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.

Ms. Latham accepted an invitation to speak at our “Meet the Author Night,” scheduled for August 7, 2017 and from there the event took off. One of our initial supporters was the Tulsa Regional Library, Rudisill, which houses the Tulsa African American Resource Center. Rudisill generously agreed to feature the book and event with a display, the Tulsa Historical Society joined our “Meet the Author,” night, along with representatives from the Rudisill Regional Library and the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation, along with and a good portion of the 9th grade class from Booker T. Washington.  And, I can not end the evening accolades without mentioning the “Power” of Peach Pies! Peaches are huge in Porter, OK and the Peach Barn generously donated nearly 100 miniature peach pies for our event. We also offered our guests some miniature sandwiches, fresh vegetables and fruit along with cold lemonade. Both the lemonade and peach pies themes fed throughout the novel, so we were eager to tie in!

Though Booker T. Washington draws an incredibly diverse and motivated group of students, not all are well endowed. However, given the generosity of YALSA and Dollar General, we were able to purchase 50 copies of the hardback “Dreamland Burning” book, given the paperbacks are not out, and distribute them to all young adults in attendance. A number of our guests arrived with their own copy of “Dreamland Burning,” but most everyone walked away with Ms. Latham’s personalized autograph, regardless.

In summary, in my mind this was a powerful, nearly spontaneous, “grass roots” event, which could not have turned out better, had I planned it myself!

 

Written by Donna Bishop. I received my Master’s in Library Science from the University of Oklahoma, which I worked on concurrently with my Master’s in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University.  I started out my professional library career in academic libraries, beginning with Tulsa Junior College, then due to my husband’s career advances we moved to New Orleans, where I became the Director of the Tulane Business Library, then on to the Chicago area, where I worked in the library at Benedictine University. This was followed up with a short term position at the Houston Public Library at which time I took a long term reprieve from working when we were transferred to Calgary, in Alberta Canada, then on to London. Returning to Tulsa, the point it all started, I decided to get my Alternative Teaching Certification and have just concluded the process, I hope, and here I am loving the challenge.

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:

1. Field Trip to Book Store – fill out form with title selected and why you picked that book.

2. Write a “Thank You” note to a person on the provided list. (incorporate writing skills!)

3. Read, Read, Read!

4. Write book review comments on the provided “Traveling Bookmark” and leave it in the book.

5. Return the book to the school library in the designated “student reviewed books” display.

6. Select a different book to read that has been reviewed by one of your classmates.

7. Read, Read, Read!

8. Write book review comments on the provided “Traveling Bookmark” and leave it in the book.

9. Select a book from the school library to read!

Dana Kepler is the librarian at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Missouri. This summer she attended the Library of Congress Teacher Institute, to continue her professional development increasing student literacy, learning and advocating for the profession of school librarians. She also looks forward to presenting at the AASL National Conference in November. 

Apply Now for the Libraries Ready to Code Grant!

Libraries Ready to Code

The application for Phase III of the Libraries Ready to Code Grant is open now through August 31, 2017.

The grant program, sponsored generously by Google, will fund a cohort of school and public libraries to design computational thinking and computer science programs for and with youth, including underrepresented youth. A total of 25-50 grants up to $25,000 each are available.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Public or school library (you do not need to be an ALA member to apply, but members will be given preference during the review process)
  • Library must be located in the United States or U.S. Territories
  • Program must be focused on computational thinking or computer science
  • Program must be completely free of cost to youth and their families, including deposits
  • Program must serve youth (anywhere on the Pre-K to grade 12 spectrum)
  • Must have prior approval from your library administration to implement the program (if grant funds are provided). Verification may be required upon request

Please note, you must meet all of the above eligibility requirements in order to apply for the grant. If you do not, your application will be disqualified.

A virtual information session about the grant program and application process will be held on Aug. 1 at 2:30pm EST. Reserve your seat here.  The recording of the session will be made available to those who can’t attend it live.  Additionally, before submitting an application, we encourage you to read the Request for Proposal and use it as a guide to filling out the application).  In addition, an FAQ, and list of resources including sample programs are on the Libraries Ready to Code site to inform your work as you prepare your grant application. Questions? Contact us.

