By Kelly Czarnecki and Marie Harris

In the fall of 2014 our library in Charlotte, NC applied for a grant with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to fund Idea Box, a Makerspace in our downtown location. The funding was to be used for equipment as well as consultation to help meet our goals:

• Generate new energy around this lifelong learning center
• Attract new users; especially those ages 19-34
• Be a place where anyone can bring their ideas to life
• Build partnerships/collaborations with the local maker community
• Create a prototype space within the library that can be refined and expanded on with testing and use

Aubrey As the generous funding that was received did not cover staffing, administration appointed two existing staff as project leads whose task it was to have the space open and operable by January 2015. They in turn went through the process of establishing a dedicated Makerspace (now called Idea Box) team that would focus on developing policies for the space, programming, and focusing on bringing our target audience through our doors. Fortunately, our organization has over seven years of experience in a similar space at one of our branches for youth where film and music creation and editing has been a part of how teens are served, and we had a staff of many talents to choose from.

While the staff were unexperienced as trained Makers, they were definitely enthusiastic and brought with them experience in everything from film making to graphic design. Once the team of ten was established through an online application process that asked questions related to their experience with the kinds of activities and technologies the space would have, the task of how to get everyone on board with knowing how the major equipment works was going to be the next step in the process. Did the secret lie in an Arduino code that you can plug the library employee into? Or do you start from scratch and prototype a librarian Maker in Inkscape (a free software design program) to cut out on the laser cutter? Read More →

Image courtesy of FryskLab on FlickrIn April the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced a Week of Making which started on 6/12 and runs through 6/18. The Week is being held in part in celebration of the one-year anniversary of the first ever Maker Faire at the White House. During that first Faire President Obama said:

Maker-related events and activities can inspire more people to pursue careers in design, advanced manufacturing, and the related fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and possibly take their creations to the next level and become entrepreneurs.

Read More →

Kristin Phelps, School Librarian at the Whittier Middle School in Norman, Oklahoma, is preparing to pitch an ambitious idea for the YALSA President's Program Monday, June 29 from 10:30 a.m. to Noon. She will advocate for " Make YOUR Library Space”  in front of a panel of librarians and business leaders for the chance to win cash and technology prizes provided by YALSA, Tutor.com, Makey Makey, and 3D Systems.

We wanted to catch up with Kristin before she heads to San Francisco for ALA's Annual Conference.

JS:Tell us about the project you submitted to the Shark Bowl
KP: Whittier Middle School is dreaming of a Makerspace including high-tech and low-tech materials. To be successful in the 21st century, students need to develop the ability to think and problem solve effectively. The library should be the center of that learning. Teens are naturally curious. I want to cultivate that curiosity to allow them to combine both information and experience.
Read More →

Erin Durrett, Youth/Teen Information Services Librarian at Novi Public Library in Michigan, is preparing to pitch an ambitious idea at the YALSA President's Program Monday, June 29 from 10:30 a.m. to noon. She will advocate for a 3D virtual world created by teens in front of a panel of librarians and business leaders for the chance to win cash and technology prizes provided by YALSA, Tutor.com, Makey Makey, and 3D Systems.

We wanted to catch up with Erin before she heads to San Francisco for ALA's Annual Conference.

YALSA Shark Bowl: Meet the Finalist Erin Durrett

RK: What was your inspiration for this project?

ED: Novi is a community that very much strives for achievement, be that excellence in academia, or other interests. When developing programs and services for our community, we often think about what skills our patrons would like to learn and what would help them feel more involved in our library and ultimately our community. I wanted to create a project that joined those ideas together. My pitch involves STEM ideas, especially engineering and technology skills and having teens learn those skills and then utilize them in the creation of an interactive display in which they curate and of which they feel ownership.

RK: In what ways are teens involved in this project?

ED: When I developed the idea, I wanted to know not only if our teens would be interested in participating, but any feedback I could receive from them, to help mold and shape the project. I went to the next TAB (Teen Advisory Board) meeting and asked the teens directly what they thought of the idea. They thought it was "cool" and brought up the idea of legacy and ownership. Specifically one teen asked "Can we put our names on the pieces we create?" As a lot of TAB members are juniors and seniors at the high school next door, they want to be able to come back and visit the display and point out the pieces they have created. (They also smartly mentioned making sure no one abuses the 3D printer!) My favorite aspect of this pitch is the inclusivity for teens, if you are a teen 12-18 in Novi or the surrounding community, you can participate in the creation of a piece for the display.
Read More →

Katie MacBride, Young Adult Librarian at the Mill Valley Public Library in California, is preparing to pitch an ambitious idea YALSA President's Program Monday, June 29 from 10:30 a.m. to Noon. She will advocate for "Building History in 3D" in front of a panel of librarians and business leaders for the chance to win cash and technology prizes provided by YALSA, Tutor.com, Makey Makey, and 3D Systems.

