Celebrate Pride Through Advocacy and Awareness @ Your Library

Every year, LGBTQIA communities host amazing parades, marches, and events to celebrate their pride. Whether we are members of this community, family members, or allies, these events have been joyous celebrations of love, appreciation, and acceptance.  However, as youth advocates, we must also remember that Pride celebrations are in remembrance of the Stonewall Uprising on June 27, 1969 in New York City. Not only did these series of events expose the New York City Police Department’s intolerance of the LGBTQIA community, it spurred an entire community to demand equal rights, which turned into a movement that is alive and well.

After the Stonewall Uprising, libraries have played a significant part in providing the LGBTQIA community not just access to information, but created the “Task Force on Gay Liberation  that sought to provide the LGBTQIA community with greater representation in libraries and the community. While libraries have been providing programs and services to the LGBTQIA community for forty seven years, the current political and social climate has seen a resurgence of hate and intolerance towards LGBTQIA people. However, as teen library staff, we can support our LFBTQIA teens by giving them access to knowledge and opportunities to help them advocate for themselves.

In order to implement programs and services, we need to ensure that our libraries are safe places where teens do not have to fear prejudice or intimidation. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Hate Crimes Statistics report (2016):

There were 5,818 single-bias incidents involving 7,121 victims. Of those victims, 59.2 percent were targeted because of a race/ethnicity/ancestry bias; 19.7 percent because of a religious bias; 17.7 percent because of a sexual orientation bias; 1.7 percent because of a gender identity bias; 1.2 percent because of a disability bias; and 0.4 percent because of a gender bias.

As unsettling as these numbers are, libraries can do a number of things to support LGBTQIA youth.  One action we can take is to check all of our policies, specifically behavior and collection polices. By re-visiting our behavior policies, we can check to see if there are statements that specifically state what behavior will not be tolerated.  By updating, or revising, this policy, we inform the public that there are rules that must be maintained to provide a safe environment for everyone who steps through the door. We can inform the public in a variety including handouts or signage the welcomes everyone regardless of their ethnicity, religion, sexual preference, and identity.  Another policy we need to review is collection development policies. By reviewing the language and the timeliness of these guidelines, we can support teens’ right to read even when members of the community who wish to have specific materials removed based on their personal and private opinions. According to the Library Bill of Rights (in regards to minors):

“Article V of the Library Bill of Rights states, “A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.” The “right to use a library” includes free access to, and unrestricted use of, all the services, materials, and facilities the library has to offer. Every restriction on access to, and use of, library resources, based solely on the chronological age, educational level, literacy skills, or legal emancipation of users violates Article V.

Continue reading

YALSA Board @ #alaac17: Membership Meeting & President’s Program

If you’re attending Annual, I hope you can join us Monday, June 26, from 10:30-noon, in the Convention Center, room W184bc, for the Annual YALSA Membership Meeting and President’s Program!

During the membership meeting, you’ll meet the current YALSA Board of Directors, as well as next year’s Board.  We’ll recognize grant and award winners, as well as donors.  I’ll give a brief update of board actions over the past year, and the incoming president-elect, Sandra Hughes-Hassell, will discuss her initiative for next year.

Directly after the membership meeting, my presidential program task force chair, Valerie Davis, will lead a panel discussion on the theme of “Real Teens, Real Ready” about college/career readiness and adulting.  She had great help finding these speakers–her task force members were Lisa Borten, Lisa Dettling, Jeremy Dunn, Katie Guzan, and Ellen Popit.

Panelists include:

  • Tiffany Boeglen and Britni Cherrington-Stoddart, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library – Non-Traditional Career Paths
  • Laurel Johnson, Skokie Public Library – Neutral Zone/Peer Guided Conversations
  • Lisa Borten, Brooklyn Public Library – Youth Council/Urban Art Jamm
  • Jennifer Steele, Chicago Public Library – (PRO)jectUS, creative workforce development/partnerships
  • Emmanuel Pratt, Sweet Water Foundation, Chicago – Neighborhood Development for Youth

The presentations are going to be awesome, so be prepared to find ideas that you can implement in your community!  See you there!

National Week of Making: STEM Programming and YALSA’s Teen Programming HQ

National Week of Making is upon us, and with that, I thought it would be fun to highlight some program ideas that I have done at my library, and some that were shared on the YALSA’s Teen Programming HQ. STEM programs becoming more and more prevalent in libraries, and it is possible to do these programs in the smallest of libraries to the largest.

As we all know, STEM programs are a great way to get preteens and teens excited about coming to the library. It is a chance for them to expand their STEM skills, and to use devices, programs, and materials that may not be available to them in their schools. At my library, we work with a lot of schools that are disadvantaged, and we want to be a place for preteens and teens to learn something outside of school that could interest them enough to make a career out of it. With this in mind, we started a STEM Club a couple of years ago, along with a dedicated teen volunteer. Within our club, we have taught teens how to code, print on a 3D printer, make apps, build with Strawbees, and so much more.

