Digital Literacy with Digital Sketchpads

What will the Covina Public Library be doing for Teen Tech Week? We will be hosting two active participation events and one passive activity in promotion of Teen Tech Week. The first activity will include hosting a Digital Literacy Day, providing a tutoring session focused on Google images, skills in Microsoft Word, and tutoring on the use of a digital sketchpad tablet. This activity will teach digital literacy skills directly related to success in school.

The second activity will spawn from the Digital Literacy Day in which teens more timid or unable to visit the group tutoring session via the Digital Literacy Day will have the opportunity to make one-on-one appointments during Teen Tech Week. During the appointments teens will be given tutorials one-on-one and will be based on the topics presented on Digital Literacy Day. In addition, teens will have the opportunity to be tutored on subjects specific to their needs. For example, teens will learn the basics of photo editing.

The final activity will be passive where reading resources may be checked out from a book display. Resources purchased through the grant and items from the library’s collection will be displayed to encourage digital literacy in a passive form. To prepare for this activity, all books will be selected from the collection and the grant and will be labeled “Teen Tech Week.” When teens check out any labeled item, their name will be placed in a drawing and a name will be selected for a chance to win a prize.

All activities will be presented in an effort to promote community and connected learning geared towards this age group. Through participation, teens will qualify for prizes including gift cards and resources that promote digital literacy. Random drawings will also take place from checking out digital literacy books, attending the tutorial sessions, and attending the Digital Literacy Day event.

We believe the most vital measurements of success include connected learning and skills building exercises, resulting in using knowledge hands-on. For Teen Tech Week, this means the library will purchase digital sketchpad tablets for each teen computer station and tutor teens on their use. By providing access to essential resources, this will enable teens to be empowered. In addition to providing connected learning, the digital sketchpad tablets will encourage teens to be passionate thinkers and idea makers. For instance, converting drawings to the computer for manipulation encourages creativity and mechanical thought processes. All this will be done in an effort to encourage teens to learn and have fun with learning new technologies so that they can become lifelong learners and be successful in school and life.

Covina Public Library is nestled just 25 miles east of Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Valley. We serve many low income families and seniors and promote the library as a family library. As a community center, Covina Public Library endeavors to make a difference in the community by being a Family Place Library, providing story times, crafts, movie days, tutoring for all ages, and seasonal events and activities.


President’s Report – November & December 2015

Happy Winter!

Can you believe it’s already February?!

It’s been a whirlwind since ALA Annual, and here’s what I’ve worked on in November & December 2015:


  • Attended YALSA’s inaugural YA Services Symposium in Portland, OR, and welcomed participants at Opening Reception, Author Luncheon for Jack Gantos (who I like to call the “Johnny Cash of YA Lit”) and Closing Ceremony Poetry Slam
  • Solicited feedback and topics for the Fall Executive Meeting from Board members.
  • Recruit board members to take the lead on various proposals, discussions, and more
  • Participated in, coordinated and led discussions at YALSA Fall Executive Meeting, which was held in Portland, OR, after the YA Services Symposium
  • Assigned Executive Committee members to blog about different topics from the YALSA Fall Executive Committee Meeting and Strategic Planning sessions
  • Called for discussion and vote on adoption of YALSA’s revised Board Meeting Guidelines
    • Motion passed, the guidelines have been adopted and will be added to the YALSA Handbook
  • Called for discussion and vote on
  • Hosted first YALSA Member Townhall Tweet-up of the year on November 30th, 2015
  • Hosted second YALSA Member Townhall Tweet-up on December 18th, 2015
  • Filled chair and member vacancies on YALSA’s Financial Advancement Committee (Thanks so much, Jane Gov, Alida Hanson and Tiffany Williams!!!)
  • Filled vacancy on 2017 Alex award committee (Thank you Diana Tixier Herald!)

Works in Progress

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Introducing African-American History Month through Music and Art by Deborah Takahashi

February is African-American History Month and libraries all over the country are celebrating this month with a variety of programs and displays. For teens, music and art are tools that will bring them together regardless of their race, religion, sex, and abilities so let’s use these art forms to celebrate this important event in a creative and innovative way. Here are two ideas that will appeal to teens and help them become part of a bigger conversation when it comes to equality and freedom.

record-828983_640Blues & Civil Rights Movement Listening Party

With the return of the record player and vinyl, teens can meet up and listen to a variety of Blues artists while learning the history of the Blues. Select a few artists and throw together a PowerPoint, or Prezi presentation, to provide a little background information about the origin of the Blues and how this genre provided momentum for the Civil Rights Movement. Once you have selected artists, play tracks that will interest teens and throw up the lyrics, or provide handouts, so they can read them while they listen. Once they have finished listening to the tracks, ask questions about the songs and see what kind of responses teens come up with. Here are a few examples from youTube that will definitely illicit interesting conversation:

