STEAM Zone: an Afternoon of Mechanical Engineering at Miami-Dade Public Library

The Miami-Dade Public Library hosted a series of innovative, technology-based programs for center city youth that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (a/k/a STEAM). 

A Mechanical Engineering class at the North Central Branch was attended by over twenty students. The class is the brainchild of Carol and Brianna Frachtman and is one of many offered by their school Engineering For Kids Broward. It focused on the creation of two hands-on projects that introduced a variety of engineering concepts and skill sets to a highly enthusiastic group of youth.

“We like to build on children’s natural curiosities and unlimited imaginations by offering inquiry-based, collaborative lessons that spark enthusiasm. It’s about discovery and play and having fun while learning,” said Carol.

The first lesson centered on the creation of a Candy Catapult. Carol explained how these simple machines were used to hoist weapons abCandy catapultsove the high ramparts of medieval villages. The youth were given all the supplies needed to create their own catapult, the foundation of which is a box of DOTS gumdrops. When several students asked if they might consume some candy, Carol quickly explained how that would compromise the volume and weight of their catapult’s foundation—the box of candy—and they might not be able to get enough tension to hurl their projectiles where they wanted.

To foster team building, the students broke into small groups and assembled their catapults. Once the catapults were completed, the concepts of accuracy and precision were discussed.

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Gimme a C (for Collaboration!): Adapting Public Library Programs for Schools

In an environment where great emphasis is put on statistics like door count and program attendance, it is tempting for public library staff to view school counterparts either as competition, or conduits to promote our programs. A better approach to the numbers game is to collaborate together on programming, which can mean adapting public library programs for a school setting.

One example is the transformation of our annual Teen Read Week art contest into a passive program built around a collaborative display. This contest has been evolving year-by-year in an effort to find the elusive perfect formula, and remains a work in progress. Participation by a pair of local therapeutic private schools has traditionally been high, thanks to enthusiastic teachers. In an effort to encourage more in-library participation, this year it took the form of a month-long InkTober program. Pens and pads of sticky notes were placed around our teen space, while signs invited teens to contribute a drawing to the display each day. To include schools, I adapted the concept into a paper form that I sent out and then picked up at the end of the month. While there weren’t a huge number of entries, what we got made for a great display. Next year: large sheets of paper taped onto the tables and delivered to the schools, instead of the stickies.

inktober2Another example is our winter reading program for teens, during which students can earn points by visiting their school and public libraries, as well as reading. This came about after listening to a local high school librarian’s concerns over statistics. The reading log will follow the same basic concept as the bingo cards often used by libraries, but with only nine squares — like a tic-tac-toe board. Teens can earn a small prize for completing one three-square line, and a bigger prize for completing the whole board. Students will still be encouraged to read for pleasure, in fact I’ll be visiting at least one school for book talks (as well as promotion of the program). The talks will end with a reminder to visit both their school and public library to get help finding books they might enjoy. Signing off on the squares adds a little work for
library staff, but also adds a tally for their desk statistics and the real benefit: the opportunity for positive interaction with a young patron.
splc-committee-wordle-300x240Tips for Collaborating on Programs

  • Find the right partner; whether that’s a teacher, school librarian, or administrator.
  • Enhance rather than duplicate; if a school is already doing a similar program, ask how you can help.
  • Keep it simple; fit all the information people need to participate onto a single page.
  • Make it inclusive; consider the needs of schools that serve special populations.

 

Donna Block is Teen Services Librarian at Niles Public Library District, Illinois and a member of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation.

When Libraries Become a Refuge for Youth in a Post-Election World

Provided by Kyna Styes

Provided by Kyna Styes

On November 8, 2016, the United States of America elected Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States. The campaign process and the election was both tumultuous and divisive. When the results of the election were announced, some people took to the streets to protest their anger and disappointment while others expressed hatred and bigotry in acts of violence, vandalism, and intimidation. Needless to say, our country is hurting and many of our patrons are living in fear for themselves and their families. In times like these, many assume that libraries must remain neutral and continue business as usual. However, for those of us who work on the front lines, we see the pain and we see the fear, especially from the youth. As young adult library staff, we can no longer remain neutral because it our responsibility to stand up for youth and convey to our communities that libraries are a safe space for all and we will not tolerate any behaviors that threaten the safety and the well-being of our youth.

