Want to grow interest in computing at your library? Host a meet-up!

This is a guest post by Marijke Visser from ALA’s Washington Office

The ALA’s Libraries Ready to Code initiative and NCWIT Aspirations are working together this year to provide monthly topics through the “Community Champion Learning Series for Libraries“. This month our focus is on connecting libraries with local young women passionate about computing.

If your library values equity of opportunity and has a common goal to increase the meaningful participation of girls in women in computing locally, serves as a hub for resources and programs within the community and you have an interest in supporting local girls/women with the opportunity of computing and the “Aspirations” programs, you may be interested in hosting a local NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Community meet-up at your library.

In person meet-ups have several benefits for the library host and for the local Aspirations in Computing Community members that attend. Click here for more information and next steps.

Visit the archives here for past and upcoming topics. Questions for NCWIT? Email aichelp@ncwit.org.

Using Podcasting to Build Self-Confidence and Teach Teamwork

Having worked closely with teens in public libraries for thirteen years, I have discovered they are among the most creative of age groups. Who else would think of a Harry Potter character jumping out of library shelves for a promotional video, or representing themselves and their friends with anime drawings? Teens are always full of surprises, just waiting for a chance to be expressed. Libraries have growing numbers of culturally diverse teens involved each year and that adds more fun to my job, but library programs aren’t always keeping up with change. Youth programs should help build teamwork and confidence, and teens should be encouraged to speak their minds and find their voices. Podcasting can encourage youth to speak about their diverse cultures and viewpoints, foster self-confidence, and develop new technology skills they can use for life. Teaching teens how to podcast is a great way to empower your teens and give them a platform to voice their opinions and unique experiences.

The first step toward great podcasting is to prepare a room with the necessary tools, the appropriate seating space, and a relaxed ambience. I know from experience that teens will open up and speak their minds only with someone they are comfortable with and in a place where they feel safe and relaxed. I chose the Discover Studio, a makerspace lab where we teach technology programs at the Boca Raton Public Library. The Discover Studio is a private space with nine Mac computers and GarageBand preinstalled on each. My goal is to design this as a program—not a formal class—and I envision this as a gathering place for the teens to hang out and tinker with their creative projects. In this studio, we also have high-quality microphones that the teens can share. Audacity will do the job if your lab has Windows computers, but GarageBand is my preference since it is intuitive and has many built-in features and effects. It also comes with a variety of sound clips ready to use.

My podcasting programs offer three sessions, each scheduled once per month. Most of the teens participating in podcasting are our regulars—some of them already know each other from joining in other teen programs and book clubs. For easy recording, I divide them into groups of four or five.

Teens huddle around a computer to create a podcast.

Photo from the Boca Raton Public Library’s Facebook – June 21, 2018

With an appropriate setting prepared, it’s time to get to work on the teens’ podcasts. Giving these youth the freedom to choose their own topics is an absolute must for a successful program. My teens have told me they love music, movies, manga and anime, food, actors and actresses, YA books, sports, travels, poetry, cultures, fashion, video games, crafts, and current socialissues.. But don’t assume your local teens have the same interests; you must ask them! To start, it might help to use icebreaker activities so they can get to know each other and get comfortable with you. I also set up a flip chart and make a list of what they want to talk about. (In the case of my teens, I suggested they vote for three topics they wanted to focus on.)

Each group member should choose a “role” in the first production. They can be a host, co-host, guest, music manager, or podcast editor. It can take the shape of popular formats such as a standard podcast, a forum, or a radio talk show. Setting up a timer is an effective way to keep track of time and make sure that no one  dominates the discussion. In a rewarding session everyone has a chance to contribute, and it’s your job to facilitate that outcome! The podcast can start with introducing themselves and the topic (or name of the podcast) to the audience, unless the teens come up with a more creative beginning.

Now that you and your teens are involved in the podcasting, it’s time to  focus on content. Ideally this is a forum where all teens have a chance to share their unique cultures and backgrounds as well as their individual thoughts and experiences. In one of my sessions, the teens enjoyed talking about food in their respective cultures. The host asked each guest to take turns talking about delicacies. I was surprised to learn so many new dishes from what they shared in a one-hour program: Poulet Aux Noix or chicken and cashew nuts is a Haitian dish. Popular in middle-eastern countries like Greece and Turkey, Baklava is a rich sweet dessert filled with chopped nuts and syrup or honey. A student from Thailand mentioned Thom Kha Gai, a chicken coconut soup.

It’s helpful to let the teens unwind and talk freely first to get the creativity flowing, and wait to edit the piece afterward. Don’t worry so much about music and effects that might distract from the main content. If necessary, you can help them insert music later. Somewhere along the line, you’ll  need to cover the basics of using the app of your choice, and all podcast sessions should include a quick lesson on copyright, creative common license, and public domain.

Teens work in a computer lab.

Photo from the Boca Raton Public Library’s Facebook – June 21, 2018

During our session, a spirited discussion about manga and anime followed the food talk. The teens talked about their favorite manga or anime and recommended the series to their friends. K-pop music and Korean drama is another engaging topic for teens. In creating a podcast, teens learn how to produce content that fits with their interests and displays their unique talents. They can read poetry they write, perform impersonations, retell stories, or share rap music—whatever fits their own style.

I see podcasting as one of our greatest tools to build self confidence in teens. Since podcasts revolve around topics that teens are passionate about, they tend to talk more freely, showcasing their skills, interests, and talents. Finally, they have the experience of someone listening to their point of view and caring enough to ask what they think about an issue.  This is a forum where their opinions count (including a diversity of individual opinions and cultural differences) and their creativity can shine. Teens have a chance to work together as a team to brainstorm ideas and create a quality product. They can also use the technological skills they learn to produce podcasts of their own!

Learn more about podcasting with teens:
http://www.ala.org/yalsa/sites/ala.org.yalsa/files/content/teentechweek/ttw08/resourcesabcd/techguide_podcst.pdf
https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=prime-time-podcasts

Where can you publish podcasts with no cost?
Apple Podcasts: https://www.apple.com/itunes/podcasts/
SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/for/podcasting
PodBean: https://www.podbean.com/start-podcast
Archive: https://archive.org/
Buzzsprout: https://www.buzzsprout.com

Sukalaya Kenworthy is a Youth Services Supervisor at the Boca Raton Public Library. She holds an MLIS from the University of South Florida and an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language from the University of Central Missouri. When not leading book groups or teaching Maker, Robotics, and Coding classes at the library, Sukalaya watches Korean drama, attends church, reads juvenile and YA fiction, and tries her hand at new Thai recipes. Sukalaya was born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand.

 

Libraries Welcome All Families: Makerspace Mondays!

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.    

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Why Makerspaces Are So Important in Public Libraries

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?

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Research Roundup Blog – Year-Round Teen Services

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.

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From Aspirations to Careers

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


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STEM Night @ Garland County Library

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.

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Girls Who Code @ Russell Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

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.

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Dollar General Grant Winner: The Summer of Teens and STEAM Camps

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.

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Dollar General Grant Winner: Baltimore County Public Library

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.”

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