Celebrating Teen Read Week at an Urban Independent School

I work as an independent school librarian in Brooklyn, NY. Our school serves grades PK-12 with two separate libraries. We have a PK-4 space and a space for grades 5-12. Our Non-Fiction is integrated with stickers signifying approximate age range. We have three separate fiction sections which are Middle Grade, Young Adult and Adult.

As a school librarian, Teen Read Week is often blended into the background but that doesn’t mean it is not celebrated.  In October, we are just getting into the groove of being back at school, the book clubs have just begun gaining momentum and the bulletin boards are in their full display glory.

I often like to keep things on my desk because it sparks student interest. I have lot of tsotchkes that the kids often look at or ask to play around with. In that same vein I often keep signs, displays and bookmarks on my desk. I buy a lot of supplies from the ALA store and make sure to have those out at least a week before. I also buy extra things to give out to my book clubs.

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A Fresh Start

Warren, Ohio is deep in the rust belt. What was once a bustling factory town is now deeply impoverished, where every child qualifies for free breakfast and lunch at school each day. For these teens, just one manga replacement charge can render an account unusable. Once a card reaches five dollars in fines, it cannot be used to check anything out, and accounts are placed into collection once the $25 fine threshold is reached.

The Youth Services Manager and I felt this was unfairly punishing our teen population, especially since we don’t offer any way to work off their fines, either through reading or volunteering. All juvenile cards are the responsibility of the parents who signed up for them, and as any member of the family can use the card, oftentimes fines are accrued for items that teen didn’t check out. Personally, it breaks my heart each time a teen wants to check out books but can’t.

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New Pew Report on Younger Americans and Public Libraries

Today, the Pew Research Center released a new report titled “Younger Americans and Public Libraries: How those under 30 engage with libraries and think about libraries’ role in their lived and communities.” This report surveys younger Americans ages 16-29, which they found were three different generations, according to reading habits, library usage patterns, and attitudes about libraries. The youngest of the three generations is comprised of high schoolers (ages 16-17), the next generation is college-aged (18-24), and the third generation is 25-29. Library usage among these groups together is significantly higher than those of older generations with 50% reporting having used a library of bookmobile and 36% reporting having used a library website (this is up from 28% in 2012) within the previous 12 months.

Recent library Use

 

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Strategic Planning: Your Opinion Matters

Utter the phrase “Strategic Planning” and many of us cringe a little at the daunting process these words imply. YALSA is at the beginning stages of this task and needs your feedback in our member survey. The information you provide will be used to help the YALSA Board of Directors develop the association’s next strategic plan.

Being a member driven organization, your opinion matters! What services, tools, or resources do you need to be best librarian you can be? Are there challenges you are encountering in serving teens and young adults in your library? How can YALSA continue to be relevant to you and the profession? Help us answer these questions and more, by taking a few minutes to answer a few questions in our member survey.

The member survey will be open for just one more week, until September 17, so take time now to complete it. Also, if you choose, you can enter your email address at the end of the survey for a chance to win a free teens and technology training kit (a $199 value).

We look forward to your feedback and your awesome ideas!

The YALSA Strategic Planning Task Force

When Your World Goes Up in Smoke

Fourteen thousand three hundred acres of forested area destroyed. Five hundred nine homes turned to nothing more than ash and rubble. Two lives consumed by smoke. It is still hard to believe that, just over thirteen months ago, the first spark of the Black Forest fire ignited. The flames may have only raged for nine days, but the impacts it left will remain for years to come, not merely due to the fields upon fields of smoky tree limbs it left in its wake, or the barren earth it helped to reveal. Not even because of the hordes of homes it brought to the ground. The impact goes much deeper than the visible—the smoky plume that licked the sky for days inexplicably changed every life involved. Mine included.

4302-black-forest-fire-coloradoJune 11th had started like any other day. It was summer, so I was free to do as I pleased. At around noon, my younger sister, Jess, and I decided to go out for a walk. Being summer, the bees were buzzing, the trees around me were a vibrant green, and the sky was a cloudless blue—so deeply blue, I remember. As I walked through this summer paradise, Jess was next to me talking about something, I don’t recall what.

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Level Up Your Leadership Skills: Be an Awesome Team Member in Six Easy Steps

One of the best ways to strengthen your leadership skills is to be on a team, project or committee, in your library, school or community. Teams come together for lots of reasons and their charges and scope can vary greatly — from non-existent to very specific.

Even if you’re not the team leader or chair, there are a lot of things you can do to help your team be more effective.

1.Identify a clear purpose or charge. If one hasn’t been provided for you, how can you and the team create something more specific and then accomplish it?

2. Include a range of voices. Teams with a broad diversity of thought and experiences are better at discovering a wide variety of approaches and tools, which help in tackling complicated issues or dilemmas an identifying better solutions. Focus the team’s energy, at least at first, on something within their scope, so they can get some early wins and be more successful in the future.

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YALSA Strategic Planning: Member Survey is Open!

In January 2014, YALSA issued the report, The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action, based on a yearlong national forum of research, interviews, and stakeholder discussions. The Call to Action looks at how teens are now using libraries and recommends ways for libraries to provide new and more relevant services to teens, and the report will definitely be a starting point as the YALSA Board of Directors begins to craft the next strategic plan.

For the next step, we are seeking member comments about the services YALSA provides to its members, to librarians working with teens, and to the library world at large. Everything YALSA produces originates with the membership, and your input is vital for the Board to plan for the next direction in teen services.

Please take the opportunity now to add your voice and let the Board know where you see teen services headed, what you need as a teen librarian, and which of the services YALSA provides that you value. Our member survey is now open and will be taking responses until September 17.

As a bonus, if you choose, you can enter your email address at the end of the survey for a chance to win a free teens and technology training kit (a $199 value).

We look forward to hearing from you!

The YALSA Strategic Planning Task Force

Aspen Institute Taskforce pt. 1: 24/7 Learning

The Aspen Institute Taskforce for Learning on the Internet recently released the report Learner at the Center of a Networked World. At 116 pages, the report is quite comprehensive. Since there is far too much information for one blog post, I am going to break this into a series.

The report calls for a change from the 18th and 19th century model of education:

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Kindness for the Solo Librarian

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Goal setting in a school library run by a single librarian can at times seem pointless.  Some days my to-do list gets longer rather than shorter.  Goals languish on the back burner while the fire in the middle of the library is tended to daily.  It is tempting to just let the months unfold reacting to the greatest need.  Being the only person responsible for multiple requests from teens, faculty and administration can mean our days are fractured and attempts to attend to long-range goals are frustrating and futile.  In order to avoid this frustration I have developed the KIND method of goal setting and follow though.  In short, this KIND acronym represents the following attributes, adapted to goal setting and getting things done; kindness, importance, noticeable and developing.  (Photo by Enver Rahmanov (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

RULE ONE.  Kindness. The first rule of goal setting for the solo librarian is to be kind.  Be kind to yourself if you get off track from your goals.  I put my new year’s goal on a list every year.  When I make the annual list I look at past year’s list.  There is one goal that is on the list year after year.  Instead of beating myself up over the fact that it hasn’t been accomplished I put it on this year’s list and celebrate that I am determined and persistent in pursuing this important goal.  By the way,  the goal that keeps coming up on my list it is to establish a teen advisory group.

I put it on the list this year, again, because not only do I know it is important I know that one day I will get that TAG established.  And without shame, I will say it is likely to be this year!

RULE TWO. Importance. Pick the goals that are important to you personally.  Validate yourself as a professional.  You care about your library and the students you serve.  Don’t pick goals that you do not believe in fully.  There are too many distractions in the year and if you do not pick goals that  resonate with meaning for you you aren’t going to carve out the time to work on them.   Goals that important to you and are also what teens want are goals that will keep you motivated throughout the year. An easy way to get input from students is to encourage them write a sentence or two on an index card describing their ideal library.   Make a list of all the things you would like to accomplish in your library.
Include everything you thing would be happening in an ideal library.
Circle the top ten things you would like to work on.
Rank the top ten in order you would like to work on them.
When ranking consider how likely you might be able to work on this goal, or achieve the desired outcome.  Put at least one goal that you know you can/will accomplish this year.

RULE THREE.  Noticeable. Make sure the goals you choose to work on are noticed.  For yourself, post your top goals where you can see them daily.  For others, choose goals to work on that your teens and your administrators can see and relate to the value of the library you manage.  You want to stay visible and let people see the value that the library, and you as the librarian add to the achievement of students.

RULE FOUR. Developing.  Some of the goals you choose you just won’t get to, will fail, or will not work out the way you had planned.  Make sure at least one of you goals is something that you can and will accomplish.  Perhaps it is a program that you have already piloted successfully and your goal is to expand it.  Nothing breeds success like success and it is important to see that you are setting and reaching goals.  Be flexible when it comes to developing your goals over the year.  I’m going to create a makerspace this year with the 3D printer as the focal point.  As I develop this goal I see how it may be very possible that the students that I am working with in support of this goal may end up being the same students that head up the teen advisory group.  I am planning to develop this goal from the ground up and I see that the need to be flexible when I empower others will be key to the success of these goals.  I can embrace these goals as developing.

KIND goals.  Those are my kind of goals.  Flexible, accessible, accepting and empowering of our school’s teens.  It is the same kind of library I like to foster.  The only way to create a kind school library where young people feel accepted and appreciated is to start with the way we treat ourselves.  If we are realistic about the competing demands for our time as a solo librarian we can begin to set realistic goals that we can  and will achieve.  Good luck as you plan your successes this academic year.

District Days 101: Planning an Event with a Politician

By: Annie Schutte is Director of Libraries and Center for Inquiry at the Maret School in Washington, DC.

Libraries are doing amazing work in our communities, so don’t you want your elected officials to know about it? Your senators and representatives are your direct link to federal policies that determine library funding, and they’re more likely to support programs when they have first-hand knowledge of how they work for their (and your) constituents. The best way to educate your elected officials is to invite them to an event at your library (see: District Days 101: How to Get an Elected Official to Your Library).

Follow these eight easy steps, and you should be well on your way to hosting a successful event for your elected official, your patrons, and your library.

1. Start with a pre-existing event. You don’t need to create something special for your elected official. Pick an event you’re already doing that would give you an opportunity to show off a library program or educate your Congressperson about the type of work your library is doing. An example would be asking a Congressperson to participate in the culminating summer reading event at your library.

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