Just like the traditional book club, we can form the conversation in a similar fashion where the lyrics become the story. Have teens write down their initial thoughts of the songs before discussing the meaning of the lyrics. When everyone has had a chance to write down their thoughts, ask teens to share their interpretations. Once everyone shares their findings, discuss how these ideas convey the meaning of the song. Let teens know that no one has a right or wrong answer, but do ask if this discussion has provided a better understanding of why these songs were incredible tools to help bring awareness to the Civil Rights Movement. If you have the time, or want to turn this program into series, expand upon your program by including the songs of protest of the Vietnam War and the rise of the Black Panther party to inner city violence and the birth of Hip Hop.

If your library doesn’t have access to a record player, you can easily purchase CDs and play them through a sound system. If you have the ability to purchase a record player, it will introduce teens to wonder of record players and provide them with actual evidence as to recording music tracks have evolved over the decades. You can easily purchase a record player on, Barnes and, Target, and Best Buy. As for the vinyl, you can also easily purchase these online or in stores that carry vinyl. I highly recommend visiting your local record store because you may be able to find used records, which will save you money, but make the experience even more awesome.

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YALS Takes on Community Engagement

winter 16 YALS coverYALSA friends, I have just finished reading the winter 2016 issue and I am excited. New features, new directions for YALSA, inspiration, and plenty of practical information abound.  The theme of the issue is Community Engagement and I love what President Candice Mack says about that-it might be quicker to do something on our own, but it’s short-sighted. Community engagement leads to collaboration, long term relationships, and ultimately an increased capacity to reach more teens. (Thanks, Candice for sharing a site where we can input our zipcodes to find out other youth serving organizations!)  The interview with Karen Pittman, a co-founder of the Forum for Youth Investment, is an in-depth look at what collective impact is and how libraries can be a part of it.  While I read that feature as a “big picture” look at community engagement, I read Community Experts Mentor Teens and New Adults by Laurie Bartz and saw some concrete things many of us could implement. She describes a program that is teen driven, part of the community, and supporting 21st century skills, including leadership and technology. Basically, it’s got it all!
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Teen Programming and Healthy Relationships

Teen librarians and library workers don’t shy away from the tough topics. We’ll learn coding and computer science alongside teens, or dive into K-pop or Doctor Who even if it’s not our personal favorite just to connect with the teens we serve and learn more about their interests. We reach out to homeless teens, we advocate for LGBTQ+ teens, and we educate ourselves on the mental illnesses that teens experience. No subject should be out of our comfort zone or off limits if it is relevant to the information needs of the teens we work for and with.

Not even sex.

The Need for Information on Healthy Relationships and Consent

Sexual assault and rape—sexual activity without consent—occurs at an alarming rate, especially on college campuses. Studies on the way college students conceptualize consent indicate that many find aggressive behavior or deception an acceptable way to obtain sexual consent (Jozkowski and Peterson, 2013). As many as one in five female students experience a sexual assault while in college according to a recent study that surveyed 150,000 students on college campuses across the United States commissioned by the Association of American Universities.

Most sexual education in schools is focused on preventing unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, while healthy sexual relationships and consent are not generally a part of the conversation. “Although sexual education programs are often offered in schools, they rarely address social factors, such as adherence to traditional gender roles and sexual scripts, that are empirically linked to negative sexual health outcomes.” (Grabe, et al., 2014, p. 742).

Of course, we’d hope that parents and guardians should be talking about sex with their teens. We’d never want to cross a professional boundary when connecting teens with information. But unfortunately, there’s a lack of education for teens on healthy relationships and sexual consent, which undoubtedly contributes to rape and sexual assault. Teen librarians can—and should—fill that gap by offering programs and collections to support the education of young adults with regards to healthy, consensual relationships.

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Personal Service Priority Plan, Part 1

I love mission statements. I really do! I get excited when I’m researching a new organization and I can find clearly stated strategic priorities or service areas. It allows me to immediately identify which organizations have similar or overlapping goals with my library and which organizations have a very different focus or scope.

So I’m not sure why it took me so long to think of creating a personal statement of service priorities for my own job.

To clarify: I’m not talking about a career objective document or a performance evaluation, and I don’t intend to re-invent the wheel. Rather, I’ve discovered that creating an intentional document highlighting my areas of focus during a set time frame makes it easier to quickly identify where I should be spending my time and energy.

