IMLS National Leadership Grant – Artificial Intelligence (AI)

You may be aware that YALSA is partnering with Michigan State University and Indiana University for an AI literacy program for youth in underserved communities. The libraries involved in the project include the San Diego Central Library (San Diego, CA), Carroll County Public Library (New Windsor, MD), and the Capital Area District Library (Lansing, MI).  The following is an interview with Dr. Heerin Lee and Dr. Kayhun Choi who are leading the project. This will be a great resource for working with teens and AI!

Q: Please introduce yourself and briefly explain how you are partnering with YALSA.

A: Heerin: Hello! I am Heerin Lee, a Principial Investigator (PI) of a project called “AI & Co-design in public libraries: Empowering underserved youth to cultivate symbiotic relationships between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and their communities.” I am an assistant professor in the department of media and information at Michigan State University, working in the field of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI). I design and evaluate robots for social good with the aim of empowering socially marginalized groups, including people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, racial minorities, and older adults.

Kahyun: Hi, I am Kahyun Choi, a co-PI of this project. I am an assistant professor of Information and Library Science at Indiana University Bloomington. I am an expert in AI models for music digital libraries. I bring my experience of developing and teaching an introductory and intuitive machine learning course to this project. When I am not working, I love to spend time with my husband and daughter, do yoga, and listen to audiobooks, podcasts, and music.

Heerin & Kahyun: YALSA as a partner will publicize our open-source education materials developed within this project to librarians all over the US. These materials will include a detailed process of how we develop our program and how we run it including a summary of each session, main takeaways, lessons learned, and suggestions for future literacy programs. YALSA will also help us develop AI literacy webinars for librarians, promote the program, and perform other marketing activities via their outlets, such as social media, weekly newsletter, e-blast and other platforms.

Q: What interests you most about AI, and what led you to it as a course of study?

A: Heerin: While AI influences many people, only a relatively small population of engineers determine how the public interacts with AI in everyday life. The public’s limited access to AI knowledge stems from the fact that it is mostly disseminated by higher education programs. In particular, these programs mostly focus on computational aspects of AI rather than on social and ethical aspects. This could reinforce a digital divide and inequity issues at a national level. Thus, I thought it is crucial to run AI literacy programs through sustainable infrastructures like public libraries where community members, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds, have access to AI knowledge.

Kahyun: About 15 years ago, I got fascinated by powerful emotions coming from music. Instead of becoming a singer-songwriter, I built an AI model that could understand music emotions to some degree by capturing relationships between audio signals and emotions. Ever since, I have developed AI models that can annotate music, song lyrics, and poems with topics, emotions, and genres. While developing and offering an introductory AI course based on music applications to students without technical backgrounds, I realized the importance of intuitive and accessible AI education for the public and, particularly, underserved populations.

Q: Why did you choose public libraries to focus your research?

A: Heerin & Kahyun: As I briefly explained in my answer above, I think it is significant to disseminate AI knowledge through well-developed infrastructures so that many people have access to it regardless of their socioeconomic status. Economically underserved communities, in particular, are vulnerable to AI’s negative consequences as they are largely excluded from the decision-making process of envisioning AI technologies in society. Since the internet emerged in the mid-1990s, public libraries, as early adopters, have long played a critical role in enhancing the public’s technology literacy in the US. As we enter an era of increased AI technology in our society, libraries have tremendous potential for nurturing AI literacy.

Q: Is there anything you hope that youth will gain with AI as a result of your project?

A: The two main components of our program are 1) Module 1—Understanding core concepts of AI, and 2) Module 2—Envisioning AI for local industries. With these two modules, we hope youth not only learn core AI concepts, but also get more actively engaged with their local civic issues as AI co-designers. For example, we will introduce local media stories about AI in their communities and discuss how technological issues are closely entangled with social issues. Our program will develop critical thinking capabilities, enabling youth to understand AI-related social issues in their communities and actively participate in public discourse about AI technologies.

This project particularly adopts an asset-based approach, which is a pedagogy built upon a critical race theory that views students from socially underserved communities not as people with deficits but as people with “community cultural wealth.” We hope this process help students see themselves as people with their own knowledge and position them as people who can utilize AI knowledge. This will also help them more easily become co-designers in our participatory design sessions.

Q: What is the timeline of your project -or when people can expect to see more information?

