New YALSA E-Course – ConnectedLib: Creating Learning Connections for Youth

ConnectedLib logo graphic

Did you know? YALSA is launching a new e-course titled ConnectedLib: Creating Learning Connections for Youth. Those enrolled in the course will learn how to create engaging teen services using the Connected Learning framework. The course will be taught by Kelly Hoffman, a Doctoral candidate at the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. Kelly also was a core team member on the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) funded ConnectedLib project. The course is scheduled for five weeks from March 17 – April 20, 2019

Participants will need to spend approximately two hours per week on course work. Activities will include reading, watching videos, providing peer feedback, discussion, and reflection activities. Over the five weeks of the course, participants will evaluate their teen programs and their library’s capacity for connected learning; identify community resources that could enhance teens’ learning experiences; and put what they learn into practice by creating an outline for their own connected learning program or by revising an existing program in order to have a greater impact with and for teens and communities.

Learn more about the e-course and register on the YALSA website.


The Liberation of Not Knowing All the Answers

This post was written by Jill O’Connor who was a school librarian for 12 years before making the switch to a public library and, as the Youth Services Librarian at the Merrill Memorial Library in Yarmouth, Maine, she is  loving the freedom to craft programs for a willing audience. She is an avid reader of YA and middle grade books and a book reviewer with the Maine State Library Book Review group. When not thinking up glorious new STEM programming, she can be found driving to her son’s hockey games or her daughter’s dance classes, routing for the local baseball team, or cooking up new foods to tantalize her family.

As a former school librarian, I am new to the public library world. In the public library setting, programming looks very different than it did in school where you are a teacher, on par with all other educators in the school with learning objectives and curricula in hand. A school offers an audience of a knowable set of bodies in your class every day. You plan classes (programs) that hit your objectives and you present information. You don’t have to know everything, and it’s okay to say, “I don’t know, let’s look it up,” but for the most part, I always felt that I had to be the one in the know and in the position of teaching my audience something.

Fast forward to this past fall, I am the shiny new Youth Services Librarian at a public library, excited to try new things in a completely different setting, no longer hostage to the multiple classes-per-day grind. My domain is 3rd through 12th grade, and I am in charge of collection development, reader’s advisory, and all programming for the patrons within my assigned demographic. I know that I have to offer some STEM programming; it’s being asked for by parents and it’s a sensible and sought-after topic for all kids to be participating in, but what to do?!

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Book Tastings

In November, I was able to attend YALSA’s Young Adult Services Symposium with one of my coworkers. It was a wonderful experience, and we came home full of ideas for the 6-12 independent school library where we work. One idea we immediately wanted to try at our library was book tastings, which we heard about in a session led by Alicia Blower, librarian at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School.

I like to think of book tastings as the library equivalent of free samples at the grocery store—you get teens to try a bite of various books, hoping they will find one they want to take home. The basic setup involves putting books out at tables, and having teens rotate through the tables in groups. At each table, they “taste” a book that looks interesting to them by reading the blurbs on the cover and the first few pages.


Tasting a book. [Photo Credit: Erin Lewis]

We had the perfect opportunity to run a book tasting just one week after we got back from the Symposium. All of our seventh grade English classes were coming in to check out books, so instead of the usual book talks we give to feature certain genres, we decided to set up book tastings based on the genre of realistic fiction.

First, we decided on our physical layout. Five tables was a good number for us, given the class sizes (18) and how much time we had to run the activity (40 minutes). On each table were books related to a specific theme within realistic fiction, based on what’s popular with our students. Once we decided on the layout, the next step was to pick the books for our tastings. I wanted to have six books at each table, one for each student in a group of four, and a couple of extras to give them alternatives. We also needed to replace the books that got checked out during each class, so I accounted for that when pulling books..

While making book selections, I also had the goal of providing a strong representation of diverse books. To do this, I got a piece of paper and tallied up numbers as I pulled books. How many books had I selected with main characters of color? How about LGBTQ+ main characters? Characters who were differently abled? What about books that were #ownvoices? I had to go back to the shelves quite a few times before I felt I had acceptable representation, and some tables still ended up with less diversity than others. For example, we simply didn’t have enough diverse books for the theme of survival (as in surviving the wilderness or a natural disaster), so now that’s on my watch list for collection development and content curation.

I made place cards to go at each table, with the theme of that table printed on the card. My coworker made tasting forms where students could write down the title and author of a book they looked at, give it a rating from 1-5, and put any comments they had. (See linked documents for examples.)

