YALS – Libraries and Learning: A Resource Guide for “Make, Do, Share”

cover of spring yalsYou should have already or will soon be receiving your Spring 2016 edition of YALS. The topic of the issue is Libraries and Learning. All the articles are excellent but the one that stood out to me was the featured interview with Shannon Peterson, the Youth Services Manager for the Kitsap (WA) Regional Library (KRL). The library received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for their program Make, Do, Share: Sustainable STEM Leadership in a Box.

One of the great things about this interview is that not only did we learn the context of this project (it began with a project called BiblioTEC, sponsored through the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation) but also heard about how Shannon and her staff frame the work they are doing. Many times in public libraries, we are so focused on helping our community, we don’t think about the reasoning behind our behaviors. These behaviors and the programming we create can be influenced by the theory we read and the theory we believe grounds our work as librarians. Shannon’s interview was full of all the things she and KRL was thinking of as they created the Make, Do, Share programming.
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I just wrote a curriculum of STEM programs for a rural library to hold for special education high school students. I was initially intimidated by the concept because I am a liberal arts major, a creative writing fellow, a librarian for the love of books. Thankfully I found tons of research and ideas for STEM programs online, especially on the YALSA wiki.

The program ideas I came up with on my own, on the other hand, seemed more…artsy. Given my background, that’s not a huge surprise, but I felt defeated when I’d come up with what I thought was a great idea just to realize it’s too artsy.

That’s when I discovered STEAM. The programs I wrote are strictly STEM, and I respect that and stuck to it. But there is a debate about STEM vs. STEAM, and as someone who has only become familiar with these concepts in the last couple of years, I’m fascinated.  

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Instagram of the Week – March 14

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

Last week from March 6-12 marked this year’s “Create it at your library” Teen Tech Week celebration. Sponsored by YALSA, this yearly initiative aims to connect teens and libraries, and encourage teens to make use of the library’s nonprint resources. As the Future of Library Services for and with Teens discusses, the knowledge divide continues to grow as one in four teens does not have access to technology. Participating in events such as Teen Tech Week provides an opportunity for teens to gain experience with technology tools in an informal setting and strengthen digital literacy skills. Libraries around the country took part in Teen Tech Week by showcasing maker and breaker spaces, hosting DIY and science programs, introducing teens to new technology, and having fun!

Mark your calendars for next year’s Teen Tech Week celebration from March 5-11, 2017.  Continue reading

TTW Grant Winner: Read It, Review It! @ the Dickinson County Library

Our program for Teen Tech Week 2016, “Read It, Review It!” will encourage teens to share what they have been reading with the community through video book reviews posted on the Dickinson County Library YouTube channel.  The teens will be directly involved in all aspects of the video creation process.  We will be encouraging them to read new books and then prepare a review of the title(s) they’ve read.  They will be in charge of lighting and directing their own videos, editing the footage, posting the final product to the Internet, and advertising these new reviews with their friends, family, and community.

Receiving the grant sponsored by Best Buy and YALSA is going to allow us to provide an amazing opportunity for our area teens.  We’ve already begun purchasing the equipment we will be using, including a new camera, tripod, microphone, lighting, backdrop, high capacity SD card, and carrying case.  We have also begun brainstorming on the various props we can make available for teens to use in their videos.  While we were prepared to run this program using a staff-loaned flip camera with an improvised shower curtain backdrop, we are so excited to be able to upgrade thanks to the $1000 Teen Tech Week grant!  Software is being installed as I type, and before long we will be ready to roll – literally!

In addition to being fun, the experiences the teens gain through these videos will promote confidence and development of public speaking skills that are beneficial in all aspects of their future – school, career, and general life situations.  The technology they will learn can be applied in many scenarios including: high school projects, college assignments, career preparations, and for fun personal uses.  This project will also promote teamwork, as they will be responsible for assisting each other with their personal videos, creating a sense of community.

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TTW Grant Winner: Teen Tech Week! Blending Art and Technology

Wicomico Public Libraries are gearing up for Teen Tech Week 2016! Our Library System serves a diverse group of young adults with our Main Library Branch in a downtown urban area, a Branch in our regional shopping mall, and a Branch in a rural small town in our county. We were inspired by this year’s theme, Create It @ Your Library, and worked to design a program series that was as technologically creative as possible for all three locations.

Photo Credit: PLB Comics

Photo Credit: PLB Comics

I reached out to our local team of comic writers, PLB Comics, and arranged a Creating Comics event where these writers will share the process of comic book creation from inception to completion. They will discuss script writing and how current technology has changed how comics are created and how that relates to the comic creator. The second half of the program will have teens write a four-panel comic. Then attendees will switch and draw from another person’s script while constantly communicating and asking questions to help reinforce the collaborative nature of the comic creation process.

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TTW Grant Winner: STEAM Fun with MakeyMakeys

Lexington Public Library’s “Create It at Your Library” Teen Tech Week program was designed to get kids between the ages of 11-18 interested in all aspects of STEAM learning  using JoyLabz MakeyMakeys, small circuit boards that allow anything that conducts electricity to become the arrow keys, space and click buttons on a computer.

Our first event was prepared in partnership with the local middle and high schools. We connected the MakeyMakeys to bananas that were then plugged into a computer running Super Mario Bros. We explained that electrical currents work in a circular pattern through a ground wire plugged into the MakeyMakey; this allows a current to run through the computer and conductive items, so the kids were able to control Mario by tapping bananas!

