A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

What have you made with your library?

This year's National Library Week campaign focuses on the library as a place of creativity, creation and community engagement. All week, librarians and library users are posting what is #librarymade on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Unsurprisingly, many libraries are using this year's theme as an opportunity to encourage the creation, not just reading, of poetry during National Poetry Month. Teen services are a natural treasure trove of unlimited #librarymade action. Whether you have a 3D printer and circuits projects, book clubs, button-making workshops...anything!, your teen services are absolutely #librarymade.

How have you taken advantage of National Library Week? Are you incorporating the #librarymade theme into your National Poetry Month activities? In what ways could the vision of #librarymade change, improve or revitalize long-running teen services programs? Please share in the comments below!

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The Teen Programming Guidelines discuss the physical spaces of hosting teen programs in their eighth guideline.  When YALSA released its Teen Space Guidelines in May 2012, I dove into the wealth of information that the guidelines provided.  My school was in a transition period where we gained an additional media center space that needed to be completely renovated.  Our original media center also needed some updating, so the Teen Space Guidelines was the perfect tool for me to use in approaching our spaces.

The first teen space guideline states, "Solicit teen feedback and input in the design and creation of the teen space." Librarians and media specialists should always take into consideration the community they serve.  I needed feedback on what our students wanted to see in our original space.  A simple Survey Monkey survey was all it took to gain valuable insight into layout, furniture, needs, and wants for our high school students.  With their advice, we were able to rearrange furnishings and incorporate a few new pieces to freshen up our original media center.  Students also suggested that we move our manga section closer to the circulation desk.  Manga books are cataloged in the 740s in the nonfiction collection.  In our media center, this happened to put them in a far corner of our space and hard to see from the circulation desk.  Not only are these super popular books that are checked out frequently, but they became hot commodities that were frequently stolen.  (We do not have a book security system.)  After moving these books closer to the circulation desk, students have easier access to them, and we do not lose near as many to theft.  This also allowed us to promote the books more easily, which is also one of the guidelines in Teen Space Guidelines.  Teen feedback can never be underestimated.

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A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

In the past few days, not only have we had to flip our calendars, but the seasons have transitioned and spring has sprung! Are you in the process of switching over your book displays and bulletin boards? This week we're sharing some fun display ideas from libraries and librarians on Instagram. Focusing on "April showers" is popular as well as gardening, spring creatures, and spring cleaning. April displays also provide an opportunity to highlight monthly themes such as National Poetry Month, National Humor Month, and Autism Awareness Month.

In addition to providing inspiration for new displays, spring can be a great time to spice up social media accounts with a new series or game. As our teens are heading outside for spring sports and activities, social media can be a great way to keep them engaged with the library when they're on the go. To encourage patrons to interact with the library on Instagram, some libraries post fun trivia questions using emojis, pieces of text or illustrations, or clues that highlight a specific area or collection of the library. Creating a unique hashtag for the community to share images of their reading and showing a side of librarianship not usually witnessed at the service desk (such as mugs used by staff or their favorite snacks), will help patrons learn more about staff members without being present in the library. There are also a number of popular hashtags that are widely used by libraries and patrons alike that are specific to days of the week such as #bookfacefriday in which the face on a book cover is photographed over one's own or #tbt to share an image for Throwback Thursday. Hover over the images below to see the hashtags libraries have created for weekly series posts.

Have an awesome spring display idea? Created your own hashtags for your library? Developed social media games for your patrons? We want to hear about it! Share with us in the comments section below.

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"Mrs. Thompson, why we only got two Bluford High books?"  "We need more manga."  "I like that Sharon Draper lady.  We got anymore of her books?"  These were just a few of the questions and statements directed at me about our high school media center's collection when I became a media specialist.  Through day-to-day direct observation and through results of a student survey, I quickly realized areas of our collection that were being underserved - manga and urban fiction.  There were groups of students who were all clamoring for the same few titles that we had of a certain genre or series and our "hold lists" were growing longer by the day.

Several reasons may attribute to underserved groups in a library program.  Community dynamics change.  Our small suburban school system has seen tremendous growth in the 18 years that I have been here - 400% growth.  That translates into a graduating class of 78 in 1998 to a graduating class of 478 in 2015.  In the same time period, our minority population grew from 5% to 30%.  Our media center's collection does not reflect this growth.  Another reason for underserved groups is the rapid growth in new styles of writing, like manga.  It can be difficult to know whether new styles of writing are going to be accepted by your patrons, and we hate to waste money on books that are just going to sit on the shelves.  We started out with three different manga series to test the waters.  The popularity of these titles exploded!  They rarely made it back onto the shelves as students would grab them from the "re-shelf" cart as soon as they were checked in.  They also became our most stolen titles!  (We do not currently have a book security system.)  There were titles that our students desperately wanted to read, so why wouldn't I listen to them to continue to foster their love of reading.