Filling out a tasting form. [Photo Credit: Erin Lewis]

Finally, I went out and purchased some real “tastings” to go along with the books. I got a variety of Hershey’s kisses, some miniature fruit-flavored candy canes, and a huge bag of Life Savers. At each table, we put two cups. We filled one with the candies; the other was for trash. I am proud to say that our students didn’t leave even one candy wrapper for us to pick up.

In the end, all of our work paid off. The students really enjoyed the experience. A lot of our selected books were checked out, and we were able to highlight the diversity in our collection. It took a little more time to prepare than book talks, but now that we have done it once,  there won’t be as much prep required next time.

Choosing which books to taste. [Photo Credit: Erin Lewis]

Does anyone do book tastings in a different way? I’d love to hear about it!

Whitney Etchison currently lives in Maryland and is in her tenth year as a school librarian. The best part of her job is readers advisory, although teaching research skills is pretty cool too. She loves horror novels but can’t watch scary movies.

Research Roundup: Community Colleges and Teens

Welcome to Research Roundup. The purpose of this recurring column is to make the vast amount of research related to youth and families accessible to you. To match the theme of the fall issue, this column focuses on year-round teen services by examining current articles that share opportunities to mentor teens and support their leadership development.

Boerner, H. (2016). An Incubator for Better Outcomes: Innovation at work at Prince George’s Community College. Community College Journal, 86(4), 18–23.

Prince George’s Community College in Maryland partnered with the Prince George’s County Public Schools by actually creating a high school on campus.  Students who attend the high school have an opportunity to also take courses at the community college. Many of those students graduate with an associates degree as well as their high school diploma.  A collaboration like this one allows easier access to everyone and curriculum alignment is definitely at the forefront of the high school.

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Peer to Peer Learning and Libraries: A Recipe for Success

Peer to Peer Learning is shared knowledge learning that is not done by an instructor or another person of authority. It is all about people on the same level teaching each other what they know. 

Peer to Peer learning is not a new concept and can date back to Aristotle’s use of archons, student leaders and as an organized theory by Andrew Bell in 1795. It was later implemented into French and English schools in the late 19th century. Over the last 30 to 40 years, it has been increasingly popular in K-12 public schools. (Saga Briggs, (2013) How Peer Teaching Improves Student Learning and 10 Ways to Encourage It, opencolleges.edu) In Trends in Peer Learning, Keith J. Topping reviews the development of peer to peer learning from 1981-2006. He states that,

“types and definitions of peer learning are explored, together with questions of implementation integrity and consequent effectiveness and cost‐effectiveness. Benefits to helpers are now emphasized at least as much as benefits to those helped. In this previously under-theorized area, an integrated theoretical model of peer learning is now available. Peer learning has been extended in types and forms, in curriculum areas and in contexts of application beyond school. Engagement in helping now often encompasses all community members, including those with special needs. Social and emotional gains now attract as much interest as cognitive gains.” (Keith J. Topping (2005) Trends in Peer Learning, Educational Psychology, 25:6, 631-645, DOI: 10.1080/01443410500345172

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Leadership Symposium and DC visit report

Dear YALSA members,

Each fall, the President-Elect of our organization joins the YALSA Executive Director to attend a leadership event to better understand the tenets of leading a nonprofit organization and how leadership styles may mesh and what improvements can be made to ensure a seamless transition and continuity for YALSA. Earlier this month, Executive Director Anita Mechler and I had the opportunity to attend ASAE‘s CEO Symposium in Washington DC, led by representatives from Tecker International. Tecker has worked with ALA and many of its divisions over the years to help with decision-making, strategic planning and training.

Held at the historic Watergate Hotel, this year’s event was of particular importance to YALSA leadership, as it was the first time that Anita had attended the event, so both of us were new to the training. Before the program started on Thursday, we took the opportunity on Wednesday afternoon to meet with local partners. Anita met with the ALA Washington Office and discussed matters of advocacy affecting YALSA and teens in general. Then the two of us connected and met with Kelcy Shepherd, Tim Carrigan and Sarah Fuller of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) where we had a very fruitful meeting discussing potential grant opportunities and partnerships that our organizations could jointly tackle. Finally, it was our great pleasure to meet with Abby Kiesa of 22×20 to further establish our working relationship. More information about all of these relationships will be forthcoming.