As library staff we have an abundance of resources from which to draw when deciding where to aim our focus. Just a few examples include the The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action, the mission statement and stated service priorities of our own libraries, and community information like reports from the Housing Authority, local organizations who work with insecurely housed youth, and community demographic statistics. It can be overwhelming to take all of these sources into account for every decision we make.

This year I decided to try an experiment. I spent a week in December pouring over the resources I listed above as well as looking back over notes from staff meetings and notable information from local neighborhood blogs, and I developed a plan. I created a one page checklist which I titled my “Personal Service Priority Plan”. This document will be the foundation for every decision I make in 2016. It is tailored to the needs I see in the community surrounding my specific library. It will serve as a rubric to quickly evaluate what I will pursue in terms of Outreach, Programming, Strategic Audiences, and Collection.

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Blog Post Round-Up: Inexpensive and Easy Programming


The MaKey MaKey

The MaKey MaKey

Blog post round-up is a series of posts that pull from the great YALSAblog archive. The topics have been requested by YALSA members. Have an idea for a topic? Post it in the comments.

Inexpensive Ideas:

Back to Afterschool: Tech Resources

Pop Up Programming

30 Days of Teen Programming: Low Stress Making through Crafternoons


30 Days of Teen Programming: Evaluate Outcomes

Developing Creative Programming for Teen Read Week

Keep These Things in Mind When Creating Programs:

30 Days of Teen Programming: How Do You Know What’s Needed

30 Days of Teen Programming: Programming for the Platform


“What’s reference? And other library related questions”

My current job in graduate school is a library supervisor for a residence hall library. Our residence hall library system is unique here at the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign which gives us the opportunity to interact with undergraduates in their residence halls. Our collection consists of the latest fiction, nonfiction, movies, TV shows, CDs, and magazines. Essentially a public library-like collection in an academic setting. It’s awesome, to be so close and helpful, and students don’t even have to leave their residence hall!

My co-workers and I have tried to provide reference support in the libraries. This past semester I spent eight hours a week doing “Office Hours.” Essentially, come visit me, ask your reference questions. Then, during finals, one of my co-workers did a “Roving Reference” table throughout several residence halls. At a recent staff meeting he shared that when he was roving many undergraduates asked him, “What’s reference?”

This may hurt us as library staff. We hope (and perhaps sometimes assume) that what we take as implicit knowledge (e.g., what reference is) is also implicit to the people we work with.

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My 10 Favorite YALSAblog Posts of the Year

DIY1I’m excited to compile my favorite YALSAblog posts of the year because I referenced these posts in my classes. I’m a library science student in an online program, so I often cite these articles in relevant discussions to hear my classmates’ feedback. I only have two semesters left, so I’m stuck in that middle ground of being immersed in classwork while already fretting about what REAL library work will be like. These posts have helped me with a lot of that, so I send major thanks to the authors!

Empowering Teens

Teens, Help Yourself by Jami Schwarzwalder

  • How to help teens find information they need without staff assistance.

30 Days of Teen Programming: Preparing Teens for Life Through Creative Programming by Deborah Takahashi

  • Using programming to enable teens to help others, cook, defend themselves, and more!


Programming: How Tos, and Overcoming Challenges

Back to School: Afterschool DIY by Donna Block

  • Provide supplies for teens, but let them craft at their own pace, doing what they’d like, instead of having a set structure.

Pop-Up Programming by Becky Fyolek

  • Plan everything for your program except a date, and pull out the supplies when teens are around and want something to do.

30 Days of Teen Programming: Organic Teen-Led Programming by Jen Scott Wills

  • Let teens use the library for whatever they’re interested in, and create programming around them.

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Blog Post Round-Up: Intermediate Maker Programs

Blog post round-up is a series of posts that pull from the great YALSAblog archive. The topics have been requested by YALSA members. Have an idea for a topic? Post it in the comments.


Looking for posts on intermediate maker activities? Here are some great examples:

Week of Making: Maker Faire

Thinking (Out Loud) about Learning in Makerspaces

Cultural Competence and the Maker Movement

Week of Making: Collaborative Coding: Participation in a Community Appathon

Idaho Libraries Shake Up the Maker Movement: Creating makers, then spaces (part three)

Idaho Libraries Shake Up the Maker Movement: Creating makers, then spaces (part four)

2015 Teen Tech Week Grant Winner – Alexandra Tyle-Annen

2015 Teen Tech Week Grant Winner – Alexandra Tyle-Annen