As a reader, I cannot stand to read things in a series out of order.  Many of my students are the same way.  Why did we only have some of the Bluford High series?  Why were #1, 4, 6-8 of Full Metal Alchemist missing?  Our database showed that we had owned, at one point, #1-15 of the manga series BlackCat, but several of the titles were now marked "Lost".  I set filling in the gaps of the asked about series as my first goal in strengthening our collection for our underserved patrons.  In the urban fiction section, we went from two Sharon Draper titles to all 10 of her young adult titles.  We were also able to fill in the missing Bluford High titles, which serve our urban fiction fans as well as our Hi/Lo students.  For the manga patrons, we filled in all of the holes in the series we already had and aimed to include four new series a year.

Another strategy for building our collection for these underserved populations was to get input from the students.  In adding more manga, we allowed the students who were most interested in these series to help us with the selection of new titles.  They perused catalogs and looked online for reviews and suitable content (as some manga is aimed at a more adult audience). My African-American girls, who were devouring the urban fiction, asked about adding the Drama High series.  They loved looking for new authors to tell me about as well.  With the addition of the new titles, plus the marketing of the items through displays, our circulation increased 67% in one year!  Allowing students to assist in making our collection stronger for them gave them a sense of ownership and pride in our media program.

YALSA's Teen Programming Guidelines states that librarians should "create programming that reflects the needs and identities of all teens in the community."  Many media centers and libraries run into the problem of having an underserved population, and it is the duty of the librarian to recognize the needs of all patrons and work to strengthen the weak areas.  Investigate your collection for missing titles and allow your teens input.  These practices can go a long way in reflecting the needs of the communities we serve.

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

It's that time of year when public, school, and academic libraries start to feel the madness -- the book madness, that is!  To coincide with the March Madness basketball tournament, many libraries are hosting their own tournament with brackets of books. Frequently called Literary March Madness or Book Madness, librarians pit books against one another and ask library users to vote for their favorite titles. The sky is the limit when it comes to organizing brackets as the examples below spotlight different genres or categories (teen books vs. banned books, humor vs. local writers), sports books in general, staff picks, or pit popular characters against each other. When it comes to the voting process, there is also a bit of variation with some libraries opting for traditional handwritten bracket sheets and others heading online via social media, Google forms, or Survey Monkey.

Is you library participating in the big book dance and hosting a literary tournament? We want to hear from you! How do you go about choosing which books to include? Do you set up the pairings yourself or are you a fan of an online bracket generator?  Which method of submitting votes have you found works best for your teens? Do you change your categories from year to year to keep it interesting?

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This is a guest post from the Local Arrangements Committee for ALA's Annual Conference in San Francisco.

The YALSA Local Arrangements committee for ALA Annual in San Francisco, June 25-30, 2015, is recruiting youth participants to give feedback on nominated books at the Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA) Teen Session on Saturday, June 27, 2015 (a list of titles can be found here: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/bfya-nominations).

YALSA takes input from youth very seriously, and in order to get a wide representative of area youth, we are seeking applications from library staff in the greater San Francisco/Oakland area who would like to bring their teen book group to the ALA Annual Conference to participate in the BFYA Teen Session. Up to 50 local teens from the greater San Francisco/Oakland area will be able to participate.

Participation consists of teens (ages 12-18) speaking in front of an audience of the committee, publisher representatives, and conference attendees. The Teen Feedback Session runs from 1pm-3pm. Read More →

YALSA sponsored a variety of programs and events at this year’s ALA Midwinter Conference held in snowy Chicago.  On Saturday morning, the YALSA Past Presidents held their Trends Impacting YA Services session.  This year’s program featured Dr. Mega Subramaniam, assistant professor at the College of Information Studies, University of Maryland.  Dr. Subramaniam’s research focuses on participatory design and connected learning; in an ALA press release she states:

“Surveys, interviews, and forming a youth advisory council are no longer sufficient when designing programs for young adults. This paper calls for a substantial paradigm shift in how librarians are trained and how libraries can be used to serve diverse youth. It is time to involve the young adults themselves as co-designers.”

Mega’s presentation slides from the session can be found here.  She discussed the transition from traditional, “in-situ” learning experiences (such as formal education) to a new landscape of “learning in the wild.”  Librarians can bridge this transition, especially in a profession newly shaped by the Future of Library Services for and With Teens report.  So, how do we design FOR teens, WITH teens?