This is a two-year project that started in Aug 2021. We are currently recruiting youths and their teachers for interviews to understand how they think about AI and their career paths. Based on findings, we will build and evaluate the two AI education modules by Aug 2022. Subsequently, we will run the AI education workshops with the materials in three public libraries one by one, the Capital Area District Library in Lansing, Michigan, the San Diego Central Library in San Diego, California, and the Carroll County Public Library in New Windsor, Maryland, until May 2023. After the workshops, we will disseminate our findings and materials through YALSA, our website, and conferences.

Q: If people want to read more about the grant, where can they find it online?

A: The grant proposal, which includes detailed project design, is available online. https://www.imls.gov/grants/awarded/lg-250059-ols-21 If you want more information, feel free to contact us at heerin-at-msu.edu.

 

 

 

New Issue of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults

Volume 12, Issue 1 of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults (JRLYA) is now available online at http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya/. This issue features research papers relating to diversity in a source of recommended books and the perspectives of library staff serving teens during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In “Accounting for Diversity: Measuring Change in the Proportion of African American Teen Literature in the Senior High Core Collection” Megan Blakemore and Amy Pattee offer a comparative historical measurement of the diversity of resources included in and recommended by the Senior High Core Collection.  Specifically looking at the collection from 2008-2018, the authors examined the lists for titles classified as “Core Collection” and “Most Highly Recommended” to determine if those titles depict or address Black African Americans and Black African American experiences.

Rebecca J. Morris and Jenna Kammer examined the discursive practices of youth library practitioners during the COVID-19 pandemic in their paper, “Essential and Dedicated: Discursive Practices of Librarians Serving Teens in Fall 2020 of the COVID-19 Pandemic.”  In their analysis of three blogs published by professional library organizations, the authors examined how library staff serving teens discussed their values around teen services and how librarians serving teens use language to construct beliefs on their roles in providing teens access to information and reading materials.

JRLYA is YALSA’s open-access, peer-reviewed research journal, located at: http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya. Its purpose is to enhance the development of theory, research, and practice to support young adult library services. JRLYA presents original research concerning: 1) the informational and developmental needs of teens; 2) the management, implementation, and evaluation of young adult library services; and 3) other critical issues relevant to librarians who work with teens. Writer’s guidelines are located at http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya/author-guidelines/.

 

Posted by Robin A. Moeller, Editor, JRYLA

 

Future of Teens Public Librarian Education

YALSA supports the work of the IMLS grant funded project led by University of North Carolina Chapel Hill SILS faculty members, including Brian Sturm, Sayamindu Dasgupta, Casey Rawson, and Sandra Hughes-Hassell (YALSA Past President, 2017-2018). In YALSA’s letter of support for the project the following was stated:

“Changes in the services and programs public libraries offer, and in the increased diversity of America’s teens, require librarians who work with teens in public libraries to have new knowledge, skills, and dispositions. By aiming to reimagine LIS curricula for teen librarians, this project has the potential to transform the field of teen services librarianship.”

As current or former students of the LIS degree, we ask that you please consider contributing your time and insight towards this project by participating in an upcoming group feedback session: Re-envisioning LIS Curriculum.

Join us in re-envisioning the LIS curriculum for public library youth services.  Drop in any time between 3:30 and 5:-00 ET, April 8, 2021 to share your thoughts.  

How can I join?
Zoom link: https://unc.zoom.us/j/98463439117?pwd=OERZZkx2UlFFMUFQNVJNUzVkdDFSZz09
Meeting ID: 984 6343 9117
Passcode: 900103

What if I can’t come?
No worries. Add your ideas to this moderated Padlet.
Padlet URL: https://padlet.com/futureofys/60kguyq3zbvtyjgz

Questions?
Contact:
Sandra Hughes-Hassell <smhughes@email.unc.edu>

Linda Braun <lbraun@leonline.com>

We are looking forward to learning what you think.

 This project is being conducted by the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services.  

 

Call for Papers for Special Themed JRLYA Issue: Access in Libraries that Serve Teens

The Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults (JRLYA), the official research journal of YALSA, is currently accepting submissions for a special themed issue. A patron’s right to access information is a key tenet of librarianship but providing access can sometimes be difficult, as the conditions resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak have shown us. Library access for teens can be a complicated matter as technology changes and evolves, and barriers – such as transportation, the so-called “digital divide,” and many others – can prevent patrons from finding what they need. JRLYA is accepting submissions for a special themed issue that addresses access in libraries that serve teens. Some areas of interest in this issue include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Digital access when physical locations are closed
  • Intersection of access and outreach
  • Equitable access
  • Identifying challenges to access and overcoming them
  • Implicit bias and access

Researchers, librarians, graduate students, and others who conduct research related to teens (ages 12 – 18) and libraries are invited to submit manuscripts. Papers describing both scholarly research (qualitative, quantitative, or theory development) as well as action research are welcome for peer review and consideration of publication. Papers that report library programs but lack an original research component will not be considered.  Papers focusing on other topics will be considered for later issues.