Before we create a plan of action, we need to go back to the fundamentals of what it means to be a young adult professional. On June 27, 2015, the YALSA Board of Directors adopted the Core Professional Values for the Teen Services Profession (developed by YALSA’s Professional Values Taskforce) that outlines nine values that set the foundation for young adult professionals. Here are the nine values: Accountability, Collaboration, Compassion, Excellence, Innovation, Inclusion, Integrity, Professional Duty, and Social Responsibility. If you have not reviewed this document, take a few minutes to read it, especially the values that focus on: Compassion, Inclusion, and Social Responsibility. As young adult library professionals, some of us have already witnessed the backlash of the election as teens divulged their fears, shed tears, and made hasty decisions to do things that could harm them in the future. By upholding these core values, we have a responsibility to inform teens that they are safe in our buildings and that we, as library professionals, will help them in any way we can to make sure they have access to services and information to overcome any adversity they may face. More importantly, by demonstrating these values with our teen patrons, we have the opportunity to build, or reinforce, relationships where they know we care about them and that they are not alone. Here are some great ideas that youth services library workers are doing for their communities, post-election:

By standing up for our youth, not only are we modeling positive behaviors between youth services staff and teens, we are conveying to our non-youth services colleagues, fellow city workers, and community partners that we need to work together to ensure our youth is provided for, nurtured, and protected. In other words, start partnering with your city organizations to create a united front to convey to the community that we will stand up and protect the youth of our cities. More importantly, relay patron concerns to city officials and ask them to stand with us and our partners. As the Social Responsibility states, “[Social responsibility creates a] mutual trust between the profession and the larger public [by responding] to societal needs as they relate to teens and libraries” (2015).  YALSA has some partnering resources on its wiki that you may want to explore. Continue reading

YALSA Seeks Content Experts for Teen Programming HQ

YALSA is seeking up to four teen programming Content Experts, especially those with expertise in STEAM, school libraries, ESL, outreach, or community partnerships, for its web resource, Teen Programming HQ.

The mission of the site is to provide a one-stop-shop for finding and sharing information about programs of all kinds designed for and with teens. The site promotes best practices in programming by featuring user-submitted programs that align with YALSA’s Teen Programming Guidelines and Futures Report.

The site also enable dissemination of timely information about emerging and new practices for teen programming; raise awareness about appropriate YALSA tools to facilitate innovation in teen programming; and provide a means for members and others interested in teen programs to connect with one another to support and share their efforts to continuously improve their teen programs. In its first year, the HQ ran contests where prizes were given out to “top” programs.

Content Experts will work with the site’s Member Manager to vet all incoming program submissions and determine which meet the necessary criteria for being featured on the site. As part of this effort, Content Experts will be expected to give timely, constructive feedback to individuals regarding their program submissions. Please note that the Content Experts will not be submitting the content; rather, they will be reviewing content that is submitted by others. Content Experts should also feel comfortable with social media and have an understanding that marketing the website will be a crucial part of their role.

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YALSA Symposium 2016: Empowering Teens, Empowering Library Staff

A little over a week ago, I packed my bags for the 2016 YALSA Symposium. It wasn’t easy to rip myself away from the Cubs euphoria raging in my hometown of Chicago, but I was excited to share a weekend with people who were passionate about something even more important: serving young adults in the library. The Symposium theme was Empowering Teens, and there was lots of discussion about ways to fostering teen ideas, talent, and leadership in our libraries. Letting teens take charge may feel like extra work, but the benefit to them is worth every bit of effort.

 

Teen Library Team, assemble!

Teen Library Team, assemble!

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Teen Read Week: Board Game Collection Encourages English Language Learners To “Read For the Fun of It”

Every year the Teen Read Week Committee selects the recipients of the Teen Read Week grants funded by contributions from YALSA and Dollar General.   Cynthia Shutts at the White Oak Public Library (IL) was awarded one of this year’s Teen Read Week grants to create a circulating board game collection that focused on literacy skills to encourage the English Language Learners in the community to ‘Read for the Fun of It’. I spoke with Shutts recently to discuss the Teen Read Week Grant process, and evaluate the outcomes of the grant-funded program.

Shutts used Teen Read Week Grant funds to purchase a circulating board game collection focusing on literacy-based games. The White Oak Library plans to market this new collection to English as Second Language classes and other patrons who are learning English. The Library held a game night launch program during Teen Read Week. Shutts expects word to grow slowly but steadily about the game collection. The Library has promoted this new collection through many avenues, but the hope is that word of mouth will help increase knowledge of this service.  By launching the board game collection during Teen Read Week, the hope was that teens and their families would come to the launch night.

The Illinois state budget crisis has hit White Oak Library hard, and because of this the programming budgets had been cut deeply. It would not have been possible to start this program without the generous grant from YALSA and Dollar General. Shutts used the Teen Programming Guidelines, and focused on aligning programs with community and library priorities. The White Oak Library has recently updated its strategic plan to include increased support for second language learners. The Library started conversation clubs and are adding a lot of books in Spanish to the Library’s collection. The next step in this plan was creating a collection focusing on literacy games.

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Follow-up from the Nov. 16 Town Hall on Supporting Youth during Difficult Times

Yesterday over 40 YALSA members met online during the YALSA virtual town hall to discuss ways that we can support youth in our community during turbulent times.  The outcome of the recent election has caused many young people to feel anxious and uncertain about the future of their rights and of our country, and we know that many incidents of bullying, hazing, harassment, and hate crimes have been reported in the past week. Because of this, the focus of the town hall was changed to focus on what we can do create safe spaces for our youth, how to create empathy, and how to empower teens to promote positive change in our community.

Why do need to offer these types of services to our youth? Because it’s our job.  Last year, the YALSA Board approved a document called Core Professional Values for the Teen Services Profession that focuses on nine core values that define professionalism for those who work for and with teens through libraries. Three of those nine are compassion, inclusion, and social responsibility–values that have been extremely important in the past few weeks.

YALSA has created a list of resources on this topic–Supporting Youth in the Post-2016 Election Climate.  We hope that you will find the information useful and share it widely with colleagues and co-workers.  In addition, ALA has created a Libraries Respond web page with further resources.  If you weren’t able to participate in the town hall, you can listen to the audio recordingread through the comments that were posted in the chat, and check out the tweets with the hashtag #yalsachat.  Many members shared what they are doing inside and outside of their libraries, and it was also great to hear what people were thinking about doing in the future.  As a result of the town hall, a YALSA Interest Group hopefully will soon be forming around ideas to help teens understand and empathize with our changing world, as well as to empower them to advocate for change in a positive manner.  Look for more information on that coming soon.  Also, if you’re interested in this topic, watch your YALSA eNews for information about the January YALSA webinar led by Renee Hill on the topic of helping youth recognize their ability to engage in social justice and equity activities.

Yesterday’s conversation was energizing and hopeful–thank you all for caring for the teens in your community!

YALSA Symposium 2016: The Spark of Symposium

We’ve all been there – something you hear or read at a library conference gives you that delicious fuzzy feeling of Hey… I could do that!  You start jotting down notes about the idea and where it could go, what it could do for your community, and before you know it, the margins of the handout are scribbled with your new plans for world domination.
I love those moments. I always say, if I get just one great idea from a workshop or webinar or conference, then it was worth it. I left the 2016 YALSA Symposium with an entire folder of great ideas, as I was one of the lucky librarians who got to judge the Teen Programming Contest.
That experience on Sunday morning was the absolute highlight of the Symposium for me, and I don’t say that to diminish the rest of the weekend. It was just so inspiring to hear so many amazing ideas – the other judges will agree with me that the decisions we had to make were incredibly difficult. I was impressed by the variety of pitches – some people had powerpoints and handouts for us, while others simply mesmerized us with a story of what they hoped to accomplish. It was clear that everyone had respect and hope for their communities, and wanted to empower their teen patrons in any way they could.
It is my absolute hope that everyone who pitched their idea to us will somehow, one way or another, make their idea a reality (and then write about it for one of YALSA’s publications!) If I learned only one thing while in Pittsburgh (and trust me, I learned a ton), I learned that we have amazingly talented people working in teen services.
At the 2017 YALSA Symposium, I hope that many more people take up the challenge. Make it an even tougher decision next year!
 
Sarah Amazing is the Teen Services Supervisor at the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library. She blogs at zen-teen.com

YALSA 2016 Symposium: The Double Bottom Line

At #yalsa16, I presented on a panel focusing on summer learning programs with Emily Samose, Director, Education and Learning Initiatives, Urban Libraries Council; Maggie Jacobs, Director of Educational Programs at the New York Public Library; and Kelly Rottmund, Teen Services Coordinator at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. In particular, we highlighted programs with a “double bottom line” approach, addressing summer slide for youth and peers by engaging teens as program leaders.

Emily began the session with information about Accelerate Summer, an ULC and NSLA summer learning initiative funded by IMLS. She covered their findings after surveying, observing, and conducting interviews at public libraries nationwide.

Next, Maggie covered NYPL’s Literacy Leaders program, a yearlong program targeting high school teens in danger of not graduating. The program begins during the fall semester when teens complete a credit-bearing ELA course and continues with teens working directly with younger students during the spring semester and into the summer.

Then, I presented AHML’s Summer Volunteer Squad program, a teen component of the library’s summer reading program. Summer Volunteer Squad is 8-12 focused groups comprised of teens that complete projects for the library over the summer. I focused on the groups achieving the “double bottom line” through paired reading, mentoring through STEM activities and more.

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Scratch Summit 2016: Combing Hip Hop and Coding in Your Library

Scratch Summit Participants Learning to Use Scratch

Scratch Summit Participants Learning to Use Scratch

This year was the first Scratch Summit, a partnership between the Progressive Arts Alliance (PAA) – a Cleveland based organization that deepens the learning experiences of youth by designing and implementing arts-integrated, project-based learning programs; the Scratch Team; the Scratch Foundation; and researchers from the Coding for All project – including those from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society and the Digital Media and Learning Hub.

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