“Unleash Your Story” by Serving the Individual

Each year I approach Teen Read Week with the same thought in mind: every location will do the same thing to save me time, cost, and energy. (Side note, I am the teen librarian for the Defiance County Public Library System. We serve three locations.) It was just this past year when I realized that in order to better serve the teen population, I need to look at each individual library and the teens that each library serves. I need to establish strong relationships, discover their passions, listen to their requests, and introduce them to new challenges.

Defiance County teens are truly individuals with a variety of interests, ambitions, and backgrounds. The teenagers who frequent the library and attend events are non-readers, gamers, avid YouTube watchers, and socializers who use the library as a meeting place. Each teen has their own story to share. While the teens at Defiance discuss Steven Universe and cart around their Magic: the Gathering decks, the teens in Sherwood want to socialize and perform whole group activities, and the teens in Hicksville will do anything that involves video games, anime, or scavenger hunts.  

Understanding that many of the teens are non-readers, non-writers, and need a break from schoolwork, it was essential to incorporate the concept of connected learning. How can these teens “unleash their story” without having to write it down on paper? Problem solved, thanks to my co-worker who is an avid gamer and holds a stop-motion animation degree.

At Johnson Memorial Library, the teens will create a machinima, an animated film using Minecraft. At Sherwood Branch Library, the teens will film a pixilation, a stop-motion animation using people.  At Defiance Public Library, the teens will play tabletop RPGs while filming their gameplay.

In addition, there will be one event that all locations will host: the Teen Read-In. The Teen Read-In is designed as an open house, and the intention is to bring in new faces to each of the library locations. We will be showcasing our libraries’ resources, our spaces, and our love. We want local teens to know that they can come to the library to read, relax, find information, and meet new people who share the same interests.  

We are also blessed to host a Skype visit with debut author Chelsea Bobulski (The Wood), at Sherwood Branch Library and Johnson Memorial Library. At Defiance Public Library, we will Skype with Romina Russell, author of the Zodiac series. Those who attend the Skype visits will receive a copy of the authors’ respective book.

I am extremely honored, and yes, a bit nervous, to have received a Teen Read Week grant. I just hope that these events will truly show that our library system desires to treat our teens as individuals and further encourage their ideas and passions.

Pamela Rellstab is the Teen Librarian of the Defiance Public Library System in Defiance, Ohio.

Building a Better Library for and with Teens: Dollar General Teen Summer Intern Grant

The Teen Summer Intern Program funded through the generosity of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and YALSA provides libraries with a unique opportunity to implement the practice of building programs and services around the concept of for and with teens. Hedberg Public Library’s teen volunteer program and Teen Advisory Board (TAB) have given teens the opportunity to offer ideas, creativity and service to the library and its customers for many years. The Dollar General Teen Summer Internship Grant awarded to our library has magnified and expanded the many positives of the teen volunteer and TAB programs and has more fully demonstrated the value of providing rewarding experiences and support for teens in useful leadership roles with the goal of increasing teen engagement. Teens have reached further by mentoring their peers and by planning and carrying out activities in their own space at our library for the first time.

To get started, intern position descriptions were posted on the library’s teen web and Facebook pages and were announced during TAB meetings and Teen Volunteer Training sessions. Posters were positioned in the teen area at the library and were distributed to high school librarians. Our main local radio station broadcast an interview with library staff promoting the positions and the opportunity for teens to gain paid work experience. Applications were posted and in-person interviews were held with the Young Adult Librarian and Head of Youth Services. TAB participation or library volunteer experience was preferred for the positions but was not required. Two teens were hired to work an average of four hours per week during the summer learning program. Payments were made through two stipends paid over the summer.

Teens gained important career and workforce development skills through the application, interview and training process. Interns took part in the summer learning and summer lunch program intern/volunteer training sessions conducted by librarians and library workers. Additional training for interns covered basic library policies and procedures, safety and emergency guidelines, a full tour of the library and detailed instructions for the teen summer learning program. Following training, interns assisted teens as they registered and completed check in for the teen summer learning program at iPad kiosks in our teen area using an online tracking system. They also distributed prizes and mentored peer volunteers working with the baby/toddler and school-age programs in the children’s area.

Teen interns held a Kahoot! practice session for a middle school team preparing for our library system’s Battle of the Books competition. They guided participants as they chose a team name and team captain and helped facilitate the design of Sharpie Tie-Dye T-shirts. Senior Moments Tech Day brought teens, seniors and families together to showcase some of the cool gadgets used by teens like robots, 3D printer and more.

