Summer Learning Resources @ Ozark Regional Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation graciously selected Ozark Regional Library as a recipient of the Summer Learning Resources Grant.  With this grant, we were able to supplement our Summer Reading Program with things we’ve never before been able to offer.  We used the funds for a collection development, prizes, and programming. 

Over the past few years, our Young Adult collection has not received a lot of attention.  Collection development funds were used elsewhere, so we didn’t have a ton of new material coming in.  Thanks to this grant, we were able to add some fiction and non-fiction to the YA shelves.  We ordered some popular fiction books as well as non-fiction that fit in with this summer’s theme of “Build a Better World.”  I noticed an increase in teens perusing the shelves this summer and I expect circulation statistics will show a rise in YA checkouts. 

In addition to collection development, we were able to purchase books to give away as prizes.  Every teen that completed the Summer Reading Club received a book.  This book also came with a bookmark that stated: “Congratulations on completing the Summer Reading Club!  You have received this book thanks to the generosity of YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation! Keep on Reading!”  Several teens expressed their excitement when getting to pick out their new book.  We decided to make this a part of the Summer Reading Program because our goal with this grant was to get books into the hands of teens.  Many of the families in our community are low income and can’t afford to have books in their homes.  This grant made it possible for teens to take home a book that they can keep for years to come. 

Another goal our library had for this grant was to provide programming that was educational and fun for teens.  We want the library to be a safe, air-conditioned place for the teens in our community to relax, learn, and have fun.  We had several different teen programs throughout the summer, but three were created due to the YALSA/Dollar General grant funds.  These programs were: Planning for the Future, Make Your Own Film Festival, and a Teen Carnival. 

Planning for the Future was a program created to help teens and young adults with college and career readiness.  College and career advisers from the community were brought in and made up a panel of experts.  Panelists included members from the local community college, a university extension office, the Missouri Job Center, and Mers/Goodwill.  These panelists talked about how to apply to college, financial aid, resume writing, interview skills, etc.  We offered the program at three of our locations, but sadly, attendance was low. 

The Make Your Own Film Festival took place on a Saturday and was run by a Branch Manager.  It was a four hour event and teens and even some adults attended.  The teens came in groups or were put into groups and were given the task of creating a 5-minute short film.  For the first hour, teens enjoyed coffee donated by a local coffee shop and brainstormed their film after hearing the theme.  They then had two hours to shoot and edit the film.  The last hour was spent eating popcorn and pizza donated by a local restaurant and watching the films.  The winning team was voted on by the teens and the winning team got to split a $25 iTunes gift card.  While the program went well, we will change some things in the future.  The editing software was not working properly and caused some difficulty.  We would also try to break the ages up some more because older teens seemed to be more successful than the younger teens.  Additional staff will be needed as well if the event continues to be well-attended.  However, since this was the first time we did a program like this, we definitely would call it a success.

The last event we had for teens this summer was a Teen Carnival and to my major disappointment, no teens came.  We had one child show up near the end and asked if she could participate.  We had planned fun things so I definitely thought were would have good attendance, but for some reason, we didn’t.  We hired a caricaturist and a face painter/balloon artist and had games, crafts, and refreshments.  We even advertised that the door prize winner would get to throw a pie in my face.  Since only one child showed up, she was automatically the lucky winner and she greatly enjoyed doing that.  We decided to attribute the lack of attendance to the weather.  Even though the carnival was held inside, it was 103 degrees that day and we feel like most teens were staying at home or were at the town pool.  It was disappointing because we advertised so heavily, but staff enjoyed the event (especially the caricaturist). 

Despite low attendance at some of the teen events, we had a great Summer Reading Program.  This grant allowed us to do things we’ve never been able to do and many teens and parents said that this was the best Summer Reading Program we’ve had in years.  Again, we would like to thank YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation for making it happen.

 

My name is Kelsey Fitzgerald and I am the Youth Librarian for Ozark Regional Library, headquartered in Ironton, Missouri.  I have been in this position for one year and have absolutely loved it!  After working in larger city libraries for several years, it is a wonderful change to be in a rural library system.  My passion is lifelong learning and with this job, I am able to instill a love of reading and learning into children at the very beginning of their lives.

2017 Summer Learning @ the Henry Carter Hull Library in Clinton, Connecticut

The Henry Carter Hull Library in Clinton Connecticut was excited to be a recipient of a 2017 Summer Learning Grant generously funded by Dollar General Store.   A recent survey revealed the youth population in our community speaks a total of eight different languages and supported  the fact our library has a growing ELL population. This statistic also points to a steady increase in students who are struggling socially and emotionally with the cultural transition. Because of this dynamic, the focus of our Summer Learning program had four components:  develop daily activities that build strong peer to peer relationships, foster respect for diversity, integrate teens new to the community, and provide quality summer learning STEAM oriented programs that foster connected learning.  Of course we wanted to accomplish all this while promoting the library as a place to have fun and meet new friends.  With multiple objectives I decided to offer a different activity every day of the week for 9 weeks with the hope of attracting teens with diverse interests and experiences into the library.   Here is an overview of some of the different programs we hosted this summer. 

We had great success with our Make It Monday program which was super fun and interactive. Some of the activities offered in this weekly program provided an opportunity to discuss the science behind our creations, such as our slime and bath bomb projects.  Other Make It activities, such as the sharpie sneakers, upcycled tee shirt tote, and tie-dye tee allowed teens to express their creative side and have fun together. 

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STEM Summer Programs @ Dorr Township Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

We were very excited when we found out that we won the YALSA/Dollar General grant! As soon as I found out we won the grant, I knew for sure what one of the programs had to be (it was geodes). We used this grant to fund 4 STEM programs for our Summer Reading Program: make your own Solar Induction oven, 2 Eclipse classes to get ready for the eclipse and a Geode program where participants could have their geode broken open for them and then take home!

Participants of the solar ovens had a great time coming up with food ideas to cook in their oven. We had ideas of s’mores, toast, chips and cheese, and one participant even suggested steak! We were very fortunate to have a local quick stop donate the pizza boxes and with the grant, we were able to supply the rest of the materials for participants. Here is the finished product. 

 

Since there is a Solar Eclipse on August 21, we thought we should get people ready for the Eclipse by having a few activities. In our first Countdown to the Eclipse program, we talked about how the moon can cover the sun because the moon is so far away. Then the participants made and tested out their UV detector bracelets (did you know that you can buy UV color changing pony beads on Amazon? I didn’t. They are AWESOME!). 

 

For the second program, we talked about the Sun, how the Sun worked and how far the Sun is from the Earth. We also discussed how the photons that form from the fusion of Hydrogen into Helium take tens of thousands of years to travel from the core to the surface of the sun. Participants then made themselves tasty treats by making a model of the surface Sun in a sugar cookie. We had enough cookies for everyone to make two. Yum!

Our last program funded by the YALSA grant was our Geodes program with speaker Steve Tchozeski from Great Lakes Geoscience. He had spoken once before at our library and he is great with all age groups. He brought many samples of quartz, agate and geodes for the participants to look and touch.  He talked with our participants about what made something a mineral, different types and colors of quartz and how geodes are formed. He then explained how he goes out to find the geodes and how he takes his “whomping” hammer and “whomps” the geodes open to reveal the quartz crystals inside. Then he allowed the participants to pick a geode and he then broke it open for them and told them what type or types of quartz were present in it. Everyone had a great time!  Continue reading

Cabell County Public Library: Teen Intern Dollar General Grant

The Cabell County Public Library consists of 8 libraries scattered throughout Cabell County, West Virginia. For our 2017 Summer Reading Program, we provided vast programs for individuals of all ages. We had animal programs, engineering programs, art projects, book clubs, and more. It was definitely a fun and educational summer!

We were awarded the 2017 Summer Learning Resources Grants from YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to provide a teen internship program at all eight of our library locations.  All interns worked five hours a day for one week in the summer. 

We wanted our teen interns to learn a lot from their experience working at the library.  Mainly we wanted them to:

  • Understand hierarchy of the workplace- what it means to be an employee reporting to a manager.
  • Learn about being a part of a team, working together to achieve goals and objectives, and ultimately building strong and supportive relationships with peers and adults.
  • Have experience in making their own decisions.
  • Know that it’s okay to make mistakes and try new things. We wanted to empower our teens through education.
  • Be motivated individuals who gained confidence, resiliency, and learned to trust themselves as individuals who are capable of giving back to their community and bettering themselves.

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Winners Announced: YALSA’s 2017 Top Ten Summer Learning Programs!

YALSA just announced its list of 2017 Top Ten Summer Learning Programs from its Teen Programming HQ contest!

Congratulations to:

1. TechStyles submitted by Aubrey Gerhardt; Otto Bruyns Public Library; Northfield, NJ
2. Teen Summer Internship submitted by Elizabeth Lynch; Addison (Illinois) Public Library
3. Robots Build a Better World submitted by Ricky Statham; Oneonta (Alabama) Public Library
4. Raspberry Pi ad Codrone submitted by Kate Chalman; Charles Ralph Holland Memorial Library; Gainesboro, TN
5. Summer Reading Intern submitted by Sonya Harsha; Algona (Iowa) Public Library
6. Adulting 101 submitted by Elizabeth Lilley; Pope County Library System; Russelville, AR
7. Summer of Service submitted by Stephanie Herrman; Union Parish Library; Farmerville, LA
8. Open Minds: Competitions in the Library Makerspace submitted by Sara Frey; Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School; Plymouth Meeting, PA
9. Recycled Tech for Teens submitted by Cat Mullen; Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Public Library
10. 3D Printer Clubs & Student Leadership Opportunities submitted by Pamela Jayne; Boone County Public Library; Burlington, KY

Each winner will receive a gift pack of YALSA books and swag. The winner of the $50 Amazon gift card – chosen randomly from all entrants of the contest – is Donna Bishop.

Entries were submitted via YALSA’s teen programming site, Teen Programming HQ.

YALSA’s Teen Programming HQ is a free, one-stop shop for library staff to find and share program ideas and to network with one another around issues related to planning, implementing and evaluating library programs for and with teens. The site aims to promote best practices in programming by featuring user-submitted programs that align with YALSA’s Teen Programming Guidelines and Futures Report.

YALSA/Dollar General Grant Provides for Unforgettable “Meet the Author Night,” With Jennifer Latham!

It all started with a grant received by McKinley Elementary, a Title 1, Tulsa Public School, in Oklahoma. The idea was to pull our neighborhood young adults and recent McKinley Elementary graduates in and keep them reading throughout the summer, thus preventing the “summer slide!”

The unfortunate reality of the situation, in retrospect, was that we really had no way to reach these kids. We had a marquee, which advertised the school’s “Summer Cafe,” support and our volunteer based summer camps for our school’s youngest students and we had a telephone. We enthusiastically approached the all call, reaching out to our 5th and 6th graders, but the result was negligible, at best. In addition,if the young adults wanted breakfast, I’m certain they slept right through it and likely lunch as well.

The positive to all of this was that Jennifer Latham, a local Tulsa writer, but not a lifelong Tulsan, had a recently released young adult out, entitled “Dreamland Burning.” The book was a fictionalized account of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riots. The young adult novel, published by Little Brown was not only engrossing, but it was assigned to the 9th graders at Tulsa Public School’s leading high school, Booker T. Washington, which was actually in the novel.

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Real World Work Experience @ Spencer County Public Library

We were lucky to be chosen for the Dollar General Internship at the Spencer County Public Library.  Dollar General paid 5 interns to work 25 hours during June, our busiest month.   Our time flew by with all of the interns learning and improving.  The program didn’t start out as I planned but we adapted and everyone got what they needed. 

The candidates for internship attended four classes to help them be prepared to search for, apply to and keep a job.   Some of the teens didn’t want to put forth the effort to do well in the class.  A few of them said they were too tired to learn how to make a flyer or at another class they claimed to have made a resume in school, didn’t know where it was but did not feel compelled to make a new one.  Others took notes and paid attention, asking great questions to get better prepared. 

One of the main points I stressed during the classes and in all the advertising for the internship was the hours they would be required to work.  I planned their hours to coincide with our busiest times of the week.  A few teens came to me asking if they could work different hours.   At the time I had lots of applicants and maybe too much confidence in their dedication so I told them the times were required, causing a few good candidates to drop out of the program.  After we hired our five interns they each came to me with request about their schedules.   One forgot that she had summer camp one week, another summer school; two had transportation difficulties and the last doctor appointments.  We worked around their schedules, the work got done and I stressed that if this was in the “real world” they may be fired if they couldn’t work their schedule.    

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Summer Outreach & Building Library Collaborations

At Penn State, we have a summer program for students starting school as first-years in the fall. This program is known on campus as LEAP, Learning Edge Academic Program. Students move to campus, are paired up with a mentor, and take two classes. Generally, one of the classes will be a general education requirement class and the other will be an entry level major class.

The library has been involved with this program, mainly coordinating instruction sections and getting students introduced to their subject librarians. This summer, with a new coordinator in charge of the program, we decided to test out some new outreach ideas. Our hope was to increase the library’s exposure and encourage these soon-to-be first-year students to take advantage of our services before everyone came back for the fall.

Our first outreach item was to create an escape room experience as an orientation to the library. My colleague was inspired by a session she attended at LOEX 2017 where a library talked about how they had created one of their own. While we cannot lock students in a room, we can lock a box they have to unlock. This project took some work to create; we experienced our own escape room in State College, to get a better understanding of how this game works, we read books from others who had set up their own low tech escape room experience, and we created goals for the experience (students will find a book in the stacks using our library catalog, use one database, explore one of our LibGuides, and become more familiar with navigating the physical space of our building). With those goals we mind, we then had to write a story that would frame the adventure.

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Field Trip for Literacy! Dollar General Grant Winner

Thanks to YALSA and The General Dollar Literacy Foundation English, fifty students were able to increase their ability to read, develop an interest in books, and become more comfortable using school library services. As a high school librarian and the recipient of a Summer Learning Resources Grant, I created a summer program that would provide funds for students to select books THEY WANTED to read as part of a field trip experience to the local bookstore.  Looking online or through catalogs to select a book does not get the student as involved as actually seeing, touching, smelling and perusing thousands of books—that is a much more engaging experience for developing booklovers! Also, witnessing other bibliophiles outside the school in the real world provides students with a new and refreshing perspective on reading, the love of books, information and the freedom to choose. 

Our school is fortunate to have a store within walking distance of our school, and the field trip took place on a beautiful, sunny day which only increased the pleasure and privilege of the experience for the students. Participants are English Language Learners (ELL) who come from families facing language and socio-economic challenges. Many do not have the resources or family support to purchase books for reading other than what is provided by the school. As grant facilitator, I was able to build relationships with the students, and draw them into the library, building their confidence in not only reading, but utilizing the library space and resources as a beneficial support system for future academic success.  Collaboration with ELL teachers provided additional supervision, support and enthusiasm for the project, as well as encouraged future use of library services for their students. Since the students reviewed and donated their book back to the library, it increased the library collection with high-interest student selected books. Additionally, the grant provided funds to purchase culturally relevant lit circle books for reading and discussion that the students look forward to reading next.  Here is a simplified project itinerary: Continue reading

Teen Summer Interns @ Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

At Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, we have a year-round VolunTeen program that gives teens the opportunity to volunteer at any of our 20 branches to gain workforce development skills, while also earning community service hours.  Part of our process involves applying and interviewing to become a volunteer each term because we want to better prepare teens for the real world.  Our teens assist with various duties such as shelving, program prep and delivery, in addition to more specialized opportunities like being a reading buddy or a teen tutor.  This year, we were also able to offer three paid internship positions this summer thanks to YALSA and Dollar General.

Upon receiving the Teen Summer Intern grant, we were able to work with three fantastic teens who took their VolunTeen position to the next level.  As we require our interns to have previously volunteered with the library, they come in with a basic skill set that we can then build upon over the summer.  This gives our teen interns a more focused approach, and also instills qualities that help them to become stronger leaders.  We use our grant funds to invest in our teens by providing our interns with a stipend for their service over the summer.  Not only do they serve as a VolunTeen at their home library branch alongside their peers, but they also intern at Main Library and ImaginOn for a more concentrated project.    

This year, we had an intern working in Idea Box, which is our makerspace at Main Library.  In addition to learning new equipment such as laser cutters and 3D printers, she also helped to brainstorm programming ideas about how we can develop community service programs for teens using Idea Box.  During downtime, she also helped to create booklists and work on special projects when she was able because: “I enjoy being productive and trying out new things.”  We also had a teen working on admin duties related to our Summer Break program at Main Library, which is our online summer learning program for all ages.  Whether it was entering statistics, creating spreadsheets, or even reorganizing the collection, our intern was ready to help.  Lastly, we had an intern in our Outreach Services department at ImaginOn assisting with checking-in our Storytime to Go kits, labeling and organizing program materials, and preparing literacy-based extension activities. 

From the library’s perspective, we were able to have reliable, creative, and eager interns to assist us during a busy and hectic time of year.  More importantly, we were able to help those teens develop essential skills and knowledge that they can continue to use and build upon as they grow.  One of our interns said: “It’s really fun because I get to learn more about what the library does for different parts of the community and be a part of it!”  All around, our interns are able to get a well-rounded experience that empowers them to be their best selves thanks to this grant.  Participating in this program has been a wonderful experience for everyone involved and has positively contributed to our mission of improving lives and building a stronger community.

Holly Summers-Gil is the Teen Services Coordinator for Charlotte Mecklenburg Library where she has worked for the last 9 years.  Her passion for serving teens still drives and inspires her work every day.