Continue reading

Transforming Teen Services: Making in the Library While Learning to Fail

Makerspaces, making, and the maker movement have become frequent conversation topics among librarians. We’ve encouraged making in the library through programming focused on writing, drawing, designing, building, coding, and more. As informal learning and gathering spaces, libraries are by nature situated to invite collaboration and discovery. In many cases, making has been associated with makerspaces — independent spaces that provide tools, materials, and support to youth and adults with an interest in creating (Educause, 2013). Sometimes makerspaces are flexible, subscription-based environments, sometimes they are hosts to structured programs and classes with an attached fee. Some have a technology prominence with 3D printers and laser cutters, while others lend an artistic attention  by supplying sewing machines and design software (Moorefield-Lang, 2015). No two makerspaces are the same, just as no two makers are the same.

Source: http://www.clubcyberia.org/

I first became interested in library makerspaces while touring Chicago Public Library’s not yet open to the public Maker Lab and its already thriving YOU Media during ALA Annual 2013. I love the playful atmosphere of learning and opportunity for exploration that these spaces offer teens. Then I dug into some publications. There is a significant amount of research about how youth learn as a result of participation in making and makerspaces (Sheridan et al., 2014; Slatter & Howard, 2013). Likewise, there is a wealth of blog posts, magazine articles, social media blurbs, TED talks, etc. on makerspaces, STEM learning programs, and the maker mindset (Fallows, 2016; Teusch, 2013). It can be difficult to separate the hype from the substance, but there’s still much to explore, discuss, and figure out.

There are many positive aspects of youth involvement with making such as fostering inventiveness, introducing STEAM learning outside of the classroom, and promoting learning as play. But in this post, I will focus on (what I think are) two major benefits of youth making in libraries that may not be quite as obvious: cultivating a capacity to create and learning to fail.

Continue reading

I Need You, You Need Me: A Report About Bringing Ages Together

Generations United and The Eisner Foundation have come out with a new report, I Need You, You Need Me: The Young, The Old, and What we Can Achieve Together, about “examples of pioneers reuniting the generations and making their communities better place to live in.” Through a survey, the report shows why it is important for generations to come together. People of all ages typically spend most of their day around people their same age, for instance, young people in school, adults at work. By taking the time to be around others from a different generation, people can learn from each other, and spread joy.

In a recent survey by Generations United and The Eisner Foundation, 53 percent of people stated that “aside from family members, few of the people they regularly spend time with are much older or much younger than they are.” Ages being separated like this has not always been the case. In the late 19th century, Americans began to realize that children and elderly needed certain types of protection. This was when child labor was banned and retirement because more standard during later life. Although these groups began to prosper, they were also separated out from other people of different ages, which causes issues. As the report states: “protection should not equal isolation.”

Continue reading

Secrets of Grant Success: Give Your Community The Chance To “Unleash Your Story”

Serving on the Teen Read Week committee has given its members the opportunity to read numerous applications submitted for the TRW mini-grants. This valuable experience has provided us with handy tips to improve our own future grant writing endeavors, and we wish to share our insights with you for the purpose of strengthening your own 2017 YALSA/Dollar General Teen Read Week Grant application.

First, align your concept with YALSA’s Teen Read Week theme “Unleash Your Story”. Be sure to demonstrate how the funds will support teens as they write, tell, and share their own stories. Will the grant help connect teens with the numerous stories, biographies, autobiographies, and folktales in your library? If not, what purpose will it serve? Refresh yourself with The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action to ensure or adjust your proposal to better align with it.

Be sure your purchases meet the grant requirements. Funds must be used to enhance activities and services for teens. Seek alternate funding in your community to purchase snacks, decor, or signage for the event. Be specific in your application about your purchases, as the grant reviewers will want a complete breakdown of fund allotments. Explore other YALSA grants, such as Baker & Taylor/YALSA Collection Development Grant or YALSA’s Great Books Giveaway, for the purchase of collection development materials.

Consider your community. Gather statistics from credible sources like the United Census Bureau or your state’s Department of Education. Use the data to illustrate the need the grant funded program will fill for your teens. Include under-served teens in your idea as well. How many teens live locally? What are their interests? Contact a local local organization and partner up on the project. A clear narrative of your activity must be provided. Explain your vision and define your purpose. Break down the steps of preparation and implementation. Incorporate best practices as outlined in YALSA’s Teen Programming Guidelines. Perhaps most important is to know and communicate the knowledge or skills teen participants will gain by participating in your event or activity.