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Summer Teen Programming @ S.W. Smith Memorial Public Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

Teen Programming at the S.W. Smith Memorial Public Library was able to expand based on the generosity of the YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Grant.  Using the funds from this grant our library was able to offer more programs for our teen population. The programs were diverse as to reach teens with many different interests. 

Obviously, we want to encourage reading in our teens, therefore, a Teen Book Club was offered once a month.  We only had 2 students attend, but they were friends which made it nice for discussion.  They were comfortable with one another and shared their thoughts and feelings freely.  The third meeting will occur after this document is submitted, but the two girls plan to attend and actually picked the book for the month.

Our Summer Reading Program focused on the “Build a Better World” theme.  Our young patrons learned about conservation, maintaining a healthy water shed, recycling, forestry, and ways to keep the environment healthy.  For our Summer Reading end of the year event we had a “Dance Party” with a DJ, pizza, snacks and crafts.  We were hoping the DJ would be a draw for the teens and it was.  They enjoyed listening to the music, dancing and eating pizza.  This was the most successful event we had with teen attendance.

Our library owns an Xbox 360.   Using the grant funds I was able to purchase an extra controller, a variety of games, and offered a “Teen Game Day”.  Board games and card games were also made available.  We had teens attend who are not library attendees, which was great, we reached a new population!  The teens enjoyed time socializing playing games and eating pizza.

Science Tellers is an educational science program that uses science to tell a story.  During the program chemical reactions as well as other scientific concepts are demonstrated using hands on audience participation, bringing the story to life.  Our teens enjoyed being chosen as volunteers for science experiments!

The Solar Eclipse presentation educated attendees on solar and lunar eclipses.  Attendees learned differences in these eclipses as well as the history of them.  Future eclipse dates were also discussed.  Viewing glasses were provided so the eclipse could be viewed safely.

Koozie Crochet taught patrons simple crochet stitches and allowed them to make a popsicle holder.  Teens learned a valuable life skill and left with their own creation!

I also was able to purchase a variety of STEM materials with the Dollar General Grant funds.  I hope to have an event for teens where they can use these materials and will visit the library knowing they are available for them to use. 

My name is Diane Finn, I have been the Youth Services Librarian at the S.W. Smith Library in Port Allegany, PA since January 2016.  When I was hired the children’s programs were minimal and had low attendance.  I have since increased the number of programs offered, developed the programs to be more interactive and engaging for children as well as educational.  With these changes attendance has increased and I have received positive feedback from the community.  However, the teen programming has not been as successful.  Using the YALSA/Dollar General Literacy Grant we were able to improve our teen programming.

Summer Learning @ South Sioux City Public Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

We were blessed to receive the Summer Learning Resources Grant through YALSA and Dollar General.  This grant provided us the luxury of purchasing books along with their audiobook companions, a listening table, CD/MP3 player and chairs. We were able to set this up in our computer room for youth in Middle School and High School students to use on a daily basis.

Our town is a minority/majority town and with this listening center it will help with ELL students learning and hearing the English language. We were able to meet our goals of having 1) the students hear how the words on a page can come alive in an expressive manner, 2) helping the students hear the sounds of the words without interruption and create a more fluid reading, and 3) having the audio books help the students master the skill of listening.

During our past Summer Reading Programs some of our ELL students and newly emigrated students struggled to meet the goals set for others their same age. With being able to include books in audio format, they were able and excitedly joined our program with no concerns of being left behind or feeling left out. We encouraged collaboration with the ELL staff at the High School to bring the youth into our Public Library on a field trip, where they met with me, talked with me, were made to feel comfortable in the library atmosphere and learn what we can offer to them. Throughout the summer I was able to meet back up with those students who I watched grown in their confidence of using the library, to enjoying the listening center and then finding the graphic novels! It was a huge success.

My name is Odessa Meyer. I’ve been the Youth Services Librarian at the South Sioux City Public Library in South Sioux City, NE since 2009. I never knew I wanted to be a librarian. I went to college for Computer Programming, worked in many different fields and eventually made my way into a school system in NE. When I decided it was time to go back to my hometown, I applied for the position at the library, was granted the opportunity to accept the job and fell in love. I had no idea how perfect this position was for me and how perfect I was for this job.

Summer Learning @ Charles Ralph Holland Memorial Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

Thanks to the 2017 Summer Learning Resource Grant the teens at the Charles Ralph Holland Memorial Library had a FANTASTIC time this year – and so did the staff!!!

