Start Writing for YALSA

 

One of the things I love most about YALSA is that it brings together librarians of all different backgrounds and experiences with a common goal to serve teens better. But in such a large and diverse organization, how can we access each other’s ideas, experiences, and insights? One great way to to write for YALSA.

By writing for YALSA – a blog post, a journal article, or even a book – you do a great service to your fellow librarians. As chair of the Publications Advisory Board, I have read a lot of writing in YALSA publications and I am impressed by how much I learn and how it expands my professional and personal view. Having a wide range of writers sharing their experiences helps YALSA readers to continue to refresh their views and innovate in their communities. That’s why we need you to write for YALSA.

It might seem like a mysterious process, but the Publications Advisory Board is here to help demystify it all. Members of the board will be writing blog posts over the coming months to walk you through the how and why of writing for YALSA. We’ll start here with a few tips for getting started.

Think big or small

With so many publication options, YALSA members have the option of going big – like writing an entire book – or small – submitting one or more blog posts. You can write one piece and be done or you can establish yourself as a more regular contributor.

Get in touch with the Publications Advisory Board

Contact me, another Publication Advisory Board board member, or Anna Lam at ALA with the type of writing you are interested in doing and we can connect you with the right people.

Don’t be intimidated

You don’t have to know someone or be a library scholar to get into writing for YALSA. You just have to take the first steps to making your interest known. We are waiting to hear from you.

Encourage others

If writing for YALSA is not for you, spread the word to your friends and colleagues who might be interested. You know interesting people. We want to know them and their expertise too!

Check back on the YALSA blog in the coming months for more posts from our board members on how to publish your writing with YALSA or read through our 50 Tips for Writing and Publishing with YALSA. We hope to hear from you soon.

Amanda Bressler is the Supervisor of Youth Services for the Newton Free Library (MA) and has written for YALSA blog and YALS.

5 Reasons to Write for YALSA

 

While writing this post, I admit to thinking about my own reasons for wanting my thoughts and ideas to grace a blog that wholeheartedly support the learning and professional development of library staff who work with teen populations. My personal reasons for wanting to blog include the desire to connect with readers, to have them nod as they read and consider that my thoughts have merit. I believe that all of us have ideas and thoughts that have value, maybe even more so to our readers than ourselves. I have decided to list five reasons to write for YALSA in the order that appeals most to me. Here are 5 reasons to consider writing for YALSA:

  1. Giving back – We are fortunate to work in a profession that supports our learning needs and gives us ample opportunity to have a voice. Now is our opportunity to give something back to an organization that has done and continues to do so much for us, by contributing to the collective with our own words.
  2. We have unique expertise – What projects have you worked on that you would like to share with the library community? Maybe you are starting a new trend, maybe you are a master of digital literacy or summer learning or creating an engaging space that teens want to utilize. If so, please share your experiences with the library community. They are waiting to hear from you.
  3. Sharing information is what we do – On a daily basis you provide information to others based on their interests and needs. This is no different. Think of the YALSA community as an oversized patron wanting to know what ways we can better engage and serve the teen audience. Undoubtedly, you have knowledge on how this is done in your community. Why not share it?
  4. You gain YALSA support and connections – By writing for an inclusive organization, you gain access to resources YALSA provides and contacts within the organization. You also receive the backing and assistance of the Publications Advisory Board, whenever you may need it.
  5. Get your name out there – Writing for YALSA is a great way to get your name out there as a leader in the field of teen services. More colleagues and library staff will be asking for your opinion. Blogging is also a gateway to staying active in the library community and proposing session or poster ideas for conferences or assisting on a webinar panel.

Ultimately, you can contribute unique expertise, have the opportunity to give back, the chance to share much needed information with others in your field, all while you are making connections, gaining support and even getting your name out there. So I have to ask, why wouldn’t you write for YALSA?

 

Erin Durrett is a Digital Learning Specialist at the Flint Public Library, where she focuses on teaching kids and teens digital literacy skills, such as gaming, 3D design, and coding. She loves gadgetry, building and making, and expresses her enthusiasm on these topics to anyone who will listen.

 

Middle School Monday: Building a Middle School Public Library Collection, Part 2

Last Monday, I talked about the benefits of a middle school collection in a public library, and how we chose a name, chose a collection size, and gathered feedback for my Library’s new Middle Ground.  Our next steps were to get into the specifics of what exactly belonged in the Middle Ground versus the Juvenile and Young Adult Collections.

As I said in my last post, the way you structure and build your collection is going to depend on your community.  I’m providing an account of how I did it as an example, to give you some things to think about while creating your own collection.  For more guidance, check out YALSA’s Collections and Content Curation wiki page.

