Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: Youth Engagement & Leadership Webinar

cover of the teen services competencies for library staffEach month, through December, YALSA is sponsoring free webinars (for members and non-members) on topics related to the Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff.

The July webinar (the full video recording is available after the break), facilitated by April Zuniga from the McAllen (TX) Public Library, covered the topic of Youth Engagement and Leadership. In her discussion April discussed how to build relationships with teens so to learn about their needs and interests and help teens feel comfortable engaging with and leading through the library.
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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

Preparing for Teen Volunteers: Promotions and Applications

At this point, most of you who are planning on having teen volunteers help you out with Summer Learning Program have probably already started working with your volunteers. It’s never too late or too early to start planning for next year. In this post, I’ll go through how we promoted our Summer Learning Program volunteer positions and how we handle applications.

Promotions

We were hoping to attract 20 volunteers this summer. So far we have had about 40 applicants, and we are still fielding applications. It’s always hard to pinpoint causes of success when it comes to dealing with the public, so I can’t say that we received more applicants than we hoped for because of how we marketed the positions. Our marketing approach, however, doesn’t seem to have failed. The two approaches used were personal contact and flyer distribution.

Word of mouth is an effective way to promote any event. Quite a few of the teen volunteers we have this year are individuals whom I or other staff members personally recruited. These were teens who showed some of the traits we look for in volunteers (work ethic, passion for reading, interest in the library, looking for things to do), and seemed to be a good fit. We also reached out to teens who volunteered in previous years. We keep contact information for all of our volunteers on file. Then, when an event like Summer Reading is on the horizon, we reach out and invite them to return. This has the added benefit of padding a volunteer roster with experienced volunteers.
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Cultivating Teen Programming at the Library

When someone wants to start their own garden, there are a lot of things they have to think about–location, climate, soil, and maintenance to name a few. It is important to know what kind of soil you are dealing with before you start cultivating the ground. Determining the quality of your soil allows you to utilize the ground to produce the best crop possible.

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”  -Audrey Hepburn

What does this have to do with having a teen presence and programming at the library? I have found the same principles and practices used in having a successful garden can be applied to cultivating a teen presence at your library.

I am the director of Bolivar-Hardeman County Library in Bolivar, Tennessee. We are a small and rural public library serving a diverse community. When I started nearly two years ago our teen attendance at our programs were at an all-time low—basically zero at our library. The demographic of our patrons is increasingly getting older. It was and is my passion to revitalize the library into a place where teens want to come. Shortly after I started, I became of a member of YALSA (Young Adult Library Service Association) and ARSL (Association for Rural and Small Libraries). You can become a member by going here for YALSA and here for ARSL. I was starting from ground zero on developing any type of teen programming at the library. YALSA and ARSL has and continues to provide invaluable information and resources regarding teens and young adults with little to no budgets. One example is the Future Ready with the Library grant I received to be a member of the second of cohort. Future Ready with the Library provides support for small, rural, and tribal library staff to build college and career readiness services for middle school youth. I highly encourage you to read more about Future Ready with the Library. The past several months I have been very busy with gathering information about my community, schools, and youth for the Future Ready with the Library project. Because of my recent research and community engagement it has given me a fresh perspective on Bolivar. One thing that stuck out like a sore thumb was the lack of teen involvement in the library.

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National Library Legislative Day 2018

Colleagues-

Last week, Beth Yoke and I traveled to Washington DC to participate in National Library Legislative Day – a twoday advocacy event that brings hundreds of librarians, library supporters, and patrons to Washington, D.C. to meet with their members of Congress and to rally support for library issues and policies. This year, the ALA Washington Office asked NLLD attendees to focus conversations with their Congressional representatives and their staffs on three key issues:

  1. Reauthorization of the Museum and Library Services Act
  2. Full funding for the Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) and Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL),for FY 2019
  3. Inviting representatives and their staff to visit their local libraries to see broadband access in action.

On Monday, after a full day of advocacy training, Beth and I attended a reception on Capitol Hill. Among the speakers were four teens who had been selected as the 2017 North Carolina Library Association Student Ambassadors. The teens spoke powerfully about how libraries have impacted their lives:

Libraries have personally impacted me in so many ways, including the opportunity to meet new people, learn new things and gain service and leadership skills. Alizdair Sebastien Ray

 

The library is a place where you can forget about reality and be present in the moment, where you can meet new people and develop new interests through the diverse programs it offers. Angelina Bayrak

 

It’s the perfect place to contemplate how we should handle our situations. Christina Haley Williams

One of the teens, Sam Kostiuk, created a video to share his experiences with libraries. Click here to view it.

In addition to attending ALA events, on Tuesday and Wednesday Beth and I met with representatives from the Department of Education (with AASL & ALSC), IMLS, the Afterschool Alliance, and the American Youth Policy Forum. Beth also met with the National Center for Cultural Competence.  These meetings were productive and Beth has already begun to follow up on our conversations.

Thanks to all of the YALSA members who participated in NLLD either in person, virtually, or by coordinating events in their communities.  Your advocacy efforts make a difference!

While participating in NLLD is important, we know that for libraries to be successful in our efforts to ensure federal funds and support for libraries, we need sustained, year round advocacy efforts. Read these 10+ ways you can take action and take a deep dive into all of the free advocacy tools and resources YALSA has on the web site.

Make sure to also reach out to your members of Congress during District Days – the time when they are back in their home districts. Invite them to come for a visit to the library and show them how you serve teens. Schedule a meeting with them at their local office to strengthen relations. YALSA has all sorts of free resources and tips to help you with this on the wiki.

Consider involving teens in your advocacy efforts like the NC Library Association did!  Visit the Youth Activism through Community Engagement wiki page for resources to help you and the teens you work with engage with their communities and advocate for issues like funding for libraries.

By stepping up our advocacy efforts we can help make the world a better place for all teens!

-Sandra Hughes-Hassell
YALSA President 2017-2018

Getting Started with Youth Activism at Your Library – From Stay Woke to Out @ Library

An interview with Jenifer Phillips by Izabel Gronski

This post is part of the YALSA Presidential Theme: Youth Activism through Community Engagement

Most of my networking and professional development happens on social media. There are excellent conversations happening about librarianship on Twitter and Facebook. One group in particular that I enjoy watching for collaboration and idea curation is Teen Librarians. That is where I “met” Jenifer Phillips, the Teen Program Coordinator at the Haverford Township Free Library in Haverford, PA. There was a great conversation going about teen activism programs in the weeks leading up to the student-led walkouts on gun violence, so I popped in to promote the Youth Activism through Community Engagement wiki that this Presidential Advisory Taskforce has been working on. Jenifer commented a little bit later about her Stay Woke program and I knew we had to touch base and asked her to share her knowledge in a blog post. Her insights are especially helpful for those of us who just don’t know where to to start, but feel the need that our teens have for activism based programming. Hopefully, Jenifer will inspire you to take the leap as well!
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Connecting TABs with Community Partners

An interview with Jackie Lockwood by Trent McLees

This post is part of the YALSA Presidential Theme: Youth Activism through Community Engagement

Jackie Lockwood is a Teen Services Librarian for the King County Library System, outside Seattle. She has been with KCLS for seven years, and has been in her current role at the Newcastle Library branch for over two years. Through collaboration and community partnering, Jackie’s work provides a meaningful example of one way we as librarians can support teen leadership and self-direction, both in the library and beyond its walls. By supporting the ideas of Teen Advisory Boards, and connecting with community partners to help teens’ make their ideas and goals a reality, Jackie’s work is focused explicitly on empowering teen voices.

I had an incredibly edifying and enjoyable conversation with Jackie, and if there is one huge takeaway I had from our chat it’s this: the best thing we can do to advocate for our teens is talk. Community partnerships can only happen if the community knows about the teens we serve and their needs, and the best way to let the community know what we know is to get out there and talk, talk, talk! When I asked her what she’d want to have librarians know about doing Teen Advisory Board work, she had this to say: “The biggest thing I’d want to tell another librarian is just to not get discouraged. Doing this kind of work, in what I’ve observed so far, takes a lot of stepping out on a  limb, entering into uncharted waters basically…There may be a certain amount of risk, and you may feel nervous about it, but as long as you’ve done your research and you know the reason why the program is important and will be valuable to the community, you can stand by that, you can get the support of your management and go for it, because it’s really important work.”

Read on for an abbreviated transcript of my conversation with Jackie, and be sure to check out her article detailing some of the work happening at King County Library System from the June 2017 issue of VOYA!
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Teen Services Competencies for Staff: Ensuring Equity of Access in Your Library

This spring, many students have walked out of class to call attention to the need for greater gun regulations in the wake of the Parkland shooting and on the 20th anniversary of the Columbine massacre. Seeing these teens’ bravery woke up many of my favorite memories of working with passionate and idealistic young people.


By rmackman [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

But this sort of activism shouldn’t been limited to those in positions of relative power. I know librarians around the country were embracing these walkouts as teachable moments and punctuating students’ rights to demonstrate.

Like the ability to protest, access to information is a constitutionally protected right. These protests dovetail well with one of YALSA’s identified Core Competencies for Library Staff, ensuring Equity of Access, defined broadly as “access to a wide variety of library resources, services, and activities for and with all teens, especially those facing challenges to access.”

Equity is one of the most critical roles that libraries play in the lives of young people, helping to level a playing field that increasingly seems to depend upon consumer buying power.

As with all of YALSA’s competencies, these can be viewed in terms of developing, practicing, and transforming the work of libraries working for and with young people. The progression of these skills begins with recognition of this critical role in the lives of young people, progresses to taking action to work with others in the community to ensure equitable access, then culminates in sharing your work so that others can learn from it.
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Supporting our Teens Working for Gun Reform

Written By Chris Tuttell

This post is part of the YALSA Presidential Theme: Youth Activism through Community Engagement

When the #EnoughisEnough movement began, many of our first thoughts may have been: how can I help? How can I support these courageous teens? As librarians, we are uniquely situated to support teens as they engage with social justice through our comfort with both the power of story and the importance of information literacy.

My journey to passionately advocating for the students calling for gun reform began because I believe that every student deserves to feel safe in their home, neighborhood, and school. I have been following @WhyWakeWalks—a local group of high school students in Raleigh, NC—as they have worked to gain awareness for the rally they are single-handedly organizing on April 20.

In an effort to raise awareness, gain district support,  and elevate the voices of these students, I interviewed the Why Wake Walks leaders on my podcast. The podcast, In Their Best Interest, is dedicated to elevating student voices and centering teens in education and advocacy conversations. This was a natural fit.

The teens in our #WhyWakeWalks podcast [spreaker.com/episode/14541745] powerfully articulate their platform and reference research and data. As librarians, we can help amplify teen voices in our communities—through social media, through the use of our library recording spaces and resources, through help with research, and most importantly, through lending our time to their causes.

Please consider ways in which you can support teens in your area as they advocate for safety in their schools and communities.

Visit the Youth Activism through Community Engagement wiki page for resources to help you and the teens you work with start conversations in your community.

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Chris Tuttell is a Librarian and Instructional Tech Facilitator in Wake County, NC. For the past 18 years, she has been an elementary school teacher, librarian, and instructional technology facilitator working with kindergarten through fifth grade students. Even though she works solely with elementary-aged students, she was so inspired by the teens advocating for safety from gun violence—both nationally and locally—she sought out teens in her district to support. Follow her at @ChrisTuttell.

Empowering Teens, One Conversation at a Time

Written by: Nicholas DellaVecchia, Laila Key, Timmy Lawrence, and Ali Shabazz, Teen Patrons of the Philadelphia City Institute Branch, Free Library of Philadelphia

This post is part of the YALSA Presidential Theme: Youth Activism through Community Engagement

At the Philadelphia City Institute Library, we have a weekly Teen Reading Lounge (TRL) program where teens come in to talk about current events and problems in society in a safe space. This program helps us find things that are really interesting to us and express our real concerns. We find topics we can argue and talk about, and learn how to make points on things we care about.

We’ve read books on topics ranging from teenagers who were sentenced to the death penalty to the lives of transgender teens. These intricate and personal stories are stories we don’t think we would have learned in school. That’s the beauty of this program. It fills the gaps between the narratives of real life people and what school teaches.

At TRL, we allow ourselves to broaden our minds about issues concerning immigration and people of other cultures. We have become more open minded and also more aware of concerns in the LGBTQ community. Not only are the books we read insightful, but the workshops introduce new topics in a fun way and help us see things from different points of view.
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