yay TAB!

Sofia, Kealin, Nona, Hannah, Leah and Calista making Valentines for veterans.

On Monday, January 19, the United States honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Legislation was passed in 1983 to commemorate King’s birthday and his legacy, turning the 3rd Monday of January into a federal holiday.  This holiday is to be observed as a national day of service-- “A day on, not a day off.”  According to the government’s site on the MLK Day of Service:

“[The day] calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King's vision of a ‘Beloved Community.’”

When I kicked off my teen advisory board meetings for this school year, one of the first items I brought to our group was my desire to have the TAB participate in at least one service project.  We brainstormed through a few of our monthly meetings, and in November I introduced the MLK Day of Service as an option.  Our local volunteer hub, Volunteer Connect, facilitates service opportunities on this day; everything from light building projects to park cleanup, creating floral arrangements for hospice patients to sewing up dog beds for the pets of the homeless.  I presented the variety of options, with the biggest caveat: donating your time on a day off from school.  Would the group be willing to do that?

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High school is a game of priorities. With sports, music, studying, and social commitments, older teens have to be really interested or otherwise invested in a program if it's going to find a spot on their already crowded calendars. One of the most meaningful ways to get high school students involved at the library is through offering a teen volunteer program. With the approach of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the National Day of Service, January is the perfect time to consider engaging older teens at the library through community service opportunities.

Why Volunteer?

Many high schools require community service as a condition of graduation. Of the schools that don't assign service projects, many still require student council representatives or honor society members to commit to volunteering a certain number of hours. Community engagement is also an important component of many scholarship and college applications, and some teens have court assigned community service or an interest in developing resume worthy work skills. All this combined means that teens want to hear more about volunteer opportunities.

Better yet, volunteering teaches teens about giving back to the community and participating in something larger than themselves. The Corporation for National and Community Service and the President's United We Serve campaign encourage students to give back to their neighbors on MLK day. In addition to providing a true benefit to the community, service projects can help teens reflect on what it means to provide a positive contribution to the community and the world. It also helps build several of the 40 Developmental Assets. By giving teens the opportunity to provide service to others and to fulfill a useful role in the community, library volunteer programs help teens learn positive values such as caring, responsibility, and a sense of purpose.

There are many different ways that you can incorporate volunteering into your regular program schedule, and with a bit of planning, you can insure the experience is mutually beneficial. Here are a few ideas to try at your library. Read More →

About four years ago, my little department (just one other Teen Services Librarian and me) decided to make a big change. We wanted to make outreach and community partnerships the central focus of our work. We weren't sure exactly what that would entail, or how we should go about it. All we knew was that the Teen Center in our library wasn’t exactly packing in the teens.

empty TC

A relatively empty Teen Center, from the days before we began our focus on outreach.

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In early December, YALSA blogger Jami Schwarzwalder wrote a great post (with many great resources) on how to participate in Hour of Code week. I want to expand on her work and talk a little more about some of my experience with code and how that may translate into teens and code.

It seems that in today’s day and age, knowing how to code can be a crucial job skill. It gives you an edge and from a personal standpoint, knowing how to code can be incredibly empowering. It’s especially important to help get females (at any age) interested in coding because as we see time and time again, the difference between males and females involved in the technology field is astonishing (just search “girls in technology infographic” and see the fascinating percentages).

I think there are many ways to go at coding for teens. If you want to encourage girls, the video from Intel, who sponsors Girls Who Code, is pretty inspiring. The website itself, provides nice photos, information on past programs, and even the ability to download their most current curriculum for you to adapt to fit your teens.

Another similar website to Girls Who Code is Made With Code (through Google). They offer many projects for all levels of coding experience. These projects are fun and also include the ability to share with the world through their favorite social media outlet.

If you have teens that don’t have as much experience with coding, I would suggest doing the hour of code at code.org. Usually the theme of these puzzles is Angry Birds, but it looks like for the holiday season, the developers have moved over to Elsa and Anna from Frozen. It’s a great way to see “the blocks of coding” which will be helpful in future coding exercises. The videos that are every five or so levels are also helpful in letting you know what the blocks do and how they all work together.

With some coding under their belt, I think MIT’s Scratch is a good place to start. While there is a version that can be download onto your computers, their web version also works quite well. If you’re unfamiliar with Scratch, I would suggest watching some of their tutorials or even checking out Super Scratch Programming Adventure by the LEAD Project. This book would be great for teens to use (lots of cool drawings and learning is done through a comic form) and just to familiar yourself with the program (if you’re interested).

What is great about Scratch is that they can make their own projects (pretty much anything they can think of) or do what’s called “remixing.” Essentially they can look at completed projects and “look under the hood.” The teens can see how people created various projects and then “remix” and revise it for themselves. It’s a great way to learn all the capabilities of Scratch and give the teens some ideas of projects of their own.

