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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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#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.”

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YALSAblog News of the Month – August 2016

Welcome to the YALSAblog News of the Month. In this post we highlight a few news items from the past month that we think are of interest to staff working with teens in libraries, schools, and youth development organizations.

Call for Papers: Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults

Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults (JRLYA), the official research journal of YALSA, is currently accepting submissions for a special themed issue. It will highlight research related to social justice issues and public and school library services for teens. 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.

View the writer’s guidelines here. Email manuscripts by December 5, 2016, to editor Denise Agosto at: yalsaresearch@gmail.com.

JRLYA is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal located. 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 this population.