Wrapping up and evaluating your program is as important as the preparation for it. Determine which indicator is most appropriate to measure the impact of your project. Will you ask teens to complete a survey? Are you going to take attendance? Will teens be required to successfully complete a task? Will you tally return visits or circulation increases? Providing examples or briefly describing your method for measuring the impact of your program will show that you know your teen patrons and understand how a grant-funded program will serve them.

You can find other well-thought out TRW mini-grant award recipients on the YALSA Programming HQ. Check out a few examples of successful past grant awardees, such as those listed below, to compare and improve your proposal.

Co-written by Amanda Barnhart (2016-2017 Teen Read Week chair), Aimee Haslam (2016-2017 Teen Read Week committee member) and Melissa West (2016-2017 Teen Read Week committee chair and 2017 Emerging Leader).

April is… Alcohol Awareness Month

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and a lot can be shared with teens about the negative side effects underage drinking can have on youths. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), alcohol usage by youths “is directly associated with traffic fatalities, violence, suicide, educational failure, alcohol overdose, unsafe sex, and other problem behaviors, even for those who may never develop a dependence or addiction.” The NCADD also shares that “more than 23 million people over the age of 12 are addicted to alcohol and other drugs affecting millions more people – parents, family members, friends, and neighbors.” Research has shown that teens who have open conversations with their parents about alcohol and drugs are 50% less likely to use versus teens who do not have these conversations with their parents. These statistics alone are proof enough that parents, as well as educators, librarians, etc. should be bringing these conversations and issues to light.

Although the idea of teens using alcohol and drugs is daunting, there are a lot of ways that librarians can bring facts and information to their teen customers. Sometimes teens don’t want to listen to what their parents have to say, but librarians can do a lot to get these facts out. One thing librarians could do is to have a teen council, or program, where the idea of alcohol awareness is shared. Librarians can even present a quiz the NCADD developed for teens to see if they have alcohol issues. The National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens (NIDA for Teens) has a few free, online games that explore what happens to the brain and body when drugs and alcohol are used.

Continue reading

Gimme a C (for Collaboration!): Book Clubs with Heart

Collaboration. In theory, an easy concept. As a school librarian, I understand the importance of collaborating with my public librarians, and I try my best. But if you are anything like me, sometimes knowing what you should do and actually being able to execute it are two totally different things.

When it came time to think of a topic to write about for this collaboration-themed post, I immediately thought of the program that is run jointly by Mira Johnson, the HS librarian in my district and Penny Kelley, our YA librarian at the public library. I thought I’d interview them about the program, the work involved, and the benefits and challenges.

Tell me about the book club:

We run a book discussion program with students in grades 5 to 7 based on the Jane Addams Peace Association’s book awards. These are “given annually to the children’s books published the preceding year that effectively promote the cause of peace, social justice, world community, and the equality of the sexes and all races as well as meeting conventional standards for excellence.” After reading and talking about the books together, we took a trip into New York City to attend the awards ceremony. We listened to the authors and illustrators make speeches and then we got to talk to them ourselves. We hold meetings at both libraries and we’ve made presentations about our club to the Board of Education, the Friends of the Library, the PTA, and other grade levels in the district.  

Where did the idea to start a book club focused on a book award come from and how did you decide to work together?

Penny’s been involved with the Jane Addams Peace Association for many years, and she always thought the ceremony would be great to bring kids to. Also, the books are always so good, and full of so many things to talk about. When she mentioned it to me, I said, yes, let’s go for it.

Because our community is so small, we decided to collaborate for some programs, so we wouldn’t compete for the same kids’ very limited time. Also, sometimes a school can be a more captive audience. We took advantage of this when we brought the JAB club to the high school’s public speaking class for practice on their presentation. That was a magical collaboration.

What challenges did you face?

Sometimes there was confusion over which library we’re meeting at, or slightly different equipment/WiFi in a different space. I think the kids got used to our different teaching styles and accommodated well. I also think it’s a good bridge—they get to see school and public libraries working together and see how we’re both working toward the same big goals!

The biggest challenge was probably getting approval from the school to miss school on a Friday. Also coordinating the permission slips was a little tricky. Technically, it was officially a public library trip, but because it was a school day, the school still needed copies of the permission slips, etc.

What has the response from the kids been?

I think they really get a lot out of it. The first year, we also visited the UN, and, although that made for an exhausting trip (!), they really “got” the ideas of peace and social justice that the Jane Addams Peace Association is all about. They connected the books to the art that’s all over the UN and the things the guide was saying as well.

Have you noticed an impact with the students because of the collaboration?

We now have a “social justice” vocabulary, a small collection of shared books in our brains, and some really fun, moving experiences. It’s such a great experience to meet and hear from authors and illustrators that you’ve met through their work.

Melissa McBride is a school librarian in Southold, NY. She is a member of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation and the YALSA Board of Directors. You can follow her on Twitter @SESLibraryLand.