The grant provided by YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation  made it possible for a small staff of three to offer our teens a variety of activities.  They got to experience how videogames work with Makey Makeys, assembling and coding a Robolink drone, connecting servos and programming  a Arduino nano board, & plenty more.  Our teens had a summer full of fun activities with tools most had never seen or played with before.

Every Thursday evening the library offered a new program that implemented STEAM learning in a fun and interactive way.  The first program had teen constructing cardboard armor with duct tape, scissors, and craft supplies to withstand a water balloon battle.  Each teen could research different methods and designs to craft their armor using the library’s public computers. The teens had a blast in covering their armor in tape, crafting tall helmets, armbands, and leg braces.  The teens split into two teams and tested their armors durability and strength. Some were winners, some not so much, but all had a fun time. The next summer program had teens weaving recycled t-shirt rugs for our local Friends of Animal groups fundraiser.   Each chose colors from materials donated to weave together.  The teens utilized small hula hoops as their base to weave. Almost all of the teens then gave their creations to the Friends of Animals, Fixin’s For Fixin’ Fundraiser, but each also learned how to care and weave a mat for their own pets at home. 

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STEM Kits @ Alcona County Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

Summer 2017 has been wonderful at the branches of the Alcona County Library (ACL).  Located in the Northeastern Lower Peninsula of Michigan, Alcona County has a population of just over 10,000 along the scenic shores of Lake Huron. Alcona is comprised of  695 square miles, including 36 miles of Lake Huron coastline. While 70% of our land is forested, 1/3 includes Huron-Manistee National Forest land. ACL has four branches in Harrisville, Hubbard Lake, Lincoln, and Mikado, Michigan, and has a staff of 15 of which three are full time staff members.

This year the Summer Reading theme was “Build a Better World.” ACL used YALSA and Dollar General Literacy Foundation grant funding to purchase STEM kits to rotate among the branches. There are seven kits: of the seven, two rotate to three of the branches and one to the remaining branch every other week.  The kits include: snap circuits, Laser Maze, Circuit Maze, Strawbees with Quirkbots, Q ba Maze, MagFormers, and MakeBlock. Concepts in these kits are marble mazes, robotic kits, electrical kits, and magnetic building kits.

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Noise Permit @ the Ypsilanti District Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

The Ypsilanti District Library (YDL) was so excited and grateful to have been one of the recipients of the YALSA and Dollar General Grant. The grant allowed the downtown branch to support a teen tech internship this summer for 3 teens at the Michigan Avenue branch of YDL.

The teen interns attended Digital Arts classes and were trained on Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Tablets using Adobe Photoshop and Premiere to produce marketing flyers and promotional videos. Additionally, they learned Ableton, an interface to create beats and perform audio engineering. The team was integral in helping produce an all teen outdoor-on-stage-musical performance called Noise Permit for the entire Ypsilanti community.

Noise Permit was an all-day, end-of-summer celebration of the arts, by Ypsilanti teens, for teens, that culminated in an early evening performance. The purpose of Noise Permit was to bring creative arts programming to the Ypsilanti teen and young adult population. The library has a strong relationship with the music and arts community in and around Ypsilanti, and drew on the rich resources of young, professional artists who mentored and led teens in multiple workshops which culminated in a live stage performance and community event.

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Holy Guacamole! – Northampton Area Public Library – Dollar General Grant Winner

Thanks to YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, Northampton Area Public Library was able to offer our teens a variety of programming encompassing the many areas of STEAM education.  One such program was our Chopped/Iron Chef competition.  And oh boy, did we have fun.

Being a lover of cooking shows and food, I decided to combine my two favorite shows “Chopped” and “Iron Chef” into a teen competition.  Not having the cooking facilities one would think you would need to have such a competition, we improvised and made it our own.  Hopefully other libraries like ours will be able to feel confident in offering such a program even though they may not have the facilities for cooking.

The premise was this – offer a variety of ingredients and have the teens create a dish with a particular theme in a limited amount of time.  Each dish is presented to judges (in this case, myself and 2 of my co-workers) and each judges fills out a score card with the following categories – taste, presentation, and creativity.  Scores are tallied and the “chopping” begins.

(This particular snack was – Triscuit with marshmallow fluff, pepperoni, and grape)

Our first round, we had 10 teens competing.  Their task was to create their most creative snack using any of the following items:  assorted crackers (triscuits, graham cracker, ritz crackers) peanut butter, cream cheese, marshamallow fluff, grapes, pepperoni, assorted cheeses, celery, peppers, raisins and olives.  They had 10 minutes to create, prepare and plate their dishes for judging.  Each contestant was then judged on taste, creativity and presentation.  Then we chopped the field in half.