We wanted to catch up with Katie before she heads to San Francisco for ALA's Annual Conference.

TW: Tell us about the project you submitted to the Shark Bowl.
KB: The project we’re pitching, called Building History in 3D, centers around technology, history, and community. The project builds off of TimeWalk, a 3D virtual world developed by Ted Barnett, a former volunteer in our Library’s Lucretia Little History Room. Ted has started out by developing an initial virtual model of downtown Mill Valley as it was in 1915. Eventually this virtual world will expand to include renderings of Mill Valley as it was throughout the decades.

Ted introduced his project to our Library and we were eager to help out. Over the last few months, staff and volunteers in our Lucretia Little History Room have been providing research support as TimeWalk’s developers “build” a historically accurate town -- creating buildings, steam trains, landscapes, and more. What we want to do through Building History in 3D is invite local teens to be part of the process, offering them the opportunity to learn new technological skills while engaging with the community and learning more about their town and its history.
Read More →

Jennifer Bishop, Library Associate at the Carroll County Public Library in Maryland, is preparing to pitch an ambitious idea at the YALSA President's Program Monday, June 29 from 10:30 a.m. to Noon. She will advocate for "CRATE" in front of a panel of librarians and business leaders for the chance to win cash and technology prizes provided by YALSA, Tutor.com, Makey Makey, and 3D Systems.

We wanted to catch up with Jennifer before she heads to San Francisco for ALA's Annual Conference.

LWB: Tell us about the project you submitted to the Shark Bowl:
JB: Our idea is to follow the popular subscription box model to create monthly CRATEs (Create/ Re-invent/ Apply/ Teach/ Explore) for teens to explore selected technology at all six branches of the Carroll County Public Library. By providing self-guided access and resources on the public floor of all branches on a monthly basis, we will reach a greater number of teens and showcase technology as a tool for learning, innovation, and play.
Read More →

Whether you know the teens that frequent your library or not, disabilities can be hard to see. If you’re lucky, teens and their parents may be open about disabilities and how you can help them get the most out of their library experience. And if you’re not lucky, well, sometimes you'll deal with behaviors or unsatisfying encounters that make you wonder if you helped the patron at all. Thankfully, making your summer reading activities seem inviting to teens with disabilities is easy to do. With just a few tweaks to what you already have in place, your program can be inclusive! This way, it doesn’t matter if you know what disabilities you’re dealing with, or if you’re just taking a wild guess. Check out these tips, and share your ideas and notes on what works and what doesn’t in the comments.

  1. Have a visual sign-in sheet.

Hang a poster in a prominent place that shows teens what to do to sign up for summer reading. List the steps in simple terms, like: wait for the librarian; sign your name; pick your challenge. Have visual aids printed next to each step, like a photo of the librarian in charge of summer reading and a pencil signing on the line. Make a similar poster to show how to log weekly progress. This will help teens with disabilities be independent when they come to the library to participate, rather than feeling like they always have to ask for help.

  1. Divide tasks by reading challenge rather than by age.

Instead of having elementary aged kids sign up for a certain challenge, and having teens sign up for another, let everyone pick their own challenge. Read three books a week, read for an hour a week, listen to two audiobooks a week— the possibilities are endless! This empowers teens with disabilities to challenge themselves on their levels, and also shows other patrons that reading can take on a variety of appearances!

  1. Expand your program to be a learning challenge.

Instead of a straightforward summer reading program, some libraries are hosting summer learning challenges by partnering with city attractions to promote learning and interaction all summer. Some learning challenges have a theme, like Explore & Roar at Chicago Public Library focusing on animals and the environment. Reading is still important, and patrons can read anything they want, but there is also an aspect of taking that knowledge and discovering things in the city’s museums, zoos, and historical sites. The City of Memphis offers free days to many city attractions to encourage involvement with the summer library program Explore Memphis. All of these experiences can tie back in with Makerspace programs at the library or other community centers.