Formats

We learned through surveying that many of our middle school patrons were interested in nonfiction and graphic novels.  Nonfiction and graphic titles tend to appeal to a wider age range of readers than fiction.  In Middle Ground Fiction we were collecting books that spoke directly to middle schoolers, but such books are few in nonfiction and graphic novels.  We wanted to include these collections in the Middle Ground, but chose to tweak the rules a bit for them.

Continue reading

Middle School Monday: Building a Middle School Public Library Collection, Part 1

A year and a half ago, I was tasked with creating a collection of reading materials aimed at middle schoolers for my public library.  These types of collections—sometimes called junior high or tween collections—are becoming more popular in response to growing demand from patrons, but creating them poses some unique challenges.  In my next two blog posts, I’ll share some information on my Library’s process: we did, why we did it, what we learned, what, and how you might begin your own process of creating such a collection.  This can only serve as a guideline.  You will need to develop your own methods to build a collection that meets the specific needs of your community.

In this post, I will discuss reasons for having a middle school collection in the public library and first steps to creating one.  The next post will be about selection guidelines for the collection, and how to use those selection guidelines.

I will use the term “middle school collection” to refer to any collection designed to serve readers in the range of ages 10-14.

This is my library’s Middle Ground collection as it currently appears. We are working on expanding it to some additional shelving.

Continue reading

YALSA’s Literacies Resource Retreat Toolkit Creation

The set up

At the end of November, seven librarians were asked to participate in YALSA’s first resource retreat. The mission of the retreat was to create a literacies toolkit, expanding on the discussion that began in the 2014 report: “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action”. We were asked to create a document that was user friendly and accessible to both librarians and library staff who work directly for and with teens. The rest was really up to us, which was both exciting and a little daunting.

The retreat was scheduled for the Friday of Midwinter. Since this was YALSA’s first time trying a resource retreat, everything new to us was also new to YALSA. We were given a stipend to help defray travel and lodging costs and were asked to attend one phone conference before Midwinter to plan out a few logistical elements. In the phone call, we realized we needed a Google doc to keep our ideas in one place. This document proved to be a crucial element of our success during the retreat. We were glad we had done some leg work ahead of time to make the actual day of writing go a tad smoother.

Continue reading

YALSA’s Community Connections Taskforce, a Virtual Taskforce

Six members and one chair are busy pulling together a toolkit that libraries can use to help them create partnerships and secure funding from community sources. In addition to sample emails and letters that can be adapted by anyone, we’re including a Best Practices in Funding Requests section gleaned from interviews with libraries and library foundations across the country. The section will be organized according to responses made to a series of questions.

Three members, assisted by a fourth, took on the task of identifying large libraries around the country with foundations, and mid-sized and small libraries at the same time. Questions were drawn up, and the lead member of this research group interviewed her first foundation at her own library, Seattle Public. The three group members tried to find libraries willing to answer their questions. Many times, they struck out. They would go back to the drawing board and identify more libraries to take the place of the ones that did not respond. Finally, a fourth member, hearing their story during a Google Hangout, offered some assistance herself, and they got a couple more responding libraries.

One member did a lot of research, which will help us present topics that are important to know about partnerships and funding. She also drew up all of the sample emails that can be modified by any library. And she was the fourth member of the research group who helped out when the team needed more library responses.

Another member drew up strategies for assessing teen and community needs. He has been able to attend nearly all of the Google Hangouts we’ve had. Our sixth member is pulling the whole document together before our January 31st deadline.

We are using ALA Connect as our tool to share items with the group. The Toolkit should be available by the end of January 2017.

Dina Schuldner is the chair. Her last library position was as a Young Adult Librarian for the Gold Coast Public Library in New York. She currently resides in Virginia Beach, VA.

En-route to Transforming Teen Library Services

Imagine a library where tweens develop and run an oral history project, working with seniors in the community to podcast their knowledge about the community, with mentoring from the anthropology and education students at the local community college, and then create a Wikipedia page for their community.

Imagine a library where a group of teens co-design the window display for the local boutique with their merchandising managers for their spring/summer collection for teens, by doing research in the library on the upcoming weather pattern for spring/summer with a local meteorologist, and work with the faculty members and students from the School of Design at the local community college to put their designs together and present their ideas to the local boutique owners.

How do we become this kind of librarian – one who leverages technology, design, community partnerships and the latest research on learning in informal spaces?

