According to the 2013-2014 Core Values for the Teen Services Profession, developed by the Young Adult Library Services Association’s (YALSA) Professional Values Task Force, there are “nine core values that define professionalism for those who work for and with teens through libraries. 1” One of the nine core values is “Compassion,” where librarians who work with teens “strive to identify with others’ experiences. Shows concern, empathy, and consideration for the needs and values of others. Within this value, librarians will demonstrate the following:

  • Communicates effectively, both verbally and non-verbally, with others, taking into consideration individual differences in learning styles, language, and cognitive abilities, etc.
  • Builds and maintains knowledge of teens’ social, emotional, mental, and physical development and how they shape the teen experience
  • Strives to understand teens' lives from their perspective in order to create genuine connections
  • Places the needs of teens above one’s own
  • Provides services for and with underserved and underrepresented teen populations

After reading through this report, the one core value that speaks the loudest to me is compassion. If we, as teen librarians, were to prioritize these values, compassion needs to be the number one value that we need to act upon; not only is compassion the key to solidifying honest relationships with teen patrons, these connections provide us with the information and insight to support many facets of teen services including connected learning. According to The Future of Library Services For and With Teens: A Call to Action: “To support their learning—personal, work-related, and academic—library staff must connect with teens as individuals. As one participant noted: “Many teens don’t have relationships with non-supervisory adults…teens need more adults who are not “in charge of charge” of them” (2014, p.10). By showing compassion, we are conveying to teens that we are genuinely interested in their opinions and thoughts, which is why we develop teen advisory boards and similar programs. These programs allow us to build rapport with teen patrons because we are providing a dedicated forum for teens that tell them that we do value their input. If we are unable to create these kinds of avenues, we need to get up from behind the reference desk and actually talk to teens when they walk into the library. What exactly do we talk about? Talk about anything and everything! Read More →

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 September 25 and October 1 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

This semester I’m enrolled in a Collaborations in Feminism and Technology class. It parallels the larger organization, FemTechNet. During our most recent class, our discussion turned to a frequently talked about: children/teens and technology. What sort of access to technology should they have and how will they use it?

Part of our class veered towards the idea of technocentrism (technology is the center of our world and it controls us. See Seymour Papert’s paper to read more) or technological determinism (essentially get on board with technology’s pace or forever be left behind). We discussed just giving kids and teens technology and counting on them to “just know” how to use it. We discussed restricting access because they aren’t old enough to really know how to use technology. And we discussed that teens simply don’t understand the permanence of putting something online.

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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 September 19 and September 25 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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Have you been looking for a way to get involved in YALSA but not sure where to start? Try volunteering for a taskforce. The nice thing about a taskforce is the work is focused and is carried out over a shorter period of time than a committee. It also gives you an opportunity to work with and get to know some of your fellow YALSA members and increase your own professional skills at the same time.

This is my second term serving as Chair of the Mentoring Taskforce and I found it to be a very rewarding experience. The taskforce reviews the applications submitted for YALSA's Mentoring Program and matches mentors and protégés. I couldn't have asked for a better group of people on the taskforce and I enjoyed learning about the people who applied for the mentoring program. I also gained a sense of accomplishment by getting involved and giving back to YALSA and knowing these mentoring program participants will learn from each other.

So what was it like being on a virtual taskforce? We did most of our work through email. This allowed us to work at our own pace when we had time and eliminated time zone conflicts. Even though our taskforce worked asynchronously and we had a very short turnaround time to complete our matches, everyone was quick to respond to communication and we stayed on track. In early July I asked the committee members to introduce themselves to each other via email so we all had a feel for who we were working with. By the last week of July we were reviewing suggested tasks and matching protégés with mentors. We only had the information provided in the applications to decide who would make the best matches. We turned in our final matches by the second week in August. I feel good knowing that we were able to work so efficiently without ever meeting face-to-face.

If you are thinking about getting involved but haven’t wanted to make the commitment, I would highly recommend volunteering for the mentoring taskforce, or any taskforce, when you see the call go out via the weekly YALSA e-news. It’s a great way to give back to YALSA and meet other like-minded professionals without making a huge time commitment. You don’t have to commit to travel, either, since virtual members are not required to attend ALA conferences. Who knows? Maybe it will inspire you volunteer for more committees or even to run for the YALSA Board! Check out the different ways you can get involved at:

Gail Tobin is Branch Coordinator at the Schaumburg Township District Library. She is the current Chair of the Mentoring Taskforce and a former YALSA Board member.

YALSA core professional values coverWhat do accountability, excellence, innovation, and social responsibility have to do with the teen services profession? The quick and easy answer is a lot. However, a more specific answer is that these 4 ideas are a few of the Core Values listed in YALSA's new Core Professional Values for the Teen Services Profession. This Professional Values document was published by YALSA last month after a year-long development process by the association's Professional Values Task Force. The Task Force began their work after discussions by the YALSA Board of Directors during their 2013 Annual Conference meetings The Board wanted to develop and support the professional development of library staff serving teens and to help others in the library profession understand the value of what library staff working with and for teens work towards every single day of the year.

The document, a one of its kind in the area of library teen services, is an excellent framework for the values that all those working with teens in libraries should embrace. Not only does it list the Core Values but it includes ways of demonstrating those values. For example, if you demonstrate Innovation, which is defined in the document as:
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I’ve been blogging for YALSA for almost year. Crazy to think I’m starting my second year of graduate school. Those job descriptions that come into my email box seem a little more real, and a little more attainable.

What makes me so excited about heading into the professional world of librarianship is when I get the chance to interact with other librarians, librarians that have experience and insight, insight that I hope to one day have. While I know they, technically, are my colleagues, I still feel a little out of their league. However, that doesn’t stop me from soaking up as much knowledge from them as I can.

I got an opportunity to meet a handful of other librarians (and YALSA) bloggers last week. Crystle, our blog manager, had arranged some Google Hangouts as a way for us bloggers to meet each other. I logged on Monday night, not quite sure what to expect.

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