Finally, if your teens want even more, I would direct them over to CodeCademy.  Here, they can sign up for an account and tackle many different programming languages: Python, HTML/CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, PHP, or Ruby. You go through a series of lessons, all that can be self-directed by the teens themselves. CodeCademy also has some projects to help see coding in action. I’ve personally used CodeCademy to learn Python and HTML/CSS and like the website, as well as the public forums for when I get stuck on a lesson.

Best of luck and I hope some of these resources will be useful to your teens!

In celebration of Computer Science Education Week Dec 8-14, students, parents, teachers and professionals will all engage in coding.

Dozens of websites will highlight free one hour tutorials to inspire and teach computer programing skills.

Curriculum has been created for use in classrooms all around the world, even if students don’t have internet.

57,000 events are scheduled to happen next week.

Here are some ideas for what you can do to celebrate!

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In March of 2014, Albany Public Library was awarded a YALSA Teen Tech Week grant, supporting a music production program we were excited to try.  We called it Build-A-Song, and the idea was to help teens create an original song from scratch, in just five days.  Thanks to the YALSA grant, and with additional assistance from our local Guitar Center, we put together a mobile recording setup that included a Mac Mini with GarageBand and ProTools Express, PreSonus USB Audio Interface, two microphones with a stand and vocal pop filter, studio monitor speakers, headphones, and a MIDI keyboard. We already owned several guitars that we used for free music instruction programs, as well as several percussion instruments; with these and the software instruments available, we had all the ingredients for a full band.  To actually build the song, we dedicated one day to each of the following: drums and bass, guitars and keyboards, electronic effects, vocals, and finally mixing and mastering.  We also put out lyric prompts and a submission jar, and invited teens to write anything from a word to a couplet or even full song.  These would provide material and inspiration when it came time to record vocals.  We decided to record in the middle of our busy youth services room, valuing participation over pristine recording conditions.

Buildasong buildjar

We started the first day by showing teens the basics of the recording software.  We decided to use GarageBand because of its easier learning curve and since we have several iPads for teen use that have it installed.  Teens chose a tempo, and then collectively selected a pre-recorded beat to work from -- this was the only component of the final song not composed or played by teens.  Next, they used the MIDI keyboard to trigger various drum and percussion sounds and create their own beats.  The bassline came next, which was created by lowering the pitch of an electric guitar two octaves .  Though they were encouraged to do so, none of the teens wanted to try playing the guitar themselves, so one of the youth services librarians became their hands and played notes and ultimately a full bass riff dictated by teens.

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The fall season is a favorite season for many-warm sweaters, fall leaves, pumpkins and apple cider. Autumn is also a time to reflect on the year's bounty and to say thank you. November brings Election Day, Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving-three days we can extend a special thanks to our troops and veterans and to acknowledge the children and teens also affected by military life.

In my rural community, many young people are impacted by military deployment. The statistics show that many of the teens in your town may be as well. According to the Department of Defense, 1.8 million children and teens in the United States have family members who are currently serving in the military, and 85% of those teens attend public schools and most likely use public libraries (National Military Family Association).

Even if a teen doesn't have a parent in active service, he or she may have a brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or cousin serving. Studies have shown that "rates of anxiety among military children - as well as emotional and behavioral difficulties - are higher than the national averages" (NMFA), but families cope better with deployment when they receive community support. The best way to help teens manage the stress of deployment is to acknowledge their experience by showing that you know who they are and that you are available to talk (NMFA). Read More →

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform. From cupcakes to duct tape and candy sushi to spin art, this week we're looking at how libraries advertise for teen programs, show off what participants made, and recruit new members for TAB and TAG groups. Does your library have an Instagram account specifically your teen population or TAB group? Who decides what gets posted on there?

Secondly, we mustache you... are you doing anything special for MOvember? If yes, please don't shave it for later! We want to see your crafts, displays, and decorations in the comments section below.

Have you come across a related Instagram post this week, or has your library posted something similar? Have a topic you'd like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

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A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians' navigating' this social media platform. This week we're looking at ways' libraries' can use Instagram to market services. As librarians, we know that we provide our communities with so more than books, but how can we show patrons everything we have to offer? From audio books to online materials and wireless printing to smiling faces at the Information Desk, here's a few ways to get that information out there. The key to this week's installment is reading the captions -- there are many different approaches libraries can take.

Have you come across a related Instagram post this week, or has your library posted something similar? Have a topic you'd like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

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From Open Clip Art

From Open Clip Art

The Afterschool Alliance just published a study regarding after school programs in the United States. This is the third study of its kind, following in the results from the 2004 and 2009 studies. The group wants to document where and how children spend their time between 3 and 6 PM. The previous studies, along with this one, show that there is a demand for after school programs.'  However, more programming is needed to help reach the approximately 11.3 million children who are unsupervised after school.

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