The new, online Graduate Certificate of Professional Studies in Youth Experience (YX) is designed to give you these skills and more, in alignment with YALSA’s Leading the Transformation of Teen Library Services priority area in its new organization plan.

Working in partnership with YALSA, the ALA Office of Information Technology and Policy (OITP), an advisory board of top researchers and library leaders, and with the support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the YX Certificate is designed to answer the needs of librarians in an evolving landscape of learning and technology.

Continue reading

Connected libraries: Surveying the current landscape and charting a path to the future

Library programs designed for and by teens. One-on-one professional mentorship. Makers of different age groups and cultures collaborating on projects. Partnerships with department stores, architectural firms, and design schools. These are just a few of the ways that public libraries are leveraging the principles of the connected learning framework to help to teens connect 21st century skills to their own interests and peer relationships.

A new white paper titled Connected Libraries: Surveying the Current Landscape and Charting a Path to the Future, from the ConnectedLib project collects the existing literature on connected learning in libraries to explore trends (such as treating teen volunteer programs as workforce development), opportunities (such as building community partnerships), and challenges (such as measuring the impact of a program). The white paper also describes how the ConnectedLib project addresses gaps in the existing connected learning research and resources for libraries.

Continue reading

Equity in Out-of-School Stem Learning: A Reflection

STEM learning is a growing part of student’s lives now because of all the fast technology advances. There are many great ways for students to participate in STEM activities while in school, but what can “out-of-school” educators, such as librarians, offer these same students? This is the questions that a group, sponsored by the Research+Practice Collaboratory, wanted to answer. Their main question was: “How can professional learning for out-of-school staff be organized to promote equity in STEM learning?” Through this discussion, four big ideas emerged to support this.

First, “seeing, hearing, and honoring” need to be at hand with all educators, whether in school or, out of school. This means, staff working with teens, and other youths, need to listen to what customers want. The best way to design a program is to listen to what your customers want from you.

Teen volunteers work with teen customers on sharing new technology.

Teen volunteers work with teen customers on sharing new technology.

For instance, recently I had a young man reach out to me because he wanted to start a STEM Club at my library branch. Although I was timid at first, due to time and money, we decided to go ahead. The positives of having a teen led STEM Club is, they have more ideas of what they want to do, and are very knowledgeable about all different types of STEM programs and projects. When our department started having teen led programs earlier in the summer, we had great success because the teen volunteers were excited to present their ideas, and teens in the community were excited to see what their peers were doing. Seeing, hearing, and honoring has really helped my department in a big way.

Continue reading

#CulturalCompetence: Crowdsourced Syllabus-Style Resources for Increasing Cultural Competence Skills

As a member of YALSA’s Research Committee, I have been particularly interested in combining my own passion for social justice work and anti-bias curricula with the aims of YALSA’s Futures Report to increase cultural competency among YALSA members. I have found myself particularly interested in a plethora of crowdsourced resource lists, often described as “syllabi,” for which many educators and librarians have collaborated. Using social media and virtual connections, crowdsourced syllabi provide online resources for building cultural competence skills in a variety of subjects. Crowdsourced syllabi are accessible, editable, and shareable, and can be avenues for important and empowering discussions, reader’s advisory, and advocacy for the teens and communities which we serve.

The following syllabi have resulted from various current events and an ongoing push by teachers, librarians, and scholars to disseminate diverse texts that can help to fight inequities:

#CharlestonSyllabus: Conceived by Chad Williams, Associate Professor at Brandeis University, and later maintained by Keisha N. Blain, the Charleston Syllabus is an extensive resource list that includes historic overviews, Op-Eds and Editorials, specific readings on South Carolina and Charleston, and readings on white identity and white supremacy. While the syllabus was created as a response to the Charleston shootings, the compilation extends beyond a single event to address issues of race, history, and regionalism. The syllabus also includes lists of multimedia components including films, music, websites, and teaching handouts and also has a section specifically for young readers. The originally crowdsourced document was recently adapted into a published book, titled “Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism, and Racial Violence.”

#FergusonSyllabus: Marcia Chatelain’s article “How to Teach Kids About What’s Happening in Ferguson” became “a crowdsourced syllabus about race, African American history, civil rights, and policing” that particularly looks to teaching children and adolescents about race in the United States. Categories on the syllabus are: “Teaching About Race and Ferguson,” “African-American History/Civil Rights in the United States,” “Children’s Books,” “Community Organizing, Leadership, Activism,” “Educational Issues,” “Film,” “Media studies and Journalism,” “Music,” “Other Educational Hashtags on Twitter,” “Personal Reflections,” “Poetry,” “Policing,” and “Race and Violence in America.”

Continue reading