Teen Read Week at our school, Findlay High in Findlay, Ohio, has become a time when the library opens wide its doors and invites in a huge variety of people to come share themselves with the school. Last year this included culinary students one day and a menagerie of animals another day. This year we are bringing together the international students from a local university together with our high school students to explore language and culture in a variety of ways in our library.
The networking that comes about from coordinating these events is fantastic. I made contact with the Japanese Outreach Initiative Coordinator at the university. This contact has opened up the opportunity to involve Japanese exchange students to our programming events. The more the merrier! The JOI Coordinator also asked if we would be interested in having a Korean student do a bit of programming, and we were thrilled to welcome her, as well. Once we connect with the student organizations when they return to campus, we will include students from India, Saudi Arabia, and Nepal, as well.
As a high school with 82% of students identifying as White, in a city where 91% of the population in the 2010 census identified as white, there is not a lot of opportunity for students to talk to and learn from people who grew up in other countries and speak different languages. This experience will be good for our students, and I hope it will be enriching for our staff, as well.
This year I am extremely honored and thankful to be a YALSA Teen Read Week grant recipient. I took my time this year deciding what I would do for Teen Read Week. My past Teen Read Weeks had been small in scale. Last year I had teens write a short book review and enter it for a raffle prize (a set of books related to last year’s theme). What could I do this year to really encourage a wide variety of teens to participate, and get excited about reading? I decided to combine a reading program for the month with a fun incentive: Read 1 book for the month of October, get an invitation to our International Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre!!
This year’s theme is “Read for the fun of it”, encouraging multicultural reading and involvement. For the month of October, teens can sign up to be part of our online reading program where the goal is simple: Read 1 book for the month! I wanted an achievable goal, to encourage teens of all reading interests and levels to take part. Upon registering, they will receive a bookmark with suggested multicultural YA books. They won’t be required to read these books, as I really want all teens to be able to participate. I also wanted a non-reading related incentive, to encourage teens who wouldn’t normally read to do so, thus the murder mystery! I will probably give everyone an Applebee’s Ice Cream Coupon for finishing their book too, for those who aren’t into mysteries. I decided to extend Teen Read Week to a month long celebration, as many teens would find 1 week a daunting time constraint to read a book. Finally, I will be adding a Teen Foreign Language collection, as part of the grant, to encourage ESL students to become involved as well. I will be working with the school literacy coaches to spread the word and encourage as many students as I can to participate.
Once we have our ‘guests’ invited, it’s time to put on the show! Upon completion of 1 book read, teens will receive the highly coveted and illustrious invitation to the event of the year- An Assassin in Our Midst: An International Interactive Murder Mystery. Thanks to the grant, we will be able to serve a variety of foods from different cultures for our dinner. Guests will be given programs with their team number, a list of the suspects, space to write notes, and a tear out for their team’s murderer guess. Suspects will be played by members of the Teen Advisory Board, with whom I will have at least 2 practices ahead of time. The TAB members will receive character descriptions, and then they will improvise based on who their character is. Each team will get to speak with and question all of the suspects to determine who was involved in the assassination of an important diplomatic figure. Intrigue, fun, and suspense are sure to ensue!
Over the last few years the library world has been buzzing about programming in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and coding, the new digital literacy. For many librarians like myself, who come from a humanities background and are used to planning programming around books and literature, this new digital literacy can seem daunting. Add in the fact that many celebrated STEM and coding programs are backed by large budgets, multi-system libraries, and lots of staff, and the idea of putting together a meaningful program at your own library can seem almost impossible! However, I’m here to tell you that you don’t need a big budget and oodles of staff to bring computer science to your community. You just need Girls Who Code.
Girls Who Code is a national nonprofit aimed at closing the gender gap in tech. As the name Girls Who Code indicates, women are still vastly underrepresented in the tech industry – just 18% of computer science graduates are women. Girls Who Code is working to change this with their FREE Clubs program that teaches middle and high school girls how to code after school during the academic year. The organization partners with volunteers like libraries to host and facilitate the Club curriculum – all you need to host your own Club is space, computers, internet and leadership. The program goes beyond just exposing young people to the hard skills of computer science, it also fosters soft skills like public speaking, networking, and collaboration. Additionally, the Girls Who Code network includes a supportive and active community of over 10,000 girls across the country.
When initially looking at the Pew Research Report statistics Crystle Martin referred to in her YALS article, A Library’s Role in Digital Equity, one may assume the digital divide is coming to a close with the rise of teen’s access to technology. According to the 2015 study:
87% of teens have access to a desktop/laptop computer
73% of teens have access to a smartphone
58% of teens have access to a tablet computer
The report also shares the primary way teens access the internet with 91% of them using mobile devices at least occasionally. This means if a teen has a mobile phone with internet access they are adequately connected to the digital world, right? Martin counters this argument by throwing down more facts such as, “one-quarter of those earning below the median income and one-third of those living below poverty level accessed the Internet only through their mobile devices.” Resulting in a significant part of the population being under-connected according to the “Opportunity For All?” findings.
What does this have to do with libraries, though? In the current trend of libraries increasingly adding “innovation” to mission statements and “technology skills” to job descriptions while working towards increasing access we may be missing the key element in creating digital equity, or equal access and opportunity. Giving teens school tablets or providing free library wifi is a great start, but what happens when that teen lives in a home without an internet connection or lives too far away from the library to attend on weekends? When used correctly technology can be a valuable tool in fostering digital participation, but our approach as educators is the most important action to take.
On Wednesday, the much anticipated Pokémon Go app was released in the United States.
Unlike previous Pokémon games this is an app for your phone that allows players to catch Pokémon in the real world.
Hope everyone had a great 4th of July!
