In the Spring 2017 issue of YALS, (digital edition available now to members & subscribers via the Members Only section of the YALSA website) Tiffany Boeglen and Britni Cherrington-Stodart’s article on advocating for teens in Public Libraries explores ways staff can actively advocate for the teens they serve. Their article includes references and resources that shouldn’t be missed. The full list of those resources follows:
Act for Youth “U.S. Teen Demographics” -http://www.actforyouth.net/adolescence/demographics/.
National Institute of Health “The Teen Brain Still Under Construction” – https://infocenter.nimh.nih.gov/pubstatic/NIH%2011-4929/NIH%2011-4929.pdf
Search Institute “40 Developmental Assets of Adolescents” – http://www.search-institute.org/content/40-developmental-assets-adolescentsages-12-18
Think back to when you were a teenager- no matter how long ago that was. You probably remember fights with your parents over curfews and independence. You wanted autonomy. This still holds true today. One thing we routinely hear from our Teen Advisory Board is that they want to be involved, they want leadership opportunities and responsibilities. They want to be involved in planning and implementing programs for younger children and they want to help with summer reading events for small children. This inspired us in planning for Teen Tech Week.
Our library has wanted to hold a workshop on smartphone photography for adults and seniors. However, the planning of this workshop had stalled until the opportunity for Teen Tech Week came about. What better way to give teens leadership and responsibility than by inviting them to help us plan and implement this workshop. Teens often have technology experience and skills far beyond those of adults, so it is only natural to incorporate them into the design of this workshop. Teens are invited to help us brainstorm a workshop to help adults learn to take quality photos with their smartphones and how to share the photos electronically. We hope to discuss basic photography skills such as focus, zoom and basic composition as well as popular apps for editing and sharing photos. In conjunction with this activity, teens are invited to participate in a photo contest.
Continuing the theme of utilizing teens’ skills and experience as well as their desire for leadership and independence, we are going to invite them for a discussion on what it means to be a responsible digital citizen. Library staff will lead and guide a discussion on protecting your personal data online, and controlling your digital footprint. We also hope to incorporate “fake news” and current events into this discussion. Teens will then have the opportunity to create library displays, an educational bulletin board or other informational materials to share this knowledge with the community. Again, this allows teens to creatively share their knowledge with a wider audience. Along with this program, we will ask teens and tweens to create anti-cyberbullying posters for the library. This will allow teens to inform younger children about how to protect themselves online, and how to stand up to cyberbullying.
Lastly, it was our goal in planning Teen Tech Week that we encourage young women in technology and other STEM studies. We have partnered with a local college’s Women’s Engineering Club. The club will provide hands on activities such as Makey Makey and Lego Robotics in addition to the library’s Ozobots, 3Doodlers and circuit stickers. Giving teens hands on experiences with fun technology is important. But we also wanted to provide role models, particularly to girls.
Our plans for Teen Tech Week look to meet our teens’ needs by providing them with opportunities to share their knowledge, build their leadership skills, and foster a library environment for teens that promotes respect. This year’s Teen Tech Week slogan, “Be the Source of Change” implores libraries to be sources of positive change, starting with our teens. What better way to do that by giving them autonomy.
Melanie Miller is the Director of the Alfred Box of Books Library located in Alfred, NY, a recipient of YALSA’s Teen Tech Week 2017 Grant.
During yesterday’s YALSA town hall, members discussed the different actions we can take as library staff and as private citizens to support teens, especially those who are the most vulnerable in this current social and political climate.
We discussed how to take social action for teens at the local level, and ways to engage teens in community events to help them become better citizens. We talked about how to welcome conversations on diverse issues, display and purchase diverse materials, and teach youth how to be kind, compassionate human beings. We talked about registering voters in the library, holding town halls, community archiving, interviewing local civil rights activists, and taking teens to legislative events at the state capitol building. Many excellent ideas were shared and we invite you to share yours on the Teen Programming HQ!
We shared many resources, like YALSA’s Advocacy webpage with the recently updated 2017 Advocacy Toolkit, as well as the Advocating for Teen Services in Libraries YALSA wiki page. We reminded everyone of the Supporting Youth in the Post-Election Climate page that was created before last November’s town hall, as well as the Youth Activists’ Toolkit, that can be adapted for use in all types of libraries. We talked about how communities of all sizes could benefit from a library having a resource like Los Angeles Public Library’s Citizenship webpage, A blogpost can’t list or describe all the great ideas that were shared during the town hall. If you’d like to hear more, please listen and read the chat conversation.
