YALS – Libraries and Learning: A Resource Guide for “Make, Do, Share”

cover of spring yalsYou should have already or will soon be receiving your Spring 2016 edition of YALS. The topic of the issue is Libraries and Learning. All the articles are excellent but the one that stood out to me was the featured interview with Shannon Peterson, the Youth Services Manager for the Kitsap (WA) Regional Library (KRL). The library received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for their program Make, Do, Share: Sustainable STEM Leadership in a Box.

One of the great things about this interview is that not only did we learn the context of this project (it began with a project called BiblioTEC, sponsored through the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation) but also heard about how Shannon and her staff frame the work they are doing. Many times in public libraries, we are so focused on helping our community, we don’t think about the reasoning behind our behaviors. These behaviors and the programming we create can be influenced by the theory we read and the theory we believe grounds our work as librarians. Shannon’s interview was full of all the things she and KRL was thinking of as they created the Make, Do, Share programming.
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YALSA’s Virtual Mentoring Program: A Survey of Participants

Are you looking to share your skills and knowledge? Do you want to inspire yourself and others? Join the ranks of YALSA members who are giving back to the profession one person at a time! YALSA’s virtual mentoring program pairs an experienced librarian (5 or more years) with a new librarian (4 or less years) in a year-long partnership. Participants are asked to devote 4 hours a month to the program. Since this is a virtual program, participants don’t need to meet face-to-face and can decide for themselves what the best way for them to communicate is. It could be email, skype, google hangouts, facetime – whatever works best for them. It is important to remember that because the program is virtual participants must be comfortable working in that environment and be committed to communicating regularly with each other.

The Mentoring Taskforce surveyed the most recent batch of mentors and protégés who completed the program to find out how the program impacted them. The feedback we received convinced us that the program is very worthwhile and something that benefits the mentor as much as the protégé. We received a variety of thoughtful answers to the four questions we asked. Here is a summary of the responses we received from mentors:

·   Why did you decide to join the mentoring program?

We wanted to know what motivated the participants to volunteer their time and expertise and the responses we received from mentors indicated a desire to share their experience, learn from their protégés and give back to the profession. Survey respondents stated:

“I am excited about teen services and wanted to share my experiences as a librarian, and successes and challenges I have found in this aspect of librarianship.”

“I thought it would be both a learning experience for me and an opportunity for me to pass on some of what I learned in the last six to seven years to someone new to the field of YA librarianship.”

Another indicated she enjoyed the mentoring process: “When I took a job at a library vendor, I missed the chance to mentor in person, so I was happy to find an opportunity to do it virtually.”

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Spring into a new YALS

yals spring 16 cover showing web with learning related imagesIt’s spring! Wonderful things are cropping up-blooming flowers, singing birds, leafy trees, and a spring issue of YALS. If spring is a time for new beginnings and fresh starts, then the new issue of YALS fits right in. This issue unveils a fresh new layout and design that you are sure to like. As for content? Excellent as always!

This issue’s theme is “Libraries and Learning,” a theme that President Candice Mack acknowledges could be seen as familiar ground, but..has a fresh take on it in line with the YALSA “Futures Report” and the world of libraries today. She encourages us to think about learning at the library not in terms of the “stuff,” but of the learning process the “stuff” enables.

Kate McNair has a great piece, “Creating a Culture of Learning,” that I think will be of interest to many of us. The library as a center of learning is an idea we’re comfortable with, but we typically think of just the library users as the learners. If we participate in learning new things as well, it may be easier to understand the needs and feelings of our users. How can we be part of the culture of learning too? McNair has some terrific suggestions, and I especially like the useful sidebar, “Where to Get Started in your Continuous Learning.”
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Rethinking YALSA: I learn best when…

As YALSA moves closer to completing the association’s organizational plan, the Board of Directors has discussed a variety of topics related to YALSA initiatives. To this purpose, the Board is considering the areas needed to support teen library staff successfully. In this series of blog posts, we look at some of these areas.

There is so much to discover.

For library workers who interact daily with teen patrons, there is always something new. It comes from the teens themselves, raving about a new video game or Netflix original. It comes from changes within the library – new technology, new staff roles, new uses for the meeting rooms, etc. For library workers who serve teens, the need to know can be urgent.

We like face to faceThis is the place that YALSA hopes to fill with a variety of learning opportunities. Part of re-thinking YALSA involves discovering the best ways to bring training to the people who need it when they need it. Right now there are a number of ways that library workers can access training through YALSA. Let’s start with an overview.

Some libraries offer in-service training that pulls everyone in the system together for a day of learning. YALSA offers full day institutes on a range of topics that could be a good fit for our library.  YALSA provides the trainer and materials, and your library provides the participants and space.  If your library is looking for qualified speakers on a variety of topics, check out YALSA’s Speaker’s Bureau. There may be someone nearby who is has expertise on evaluating summer learning programs, for example. This allows face-to-face learners to feed off the enthusiasm of the group and to generate lively discussion. Feel free to add your own name and your particular expertise to the list!

Live webinars can also have the dynamic feel of face-to-face learning, since it shares that spontaneous quality. YALSA’s live webinars are ideal for discussing important topics that get lost in the daily business of serving patrons. For example, YALSA’s  Connecting with Immigrant and Refugee Youth in Your Community will be held on April 21 at 2:00pm EST, and all live webinars are free to YALSA members. If you are able watch the webinar with colleagues, this can be a great way to generate discussion on local library issues.

But what if that is exactly the time your teens show up at the library? The same webinar is available within 24 hours after they’re recorded, accessed through the Members Only page. After 30 days, anyone can view the webinar for $19.  All of YALSA’s institutes and e-courses can also be offered for a specific library or group at a special rate.

I'd rather schedule online training at a time that's convenient to me.There are also plenty of free, on-demand webinars as well. There are webinars on the future of teens services, on connected learning, summer programs, and gaming, to name a few. Recorded webinars don’t have the immediate interaction of face-to-face training, but they still stimulate new thinking and can shed fresh light on everyday activities.

On a larger scale, YALSA offers sessions at ALA’s Midwinter and Annual Conferences, as well as the YA Symposium. These are perfect for those learners who thrive on the energy of others. The presenters are at the top of their field, and the room is filled with people who share that passion.

British Library Conference

British Library Conference

But there’s a downside to this, of course. It means travel. It means expense, which necessitates planning ahead and figuring out strategies for minimizing costs, like sharing a hotel room. If you’ve never attended an ALA conference or YALSA’s symposium before, you can apply for travel grants.  Travel grant applications for the symposium are being accepted through June 1st. There are the kinds of crowds that send introverts back to the hotel room. These big events are increasingly available through live webcasts, which, true confession, is how I watched the Youth Media Awards last winter.

YALSA’s newest continuing education offering is free and can be accessed 24/7 from where ever you are.  This micro-credentialing effort is a great way to brush up on or build new skills.  The digital badges you earn help you demonstrate to current or potential employers the skills and expertise you have mastered.  And for customized, one-on-one professional development, check out YALSA’s virtual mentoring program.

Since we’re talking about library folks here, it makes sense to add that there are plenty of great resources available in print. How about Megan Fink’s Teen Services 101: A Practical Guide for Busy Library Staff? Or Monique Delatte Starkey’s compilation of Practical Programming: The Best of YA-YAAC? And check  your mailbox for the Spring 2016 issue of YALS, which features an array of timely articles, including Kate McNair’s “Creating a Culture of Learning at Your Library.”

What works best for you? Are you inclined to travel and be part of YALSA at conferences? Do you like attending webinars or e-courses with a few like-minded colleagues?  Do you prefer to work independently online and earn digital badges?  Let us know what you think!

What is your preferred format for professional learning opportunities? (choose up to 2)

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The Digital Equity Toolkit

In my February post, I talked about a Digital Learning Day. To quote myself, digital learning is:

… about utilizing digital tools to help teach and strengthen a student’s learning experience. In a time when digital learning (and various digital tools) seems to be a popular trend, it’s important that the people who are using this technology are sharing their experiences with others.

So digital learning is great and in many ways dovetails with digital literacy, skills that we (as adults, librarians, and educators) firmly believe that every person should be equipped with.

However, this goal can be blocked by equity. I am sure we all know teens who come into our libraries that do not have reliable access to the internet. While some may have access to the internet, it seems that more and more, families need to have broadband speeds (side note: if you’re still a little hazy over what exactly broadband is, Tech Times has a good explanatory post).

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YALSA Professional Learning Series: The Future of Library Services for and with Teens – Thinking Differently

photo of sneakered feet surrounded by notebooks, devices, and writing implements In the final week of discussion related to thinking differently about library services for and with teens, let’s talk about barriers and successes that people have had with thinking differently and implementing change. Thinking about what you’ve read related to this topic, and what you’ve been able to accomplish, let us know:

  • What barriers have you faced to making change and thinking differently
  • How you overcame those barriers, or questions you have about overcoming those barriers
  • A success you’ve had in your library implementing YALSA Futures Report related ideas that help make change in your work with and for teens
  • What you think helped to make the change possible
  • Ideas and suggestions you have for others who are also working towards change
  • Questions you have about implementing different thinking, innovation, and change in your work with and for teens

You can read the original post in this series as well as the follow-up.

