out the literacy kits and honor books to teens during their laundry hours in July.  We were able to pass out the remaining 21 kits and 14 of the honor books to the teens that we had hoped to reach. Success!

A librarian is smiling in a tent full of books for teens.

 

Melissa Clark is the Library Manager at Millersville Public Library of Sumner County.

#alaac19 PLA Pre-Conference: Librarians and Social Workers – Partnerships that Work for Connecting People in Need

This post was written by Carrie Sanders, Youth Services Coordinator at the Maryland State Library

annual 2019 logoI was fortunate to be able to attend the PLA pre-conference focusing on the partnerships library staff and social workers can build in order to support all members of a community. The session opened with a reference to Eric Klinenberg who wrote, “Libraries don’t just provide free access to books and other cultural materials, they also offer things like companionship for older adults, de facto child care for busy parents, language instruction for immigrants and welcoming public spaces for the poor, the homeless and young people.”

Social workers in libraries provide support for library patrons through crisis intervention, outreach and engagement, referral services, community programming, and advocacy. They also support library staff. Their presence creates a culture shift that moves the question regarding those in need from, “How do we remove?” to “How can we connect those with specific needs to services?”
Continue reading #alaac19 PLA Pre-Conference: Librarians and Social Workers – Partnerships that Work for Connecting People in Need