Did you know that YALSA has a Legislation Committee? The Legislation Committee, chaired by Heather Dickerson, is currently evaluating advocacy and social action resources for YALSA members and teens to ensure that YALSA has the best information to serve our users in the current political climate. They’re also gearing up for National Library Legislative Day, and are seeking stories of how members have advocated for teens and libraries at the local, state, and national levels. The committee will send out a call for stories in the coming weeks. The committee is also reaching out to individuals from each state who will attend NLLD in Washington to ask for their help in delivering YALSA specific materials to our elected officials, with a particular emphasis on reaching out to members of Congress who serve on education-related committees.
Thanks for all you do to support teens in your community!
On Monday, February 13, 2017, teens are invited to join a national conversation about teen dating violence. According to a 2016 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “[a]mong high school students who dated, 21% of females and 10% of males experienced physical and/ or sexual dating violence.” The same study also concluded that “[a]mong adult victims of rape, physical violence, and/ or stalking by an intimate partner, 22% of women and 15% of men first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age.” As teen library staff, have an opportunity to raise awareness about teen dating violence by helping teens advocate for their loved ones, friends, and themselves.
Given the amazing selection of books and resources that have been published for teens about dating violence (DV), we can bring awareness in many different ways. One method is to create a display that is going to invoke a powerful statement that needs to be said. For the month of February, my library posted this in our outside display case:
With these displays, we cab develop programming that can initiate a dialogue with teens about DV. If we have yet to connect with community groups and resources that can help us deliver our services, Teen DV month is a great place to start.
During Teen Dating Violence Awareness month, the teens at my library will discuss Jennifer Shaw Wolf’s Breaking Beautiful and a representative from Peace Over Violence will be there to answer any questions about teen DV. What I want to stress about these kinds of programs as that we need to declare that whatever happens at this event stays at this event. Victims of abuse need to know that the Library is a safe place so, by creating a circle of trust, we are actually stating we are here to help them. By opening up this conversation with our communities, it is incredibly helpful to invite an expert to answer the questions we don’t know or are qualified to answer.
When it is difficult to determine who dislikes your high school’s summer reading program more – the students who have to produce evidence of having done their reading or the teachers who have to assess grudgingly penned essays – it is probably a wise idea to consider a revamp. Such was the case nine years ago at San Jose, CA’s Harker School. My then campus librarian and now director, Sue Smith and I longed to refocus our students’ summer habits on pleasure reading. We sketched out a plan and appealed to our head of school to take a leap of faith. ReCreate Reading, a program title that cued the philosophical shift toward the recreational, was born.
ReCreate Reading asks all teachers to select a book they would like to discuss with a small group of students. As librarians, we encourage sponsorship of popular mysteries, science fiction and fantasy appropriate for teens. Each spring we create a LibGuide that features a page for each title. Last year, we had over 70 books on offer. Titles ranged from intellectually challenging (Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens, Eric Ries’s The Lean Startup), to culturally significant (Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything), to awarding-winning YA (Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun, E Lockhart’s We Were Liars), to pure fun (Erika Johansen’s The Queen of Tearling, Hugh Howey’s Wool). Students are required to register for one book, with upper classmen getting first shot at the 16 seats in a group.
Room to Rise was a collaboration project and study between the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Walker Art Center, the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston, and The Museum of Contemporary Arts of Los Angeles. The research study worked to find data that shows the long-term impact of museum programs for teens, and was supported by a National Leadership Grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Sciences.
Each of the mentioned museums has “nationally recognized teen programs” and the “bring highly diverse urban youth together to work collaboratively with museum staff and artists, developing vibrant activities and events to engage teen audiences.” The programs are: Whitney Museum of American Art’s Youth Insights, Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC), Contemporary Art Museum of Houston (CAMH) Teen Council, Museum of Contemporary Art of Los Angeles (MOCA) Teen Program; they have all been active for about eight or more. These programs range from giving tours, making exhibits, performances, working with artists and museum staff, visual literacy, and fashion shows.
Have you ever benefited from YALSA grants or awards? How would you like to be recognized if you did win a YALSA scholarship or award? Want to help YALSA raise funds to support leadership initiatives for members? Then we need your help! I’m accepting volunteer forms for three new taskforces that were established by the Board last week–Leadership Fundraising, Member Achievements Recognition, and Member Grants and Awards Evaluation taskforces. Volunteer now through Feb. 15! Please email me with any questions and read on to learn more about the volunteer opportunities.