In Round 2, our five remaining contestants were giving new ingredients such as, different types of bread, cold cuts, condiments, cheeses, chips, and assorted fresh vegetables.  Their task was to create their most tasty sandwich with the requirement that it had to have something crunchy in it.  They were given 15 minutes to make two sandwiches (to accommodate all the new judges).  Again, these recipes were judged on taste, presentation and creativity.  Those teens judging took their job very seriously and more chopping was completed to give us our final 3.

(Judging is serious business)

In the third and final round, we asked the finalist to make their best nachos with homemade guacamole.  Queso was ready in a crockpot and the avocados were fresh.  They had 15 minutes to create and plate their dishes.  After a quick guacamole tutorial, the contestants were working fast and furious.  Their nachos were judged and a winner was crowned.

(Winner, winner, nacho dinner!)

Holy Guacamole, what a day!

My name is Rachel Robinson and I have been the Young Adult Coordinator from the Northampton Area Public Library for the past 3 years.  I have been lucky enough to be able to growth with this position and vice versa.  It provides me with a much needed creative outlet and service to teens in our mostly rural community.

Summer Video Gaming Club @ South Lafourche Branch Library

 

The South Lafourche Branch of the Lafourche Parish Public Library is located in Cut Off, LA, about an hour’s drive from New Orleans.

Lafourche Parish is home to more than 96,000 people, and the South Lafourche Branch provides library services to residents in southern Lafourche Parish, many of whom rely on commercial fishing and jobs in the oil and gas industries for employment.

Our library received a YALSA Summer Learning Resources grant, which we used to enhance a planned summer video gaming club that we held during our 2017 Summer Reading Program. Our aim was to use gaming as a way to encourage reluctant or struggling readers to read during the summer.

We decided to host six gaming sessions throughout the summer – three in June and three in July, as well as host movie afternoons during which we’d show movies that related in some way to video games. We used our grant funds to purchase books related in some way to gaming that we would distribute to those who attending our video gaming sessions.

The rationale behind this was that if teens were interested in gaming, they might be interested in books related to gaming. Traditionally, our library has had some difficulty in attracting teens to participate in our summer reading program. We thought that by introducing a gaming club, we could interest more teens in our program.

The following is a list of books that we purchased with our grant funds, to be given to video gaming club attendees:

  • Minecraft: Diary of a Wimpy Zombie
  • Legendary Minecraft Diary: An Unofficial Minecraft Book
  • Pokemon Pocket Comics: Legendary Pokemon
  • Super Mario Adventures
  • Angry Birds Comics Volume 1: Welcome to the Flock
  • Angry Birds Movie: The Junior Novelization
  • Sonic the Hedgehog Archives, Vol. 0: The Beginning
  • Trapped in a Video Game, Books 1 and 2
  • Game On! 2017: All the Best Games: Awesome Facts and Coolest Secrets
  • Insert Coin to Continue
  • Guinness World Records 2017 Gamers’ Edition
  • History of Video Games
  • Slacker

In our selection of books, we included both fiction and nonfiction titles, as well as novels and graphic novels and comics. We wanted the books to not only be relevant to our program, but also appeal to participants with varying reading interests and abilities.

“I don’t want it.”

We soon learned that a few of our participants were not interested in reading at all, which we expected. After our first gaming session in June, we tried to hand a copy of Super Mario Adventures, a collection of comics inspired by the video game, to one teen participant, but he was adamant that he did not want the book.

Shaking his head, he said, “I don’t want it” several times. He was certain he wouldn’t read it.

We explained that it was a comic and that since he enjoyed the game, he might enjoy the book, but he was having none of it. His mother, however, was with him and encouraged him to take the book and give it a chance. This participant was one who attended most of our gaming sessions during the summer and, after his initial reluctance to give reading a chance, accepted every book he was given and was able to communicate effectively about them during later sessions. We consider this a win.

Throughout the summer, our gaming sessions attracted 24 teens and 44 tweens, with 37 adults accompanying their children to our gaming sessions. We also held two movie afternoons, showing Wreck-It Ralph and The Angry Birds Movie, which attracted another 4 teens, 10 children, and 11 adults. As sometimes happens, as the summer progressed, attendance at summer programs declined, as families were going on vacations, getting ready for the upcoming school year, and attending to a host of other things that kept them busy.

However, we believe that the participants who did show up to these programs during the summer really enjoyed them. Many were excited about receiving the free books and those who initially were not eventually came around.

This was a good program to introduce to our slate of summer reading offerings, and we believe it was successful in that we were able to get more teens to participate and more teens to read – particularly a few who would not have been reading otherwise.

Katina Gaudet is the area librarian at the South Lafourche Branch of the Lafourche Parish Public Library and oversees the operation of three library branches in southern Lafourche Parish. 

 

Summer Learning Resources @ Ozark Regional Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation graciously selected Ozark Regional Library as a recipient of the Summer Learning Resources Grant.  With this grant, we were able to supplement our Summer Reading Program with things we’ve never before been able to offer.  We used the funds for a collection development, prizes, and programming. 

Over the past few years, our Young Adult collection has not received a lot of attention.  Collection development funds were used elsewhere, so we didn’t have a ton of new material coming in.  Thanks to this grant, we were able to add some fiction and non-fiction to the YA shelves.  We ordered some popular fiction books as well as non-fiction that fit in with this summer’s theme of “Build a Better World.”  I noticed an increase in teens perusing the shelves this summer and I expect circulation statistics will show a rise in YA checkouts. 

In addition to collection development, we were able to purchase books to give away as prizes.  Every teen that completed the Summer Reading Club received a book.  This book also came with a bookmark that stated: “Congratulations on completing the Summer Reading Club!  You have received this book thanks to the generosity of YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation! Keep on Reading!”  Several teens expressed their excitement when getting to pick out their new book.  We decided to make this a part of the Summer Reading Program because our goal with this grant was to get books into the hands of teens.  Many of the families in our community are low income and can’t afford to have books in their homes.  This grant made it possible for teens to take home a book that they can keep for years to come. 

Another goal our library had for this grant was to provide programming that was educational and fun for teens.  We want the library to be a safe, air-conditioned place for the teens in our community to relax, learn, and have fun.  We had several different teen programs throughout the summer, but three were created due to the YALSA/Dollar General grant funds.  These programs were: Planning for the Future, Make Your Own Film Festival, and a Teen Carnival. 

Planning for the Future was a program created to help teens and young adults with college and career readiness.  College and career advisers from the community were brought in and made up a panel of experts.  Panelists included members from the local community college, a university extension office, the Missouri Job Center, and Mers/Goodwill.  These panelists talked about how to apply to college, financial aid, resume writing, interview skills, etc.  We offered the program at three of our locations, but sadly, attendance was low. 

The Make Your Own Film Festival took place on a Saturday and was run by a Branch Manager.  It was a four hour event and teens and even some adults attended.  The teens came in groups or were put into groups and were given the task of creating a 5-minute short film.  For the first hour, teens enjoyed coffee donated by a local coffee shop and brainstormed their film after hearing the theme.  They then had two hours to shoot and edit the film.  The last hour was spent eating popcorn and pizza donated by a local restaurant and watching the films.  The winning team was voted on by the teens and the winning team got to split a $25 iTunes gift card.  While the program went well, we will change some things in the future.  The editing software was not working properly and caused some difficulty.  We would also try to break the ages up some more because older teens seemed to be more successful than the younger teens.  Additional staff will be needed as well if the event continues to be well-attended.  However, since this was the first time we did a program like this, we definitely would call it a success.

The last event we had for teens this summer was a Teen Carnival and to my major disappointment, no teens came.  We had one child show up near the end and asked if she could participate.  We had planned fun things so I definitely thought were would have good attendance, but for some reason, we didn’t.  We hired a caricaturist and a face painter/balloon artist and had games, crafts, and refreshments.  We even advertised that the door prize winner would get to throw a pie in my face.  Since only one child showed up, she was automatically the lucky winner and she greatly enjoyed doing that.  We decided to attribute the lack of attendance to the weather.  Even though the carnival was held inside, it was 103 degrees that day and we feel like most teens were staying at home or were at the town pool.  It was disappointing because we advertised so heavily, but staff enjoyed the event (especially the caricaturist). 

Despite low attendance at some of the teen events, we had a great Summer Reading Program.  This grant allowed us to do things we’ve never been able to do and many teens and parents said that this was the best Summer Reading Program we’ve had in years.  Again, we would like to thank YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation for making it happen.

 

My name is Kelsey Fitzgerald and I am the Youth Librarian for Ozark Regional Library, headquartered in Ironton, Missouri.  I have been in this position for one year and have absolutely loved it!  After working in larger city libraries for several years, it is a wonderful change to be in a rural library system.  My passion is lifelong learning and with this job, I am able to instill a love of reading and learning into children at the very beginning of their lives.