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Lexington High School Students playing Super Mario Bros. using bananas and JoyLabz MakeyMakeys. Credit: Joanna Cox

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TTW Grant Winner: Putnam County Library System Maker Space and Create Con Competition

IMG_1082The Putnam County Library System – headquartered in Palatka, FL – will be celebrating the theme of “Create it at your Library” with an Invention and Creativity Convention March 4-12, 2016. Called Create Con, this competition is meant to showcase and award teen talent and encourages research, creativity, experimentation, and innovation. The Putnam County competition will start on March 4th at the Melrose Branch and conclude March 11th at Interlachen Branch Library. One talented teen (ages 13-18) will win the First Place Prize for the System: a 7” Kindle Fire and a $50 gift card. There is a also Tri-County (Putnam, Alachua, and Levy counties) competition that takes place at the Alachua County Library District Headquarters on Saturday, March 12th. The Grand Prize (awarded to the top teen from all three counties) includes a 3Doodler Pen and a $100 gift card. There will also be a school age division (ages 6-12) held locally with special prizes including a Makey Makey Kit.

IMG_1081There are many ways to compete including 1) creating a prototype or drawing of an original invention, 2) writing a research paper on a famous inventor or invention, or 3) a showing a creative project (artwork, website, app, game, etc.). Competitors are expected to showcase their work on a tri-fold display board. Create Con applications and guidebooks can be picked up at the library. Applicants are encouraged to contact Jeremy Yates, Special Projects Coordinator, at the Headquarters Library.

IMG_1078Area youth are also encouraged to attend monthly “Technology Petting Zoos” at each of the five branches of the Library System. They are so named because participants are encouraged to touch, play, and experiment with maker space equipment including 3D printers, robots, electronics, kits, video and audio equipment, and more. The library has also started hosting Maker Boot Camps at the Headquarters Palatka Library. These 1-2 hour courses will cover these like 3D Design, Basic Circuitry, and Intro to Robotics. They will make their way to the branch libraries this summer. In the meantime, maker kits are being assembled for patrons to check out at the Circulation Desk for use inside the library. These will include Snap Circuits and simple robot kits.

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TTW Grant Winner: Lost in a Digital Wonderland

When we think of teens today, we imagine a young adult glued to their cell phone, speaking in a foreign text speech slang, and Facebooking people halfway around the world. But for me, the phrase “can’t see the forest for the trees” comes to mind.

Our teens can certainly text, take a selfie, and play their favorite games online; but when I suggest they copy & paste a Google image, find an app for that, or read a book online, I get the most incredulous looks I’ve seen since high-school drama club. Statistics say that 40% of households in Lafourche Parish have no access to wi-fi. That students might get a maximum of 30 minutes in a computer class at school a week. I’m not the only one guilty of forgetting this and assuming every teen has a Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram account. They are considered the agents of technical suave. The reality, of course, is that for many of our teens, the library is their only digital touchstone. These teens might be Generation Y, but Y2K happened when they were infants. When I try to get them to read a popular book series or do a craft program, I get mixed results.

So I told them they would be building a website and doing photo/video editing for Teen Tech Week this year.

Oh my. Christmas has come early! Along with every other gift-giving celebration for many years to come.

“We can really do this? In the library?”


“For  free?”


“And we can actually do the stuff? Not just sit and listen to you?”

“Well I’m not going to make it for you.’

Shock! Awe! Horror (that they didn’t know about this sooner, why oh why didn’t they sign up for a news alert?) Can they really believe that I will allow, nay insist, that they touch the computers? Well, yes. As well as the tablet, video camera, and printer. I was quite serious about not doing the work for them.  A digital storytelling platform made by teens for teens. And that description hasn’t fit me for a while.

They have no idea that I might be more excited about this project than they are.

Kristen Angelette works with teens at the Lockport Public Library, part of the Lafourche Parish Public Library System in Lockport Louisiana.


TTW Grant Winner: Anaheim Public Library

The Haskett and Ponderosa Joint-Use Library, in Anaheim, California, are excited to launch the Teen Tech Week festivities!  Throughout the week, youth are encouraged to visit the library and partake in both passive and interactive programs. Teens will have the opportunity to learn how to convert everyday items such as fruits, vegetables, and kitchen utensils into a functional piano, keyboard, or other musical instruments using a Makey Makey. The Makey Makey’s have arrived and are currently being tested.

Students from the Fullerton College Robotics Team will also be visiting the library and leading a hands-on demonstration, exploring basic robotic mechanics.  Our hope is for the youth of Anaheim to have the opportunity to explore, create and innovate.

Our library staff members have been promoting upcoming Teen Tech Week activities at the local schools and after-school centers.  The library also has a TeenSpace Center and all youth are encouraged to attend scheduled programs. Also, the library has a large number of teen volunteers and all are invited to join us for the planned activities.

The library is also hosting a Tech Week “Technology Art Contest”. The contest is open to youth, ages 13-18, who are invited to create and submit an original drawing of their idea, meaning or interpretation of Technology. We want youth to have fun and be creative.

Wishing everyone a successful Teen Tech Week, hope all of your activities are well attended but most importantly we can make a difference in the life of the youth we serve.

This post is authored by Guadalupe Gomez, Branch Manager of the Haskett and Ponderosa Joint-Use Library. Gomez has been in the library field for over 15 years and continues to search for programming activities supporting youth in the Anaheim community.

TTW Grant Winner: Mixing it up for Teen Tech Week

Gilroy Library was fortunate enough to receive a YALSA & Best Buy Teen Tech Week grant.  This wonderful news has meant that I have the means to realize a fully-fledged TTW program for my library.

The dilemma with planning for TTW this year was not about what ‘could’ we do, but what couldn’t we!  With so many great activities to choose from it was hard to narrow down what we could feasibly offer to our teens for our TTW programming.

Working with this year’s theme ‘Create it at your library’ I decided to mix things up a little. I wanted to provide a variety of activities that focus on different skill sets.  After a lot of deliberation (and online shopping!), I was able to experience the joy of opening delivery boxes full of creative goodness.

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