YALSA Professional Learning: The Future of Library Services for and with Teens – Thinking Differently

photo of sneakered feet surrounded by notebooks, devices, and writing implements This week in discussion related to thinking differently about library services for and with teens, let’s talk about successes that people have had with thinking differently and implementing change. Thinking about what you’ve read related to this topic, and what you’ve been able to accomplish, let us know:

  • A success you’ve had in your library implementing YALSA Futures Report related ideas that help make change in your work with and for teens
  • What you think helped to make the change possible
  • Ideas and suggestions you have for others who are also working towards change
  • Questions you have about implementing different thinking, innovation, and change in your work with and for teens

You can read the original post in this series as well as the follow-up.

YALSA Professional Learning: The Future of Library Services for and with Teens – Thinking Differently

photo of kid feet in sneakers surrounded by books, notebooks, tablet, and smartphone Last week in the first post in this month’s YALSAblog Professional Learning series on innovation and change, I posted a set of resources to read, listen to, and view. This week it’s time to start a discussion about barriers to thinking differently about teen services in libraries and how the resource materials posted last week help you to think about new ways to overcome those barriers.

One of the barriers I regularly face, and also see in other people’s institutions, is that of time. There are lots of ways to think about time within the context of thinking differently. One of the things that I found the article about disruptive innovation focused on really well is that thinking differently, doing things differently, and disrupting traditional practice takes time. And, not only that, but it takes time to fail, analyze what didn’t work, and try a new or different approach. In libraries this time factor can be a really big barrier to thinking differently. It’s a lot more convenient and takes less time to keep doing things the way they have been done before.
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TTW Grant Winner: Robots Invade Ohio (No, really!)

Greetings from the Louisville (Ohio) Public Library!  We were thrilled to receive a Teen Tech Week Grant from YALSA and Best Buy for 2016.  This grant will move us towards our goal of introducing local teens to the engineering and computing required to build robots.

One of the goals for the library is outreach, primarily to teens.  One way we’ve pursued that is through a partnership with the Louisville City Schools.  We’re the perfect partner to help them launch their push for STEM curricula.  As a part of this collaboration with the schools, for the Teen Tech Week Grant 2016 we focused on robots.  We bought more littleBits to add to our collection (because you can NEVER have enough littleBits!), a Robots Shield Kit for use with our Arduinos, Cubelets (which we can combine with the Cubelets our Children’s Department already owns), Sphero 2.0 (a mate for the one in the Children’s Department), LEGO Mindstorms EV3, and four solar robot kits.  The point was to make our current tech spread further, last longer, serve more patrons and do more and cooler stuff.

Our thinking was that because kids dig robots (and who doesn’t?), they would serve as a gateway technology.  It’s true—we’re out to get them hooked on STEM.  We could start them with simple kits and remote controls, and work up to more complex mechanical and electrical engineering and programming.  One of the long-term goals we’re working on with the schools is a competitive robotics team 5-6 years down the road, so we started with the middle schoolers.  If we can foster an interest in robotics, the school can work up the infrastructure to support a team, starting with after-school activities at the library and developing a school-sponsored club to meet at LPL, then developing sponsors to support a competitive team.  Besides the tools and equipment—including a CnC machine and laser engraver, plus impressive computing power— in Louisville Public Library’s makerspace, called the Library Lab, our city boasts plenty of local businesses with the engineering knowledge and equipment to really help our teens form a competitive team.

To kick off Teen Tech Week events, last week, one of the Adult & Teen Services staffers, Michael, took some of our makerspace tech (a 3D printer) and Teen Tech Week robots (littleBits and Sphero 2.0) to the middle school and high school.  Over the course of each day, Michael met 300 teachers and school kids, all of whom were dazzled by our tech!  We got a flood of congratulations and inquiries after his visits, and now similar visits to both elementary schools are planned, in conjunction with LPL’s Children’s Department.  The whole town (pop 10,000) is buzzing about the library—our makerspace, the Library Lab, our tech, and our programs.

The Teen Tech Week robot invasion of Louisville, Ohio has begun!  But rather than the robots taking over town, we hope that the teens take over the robots!

Deborah Long is the brand-new manager of the Adult & Teen Services department at the Louisville (Ohio) Public Library.  She inherited the Teen Tech Week Grant for 2016 from her predecessor, but cares for it as if it were her own.