Dollar General Grant Winner: Teaching Teens Real World Skills

Butler, Pennsylvania, is a small city 25 miles north of Pittsburgh. Parts of Butler can be fairly suburban, while other parts are quite rural.  The Butler Area Public Library is located in downtown Butler, and serves a population of about 14,000. Two thirds of individuals ages 25 and over have had no post-secondary education. As a result, many of the teens that the library serves are preparing to be first generation college students; families are often not well prepared to teach the skills of adult life to their teens. While local schools have begun making an effort, teens are still finding themselves unprepared to transition into adulthood.

This is just a small sample of the materials we added to the YA Collection on various topics related to “adulting”.

BAPL was fortunate to receive grant funding from YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to create summer programming to help teens work on learning or improving real world skills, such as job seeking, budgeting, and meal preparation.  We planned six weeks of programming, with a different focus area covered each week. The goal of the program was to teach the teens soft skills and life skills in ways that were fun and engaging. We also used a portion of the grant funding to update our Young Adult Collection to have more materials that covered these topics.

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Interested in serving on a Book Award Committee?

Happy September! Are you a member of YALSA and would like to serve on one of the Book Award committees? Click on the Committee Volunteer Form (found under Sign Up to Participate). If you apply, be sure to indicate any previous experience you have with book discussion groups, award or selection list skills, and/or review writing. I will be looking for a diverse field of potential appointees for each award committee comprised of members with varying levels of experience.

As a reminder, all of the YALSA Book Award committee members are appointed beginning with the 2020 awards, based on a membership ballot decision. Appointments will be made in October, so you must volunteer no later than September 30 to be considered. Members will serve a one year term beginning Feb. 1, 2019.

The six award committees are:

Consider being selective in your choices: although you are able to select all of the committees on the form, I will be able to better gauge specific interest if you do not choose them all (or even most of them). Before the form, please be sure to review the resources on this web page to make sure that committee work is a good fit for you.

Finally, please remember that this is a substantial obligation; in many cases, you will be reading or listening to up to hundreds of titles in 2019 to determine the best of the best. Bear in mind when deciding whether or not to volunteer if the obligations of your personal & professional lives can also include this major commitment.

I thank everyone in advance for their desire and interest in volunteering to serve on these prestigious committees. Due to the limited allotted spots available, not everyone will receive the opportunity to serve.

Thank you!

Todd Krueger, YALSA President-Elect

YALSA President’s Report – July 2018

Hello Colleagues,

In July, YALSA said goodbye to our Executive Director of over 13 years, Beth Yoke. Her last day was August 3rd. The YALSA Executive Director search committee concluded their work in early July and selected Anita Mechler as YALSA’s new Executive Director. Anita started on August 13th. You can find out more about Anita in the interview conducted by the YALSAblog Member Manager Allison Renner.

As you may know, the YALSA Board works year round. Since Annual we have been creating, discussing & voting on Board documents virtually, as well as finishing discussion on a few documents that we were not able to cover at Annual. We have selected a site for the 2019 Symposium, filled a vacancy on the board, made an official statement on the future of midwinter, and made progress on improving member engagement experiences (this one can be found in the Annual 2018 documents). Check out the documents we’ve approved since Annual 2018 here.

The Board is currently finishing up revisions to the Mission and Vision and developing an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Plan, as recommended by the Advancing Diversity Taskforce. We will also begin work on Strategic Planning this year, so keep an eye out for ways you can participate!

Thank You!

  • A big thank you to the non-YALSA Members of YALSA Executive Director search committee, including Mary Ghikas, Beatrice Calvin, Dan Hoppe, Aimee Strittmatter. Todd Krueger, Sandra Hughes-Hassell, and myself comprised the remainder of the committee.
  • Thank you to Nicole A. Cooke for guest editing a terrific issue of YALS on Intersectionalism, Cultural Awareness, and Restorative Justice. It will be available to read very soon.

 Relevant Stats & Data

  • June Membership: 4,671 (down 2.8% over June 2017)
  • Funds raised in June: $721

 Don’t Forget!

  • The 2018 YALSA YA Services Symposium will take place in Salt Lake City, UT, November 2-4, 2018, at the Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel with a theme of: Zeroing In: Focusing on Teen Needs.Registration is open now and the preliminary program is online.
  • The YALSA Board approved a new version of YALSA’s Competencies. Make sure to check out the YALSAblog to learn more about these competencies. Find out about the upcoming free webinar competencies series here.
  • The Public Library & School Library Collaboration Toolkit, the result of a three-year collaborative effort with members of AASL, ALSC and YALSA, provides information, research, and examples to will help facilitate and incorporate collaborative initiatives. Make sure to check it out!
  • Check out the The Hub for the the latest on YA resources!
  • Check out the Current Projects page to stay updated on what’s going on!

Best,
Crystle Martin
YALSA President 2018-2019

An Interview with YALSA’s New Executive Director, Anita Mechler

Anita Mechler, YALSA Executive Director

Today YALSA welcomes a new Executive Director, Anita Mechler. YALSAblog interviewed her about her past experiences and what she’s looking forward to accomplishing with YALSA.

Tell us about your background and what led you to this position.

I have been active in a variety of causes throughout my life from human rights to legislative work from my high school days to now. I found a perfect fit for advocacy, helping people, and being able to “nerd” out on information sharing by pursuing my MLIS degree. The American Library Association’s ​Code of Ethics​ resonated strongly with me when I was going through graduate school and has continued to inform my professional work. I joined the library profession to provide the best services I could to help people pursue and live successful, fulfilling lives. The mission of YALSA perfectly aligns with my goals. Like educators and other library professionals, I have a passion for finding the best answer to a question, the most efficient solution to a problem, and logic and order to confusing situations.

With this position, I want to enact more positive change for a wide range of users who would benefit most from the services that YALSA, ALA, and other important organizations provide. There are plenty of negative forces at work in the world and I want my work and the organizations that represent young adults to do good work, bring about the most positive change, and to provide that one interaction for a young adult user that could change the course of their lives for the better. As an Executive Director, I will be able to enact policies, develop strategies, and advocate for legislation from the highest level of this division that will have the power to positively affect lives all over the United States.
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Get Involved with YALSA – Short-term work

Have you wanted to get involved in YALSA but don’t know where to start? Are you a committee pro but don’t have the time to commit to a full-year term? Are you a YALSA member who likes a shorter-term volunteer opportunity?

Member award juries and short-term groups may be just what you are looking for! Juries work for just 3 months, and short-term groups work for 6 months.  What does a jury do?  They vet applications for a particular member grant or award and choose a winner.  Short term groups focus on completing a specific job.

Juries (3-month appointment, starting Nov. 1; 4-month appointment for chairs, starting Oct. 1)

Short Term Groups

Other:

The jury and short-term group volunteer window is open until August 1. Use this form to volunteer! If you have been appointed to a group you will receive an official invitation from YALSA’s Membership Marketing Manager, Letitia Smith, some time in Sept.  You will not hear anything from YALSA in Aug.  If invited to serve, accept your place on the group by responding to the email and be ready to jump in when you hear from the chair.

Thanks for all the time and talent you volunteer to YALSA!  If you’re looking for other ways to get involved, visit the YALSA web site for more opportunities!

If you have questions, feel free to get in touch with me (todd.yalsa@gmail.com).

Todd Krueger,  YALSA President-Elect

YALSA President’s Program: Supporting Youth Activism in Your Library

Each year the YALSA president’s program serves a two-fold purpose: it is a membership meeting providing members with updates and highlighting YALSA’s accomplishments for the year under the leadership of its president, and it includes a session encompassing the theme the YALSA president has selected for the year.

During the membership meeting, YALSA President Sandra Hughes-Hassell, shared a long list of work put forth by YALSA this past year, much of which centered around equity, diversity and inclusion.

Some of the resources you can find through the YALSA website or created by YALSA around equity, diversity, and inclusion include:

During the panel presentation aligned with Sandra Hughes-Hassell’s theme of Youth Activism through Community Engagement, speakers presented on the social justice work being done for and with teens at their libraries. Presenters included Gabbie Barnes, YOUmedia Manager and Teen Services Librarian at Hartford Public Library (CT), Jose Cruz, Middle School Services Librarian at Oak Park Public Library (IL), and Julie Stivers, School Librarian at Mount Vernon Middle School (NC).

One of the projects that Gabbie highlighted was the teen-led “Tell ‘Em Why You Mad” unconference led by YOUmedia Hartford teens in partnership with Grow Hartford Youth Program and COMPASS Youth Peacebuilders. The teens heavily utilized the Black Panther’s 10-point plan. As Gabbie notes, “I’m most proud of the hard work that the teens who organized the event put forth. I’m proud of their desire to honor their elders with the 10-point plan. I’m proud that we were able to support their ideas and their goals with funds, space, and resources.”

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No, Forbes, Libraries Cannot be Replaced by Amazon

On July 21, Forbes magazine published a piece on its website called “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money,” which was written by contributor Panos Mourdoukoutas, Chair of the Department of Economics at Long Island University.  The piece was removed from their site today, but you can read it here.  The author’s reasoning behind shuttering the nation’s 17,000+ public libraries and replacing them with Amazon bookstores was narrowly focused on his perception that libraries are just about two things: stuff and places.  Mourdoukoutas manages to overlook the oodles of reasons why libraries are vital, including but not limited to their role in defending free speech, protecting the privacy of users, supporting lifelong learning, and creating an informed citizenry who can participate in the democratic process.  But perhaps what is most disturbing about his suggestion is that he completely ignores the fact that there are millions of Americans living in poverty who cannot afford to purchase books and other materials, and who do not have access in their homes to current digital tools or high speed Internet.

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Summer Volunteers: Maintaining Momentum

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:
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Be YALSA’s Next Rep to the International Federation of Library Associations

YALSA is seeking personal members who are interested in representing YALSA on the following:

  1. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ (IFLA) Section on Libraries for Children & Young Adults
  2. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ (IFLA) Section on Literacy & Reading

One representative for each section will be selected by the ALA Executive Board and recommended to IFLA to serve a four-year term from 2019-2023.  YALSA personal members who are interested in representing YALSA on either section must submit their resumes to YALSA at yalsa@ala.org no later than September 1, 2018.  Please be sure to put IFLA Applicant in the subject line and in your email message indicate what section you’re interested in serving on.

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New Volunteer Opportunities

YALSA has two new volunteer opportunities that I am looking for members to appoint to.

  1. Taskforce for 2019 Teen Summit: This taskforce will be responsible for planning and implementing a 1-day teen summit in Washington DC in conjunction with ALA Annual. The summit will bring together 50 teens from the greater Washington DC area to learn their vision of how libraries can evolve to better support their needs and interests. More information can be found here: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/sites/ala.org.yalsa/files/content/Endowments_AN18.pdf Potential tasks for the include:
    1. Identify Washington DC area partners who can help get teen participation
    2.  Select a summit facilitator who can build the agenda for the day and oversee its
      implementation
    3. Select small group facilitators and speakers
    4. Identify an individual(s) to write the report
    5. Select the teen participants and handle transportation logistics
    6. Carry out the event
    7. Send thanks to teens and partners
    8. Write and distribute the report
    9. Implement evaluation measures
  2. Workgroup to Provide Resources and Tools for Evaluating Materials and Intellectual Freedom in Light of #MeToo: This workgroup will gather resources to help library staff serving teens evaluate materials and balance intellectual freedom. The group will also determine gaps in the information available and create tools to support members in this area. For more information on the discussion that led to the formation of this work group, see Board Item 34 from Annual 2018: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/sites/ala.org.yalsa/files/content/MeToo_AN18.pdf

If you have interest in serving on either of these groups please contact me at crystle.martin@gmail.com

Respectfully,
Crystle Martin
YALSA President