YALS – Libraries and Learning: A Resource Guide for “Make, Do, Share”

cover of spring yalsYou should have already or will soon be receiving your Spring 2016 edition of YALS. The topic of the issue is Libraries and Learning. All the articles are excellent but the one that stood out to me was the featured interview with Shannon Peterson, the Youth Services Manager for the Kitsap (WA) Regional Library (KRL). The library received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for their program Make, Do, Share: Sustainable STEM Leadership in a Box.

One of the great things about this interview is that not only did we learn the context of this project (it began with a project called BiblioTEC, sponsored through the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation) but also heard about how Shannon and her staff frame the work they are doing. Many times in public libraries, we are so focused on helping our community, we don’t think about the reasoning behind our behaviors. These behaviors and the programming we create can be influenced by the theory we read and the theory we believe grounds our work as librarians. Shannon’s interview was full of all the things she and KRL was thinking of as they created the Make, Do, Share programming.
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Completing the Puzzle Between Teens with ASD and Public Libraries

From Pinterest

According to Occupational Therapist, Bill Wong: “For autistic individuals to succeed in this world, they need to find their strengths and the people that will help them get to their hopes and dreams. In order to do so, ability to make and keep friends is a must. Amongst those friends, there must be mentors to show them the way. A supportive environment where they can learn from their mistakes is what we as a society needs to create for them.”1.

As teen library workers, we have an incredible wealth of resources at our fingertips to  assist teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  Along with these resources, we have colleagues, community partners, and experts who are passionate and willing to help us with create services and programs for teens with ASD. The sky is the limit when it comes to creating an inclusive environment, but, sometimes, starting from the ground up can be daunting. However, no matter what how long it takes to implement and plan these services and programs, the end result will create an honest dialogue between the library and our entire teen population to foster an environment of camaraderie, acceptance, and empathy.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

According to National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS):

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a group of complex neurodevelopment disorders characterized by repetitive and characteristic patterns of behavior and difficulties with social communication and interaction. The symptoms are present from early childhood and affect daily functioning. The term “spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability in functioning that can occur in people with ASD. Some children and adults with ASD are fully able to perform all activities of daily living while others require substantial support to perform basic activities.”2

On March 27, 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new study that identified 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls) as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 3 Since 2000, the rates have increased by 119%, which means that ASD is one of the most common development disorders in the United States. Although Autism has been around for more than 100 years, it wasn’t until the early 1980s that Autism was classified as an actual neurological disorder and not a mood disorder (i.e., Schizophrenia). Since ASD  is in fact treatable, children are being diagnosed at an early age so they can get the necessary therapies they need to manage thir symptoms. Although the resources are available for an early diagnosis, some parents may have a difficult time finding out how to get their child help due a variety of reasons. Due to these obstacles, children and teens could potentially fall to the wayside in their development and this is where libraries can help children and teens with ASD.

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Instagram of the Week — April 11

Throughout the month of April, libraries are clearing away the clutter, running creative teen programs, and getting ready to celebrate National Library Week (April 10-16). Every April Fool’s Day, the puns and jokes bring to mind a supervisor of mine. She would prank call us in the evenings to ask if we had any red books, for instance, and she always had patrons dropping by for books and laughs. For her fiftieth birthday, we returned the favor by packing her office with balloons so tightly, it was impossible to move. Not only did we love working for her, she encouraged a culture of creativity and truly connected the library to the community. Research shows that laughter has not only been linked to higher creativity in problem solving, but also benefits health and relationships.

As The Future of Library Services for and with Teens explains, library staff need to connect with teens as individuals, be willing to talk with teens about their interests and passions, and take risks in order to find out what works and does not work with and for teens. Hosting creative programs provide teens a way to connect to the library and gives them opportunities for making and hanging out. Being silly on the job reminds us that working with teens is not only demanding and rewarding, but also FUN!

Please let us know how your library is celebrating National Library Week in the comments section below!

