The AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School and Public Library Cooperation is now focusing its work on equity, diversity, and inclusion projects that include library partnerships. This blog post is the first in this new series.
The YALSA Call to Action Futures Report challenges libraries to “leverage new technologies and become kitchens for ‘mixing resources’ in order to empower teens to build skills, develop understanding, create and share, and overcome adversity.” In Hampstead, MD, a small town in Carroll County, the media center at Shiloh Middle School assumed that “kitchen” motif on Monday afternoons once a month, as Media Specialist, Holly Furhman, and Amanda Krumrine, Library Associate II, Carroll County Public Library (CCPL), partnered to provide a variety of STEM experiences to middle schoolers on Makerspace Mondays.
Makerspace Mondays was born out of the realization that tweens attending this middle school did not have transportation to the CCPL during the week or on weekends when Maker programs were offered — due to lack of public transportation in the community, dual working parents’ schedules, and the distance of the nearest library branch to many neighborhoods. The goal was to expose students to a variety of Maker opportunities in a relaxed environment.
From large urban libraries to small rural ones, makerspaces are happening. Spaces like these are important because they give people of all ages the opportunity to gain knowledge on their own through hands-on exploration. The possibilities are endless and can range from being tech-based, such as 3D printing and multi-media, to art carts and building stations.
Libraries are Always Ahead of the Game:
In 2015, The Teen Tech Week theme Libraries are for Making highlighted the fact that indeed libraries have always been “centers for “making” and “creation” for as long as we have been having crafts, programs, and classes! Everyone seems to think that a makerspace needs to be high-tech and technology driven, but all it really needs to be is a program or space that enables and encourages teens to explore, create, and share.,” says Christie Gibrich, Senior Librarian at Grand Prairie Library System. (Young Adult Library Services, Volume 13, Number 2)
Our Art Cart
I work at the Reading Public Library, District Center in Reading, PA located in Berks County. We are fortunate to have a space dedicated to teens called the Teen Loft. In that space, teens have simple makerspace areas that I have created based on the interest of the teens and the resources many lack at home. One of those spaces is our Art Cart. We take for granted having access to simple things such as crayons, markers, paper, scissors, and glue. Our building makerspace consists of K’Nex, Legos, Moon Sand, and more. We also have a monthly themed makerspace challenge to keep things interesting such as our Granny Square project and decorating bookends that we featured for Teen Read Week this year. In many circumstances, these are luxuries for our patrons because their parents and guardians cannot afford them. They look to us for a space to relax and socialize with their peers. Programs are great and fortunately, we can provide them daily, but there is something about being able to have the time to explore on your own terms. Makerspaces provide that opportunity and support resources in our collection.
How Do I Start a Makerspace?
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. To match the theme of the fall issue, this column focuses on year-round teen services by examining current articles that share opportunities to mentor teens and support their leadership development.
“The Value of Continuous Teen Services: A YALSA Position Paper” available at http://www.ala.org/yalsa/value-continuous-teen-services-yalsa-position-paper. In April 2018, YALSA published a position paper recommending school and public librarians “support healthy adolescent development, teen interests, and work to help mitigate the issues teens face by providing year-round teen services.” Current research also points to the value of including teens in the planning process to ensure authentic learning experiences and provide young adults with opportunities for leadership and personal growth.
“Adulting 101: When libraries teach basic life skills” available at https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/05/01/adulting-101-library-programming/. A popular new idea in year-round teen services involves teaching basic life skills. Adulting 101 programs might have originally been planned for older patrons, however librarians are reporting high attendance from teenagers. Teresa Lucas, assistant director of North Bend Public Library in Oregon, and library assistant Clara Piazzola “created a monthly series of six programs focused on cooking, finances, job hunting, news literacy, apartment living, and miscellaneous topics such as cleaning an oven and checking engine oil” (Ford 2018). Programming costs are minimal and oftentimes community members volunteer to teach specific areas of expertise. Adulting 101 series provide a meaningful service to teenagers preparing for their future.
This post was written by Jennifer Manning, AspireIT Partnerships Program Director
The National Center for Women & Information Technology’s Aspirations in Computing (AiC) program is designed to support young women in computing by providing recognition, encouragement, and opportunities to jobs, scholarships, and connections to the tech community. NCWIT Aspirations has recognized over 10,000 women in 9th -12th grade for their aspirations and passion in computing and built a supportive network in each of the 79 regional affiliates. This network includes parents, industry professionals, community leaders, and educators all working together to increase the meaningful participation of women in computing and technology within their community
Applications for the next Aspirations cohort are open now and it’s your opportunity to encourage high school girls to apply (and at the same time become their mentor and supporter). More than two-thirds of past applicants said they applied because they were encouraged to do so by an educator or mentor. As Aspirations in Computing Award recipients, those selected will join the nationwide AiC Community and have exclusive opportunities available as they pursue computing and technology in their academic and professional careers. Aspirations is a research-based program that provides long term support to program participants, with 91% of past award recipients continuing on to study STEM in college as a major or minor–77% of those in computing or engineering.
To learn about the array of NCWIT Aspirations in Computing engagement opportunities available, please take some time to watch the 30 minute informational video
This year, through the Dollar General and YALSA partnership, our library received a grant to purchase supplies for an after-hours STEM Night. Our library has previously hosted a STEM Night and it was a big success. One thing that we learned from that program was the we needed a bigger supply of gadgets. Although our library has a large budget, we do not always have the funding to spend on supplies like robots, LEGO sets, etc. This grant made it possible for our library to buy various new items for our STEM gadget collection. Although the patrons are not allowed to check these items out, we have hosted several coding workshops in the past, and we plan to host even more in the future to fully utilize our new items.
For this year’s STEM Night, we utilized the entire library building and meeting rooms. This allowed us to showcase both the old and new gadgets that the library has to offer our patrons. Below is a list of activities that we had going on during STEM Night.
In the summer of 2017 the Russell Library in Middletown Connecticut, was accepted to participate in the national non-profit Girls Who Code©. Girls Who Code (GWC) partners with other groups, such as libraries, to prepare students for careers in technology fields by introducing computer programming. Starting in September 2017 the Russell Library offered its first GWC course for 20 weeks to a full class of 12 students and a waiting list! The popularity and the community’s positive response suggested that the library should offer the course again.
As a Teen Librarian with a MLS and no official Computer Science background, after the first session I realized I needed reinforcements. The YALSA/ Dollar General Grant fit the perfect spot to be able to offer the program again. (*Side Note- GWC suggests a CS Degree or CS experience is not necessary; that anyone can run a GWC program with the tools and resources they provide.)
The initial impetus in searching for a grant was our robust teen volunteer program, which offers important job preparation skills to the teens of Middletown. Teens volunteer at the library all year long, with the majority of the hours in the summer. During the brainstorming process, the concept transformed from volunteers assisting in all Youth and Family Learning Summer Learning Programs to two interns for a specific program, GWC.
For the past two years, Defiance Public Library System (DPLS) has been in the process of revamping the summer reading program by changing the name to Summer BreakOUT and focusing on the whole child. DPLS eliminated the reading requirement and instead made reading one of the possible activities participants could choose to do. Participants could track their activities online or they could choose to play using the paper gameboard.
Eric, Defiance intern
Despite these efforts numbers are dropping. This year our goal was to increase Summer BreakOUT participation through the use of STEAM Camps and a partnership with the summer food program. The STEAM Camps were held over the course of three days for three hours each day. The camps were further divided into three grade level groups: 1-3, 4-6, and 6-8. The DPLS Youth Services Department serves three locations; with minimal staffing and lofty goals we were blessed to have received the YALSA/Dollar General Teen Summer Internship Program grant.
For the second year, Baltimore County Public Library provided multiple, three-to-five-day Summer Teen Workshops all over the county. While we offered a total of 10 workshops, we were excited to receive the very generous YALSA and The Dollar General grant to be able to provide 3 teen workshops in three targeted communities in Baltimore County – North Point, Lansdowne, and Sollers Point. Each of the branches in these locations serve Title 1 schools, with a large percentage of low income households. We have identified these communities as most in need of resources. At Baltimore County Public Library, we have positioned ourselves to address as many of their needs as possible, by providing space, snacks and programming, but also by actively engaging with the families, building relationships with the youth as well as community members and organizations. We strive to meet their ever-changing and developing needs. With this grant we were able to provide teen’s access to learning new skills, interaction with caring adults, opportunities to engage with other teens and community, and the space to have fun outside of many of the hardships they may endure daily.
With the funds from the grant, we offered 2 Babysitting workshops as well as supplied teens attending the Drone workshop a free drone to build and take home. Since this was our second year offering workshops throughout the summer, we had last year’s input from teens and families about what types of workshops they would like to attend. We also learned from last year that many teens learned about the workshop from their parents or guardians. Parents were thrilled to have free workshops for this age group all summer long. While we still have 4 more workshops left this summer, our survey results so far show that 53% of the teens found out about the workshop from a parent/guardian. This is a big deal to us and shows the need to continue to encourage family engagement and communication when planning workshops for and with teens.
What did you like about the workshop? “I liked that you got to learn about drones and what they’re used for and also build a drone.”
The North Shelby Library in Birmingham, Alabama, was fortunate to win a 2018 YALSA/Dollar General Summer Teen Intern Grant which allowed us to select four interns. After we had more than 40 local rising 7th-12th grade students apply, our Friends group provided funds for four additional interns. Each intern was responsible for completing 30 hours of service which included their training day.
One of the main duties of the interns was to support the STEAM programming offered at the library so an interest in science, technology, engineering, art, or math was included as a requirement on the application. During the interview stage, we asked applicants their experience in teaching someone how to do something, if they had a favorite science experiment, and about any technology experience they might have had.
North Shelby Library Teen Interns before their Step into STEAM tween program. (L-R: Nicole Taylor, Stanley Stoutamire, Veronica Kloss, Ty Owes, Halla Stallworth, Mason Coleman, and Sam Reid)
The interns created their own STEAM program for tweens (defined as 8-12 year olds by the library). This program was planned during the last hour of the intern training. Before they started planning, the librarians demonstrated the technology that the library already owned and discussed the programs that were planned for Summer Reading to avoid duplication. The teens were also given budget parameters. The librarians then went to the other side of the room so that the interns could plan without expecting the adults to lead. On their evaluations of the program one of the interns reported that, “Everyone’s ideas were listened to during the planning of the program. We all worked together to come up with multiple ideas, then we picked our favorites. We rejected some ideas because they were similar to existing programs or they were too time consuming.” Another intern added, “A few of my ideas were rejected because they involved things that were too dangerous to be inside the library like fire and large amounts of electricity.”
Thanks so much to YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation for all they do to promote literacy through funding libraries. With the funding from their foundation, this year we were able to hire 3 teen interns from the community. Our interns were able to help with existing programs as well as design and implement one of their own programs.
Our Teen Interns were Tabetha, Aysha, and Philip; each had their strengths in helping out with programs. Tabetha and Aysha helped with our Summer Splash program where kids come and learn about the summer reading topic (Libraries Rock!) and create a craft relating to it. This year in Summer Splash, the interns helped with activities such as musical chairs, making kazoos out of popsicle sticks, and drums out of oatmeal containers. They were even able to share some of their musical abilities playing instruments like the cello.
Philip helped with programs such as Lego Club & STEM Club and lent his technology expertise. One of the teens implemented a Java Coding Class that met biweekly June through August where middle school age kids could learn about the basics of Java coding language on the Eclipse platform.
There was much that the teens learned in helping out with the programming and much that we learned as well, with this being our first time receiving this grant. The teens developed skills in leadership, punctuality, organizing, teamwork skills, and conflict resolution with the kids. We really appreciated having the teens help us and teaching them some valuable skills as well. Some of the teens’ takeaways or favorite moments of the program were making friends with the kids. They felt like they could fit in with them and get to know who they are. One of the interns said it was a great experience to learn behavior management, which will help with their future since they desire to be a teacher. Another said that they realized teaching is a good experience, but harder than they realized. They liked helping with classes and getting to watch kids make something whether they wrote a simple computer program or built a Lego Castle.
Maria Vander Plaats is the Teen Services Librarian & Program Assistant at the Sioux Center Public Library.