View the writer’s guidelines here. Email manuscripts by November 30, 2020, to editor Robin Moeller at: yalsaresearch@gmail.com.

JRLYA is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal. Its purpose is to enhance the development of theory, research, and practice to support teen library services. JRLYA presents original research concerning: 1) the informational and developmental needs of teens; 2) the management, implementation, and evaluation of teen library services; and 3) other critical issues relevant to librarians who work with this population.

Vol. 11 N. 2 Issue of Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults

Volume 11, Issue 2 of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults (JRLYA) is now available online at http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya/. This issue features research papers that focus on issues of censorship in public libraries and the perceptions of teachers and librarians about the use of teen literature that features school shootings.

Shannon M. Oltmann and Stephanie D. Reynolds explore the absence of challenges in their article, “When Libraries Aren’t Challenged: Librarians Discuss a Lack of Patron Challenges to Their Collections.” In order to better understand these librarians’ perspectives, the authors interviewed youth services librarians who have never dealt with a challenge from their community.  Oltmann’s and Reynold’s research explores an aspect of intellectual freedom not often addressed in literature regarding youth services.

The question of whether or not to use teen literature that features school shootings as a central plot line was the focus of research conducted by Kjersti VanSlyke-Briggs, Sarah Rhodes, and Jenna Turner.  In their article, “The Darkest Themes: Perceptions of Teen-on-Teen Gun Violence in Schools as Portrayed by Teen Literature,” the authors explored this question with librarians and teachers to understand how these two groups of professionals approached engaging with teens about violence in schools.  Their research uncovers willingness but also hesitancy on the part of teachers and librarians to use this literature with teens.  This paper puts into perspective the importance of providing teachers and librarians the tools with which to engage teens about challenging contemporary issues.

JRLYA is YALSA’s open-access, peer-reviewed research journal, located at: http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya. Its purpose is to enhance the development of theory, research, and practice to support young adult library services. JRLYA presents original research concerning: 1) the informational and developmental needs of teens; 2) the management, implementation, and evaluation of young adult library services; and 3) other critical issues relevant to librarians who work with teens. Writer’s guidelines are located at http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya/author-guidelines/.

Robin A. Moeller, editor, JRLYA

New Issue of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults: Vol. 11 N. 1

Volume 11, Issue 1 of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults (JRLYA) is now available online. This issue features research papers about the health-related information needs of public library teen patrons, Australian authors’ OwnVoices, and teen novels featuring characters who identify as LGBTQIA+.

Acknowledging the lack of health reference training for many public librarians, Jennifer R. Banas, Michelle J. Oh, Robin Willard, and Jeremy Dunn examine public teen librarians’ ability to help their patrons search for and use health-related information.  The research team’s results demonstrate which types of health-related issues teen patrons ask about most often, which issues librarians feel most competent to help locate and use appropriate information, and which issues they feel least competent to handle. A replicable tool was also developed by the authors so that other public librarians might improve the health literacy of their communities.

Emily Booth and Bhuva Narayan interviewed seven Australian authors who identify as Indigenous Australian, a person of color, or a member of queer or disabled communities in order to understand the extent to which these authors feel their stories should be used as tools for learning about marginalized people’s experiences.  The authors’ findings illustrate the challenges and expectations that authors from marginalized communities encounter when adding their OwnVoice to the field of youth literature.

Identifying that literature for teens may be a source of learning about sexuality and sexual health for teens who identify as LGBTQIA+, Kristie Escobar interviewed such a group of teens who read books from the Rainbow Book List.  The teens were asked to reflect on the authenticity of the depictions of LGBTQIA+ characters and the extent to which the books fulfilled an information need they might have about sexuality or sexual health.  The author argues that literature about LGBTQIA+ teens may help fill a void left by sexual education that is traditionally abstinence-focused in publicly-funded high schools.

JRLYA is YALSA’s open-access, peer-reviewed research journal, located at: http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya. Its purpose is to enhance the development of theory, research, and practice to support young adult library services. JRLYApresents original research concerning: 1) the informational and developmental needs of teens; 2) the management, implementation, and evaluation of young adult library services; and 3) other critical issues relevant to librarians who work with teens. Writer’s guidelines are located at http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya/author-guidelines/.