 

Insults, Laughter, Rhymes, and Good Times: Celebrating William Shakespeare

Happy Birthday Shakespeare

Image from the Manhattan Shakespeare Project

To be or not to be…that is the question… especially when it comes to implementing teen programming all about Shakespeare. As youth services library workers, we know that William Shakespeare is one of the greatest playwrights of all time. It’s only natural for libraries to celebrate his birthday by providing attractive displays and programming for the month of April. Given the amount of amount of distraction and noise via the internet, teens aren’t exactly running into the library to check out King Lear. Although the reasons for teens not getting excited about Shakespeare vary greatly, we can easily introduce Shakespeare to our teens through Pop Culture, Art, and Digital Resources.

According to the YALSA’s The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action (2014)1:

The library profession has come to understand literacy as much more than a cognitive ability to read and write, but as a social act that involves basic modes of participating in the world.44 This fundamental shift means that school and public librarians no longer view literacy merely as a technical competency that can be added to people as though they were machines, but rather as a social practice that varies from one context to another and is part of cultural knowledge and behavior.

When I was teen, I remember how Hamlet infuriated me. At the time, I had no idea why I would need Hamlet ever. As an adult, I am grateful for that experience because Shakespeare didn’t write Hamlet to annoy teenagers: he wrote it to help the world understand the human condition when the soul is tortured by grief and selfishness. My hope is that teens are still reading Shakespeare in school, but, due to issues such as standardized testing, lack of funds, and no access to these materials, libraries can easily lend a helping hand. I mean, he is responsible for over 1600 words of the English language, but teens may never know this unless they attend a Shakespeare 101 class. As youth services library workers, we have the ability to not only introduce to teens the life, world, and art of William Shakespeare, we also have the skills to take a creative and modern approach to his works to help teens develop as critical thinkers and passionate human beings. Here are a couple of ideas that can help teens better appreciate the Bard a little more.

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Personal Service Priority Plan, Part 3

So far I’ve used my Personal Service Priority Plan to identify a new partnership to pursue. However, just as important as knowing when to say “yes” is clearly identifying when to say “no”. This month I discuss how I used the plan to evaluate an offered one-off program and to politely decline.No

There’s lots of great advice out there about why we should say no if an existing or potential program doesn’t seem to be meeting the needs of our community (I love the suggestion to “stop doing things” in Maureen Hartman’s post Level Up Your Leadership: Stop Doing Things). So what does this look like in practice?

Last fall I was approached by an author interested in giving a reading from her new book during some evening or weekend at my library. Deciding whether to accept or decline offers from local writers can be tricky for me, because on the surface it seems an obvious choice: the public library promotes literacy and writing, and here’s someone who wants to talk to youth about writing for free – great! However, I still needed to run this through the Priority Plan “rubric”. Continue reading

Anyone Can Do Science

Looking at the March 8 Astronomy Picture of the Day, Solar Eclipse Shoes in the Classroom, in preparation for this blog post brought back a vivid memory that I hadn’t thought about in years. Like the students in the photograph, I witnessed a partial solar eclipse in high school. We poked pinholes in sheets of paper to watch the sun’s projection change shape against a second sheet of paper without burning our eyes. Spots of sunlight filtering through the tree leaves shrunk to half circles, then banana slivers as the light took on a golden hue that was uncharacteristic for the middle of the day.

Any time I feel anxiety over science programming, it’s helpful to remember how easy it can be. It doesn’t need to involve something as amazing as an eclipse. It doesn’t even need to be “programming,” it could simply mean asking teens, “Hey look at this cool/weird/mysterious thing, any guesses what it is?” Over the past year, the teens that visit my library have been entertained by a chunk of evaporating dry ice, helium-filled balloons, Pop Rocks, and vegetable oil + water + food coloring + alka-seltzer tablets in a bottle.

Earth, as viewed from the Cassini spacecraft as it passed near Saturn. Neil deGgrasse Tyson displayed the image during his 2015 tour.

Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, one of my science heroes, gives advice to children who want to know what they can do to help the earth. Explore things, he tells them, do fun things even when it might annoy your parents. His advice to adults is to get out of their way. Kids are naturally curious about the world, and adults have a responsibility to not suppress that curiosity. Bill Nye, another science hero, encourages people of all ages to ask questions about the world around them (with the disclaimer to be aware of social interactions while doing so).

