The Most Dangerous Place on Earth

In the novel The Most Dangerouse Place on Earth one of the female characters’ thinks to herself, “As if middle school were a safe haven…when in fact it was the most dangerous place on Earth.” Of course that sounds like teenage hyperbole, however I would say that if you think about it it’s more reality for many teens than one might want to admit. While teenage lives may have some of the outlines of a nightmare, there are many assets for library staff and community members to leverage in order to support the successful growth and development of all teens.

When I think of the assets that library staff can promote for and with teens I often think of the Santa Ana (CA) Public Library. I was fortunate to visit the main library a couple of years ago, after getting to know the teen librarian, Cheryl Eberly. The library building itself is nothing to “write home about.” The building is a 1960 structure that has quite a bit of wear and tear. However, when I was inside the building I didn’t really notice that. Why? Because from the time I walked in to the time I left (about two hours later) it was clear that this is a community library in which staff members (teens and adults) are embedded in the Santa Ana community and that the work that happens inside, and outside of the building, is completely centered on community needs.
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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.

 

Future Ready with the Library: Shake it Out

As a part of the YALSA and Association for Small and Rural Libraries (ARSL), Institute of Museum and Library Services funded Future Ready with the Library project, cohort members meet monthly to talk about working with middle schoolers and community in support of social emotional learning (SEL) leading to college and career awareness. In December, the third cohort of the project spoke with LaKesha Kimbrough, the Student Success Coordinator at Washington Middle School in Seattle. LaKesha spoke about SEL, how to help library staff work successfully with middle schoolers, and how to build partnerships that build opportunities for success for middle school students.

The 38 minute video below is a compilation of clips from LaKesha’s conversation with cohort members.

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Libraries Welcome All Families: Community Partnerships to Fund Collection Development for English Learners in Urban Connecticut

One of the most difficult moments of the month was observing my English Learners come to check out books with their classes and not be able to find anything they could read at the high school level. It broke my heart to see dejection on their faces. It did not matter that I myself could not understand the words they were saying; I could just see it. Students perform better academically in literature courses when they see themselves in the materials and simply enjoy independent reading more. While I had some titles of interest for my Latinx students topically, all of them were in English. I set out to add books to my school library collection to assist my Spanish-speaking students. To purchase fiction in Spanish, I first posted a request on Donors Choose (www.donorschoose.org) for just ten novels. When the project was funded and the books arrived, I labeled each with a green S and shelved them above our fiction cases to aid new students trying to find them. After that success, I added another Donors Choose project to bring ten Spanish memoirs to West Haven High School, as all of our seniors must read a memoir.     

This project garnered the attention of the Greater Bridgeport Latino Network (GBLN), a local organization working to feature Latinx success stories, encourage political activism, and support community endeavors. GBLN showcased the story on their website, and it was subsequently picked up by a local newspaper, the New Haven Register. It was my desire to inform the audience it was not just me, my school, or my district needing these materials and support from the Latinx community:

“Literacy is necessary for being a productive member of society. Volunteering time such as reading at a toddler story hour, helping at a resume writing class, or speaking on a vocation or cause are all ways to support local libraries, especially those serving predominantly Latino communities. Woychowski welcomes the donation of new or gently used books to her own library, but she also encourages readers to donate both books and time to their own local school or public libraries.” (http://gbln.net/books-in-spanish-needed-for-high-school-library/)

Sharing this story via social media has been a blessing in terms of the varied audience reached. Links to the story appeared on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and were shared numerous times by personal friends and professional connections. Books began appearing on my home front porch and in my school mailbox from all corners of the community, from a prominent defense attorney to a small Catholic Church to a representative of the Hispanic Nurses Association of a large local hospital. Our community’s support of literacy is invaluable, and as school librarians, we must be willing to advocate for it on behalf of our students.

Jillian Woychowski is a School Library Media Specialist at West Haven High School and is a member of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation.

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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Gimme a C for Collaboration: Meeting the Needs of Special Education Classrooms through Outreach and Advocacy

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.

Background

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.

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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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Dollar General Grant Winner: The Zine Project

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.

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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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Dollar General Grant Winner: Hiring Teen Interns

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

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