Apply now through August 31, 2017.

Grant Funding for Computer Science & Computational Thinking Programs

ALA has announced a competitive grant program, sponsored by Google, that will fund a cohort of 25-50 school and public libraries to design computational thinking and computer science programs for and with youth, including underrepresented youth.  The grant application will open in late July.  If you’d like to get notification when the application is open, sign up via this online form.  The $500,000 program is part of Phase III of Libraries Ready to Code, an ongoing collaboration between ALA and Google to ensure library staff are prepared to develop and deliver programming that promotes computer science (CS) and computational thinking (CT) among youth, two skills that will be required for challenges and jobs of the future. YALSA is partnering with ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy, AASL, and ALSC to implement this program.  Learn more.

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Transforming Teen Services: Making in the Library While Learning to Fail

Makerspaces, making, and the maker movement have become frequent conversation topics among librarians. We’ve encouraged making in the library through programming focused on writing, drawing, designing, building, coding, and more. As informal learning and gathering spaces, libraries are by nature situated to invite collaboration and discovery. In many cases, making has been associated with makerspaces — independent spaces that provide tools, materials, and support to youth and adults with an interest in creating (Educause, 2013). Sometimes makerspaces are flexible, subscription-based environments, sometimes they are hosts to structured programs and classes with an attached fee. Some have a technology prominence with 3D printers and laser cutters, while others lend an artistic attention  by supplying sewing machines and design software (Moorefield-Lang, 2015). No two makerspaces are the same, just as no two makers are the same.

Source: http://www.clubcyberia.org/

I first became interested in library makerspaces while touring Chicago Public Library’s not yet open to the public Maker Lab and its already thriving YOU Media during ALA Annual 2013. I love the playful atmosphere of learning and opportunity for exploration that these spaces offer teens. Then I dug into some publications. There is a significant amount of research about how youth learn as a result of participation in making and makerspaces (Sheridan et al., 2014; Slatter & Howard, 2013). Likewise, there is a wealth of blog posts, magazine articles, social media blurbs, TED talks, etc. on makerspaces, STEM learning programs, and the maker mindset (Fallows, 2016; Teusch, 2013). It can be difficult to separate the hype from the substance, but there’s still much to explore, discuss, and figure out.

There are many positive aspects of youth involvement with making such as fostering inventiveness, introducing STEAM learning outside of the classroom, and promoting learning as play. But in this post, I will focus on (what I think are) two major benefits of youth making in libraries that may not be quite as obvious: cultivating a capacity to create and learning to fail.

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YALS Spring 2017 Resources – Creating a Unique Brand for Your School Library

In the Spring 2017 issue of YALS, (digital edition available now to members & subscribers via the Members Only section of the YALSA website) Kelsey Barker’s article on creating a unique brand for your school library explains why a brand is an important part of advocacy. Her article includes references and resources that shouldn’t be missed. The full list of those resources follows:

“What Is Advocacy?” American Association of School Librarians. December 15, 2015. Accessed February 04, 2017. http://www.ala.org/aasl/advocacy/definitions.

Young Adult Library Services Association,. 2017. YALSA Advocacy Toolkit 2017. PDF. Young Adult Library Services. http://www.ala.org/yalsa/sites/ala.org.yalsa/files/content/2017%20Advocacy%20Toolkit.pdf.

Gimme a C (for Collaboration!): Expanding Partnerships

I’ve been fortunate to be part of Limitless Libraries, Nashville’s groundbreaking collaboration between school and public libraries, from both the school and public library perspectives.  Students and teachers in Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) are automatically enrolled in Limitless Libraries, meaning their student and teacher ID numbers are also public library card numbers.  They can access all of Nashville Public Library’s (NPL’s) digital resources, and request physical materials that arrive through school delivery.  Additionally, Limitless Libraries supplements local schools’ library budgets to ensure all MNPS libraries have recent and relevant collections.

Shortly after Limitless Libraries began, a private donor, inspired by the collaborative spirit of the program, donated $1 million through the Nashville Public Library Foundation to renovate two MNPS libraries—one high school and one middle school.  NPL’s funding and renovation experience combined with MNPS’s knowledge of their students and best school library practices to produce welcoming and functional school libraries. As the librarian at the selected middle school, I worked with MNPS and NPL to create a student-centered, flexible-use space to meet the needs of our school.  We surveyed students and teachers to find out what they wanted in their library; their responses became part of the architect’s design.  Students selected the color scheme.  They told us they wanted a place to hang out in comfy chairs.  When the library opened the following school year, students saw how much their input mattered, and how integral they were to the design.  Needless to say, they LOVED it.

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YALS Spring 2017 – Advocacy

Any day now YALSA members and YALS subscribers should find in their mailboxes the latest issue of YALS. (The digital edition is already available on the Members Only section of the YALSA website.) The Spring 2017 theme is Advocacy and includes articles on:

  • Using media literacy to combat youth extremism
  • Supporting teens understanding privacy and surveillance in digital spaces
  • Teaching Hip Hop as a way of life and a means to empower youth
  • Advocating for teens in public libraries
  • Creating a unique brand for your school library
  • The library as a refuge for marginalized youth
  • Moving from passivity to activism
  • Making a case for teens services

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ACT NOW for LSTA and IAL! #saveIMLS

If you care about teens and how library services improve their lives, I need you to contact your House Representative to sign the House “Dear Appropriator” letters supporting LSTA and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL).  There are only two business days left, and in the last update received from ALA Washington, we don’t even have the same amount of supporters that we had last year! And we need so many more signers than that!

Check out the online tracking tool to see who needs contacted.  Historically, Democrats are more likely to sign onto the letters, but, as you can see from the tracker, many of them haven’t yet this year. Is your representative supporting LSTA? If not, call!  If so, call and thank him or her! We only have until April 3, so you need to contact them TODAY!

What do you do? Call. On this website, click on the red “Make a Call” box and then send a tweet and an email while you’re at it! Customize the provided messages.   Leave voice mails when you have to, but try to keep calling until you reach a staff member.

What do you say? Ask them to sign the LSTA Dear Appropriator letters TODAY. And you can even refer them to the staff of Rep. Raul Grijalva to add their name to the letter.

Why? Because we can’t provide quality services to teens without LSTA funds.

LSTA funding is close to my heart–you can see the proof in my resume.  My students have benefited from almost $70,000 of LSTA funding since FY05.  Grants doubled my high school budget in some years, while providing new technologies (back then) like a SmartBoard and wifi for my kids. I was able to provide internet safety workshops in my community–something I probably wouldn’t have initiated if it weren’t for the grant opportunity.   One year LSTA funds allowed me to bring in a reading specialist to provide professional development to my fellow high school teachers (because secondary education degrees didn’t prepare us to teach reading), and another year my collection grew to support AP History students.  Even now that I’m at a community college, my students have benefited from LSTA funds.  In 2014, my library purchased children’s and teen nonfiction books in the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math and I gave presentations about using quality literature to meet the new Illinois learning standards (Common Core).  It’s impossible to list all the outcomes of the above grants in my community.  I still remember when I taught students about privacy on MySpace (yes, I’m old) and they were spurred into action to go straight home and change their settings (remember the days before smartphones?).

Please remember though that LSTA is more than just competitive grants.  In my state, LSTA funds provide the Illinois State Library Talking Book and Braille Service to over 12,000 residents who cannot read print because of physical or visual limitations. LSTA funds also supplement material delivery services in the state.  Total statewide delivery in FY16 was over 14 million items to patrons in need.  It’s a joy to see my college’s items being loaned to high school students in small towns hours away.  In FY17, Project Next Generation funded 19 grants to Illinois public libraries to encourage personal growth and the educational development of at risk students through the use of mentors, technology, and library based group projects. While the program helped to bridge the digital divide, students became more college and career ready, established relationships with positive role models, had fun, and learned new technologies.

Please gather your friends, family members, coworkers, and patrons, and send as many calls, emails and tweets that you possibly can today, Friday, and Monday.

In the words of Emily Sheketoff from the ALA Washington office, “We’re almost out of time and failure in this effort may well mean deep cuts in, or even the elimination of, LSTA funding for FY 2018. WE CANNOT AND MUST NOT FAIL.”