Library staff generally take pride in answering patrons’ questions, and I think many of us feel anxiety over questions we don’t know how to answer. Instead of feeling anxious, we can encourage patrons’ natural curiosity by inviting them to make their own hypotheses, and introducing them to resources where they might find the answers.  Continue reading

STEM vs. STEAM

I just wrote a curriculum of STEM programs for a rural library to hold for special education high school students. I was initially intimidated by the concept because I am a liberal arts major, a creative writing fellow, a librarian for the love of books. Thankfully I found tons of research and ideas for STEM programs online, especially on the YALSA wiki.

The program ideas I came up with on my own, on the other hand, seemed more…artsy. Given my background, that’s not a huge surprise, but I felt defeated when I’d come up with what I thought was a great idea just to realize it’s too artsy.

That’s when I discovered STEAM. The programs I wrote are strictly STEM, and I respect that and stuck to it. But there is a debate about STEM vs. STEAM, and as someone who has only become familiar with these concepts in the last couple of years, I’m fascinated.  

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Instagram of the Week – March 14

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

Last week from March 6-12 marked this year’s “Create it at your library” Teen Tech Week celebration. Sponsored by YALSA, this yearly initiative aims to connect teens and libraries, and encourage teens to make use of the library’s nonprint resources. As the Future of Library Services for and with Teens discusses, the knowledge divide continues to grow as one in four teens does not have access to technology. Participating in events such as Teen Tech Week provides an opportunity for teens to gain experience with technology tools in an informal setting and strengthen digital literacy skills. Libraries around the country took part in Teen Tech Week by showcasing maker and breaker spaces, hosting DIY and science programs, introducing teens to new technology, and having fun!

Mark your calendars for next year’s Teen Tech Week celebration from March 5-11, 2017.  Continue reading

TTW Grant Winner: Read It, Review It! @ the Dickinson County Library

Our program for Teen Tech Week 2016, “Read It, Review It!” will encourage teens to share what they have been reading with the community through video book reviews posted on the Dickinson County Library YouTube channel.  The teens will be directly involved in all aspects of the video creation process.  We will be encouraging them to read new books and then prepare a review of the title(s) they’ve read.  They will be in charge of lighting and directing their own videos, editing the footage, posting the final product to the Internet, and advertising these new reviews with their friends, family, and community.

Receiving the grant sponsored by Best Buy and YALSA is going to allow us to provide an amazing opportunity for our area teens.  We’ve already begun purchasing the equipment we will be using, including a new camera, tripod, microphone, lighting, backdrop, high capacity SD card, and carrying case.  We have also begun brainstorming on the various props we can make available for teens to use in their videos.  While we were prepared to run this program using a staff-loaned flip camera with an improvised shower curtain backdrop, we are so excited to be able to upgrade thanks to the $1000 Teen Tech Week grant!  Software is being installed as I type, and before long we will be ready to roll – literally!

In addition to being fun, the experiences the teens gain through these videos will promote confidence and development of public speaking skills that are beneficial in all aspects of their future – school, career, and general life situations.  The technology they will learn can be applied in many scenarios including: high school projects, college assignments, career preparations, and for fun personal uses.  This project will also promote teamwork, as they will be responsible for assisting each other with their personal videos, creating a sense of community.

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TTW Grant Winner: Teen Tech Week! Blending Art and Technology

Wicomico Public Libraries are gearing up for Teen Tech Week 2016! Our Library System serves a diverse group of young adults with our Main Library Branch in a downtown urban area, a Branch in our regional shopping mall, and a Branch in a rural small town in our county. We were inspired by this year’s theme, Create It @ Your Library, and worked to design a program series that was as technologically creative as possible for all three locations.

Photo Credit: PLB Comics

Photo Credit: PLB Comics

I reached out to our local team of comic writers, PLB Comics, and arranged a Creating Comics event where these writers will share the process of comic book creation from inception to completion. They will discuss script writing and how current technology has changed how comics are created and how that relates to the comic creator. The second half of the program will have teens write a four-panel comic. Then attendees will switch and draw from another person’s script while constantly communicating and asking questions to help reinforce the collaborative nature of the comic creation process.

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