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.

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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.

Teens, Autonomy and TTW

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.

TTW Grant Winner: VR @ the Library

For this year’s Teen Tech Week, the Willmar Public Library will be implementing a virtual reality (VR) program for teens.  Through YALSA’s Teen Tech Week Grant, the library was able to purchase an HTC Vive, green screens, and several Steam apps for teens to test out.

VR @ the Library will be a two-part program.  On the first day, members of the library’s Teen Advisory Board (TAB) will teach their peers about VR and show them how to use several Steam VR apps.  The teens will then get to choose which VR app they would like to try and each of them will get to take a turn in using the equipment.  For the second, four-hour program, twelve registered teens will get twenty minutes each to test out the app(s) of their choice.

Through this program, the library hopes to give teens the opportunity to experience, learn and create with the Steam VR apps Job Simulator, Tilt Brush, Sound Stage, The VR Museum of Fine Art, and Google Earth VR.  TAB members selected these apps for their universal appeal and  potential to provide quality educational experiences: Job Simulator allows teens to try out four different jobs that were available before the fictional robot apocalypse, giving them a taste of what life could be like in their future careers, albeit with a humorous twist; Tilt Brush allows teens to create their own virtual world with the touch of a brush, allowing them to express themselves creatively; Sound Stage lets teens become their own DJ, making and manipulating music to create their own sound; The VR Museum of Fine Art allows teens to browse through a museum of real life art and learn about the history of each piece; and Google Earth VR lets teens travel to and explore places around the world that they may not otherwise have the chance to visit.

To prepare for the program, TAB members will install and test out the VR equipment and software to get a better idea of what the VR apps can do, what age range each app is suitable for, and estimate how much time it will take for a person to complete an activity in each of the apps.  The teens will use this experience to help set up the equipment on the day of the program and to help their peers use the apps if they are not sure what to do.

The library hopes that this program will provide a fun and safe environment for teens to explore VR technology together, while still having a quality educational experience.  The library also hopes that this VR experience will make teens feel more comfortable with using new technology and inspire them to try out other new technologies as well.

The impact and success of this program will be measured through the number of participants as well as by the teens’ evaluations after both programs and at the monthly TAB meeting. 

By the end of the program, the library expects that teens will:

  • have developed a basic understanding of VR
  • be comfortable with using VR equipment and at least one VR app
  • be able to teach their peers to use VR equipment and at least one VR app
  • feel that they have learned skills that can be applied to other areas of technology and life
  • express an interest in learning to use a new technology
  • feel comfortable approaching and learning a new technology

Evaluations will be assessed by the TAB, teen services librarian and head librarian.  The library would like to use the evaluations to plan subsequent VR programming at the library that reflects the interests and needs of the teens who attended this program.

The teens have been talking about implementing VR programming since early last year and are so excited to get started during Teen Tech Week.  Thank you again to YALSA for making this programming possible.

Emily Sovell is the Teen/Young Adult Services Librarian at Willmar Public Library.  The Willmar Public Library is the largest of a 32-library consortium, which is part of the Pioneerland Library System.  Willmar is located 90 miles west of Minneapolis/St. Paul, in West Central Minnesota.

Interpreting the Teen Read Week 2016 Survey Findings

When analyzing the success and challenges of the recent Teen Read Week, we look to the survey results to offer insight. It may come as no surprise that the “Read for the Fun of It” theme remains relevant to the needs of teens, seen in the 78.61% of respondents who utilized the multicultural theme and the 82.08% who participated in the initiative in order for teens to “develop an appreciation for reading.” Other respondents shared anecdotes of their libraries utilizing an alternative theme selected by teen patrons, which highlights the importance of reading and of creating flexible participation in teen interest driven environments.

Additionally, the survey helps the committee prioritize their work for the following year and to address resource gaps voiced by survey respondents. The TRW committee creates both free and inexpensive resources and it can be difficult to assess their importance, such as the TRW Pinterest board – a board with 1.1k followers geared towards programming and display ideas and related infographics. Some of these pins receive a high engagement rate of repinning and implementation (Pinterest’s “tried it” option). However, it is not known if the board is useful to libraries or the vast Pinterest audience. When asked to select their top three YALSA TRW resources, 23.70% survey respondents selected Pinterest as the fourth most useful resource, placing its importance behind the downloadable logo (63.58%), TRW website (61.27%) and themed products (27.17%). This response supports the significance and continued existence of a yearly TRW related Pinterest board.

Often the loudest and more numerous thread found throughout several different comment sections of the survey was the need for more programming resources: more diverse, passive and school focused programming. Yet other respondents shared their successfully themed TRW programs, such as daily trivia contests in both English and Spanish, students writing TRW articles for the school’s online newspaper and school librarians involving coaches and other educators to lead discussions about reading. In addition to offering programming ideas on the TRW Pinterest board, the TRW committee also submits vetted and tried programs to the YALSAblog and the yearly updated Teen Read Week manual. Despite these efforts, there remains a disconnect between the individuals who have great programs, like the ones previously mentioned, and those who need to hear and be inspired by them.

Interestingly, only 45.66% of TRW survey respondents were YALSA members, which further supports the need for you to share your successful, rich and Futures aligned programs through YALSA’s Teen Programming HQ site. We also need to demonstrate on the HQ site how easy program evaluation can be to implement and showcase its importance. The TRW survey revealed that the majority 62.43% did not use any form of evaluation. Sharing our experiences in measuring success may be as simple as describing the 80 teen students who downloaded the Overdrive app as one such respondent described. Furthermore, as 1.16% of survey participants heard about TRW through the YALSA blog, it is now your responsibility, if you’ve read this far, to reach out to your peers and support these findings.
Amanda Barnhart is a Teen Librarian for the Kansas City Public Library Trails West branch and the current YALSA Teen Read Week chair.

Breaking the Silence about Teen Dating Violence @ Your Library

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.

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School Summer Reading: An Opportunity to Evangelize for Pleasure Reading

 

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.

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Teen Programming in Art Museums

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.

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