As we celebrated our country’s independence last weekend, YALSA, too, has sought to break free from past models of association work and is currently exploring new ways to engage our members that better meet their interests, skills and busy lifestyles.
It was with those #teensfirst and members’ first ideals in mind that the 2015-2016 YALSA Board approached our work before and during ALA Annual last month as we worked on aligning existing YALSA groups, programs and services with the association’s new Organizational Plan.
Here are some highlights:
– The Board adopted the following consent items, which were items that were discussed and voted on previous to annual, including:
– The Board also approved a more concrete structure to support and revitalize interest groups.
– The Board approved experimenting with new kinds of member engagement opportunities, especially virtual and short-term ones.
As part of its effort to align YALSA’s existing work with the new Organizational Plan, as well as update member engagement opportunities so that they better meet member needs, the Board began a review of all existing member groups at our June meeting. While the Board was not able complete the review, we did come to decisions about some of the groups.
– The Board agreed that the following committees’ structure and workflow will remain as they currently are:
- Alex Award Committee
- Editorial Advisory Board for YALS/YALSAblog
- Financial Advancement Committee
- Margaret Edwards Award Committee
- Mentoring Task Force
- Michael Printz Award Committee
- Morris Award Committee
- Nonfiction Award Committee
- Odyssey Award Interdivisional Committee
- Organization and Bylaws Committee
- The Hub Advisory Board
It’s hard to get excited about makerspaces when you don’t have ANY budget for materials. Installing and maintaining the software to run a 3D printer might seem a logistical impossibility when you don’t even have permissions to run the Windows updates on your public computers. But there are a number of ways to establish a maker culture with things you might already have lying around your library.
Use your graveyard of equipment for a hardware tear-down. Our digital natives may never have had the opportunity to peak inside a tower or under the keyboard of a laptop. Showing them how to upgrade the RAM or swap out other bits attached to a motherboard is a real-world skill that makes computers more useful for longer. Back when I sponsored a high school technology team, one of the most impressive student projects I saw involved a student daisy-chaining a set of old CPUs together to create a robust machine. Before adding to the e-waste explosion, offer your deaccessioned hardware to your teens, along with screwdrivers, clamps, and other basic tools. If your patrons see you playing with this sort of stuff, you may receive donations…
Hack their old toys.In a similar vein, one of my Alabama colleagues demonstrated how you can eviscerate a thrift-store Tickle Me Elmo to produce your own weird sound effects, a project certain to delight most teens.
CC Image courtesy of San José Library on Flickr
Just over a month ago I became the first STEAM Librarian at the San José Public Library, located in the heart of Silicon Valley. While my title is new, STEAM programming is far from new to my urban library system. Surrounded by so many technology resources and partners, we are lucky to have passionate library staff leading STEAMstacks programs and participating in worldwide events like Hour of Code.
Before my position was even created our Innovations Manager brainstormed ways to extend STEAM programming to the city’s underserved neighborhoods. Part of the envisioned future stated in The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action is for library staff to “leave the physical school library or public library space regularly and provide services to targeted communities of teens (e.g. those who are incarcerated, homeless, in foster care, or in classrooms and other in school locations) where they are, rather than waiting for teens to find a way to get to the physical library space.” The Maker[Space]Ship, a mobile makerspace, is designed to do just that.
Today’s teens, as many know, are more about interacting and being hands-on at the local library than ever before. A major reason for this is due to advances in technology, which has assisted in helping the local library evolve into a better, more interactive place for our customers. There are many amazing resources for teen programming, when it comes to technology, but some of these can be expensive. Now that it is the time when we are at the end of our budget year, I have researched budget friendly STEM and technology ideas that are great for programming. Some great YALSA resources are Making in the Library Toolkit and YALSA’s STEM Wiki.
In the past, my department has done a few STEM programs for teens that were extremely cheap and/or free. The first program that we held was when we used virtual reality (VR) cardboard glasses, so teens could participate in VR worlds. VR cardboard glasses are fairly cheap, running from $4 – $15, depending on the brand. We used both the Google branded ones and a set from Light in the Box.
Courtesy: Paste Magazine
The best part about this program? Teens just need to bring in a smartphone and download free apps. I have done a little research and made a list VR Cardboard Apps but the teens that came to the programs found a lot of new ones as well. There are some apps you can purchase, but library staff and teens utilized free ones. Continue reading
The newest issue of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults (JRLYA) is now published and freely available online at: http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya/. It includes two award-winning papers from YALSA’s Midwinter Paper Presentation series and two additional research papers describing recent research related to teens and library services.
Mega Subramaniam’s paper “Designing the Library of the Future for and with Teens: Librarians as the ‘Connector’ in Connected Learning” won the 2015 YALSA Midwinter Paper Presentation award. In her paper, Prof. Subramaniam describes the basic concepts of connected learning and discusses five cooperative inquiry techniques that librarians can adapt for use in working with teens to design library programs and services. Each technique creates design partnerships between adults and teens, building on the concept of connect learning and enabling teens to take active roles in their own learning and library programming. The five design techniques include: “bags of stuff,” “mission to Mars,” “layered elaboration,” “big paper,” and “sticky noting.”
Kyungwon Koh and June Abbas received the 2016 YALSA Midwinter Paper Presentation award for their paper entitled: “Competencies Needed to Provide Teen Library Services of the Future: A Survey of Professionals in Learning Labs and Makerspaces.” They discuss their survey of information professionals who manage makerspaces and other learning spaces in libraries and museums. The survey results reveal common job responsibilities and the major skills and knowledge needed for effective management of these spaces. The survey findings have much to teach us as the field of teen librarianship moves toward continued broadening of the role of libraries as informal education institutions.