Last fall, I was approached by a teacher at Asbury Elementary, a public, K-5 school in my library’s service area, about bringing library resources into his special education classroom. As someone with almost no training in special education, forming this partnership has given me a greater awareness of how to best meet the needs of children who experience disabilities, both in the context of school outreach as well as in a traditional public library setting. I’m inspired to gather and share resources with my colleagues on how to effectively reach and serve children who experience a range of developmental, emotional, and physical disabilities, and how quality intersectional literature can aid educators and caregivers in understanding complex identities.
Enacted in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) establishes the provision of a free and appropriate public school education for eligible students ages 3–21. According to the The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 13 percent of public school students received special education services in the 2015-2016 school year (National Center for Education Statistics, April 2018.) Given the significant number of students receiving special education services in our public schools, now is a critical time for both school and public librarians to evaluate how we can better serve this population in every context. More importantly, now is a critical time to examine intersectionality and its role in the perception and portrayal of minority and traditionally underrepresented groups of children who also experience a range of disabilities.
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.
Looking for a creative way to connect with teens at your library? Look no further! We’re here to tell you all about The Zine Project.
This summer, with generous support from YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, the Middle Country Public Library in Centereach, NY, hosted a hands-on workshop for teens to collaborate and have fun while making their very own zine.
Teens at the Zine Showcase with Nicole Rambo, Youth Services Librarian.
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.”
This summer, the Davenport Public Library was able to hire two teen interns thanks to the YALSA/Dollar General Teen Summer Internship Grant. The Library wanted to give creative and online-savvy teens a chance to see how their skills can be used in a workplace. We chose to create two distinct and specific internship opportunities in Art & Social Media where paying jobs are not often available for Teens, yet there is a high interest and potential for young people. In order to fill these unique internship positions, we first needed to create job descriptions, applications and an interview process.
Although, we received notification of the grant in early February, we quickly learned that we needed to start the hiring process ASAP. The Library formed a team of the HR Manager, the Youth Services & Programming Supervisor, and a Youth Services & Programming Librarian who would be working with the interns and also serves st the Social Media Team Leader. We wanted to post the job at the beginning of March and leave the posting up for about a month. We would then be able to narrow down applications and complete interviews in April and offer the position in early May (so we would have time, although not much, to reoffer the position to another applicant in May if someone turned it down). Since this was a summer internship position, there was no wiggle room nor pushing back the start date if something in the hiring process caused a delay.
Davenport Public Library 2018 Creative Literacy Intern Ariana Hill
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.
The Reading Public Library, Teen Loft located in Reading, PA provided three three-hour writing workshops this summer facilitated by professionals funded by the YALSA/Dollar General Summer Learning Grant.
- Ekphrastic Poetry: Motivos, a bilingual print magazine run by founder/publisher and former ALA National presenter Jenee Chizick-Aguero, provided a workshop on ekphrastic poetry. Teens used the elements around them and drew inspiration from things that were familiar to them such as music, movies, and artwork to find their creative voice. Jenee also encouraged them to submit their writing to her magazine for publication. She also shared resources her magazine provided such as scholarship information. The RPL also subscribes to her magazine so that they are available at all times.
- Short Story Writing: Young Adult author of Immaculate and Transcendent Katelyn Detweiler began with a discussion about how she got into writing, the challenges she faces and working for a publishing company in New York which gave teens insight into how a book is created from start to finish. Teens were then given prompts to help get them started.
- Comic Book Panels: Author and artist Jean Esther taught teens how to make their own comic book and the challenges he faced when creating his own. He also spoke about his journey as an artist. The workshop started off with basic drawing tips and tricks they could use to bring their drawings to the next level. After they created their main characters, they were ready to work on their storylines and share their work.
I am one of the 2018 YALSA/Dollar General Teen Intern grantees. This was our library’s first summer running a teen internship program. As we wrap up our program for the summer, I’m reflecting on how it went.
Our library serves a community where there are not many job opportunities for teens. Every time I visit schools and ask teens what they want to see at the library, one of their first answers is “jobs” (followed by “slime”). Therefore, our goal with this internship was to create a supportive and engaging “first job” experience for teens. We asked them to fill out an application and go through an interview process. We interviewed six teens for two positions. My hope is that this was a learning experience in a supportive environment, even for teens who were not offered the internship.
Once we selected our two interns, I worked to establish schedules and expectations with them. I also worked to create a list of tasks for them to complete over the course of the summer. I am glad I followed YALSA’s advice to plan more work than I thought they needed, because both interns learned quickly and finished tasks quickly. Both of our interns supported our summer reading program by helping prepare for and host children’s and teen programs. They also worked on various projects to help children and teens engage with our library space and collection, by creating displays, passive programs, and more. One of my goals for the year was to re-invent our teen space and collection by finding ways to give teens ownership of the space. There’s no better way to do this than to hire a teen to help!
We last checked into our Summer Youth Leaders @ Pearl Bailey Branch in Newport News here. Along with all of the training they get as part of the Wickham Avenue Alliance Youth Leadership Program and with their work helping us in our library, these teens also learn valuable skills related to joining the workforce. Using the Career Investigations Curriculum, and thanks to the generosity of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and YALSA, we designed an interactive day of activities to teach our Summer Youth Leaders (14-15 year olds) where to look to apply for jobs online, all of the rules regarding youth employment in the state of Virginia, help them to design a resume, and how to prepare for and participate in a job interview.
Career Readiness Training Day was a hit with our Summer Youth Leaders, thanks to the teaching and patience of Ms. Andreia Nelson of the C. Waldo Scott Center, a partner in the Wickham Avenue Alliance. They first took a short pre-test to see what they knew of workplace etiquette, then they worked together to correct mistakes in a sample resume. Everyone then took a Kahoot quiz (online or on their phones) on state labor laws or regulations, with a Dollar General gift card prize for the winner!
Following that contest, each of the youth leaders were given a free flash drive and worked together to create their own resume, geared toward a job that they might like to have. Following that, we provided them with materials and showed videos that demonstrated what to do (and not to do) in a job interview. All of the Youth Leaders had interesting questions about the process of getting a job, and asked both of us facilitators what we looked for when we interviewed a job candidate. The quick answer: someone who shows up on time, comes prepared, demonstrates that they care about fulfilling a customer’s needs and answering their questions, and isn’t afraid to ask questions of their own if they don’t get it. At first, they were confused by our “post-interview professional handshake” contest, but they all succeeded in the end.
I love mistakes. They might not be fun to make, but I sure do learn a lot from them. Take the structure of the volunteer program I am overseeing this summer as an example. I ran it how it has been run for years: like a summer employment opportunity. This meant having interviews and orientations at the very beginning of the summer, the goal being to assemble our “staff,” then have them volunteer on a regular basis for the next two and a half months. So far, it has been successful overall, but not nearly as successful as it could be. I have, however, started to notice a marked decline in overall volunteer availability and general work ethic.
As you can see, the total number of volunteer hours per week is steadily declining. Relatedly, we have experienced about a 28% rate of attrition (of 21 volunteers, 6 are no longer able to volunteer). This causes us to ask more of other volunteers or to go without volunteers.
So, what did we do wrong this year? We expected too much, and we didn’t anticipate attrition. Fortunately, we are still receiving plenty of volunteer applications, so finding new volunteers isn’t an issue. However, I believe tweaking the structure of the volunteer program to make it more agile could naturally preclude such issues. Here’s what we will be doing next year: