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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#LibFive: Five Key Foundations for Building Inclusive Libraries

Written by Julie Stivers

Is there anyone more equipped to meaningfully speak on the concept of inclusive libraries than our students or patrons? Of course not. Of course not. To leverage students’ experience, perspective, and wisdom—and to create student-driven PD—I worked with three of our amazing 8th grade students at Mount Vernon Middle School to develop student-led training for librarians.

In April of this year, Jaida Morris, Cesar Falcon, Jose Gomez and I unveiled our #LibFive concept—Five Key Foundations for Building Inclusive Libraries—at our district conference, WCPSS Convergence. Several weeks ago, I was lucky to share our ideas at ALA’s National Conference during the YALSA Presidential Program, a Panel on Youth Activism.

My students and I continue to work on crafting this professional development, but we’d like to share the work that we’ve already completed in this forum.

Our project was based on an initiative from the Chapel Hill Blue Ribbon Mentors called the Student Six, which is a student led professional development for teachers centering on six culturally sustaining strategies for educators to use to better connect with their students of color. I had seen the wonderful teens and educator Teresa Bunner presenting on the Student Six and each time, a question came up from the audience of mostly librarians. [You can probably guess what it was.] What was your experience with school libraries? Well, the answers were lukewarm at best and none of the teens in attendance had meaningful, positive stories or experiences with their school libraries or librarians. Which was, and is, heartbreaking.
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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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