Robin A. Moeller, editor, JRLYA

JRLYA Down Under!

Last summer, I had the extraordinary opportunity to co-direct a month-long University of Washington iSchool study abroad children’s literature course to New Zealand (also known by its Maori name, Aotearoa) and Australia with Michelle Martin. The course had an Indigenous focus – we met Maori and Aboriginal authors, publishers, librarians, storytellers, and more! Through this immersive experience, all of us — ten grad students, two undergrads, and the co-directors — developed a deep appreciation for the richness and breadth of the children’s literature scene Down Under. Needless to say, I was very happy to see Dr. Kasey Garrison’s JRLYA article, “What’s Going on Down Under? Part 1: Portrayals of Culture in Award-Winning Australian Young Adult Literature,” which brings more of these titles to the notice of readers in the US. You’ll find it in the March 2019 themed issue, “Movements That Affect Teens.”

Articles in JRLYA are wide-ranging in their concerns, and relevant to both practitioners and researchers. With this article, practitioners may focus more on the collection development implications. The two appendices work well for this purpose – librarians can see easily which themes (class, disability, gender, immigration, Indigenous Australians, language, the LGBTQIA community, race/ethnicity/nationality, and religion) may be found in each of the twenty-four book sample, and the article introduces readers to two major awards: the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year for Older Readers (chosen by adults) and the Centre for Youth Literature’s Gold Inky Award (selected by teens). Researchers may be as interested in the method – the article is a critical content analysis – as in the findings.

Looking at portrayals of culture in YA books is timely, considering the robust discussion around diverse books in this country, and the paper extends this important conversation beyond books first published in the US. I am looking forward to Part 2, in which Dr. Garrison will look at the implications of the relatively poor representation of Indigenous Australians in the sample.

Annette Y. Goldsmith
Member, JRYLA Advisory Board

YALSA Community Survey Results

Thank you very much to everyone, both members and non-members, who took the time to fill out YALSA’s Community Survey this past year. The results are in, have been analyzed and passed on to the board for their review. It was great to have so much valuable and thoughtful feedback on what you think is important about YALSA and how it addresses the diversity and inclusivity needs of the people it serves.

Almost a third of the survey participants were either somewhat unfamiliar or not at all familiar with YALSA’s recently updated Teen Services Competencies. Many respondents reported a lack of time or simply not being aware of them as reasons for not implementing or planning to implement the competencies. Others responded that they were not currently working with teens, so the competencies did not apply to them in their current position. The highest rated competency most respondents said they implemented or were working toward implementing was interactions with teens with 68 percent of responses. This was followed by equity of access at 48 percent and teen growth and development at 45 percent.

Survey participants were asked what they saw as the most important work of YALSA and its leadership in the teen services library field. The top three choices were advocacy with 25 percent of responses, equity, diversity and inclusion with 23 percent of responses, and continuing education with 22 percent of responses. Reading and other literacies followed not too far behind with 13 percent. When people were asked what they thought was the second most important work, answers continued to follow this pattern.

The survey also asked people about YALSA’s communication channels in terms of how much they are used and how they keep up with the latest news about YALSA and library/teen services. Most of the responses indicated that people obtain the latest news from YALSA’s website and YALSA E-news with each choice being ranked first by 25 percent of responders. People said they also got their news from other YALSA emails and listservs and their colleagues and friends.

More than half of respondents, totaling 64 percent, were not familiar with YALSA’s updated Intended Impact Statement on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.  But when directly asked, about a third of people stated that increasing diversity in YALSA is the most important item on a scale of one to ten. Many different reasons were given for this, which included needing to be more diverse, wanting to reflect the communities they serve, and the importance of having different perspectives.

Some of the other general takeaways from the survey is that many respondents think YALSA is useful and has an important purpose, but the cost is prohibitive for many people. Many participants expressed concerns about the membership price, especially when attached to the cost of ALA membership and whether the benefits of membership were really worth the money. Other respondents felt YALSA mostly caters to public libraries and is not particularly inclusive for school librarians, small, rural libraries, special libraries, certain ethnic groups, demographics and sexual orientations. Some of the suggested solutions to address these issues included hiring more diverse people within the field, offering more conference discounts and grants, academic scholarships and free or discounted memberships, especially to diverse people. Cost was frequently mentioned as a barrier to diversity within the organization.

About 62 percent of survey participants hold a current membership in YALSA. Most of the survey respondents work in a public library, 82 percent are white/Caucasian, most do not speak another language, 88 percent are female, 69 percent are heterosexual, and 84 percent do not have a disability. Survey participants frequently referred to themselves as members of the majority and did not feel they were the right people to answer some of these questions.

The survey received a total of 436 responses.

This post was submitted by Rebecca Leonhard and Kimberly Kinnaird.

Research Roundup: Social and Emotional Learning

Welcome to Research Roundup. The purpose of this recurring column is to make the vast amount of research related to youth and families accessible to you.

While preparing the Research Roundup on Social and Emotional Learning for the Winter issue of YALS, I learned that there would be a flurry of publishing in late 2018 and early 2019 in the field of social and emotional learning. This update highlights some of these developments:

  • The Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development released From a Nation at Risk to a Nation of Hope in January 2019. It is the result of two years of study and conversations with experts, practitioners, and parents across the nation. It provides synthesis, case studies and recommendations for future work.  The report makes six recommendations:
    • Set a clear vision that broadens the definition of student success to prioritize the whole child.
    • Transform learning settings so they are safe and supportive for all young people.
    • Change instruction to teach students social, emotional, and cognitive skills; embed these skills in academics and school wide practices.
    • Build adult expertise in child development.
    • Align resources and leverage partners in the community to address the whole child.
    • Forge closer connections between research and practice by shifting the paradigm for how research gets done.
  • CASEL’s Measuring SEL: Using Data To Inspire Practice has published a number of research briefs. I found this brief particularly useful: Equity & Social and Emotional Learning: A Cultural Analysis. Measuring SEL also hosted two design challenges, which give you the chance to learn about SEL assessment tools developed by practitioners.
  • In December 2018, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation published an issue brief Social and Emotional Development Matters: Taking Action Now for Future Generations which gives an overview of key findings and links to reports on specific aspects of SEL that the foundation developed from 2017 until now.
  • The University of Minnesota recently updated its SEL Toolkit. The toolkit uses the Ways of Being SEL Model developed by the University of Minnesota. It focuses on youth in middle school, but provides many activities that can be adjusted for other ages. Many of these activities are applicable to out-of-school time programming.

Submitted by Committee member Bernie Farrell.

New Special-Themed Issue of JRLYA, Vol.10 N.1: Movements that Affect Teens

I am pleased to announce the publication of a special themed issue of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults (JRLYA). Volume 10, Issue 1 features three papers that examined movements that affect teens through the lens of literature, and how literature reflects certain movements.

#wndb; #metoo
In the first part of a two-part series, Kasey L. Garrison examined the portrayals of various facets of culture in a sample of teen literature from two Australian book awards in her article, “What’s Going on Down Under? Part 1: Portrayals of Culture in Award-Winning Australian Young Adult Literature.” Garrison found that the most prevalent cultural theme was gender, which was situated in stories that focused on issues of harassment or body image.  From her analysis and discussion of culture in this sample, Garrison concluded that Australian literature for teens holds a great deal of potential to serve as the impetus for discussions about social justice issues and movements such as the #metoo movement.

#curestigma; #stigmafree 
Responding to the increasing number of books for teens being published about people with mental illness, Diane Scrofano explored how the narratives of characters with mental illness are being situated. In her article, “Disability Narrative Theory and Young Adult Fiction of Mental Illness,” Scrofano used the narrative categories of restitution, chaos, and quest narratives to understand how characters with mental illness were being portrayed in 50 novels for teens. Scrofano discusses the implications of each narrative category and recommends that librarians and educators try to share more stories of mental illness in which characters have full and meaningful lives beyond their illnesses.

#antiwar
In her paper, “One, Two, Three, Four! We Don’t Want Your F**king War! The Vietnam Antiwar Movement in Young Adult Fiction,” Deborah Wilson Overstreet examined the depictions of the anti-Vietnam War movement in young adult novels, through the lens of three distinct narrative structures. Her findings suggest that the ways in which this sample of books depicts the responses of and to the anti-war movement, may not align with the historical record. Wilson Overstreet concluded her research by discussing the importance of providing today’s teen readers with accurate depictions of activism in order to help readers understand how they can effectively make their voices heard.

JRLYA is YALSA’s open-access, peer-reviewed research journal, located at: http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya. Its purpose is to enhance the development of theory, research, and practice to support young adult library services. JRLYA presents original research concerning: 1) the informational and developmental needs of teens; 2) the management, implementation, and evaluation of young adult library services; and 3) other critical issues relevant to librarians who work with teens. Writer’s guidelines are located at http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya/author-guidelines/.

Robin A. Moeller, editor, JRLYA