  1. Collaborate with the school system.

Reach out to the school system, especially the special education department, and find out what books are required reading for the upcoming school year. Make sure your library has plenty of copies available, and ask how you can make this reading easier on students with disabilities. The library could host a book club meeting during summer reading to talk about one of the required texts, or plan a program based on a book or elements from the story. Reading the book in advance and being able to talk about it with others or relate to it in another way could help teens with disabilities stay on track in the upcoming school year.

  1. Make your program known.

After your library collaborates with the school system, make sure promotional materials are handed out to students before the school year ends. Make it clear that everyone is welcome to participate in summer reading so the special education teachers and students know they should join in! Also consider sending promotional materials to summer camps for teens with disabilities, therapy centers, and intramural teams, as well as any day centers for people with disabilities in your area.

  1. Encourage teen volunteers.

When teens are signing up for summer reading, ask if they’d like to volunteer to help with any aspect of the program. (This goes for teens with or without disabilities!) Teens can help their peers sign in or update their progress. Teens with disabilities might not want to be in the spotlight, so they can work behind the scenes, helping set up for programs or cleaning up after parties.

  1. Work in small groups.

A lot of Makerspace activities are individualized, but can easily be adapted to work in small groups. A teen with disabilities who might not be able to make something on their own can be part of a team and still participate. Break the activity into steps where the team has to plan their project before they build it, and then can present it to the entire group. Circulate often so you can offer help to everyone, without seeming to focus on the teens with disabilities, while making sure they know you’re available if they need you, and that it’s ok to get help. Check out YALSA’s Maker & DIY Programs for ideas.

  1. Eliminate distractions.

Let’s be honest, it’s easy to get distracted regardless of your age or attention span! Depending on their disabilities, some teens may get more distracted than others, and some distractions can quickly lead to disruptive behaviors. Teens with autism might not be able to focus on spoken words if there is also music playing, even if others just consider it background music. It can also be distracting to hand out too many items at the same time, or give instructions all at once. Start by talking slowly and outlining what’s going to happen at the event; it’s helpful to make visual charts, as mentioned in the first tip! This way teens know what’s going on and in what order, and can look back to it often, without interrupting the program flow.

  1. Schedule breaks.

Even if the program doesn’t seem long, taking a few short breaks will help everyone stay focused. Put these on the schedule so attendees will know they when they can go to the bathroom or grab a drink without having to interrupt the program. These breaks can also give teens with disabilities time to process what they’ve done and prepare for what’s coming next. It’s also a good time for you to check in with them and make sure everything’s ok, and see if anything can be done to help them engage more easily.

  1. Roll with the punches.

We know that nothing ever goes according to plan, but when you’re including teens with disabilities, things could get derailed easily. Instead of throwing away your whole schedule, make sure you have substitutes for each part of the program, and even changes you can make individually for the teen who needs a little help. If the music is too distracting, turn it off, even if it means scrapping a part of the event that involved dancing. If the art supplies are too messy, have some alternatives (or even gloves!) so all teens can be involved in the program in their own way. It can be a bit tricky when you’re adapting a specific activity for teens with disabilities: you don’t want to seem like a pushover, but you do want to be accommodating and helpful. For more information on this balance, check out YALSA’s resources on Serving Disabled Teens.

 

YALSA is seeking a Member Manager for its upcoming web resource, Teen Programming HQ, The mission of the new site is to provide a one-stop-shop for finding and sharing information about library programs of all kinds for and with teens. The site will promote best practices in programming by featuring user-submitted programs that align with YALSA’s Teen Programming Guidelines and Futures Report. The site will 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 the library community to connect with one another to support and display their efforts to continuously improve their teen programs. The site is expected to have a soft launch in July and a full launch in September. Please note that web developers have been contracted with to build the site. The Member Manager is not expected to have any web site design or development responsibilities.

The Member Manager will work with YALSA's Communications Specialist to ensure the site is relevant, interactive, engaging and meeting member needs for information about innovation in teen programming, as well as participates in the maintenance of the site and work within the guidelines for the site as set by the YALSA Board of Directors. The Member Manager assists with the recruitment of experts and the collection of content for the site; generates ideas for direction and content; helps obtain, analyze and use member and library community feedback about the site; assists with marketing; and assists with ensuring programming related activities, news and resources from YALSA are integrated in the site, and vice versa.

Read More →