Spring Break and Teen Programming

 

Spring Break from school means the library is always busy at my location. We have a lot of teens that come to our branch and stay all day during Spring Break because their parents drop them off while they are working. Spring Break is a great time to get teens active in programming at the library because they need something to do, and are more willing to participate since they have not been in school all day.

Recently we have been doing more passive programs for teens; programs led by teens for teens, or self-directives. These programs are a great way for our teen volunteers to meet other teens in the community, and for teens to make new friends. For these types of programs, we have board games or art projects that we will put out. Below are some the teens favorite board games and art projects:

Teen Passive Programming Cart

  • Board Games:
    • Apples to Apples
    • Bananagrams
    • Exploding Kittens
    • King of Tokyo
    • Mousetrap
    • Clue
  • Art Projects:
    • Watercolor painting on cardstock
    • Silhouette art: we have used paint and mod podge with weeded books
    • Adult/teen coloring pages
    • Popsicle stick picture frames
    • 3D Doodle Cubes

For both of these simple programs/self-directives, we keep supplies on a cart at all times in case we see a few teens in the teen area. This way, we can wheel out our cart of supplies, or give it to a teen volunteer, to easily take to the teen department and get fellow teens to start participating. By having the cart ready with games and at least one art project, we don’t have to scramble to get something put together when we see teens; it’s all ready to go for them.

Another great program for Spring Break is doing a STEM program. We have done this type of program staff led, and teen led. When staff have led the program, we use more technology, such as Google Cardboard glasses for virtual reality, tablets and laptops, and a large Aquos board for gaming. We have used a Sphero in teen led and staff led programs; the Sphero is great because teens can make it do anything they want. They can make it paint, dance, get through mazes, and more. If you haven’t seen a Sphero before, I recommend them if you have the budget money. They possibilities are endless when it comes to creating with them; it’s a great way to get teens using their creative skills. Strawbees are also fun to use and can be done in a teen or staff led program. Teens use the connectors and straws to build whatever they want. Like the Sphero, teens are able to be more creative and build with their STEM skills.

Friendship Bracelet Activity Kit

Lastly, an easy self directive to have on hand for Spring Break, and more, is to have activity kits that check out. The idea came from when we were cleaning out our supply cabinets and realized how much we have left over that has been unused. So, why not put them in a kit for teens to do on their own time? We have three little bins with different activities in them. Teens come to the Reference Desk, check them out with their name, and go into the teen area to create! The kits that we have include friendship bracelets, origami, and weaving. Each kit comes with supplies and directions. They are all fairly simple projects, that need little staff instruction. It’s a great way to get teens doing something when they are bored, and also a great way to use supplies.

For programming ideas, check out YALSA’s Teen Programming HQ, the Teen Programming Guidelines, and the STEAM Toolkit.

Teen Tech Week Maker Cart

The White Oak Library Disctrict wanted to buy our own Maker Cart, but our funding was cut due to the Illinois state budget crisis. We were lucky enough to receive the Teen Tech Week Grant from YALSA and Best Buy; we would not have been able to afford the Maker Cart without the YALSA grant. We used the money to build Maker Carts for our Crest Hill, Lockport and Romeoville Branches.

Our Maker Cart contains an Ozobot, a Makey Makey Standard Kit, a Da Vinci Catapult Hydraulics DIY Wood Kit, Lie Detector Kit and Fold n’ Fly Paper Airplane Kit. We also purchased a Neutab tablet that we are loading with science apps that the teens can learn from.

We wanted to focus this grant on serving homeschooled teens, and teens from low-income areas – teens that might not have access to STEM-based resources. Our Crest Hill and Lockport branches have growing home school populations we have been trying to reach. We give them access to technology they would not be able to afford and help them become more prepared for college. Our Romeoville branch is surrounded by five schools where over 60% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunches. We run a lunch program during the summer to make sure our children and teens are getting meals.

Our goal was to get teens to recognize the library as a place of learning and fun, without out-of-pocket costs. The item that I am personally most excited about is the Ozobot, which teaches coding through drawing. The teens will create their own tracks for the Ozobot to follow; it will be a challenge to see how far they can make the Ozobot go.

We demoed the Maker Cart at our first annual STEMFEST on March 4th at our Romeoville Branch – a whole day centered around STEM. We had a variety of science presenters come and talk about science.

We will be having a Teen Tech Week Edition of Teen Advisory Group where will be showing the carts off and asking for their input on what apps we should add to the tablet and what type of future kits they would like to work on as a group.  We also plan on doing a few science kits with the teens who attend TAG. We hope these carts will make science more than just something they learn at school, but also something they enjoy.

Cindy Shutts is the teen librarian at the Romeoville Branch at White Oak Library District. She loves spending time with her cocker spaniel Harry Winston and is currently reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.