What does it mean to be Future Ready? It is a phrase I had not given much thought to prior to applying and the YALSA Future Ready with the Library project. As a member of the very first cohort of the three year project, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in partnership with the Association of Small and Rural Libraries, I have been given the opportunity and challenge, if you will call it, to tackle issues in my community that affect college and career readiness for middle school students. I am not alone in this endeavor. Fifteen other libraries, some public, some school, some tribal, are in this pursuit with me. We come from across the United States, from Kodiak, Alaska, to Greenwich, New York, to Chipley Florida, to Scottsboro, Alabama and will work together for the next year to learn about and recognize needs in our communities and the ways in which libraries can assist by creating pathways to college and career success for middle schoolers and their families.
Six members and one chair are busy pulling together a toolkit that libraries can use to help them create partnerships and secure funding from community sources. In addition to sample emails and letters that can be adapted by anyone, we’re including a Best Practices in Funding Requests section gleaned from interviews with libraries and library foundations across the country. The section will be organized according to responses made to a series of questions.
Three members, assisted by a fourth, took on the task of identifying large libraries around the country with foundations, and mid-sized and small libraries at the same time. Questions were drawn up, and the lead member of this research group interviewed her first foundation at her own library, Seattle Public. The three group members tried to find libraries willing to answer their questions. Many times, they struck out. They would go back to the drawing board and identify more libraries to take the place of the ones that did not respond. Finally, a fourth member, hearing their story during a Google Hangout, offered some assistance herself, and they got a couple more responding libraries.
One member did a lot of research, which will help us present topics that are important to know about partnerships and funding. She also drew up all of the sample emails that can be modified by any library. And she was the fourth member of the research group who helped out when the team needed more library responses.
Another member drew up strategies for assessing teen and community needs. He has been able to attend nearly all of the Google Hangouts we’ve had. Our sixth member is pulling the whole document together before our January 31st deadline.
We are using ALA Connect as our tool to share items with the group. The Toolkit should be available by the end of January 2017.
Dina Schuldner is the chair. Her last library position was as a Young Adult Librarian for the Gold Coast Public Library in New York. She currently resides in Virginia Beach, VA.
In an environment where great emphasis is put on statistics like door count and program attendance, it is tempting for public library staff to view school counterparts either as competition, or conduits to promote our programs. A better approach to the numbers game is to collaborate together on programming, which can mean adapting public library programs for a school setting.
One example is the transformation of our annual Teen Read Week art contest into a passive program built around a collaborative display. This contest has been evolving year-by-year in an effort to find the elusive perfect formula, and remains a work in progress. Participation by a pair of local therapeutic private schools has traditionally been high, thanks to enthusiastic teachers. In an effort to encourage more in-library participation, this year it took the form of a month-long InkTober program. Pens and pads of sticky notes were placed around our teen space, while signs invited teens to contribute a drawing to the display each day. To include schools, I adapted the concept into a paper form that I sent out and then picked up at the end of the month. While there weren’t a huge number of entries, what we got made for a great display. Next year: large sheets of paper taped onto the tables and delivered to the schools, instead of the stickies.
Another example is our winter reading program for teens, during which students can earn points by visiting their school and public libraries, as well as reading. This came about after listening to a local high school librarian’s concerns over statistics. The reading log will follow the same basic concept as the bingo cards often used by libraries, but with only nine squares — like a tic-tac-toe board. Teens can earn a small prize for completing one three-square line, and a bigger prize for completing the whole board. Students will still be encouraged to read for pleasure, in fact I’ll be visiting at least one school for book talks (as well as promotion of the program). The talks will end with a reminder to visit both their school and public library to get help finding books they might enjoy. Signing off on the squares adds a little work for
library staff, but also adds a tally for their desk statistics and the real benefit: the opportunity for positive interaction with a young patron.
Tips for Collaborating on Programs
- Find the right partner; whether that’s a teacher, school librarian, or administrator.
- Enhance rather than duplicate; if a school is already doing a similar program, ask how you can help.
- Keep it simple; fit all the information people need to participate onto a single page.
- Make it inclusive; consider the needs of schools that serve special populations.
Donna Block is Teen Services Librarian at Niles Public Library District, Illinois and a member of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation.