Back in October 2014, I wrote about a report entitled: “America After 3 PM.” The Afterschool Alliance was writing about how students spend their time after school. In it, I raised the point of libraries as hubs for after-school activities, a free spot for teens to come if they don’t have the resources or access to other after-school programs. At the end of January, Alia Wong from Atlantic wrote an article called “The Activity Gap,” which discusses the access issues students from various socio-economic classes face with participating in after-school and extracurricular programs.

Wong begins the article by comparing two different students, Ethan and Nicole, whose family backgrounds contribute to two different lifestyles and life paths. While their names have been changed, these two students do exist and were case studies in a study published in Voices of Urban Education. This national study was conducted by Brown University’s Annenberg Institute of School Reform.

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In September 2014, YALSA blogger Jaina Lewis began a series on the Aspen Institute Task Force on Learning and the Internet 2014 report entitled Learner at the Center of a Networked World. Lewis’ post focused on 24/7 learning and how libraries and librarians can help keep the learning going outside the walls of school.

As Lewis says, the report is comprehensive, clocking in at 116 pages. This report is full of excellent resources and websites to explore. The Aspen Institute feels that our youth today need to be fully connected. In order to do that, we need to rethink our current models of education and technology infrastructure so that we create an environment of connected learning.

I particularly liked the definition of connected learning the report gave saying that “connected learning...is socially embedded, interest driven and oriented toward educational, economic or political opportunity” (34). In this definition, not only are we making sure the learner is at the center, but we are also taking into account the various things that surround our learners. In order to prepare youth for being smart, savvy, and critical citizens in our digital age, we have to remember the influences, histories, and cultural values that shape our youth.

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Back in January YALSA released its report, "The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: a Call to Action."  The report provides recommendations for ways libraries can evolve in order to better meet the needs of 21st century teens.  YALSA would like to hear from the library community and beyond how this report has impacted you and your institution so far.  What changes have you made in regards to serving teens or new things have you tried?  What have been your successes and challenges up to now?  What ideas did the report spark as you read it?  Please take a moment to fill out a brief online form to tell us about what's been going on with you and your institution since the report came out.   Some of the information we gather will be featured in upcoming issues of YALS.

Also, don't forget that you can access free resources to help you and your organization learn more about some of the key issues in the report, like connected learning, cultural competence, and more via YALSA's web site.  We'll be adding even more resources there over the next few weeks, so check back often.

As you've dug into the report, you may have felt like it's too big of a leap for you and your library to tackle all at once. Highlighted below are five small ways you can begin to #act4teens that can snowball into big impact.

  1. Begin to share appealing aspects of the report with other library or school staff. This is a great way to do a temperature check to see how people feel about different aspects of the report. It's also a way to get people thinking about existing services and how they can be improved. You can do this by:
    • Sending weekly emails about teen or school library services and creating a section for report information. Ask staff for comments and feedback.
    • Sharing parts of the report at regular staff meetings.
    • Hosting brown bag discussions about school library or teen services that are framed around the report.
    • Creating engaging polls to see what parts of the report staff are most comfortable with and to solicit their ideas and feedback.

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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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Today, the Pew Research Center released a new report titled “Younger Americans and Public Libraries: How those under 30 engage with libraries and think about libraries' role in their lived and communities.” This report surveys younger Americans ages 16-29, which they found were three different generations, according to reading habits, library usage patterns, and attitudes about libraries. The youngest of the three generations is comprised of high schoolers (ages 16-17), the next generation is college-aged (18-24), and the third generation is 25-29. Library usage among these groups together is significantly higher than those of older generations with 50% reporting having used a library of bookmobile and 36% reporting having used a library website (this is up from 28% in 2012) within the previous 12 months.

Recent library Use

 

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A new survey from the Games and Learning Publishing Council sheds light on just how commonplace games have become in today's classrooms. Among the findings:

  • Among K-8 teachers surveyed who use digital games in teaching,' 55%' have students play games at least weekly
  • 72% typically' use a desktop or laptop computer for gaming
  • Nearly half believe that' low-performing students benefit the most from digital games
  • Word of mouth is the biggest influence when selecting games

So what can librarians take away from this data? Read More →

The Information Policy & Access Center has released their findings from a 2013 Survey about Digital Inclusion.

You can read the full report online.

Digital Inclusion is more than Digital Literacy, focusing on not just access but supporting users to engage in digital communities. The report explored the roles of public libraries in four main areas: Read More →

A new report from America's Promise Alliance finds that students who leave high school without graduating are often overwhelmed by a cluster of negative impacts of poverty. You can read the full 72 page report (pdf) online, but here are some highlights (if that's even the right word) to note:

  • Approximately 20 percent of young people (that's about 800,000 per year) don't graduate from high school
  • Toxic home, school, or neighborhood environments--sources of violence, disrespect and adverse health--lead young people to stop going to school
  • Connectedness to others can lead young people both toward and away from school
  • Even young people who are able to "bounce back" from an interrupted education are often unable to re-engage in the longer-term

So what does all this mean for libraries?
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