The ASAE CEO Symposium brought hundreds of nonprofit leaders from various fields together to discuss Board and leadership issues, trends, and behaviors. Key to the two-day event was the time that Anita and I spent speaking one-on-one on how our backgrounds and knowledge inform our decision-making and leadership styles. We took a modified Myers-Briggs test and learned our strengths and potential pitfalls as individuals and as partner leaders.  Responsibilities of Board members, fiduciary issues, governance models, and case studies were all covered in this whirlwind learning opportunity. As the next YALSA Strategic Plan will be determined in the coming months, the timing of this event was fortuitous to create a strong understanding between the Board leadership and our Executive Director. An added bonus was to spend time with fellow attendees ALSC Executive Director Aimee Strittmatter and ALSC President-Elect Cecilia McGowan. The four of us talked at great length about potential partnerships, both official and unofficial, between our divisions and simply enjoyed getting to know each other.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Todd Krueger, YALSA President-Elect

todd.yalsa@gmail.com

Transforming Teen Services Train the Trainer: Report from the Field

photos of participants in T3 face-to-face meeting in ChicagoIn July, State Library Agencies (SLAs) were invited by YALSA to apply for the pilot cohort of the Transforming Teen Services: A Train the Trainer Approach (now known as T3) IMLS grant funded initiative. A joint project from YALSA and the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, T3 continues the work of the 2018 National Forum on Transforming Teen Services Through Continuing Education by training SLA staff and public library staff to facilitate workshops on implementing coding and computational thinking programming through the lens of connected learning.

Danielle Margarida, Youth Services Coordinator at the Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services and Rebecca Ott, Young Adult Librarian at the Tiverton Public Library in Tiverton, Rhode Island threw their hat in the ring and were thrilled when Rhode Island was accepted as one of five states participating in the pilot. As a team, Danielle and Rebecca attended the first T3 meeting in Chicago during first weekend in October with an outstanding group of professionals from Alabama, Maine, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The weekend consisted of activities that were both challenging and fruitful. The cohort spent time working on issues of identity and equity, connected learning, facilitation skills, and ways in which ways in which we’ll help our colleagues statewide recognize and integrate connected learning into daily librarianship, programming, and services to teens.
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Research Roundup Blog – Year-Round Teen Services

Welcome to Research Roundup. The purpose of this recurring column is to make the vast amount of research related to youth and families accessible to you. To match the theme of the fall issue, this column focuses on year-round teen services by examining current articles that share opportunities to mentor teens and support their leadership development.

“The Value of Continuous Teen Services: A YALSA Position Paper” available at http://www.ala.org/yalsa/value-continuous-teen-services-yalsa-position-paper. In April 2018, YALSA published a position paper recommending school and public librarians “support healthy adolescent development, teen interests, and work to help mitigate the issues teens face by providing year-round teen services.” Current research also points to the value of including teens in the planning process to ensure authentic learning experiences and provide young adults with opportunities for leadership and personal growth.

“Adulting 101: When libraries teach basic life skills” available at https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/05/01/adulting-101-library-programming/. A popular new idea in year-round teen services involves teaching basic life skills. Adulting 101 programs might have originally been planned for older patrons, however librarians are reporting high attendance from teenagers. Teresa Lucas, assistant director of North Bend Public Library in Oregon, and library assistant Clara Piazzola “created a monthly series of six programs focused on cooking, finances, job hunting, news literacy, apartment living, and miscellaneous topics such as cleaning an oven and checking engine oil” (Ford 2018). Programming costs are minimal and oftentimes community members volunteer to teach specific areas of expertise. Adulting 101 series provide a meaningful service to teenagers preparing for their future.

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Future Ready with the Library: Making Time for Partnerships

Each month members of the second cohort of the YALSA and ARSL IMLS-funded Future Ready with the Library project meet virtually to talk about what they are working on, ask questions of each other, and build skills and knowledge related to middle school college career readiness. In an August live session a portion of the conversation focused on how staff working on the Future Ready project are able to manage time for partnerships and for working with community. This 5 minute video clip presents highlights from that conversation.

Learn more about the Future Ready project on the YALSA website.

Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: A Progressive Library?

cover of the teen services competencies for library staffA colleague and I recently had a debate. She said she thought a specific library was progressive and I disagreed. Why? Because as I see it the library she was talking about isn’t progressive as a system. There are a couple of staff that manage programs that are certainly progressive, but the library overall, not so much.

I think this distinction is important to consider. Think about it, if we want teen services to be future and teens first focused – as defined by YALSA in recent reports, blog posts, and books – then we can’t simply assume that if a library has a few good programs led by awesome people that the whole institution is progressive, future focused, and teens first focused. Thinking about this I asked my colleague, “What happens if the people facilitating the progressive activities leave the library system? Would the library still be progressive in your mind?”
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