Enter participatory design; Dr. Subramaniam shared seven methods that get teens directly involved with planning, other than the traditional “librarian asks what we should do next.”  These methods include use of sticky notes to shape idea processes, “bags of stuff” where teens build and create with provided supplies to see what ideas bubble up, a big-paper approach to teen-led brainstorming, layered elaboration, fictional inquiry, “the cool wall,” and storytelling.  At the end of the program Mega asked each table in the room to think about a current design process we use when working with youth and how we might reshape that in the lens of participatory design.  I came away from the session with a whole new idea of how to work with my TAB as we plan future events.

On Sunday afternoon YALSA members gathered for the Moving YALSA Forward session.  This program was planned in conjunction with the YALSA Board’s strategic planning process which was also taking place during the midwinter conference.  The board’s strategic planning facilitator, Alan Brickman, also facilitated this member session.  Instead of tacking the full strategic plan, Sunday’s discussion focused on the area of advocacy.  While advocacy can mean many things, Brickman framed it for this purpose as “a direct effort to impact policy, impact public awareness, and build libraries’ capacity to further both these impacts.”

Attendees were divided into four groups, each with an advocacy area of either awareness or capacity building.  The groups brainstormed what the optimal outcomes would be and what direct actions would lead to those outcomes.  As we worked our way through the still relatively new idea of planning with outcomes as opposed to activities, several great ideas rose to the surface.  After working together, each group posted their ideas on the wall and with sticky dots in hand attendees chose their five priorities.  Brickman will be consolidating the results of this session and sharing with the YALSA Board as they continue their strategic planning process.

Both of these programs felt very much in line with YALSA’s current work of assisting members to redefine their teen programs and also be advocates for the valuable services we offer our communities.  Check out YALSA’s page on advocacy to find useful resources, and the Future of Library Services for and with Teens report to see how connected learning can fit into your teen services.

yay TAB!

Sofia, Kealin, Nona, Hannah, Leah and Calista making Valentines for veterans.

On Monday, January 19, the United States honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Legislation was passed in 1983 to commemorate King’s birthday and his legacy, turning the 3rd Monday of January into a federal holiday.  This holiday is to be observed as a national day of service-- “A day on, not a day off.”  According to the government’s site on the MLK Day of Service:

“[The day] calls for Americans from all walks of life to work together to provide solutions to our most pressing national problems. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King's vision of a ‘Beloved Community.’”

When I kicked off my teen advisory board meetings for this school year, one of the first items I brought to our group was my desire to have the TAB participate in at least one service project.  We brainstormed through a few of our monthly meetings, and in November I introduced the MLK Day of Service as an option.  Our local volunteer hub, Volunteer Connect, facilitates service opportunities on this day; everything from light building projects to park cleanup, creating floral arrangements for hospice patients to sewing up dog beds for the pets of the homeless.  I presented the variety of options, with the biggest caveat: donating your time on a day off from school.  Would the group be willing to do that?

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High school is a game of priorities. With sports, music, studying, and social commitments, older teens have to be really interested or otherwise invested in a program if it's going to find a spot on their already crowded calendars. One of the most meaningful ways to get high school students involved at the library is through offering a teen volunteer program. With the approach of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the National Day of Service, January is the perfect time to consider engaging older teens at the library through community service opportunities.

Why Volunteer?

Many high schools require community service as a condition of graduation. Of the schools that don't assign service projects, many still require student council representatives or honor society members to commit to volunteering a certain number of hours. Community engagement is also an important component of many scholarship and college applications, and some teens have court assigned community service or an interest in developing resume worthy work skills. All this combined means that teens want to hear more about volunteer opportunities.

Better yet, volunteering teaches teens about giving back to the community and participating in something larger than themselves. The Corporation for National and Community Service and the President's United We Serve campaign encourage students to give back to their neighbors on MLK day. In addition to providing a true benefit to the community, service projects can help teens reflect on what it means to provide a positive contribution to the community and the world. It also helps build several of the 40 Developmental Assets. By giving teens the opportunity to provide service to others and to fulfill a useful role in the community, library volunteer programs help teens learn positive values such as caring, responsibility, and a sense of purpose.

There are many different ways that you can incorporate volunteering into your regular program schedule, and with a bit of planning, you can insure the experience is mutually beneficial. Here are a few ideas to try at your library. Read More →

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

Happy New Year! For many, the changing year brings with it a list of resolutions. What can we do for those who have made it a goal to read more books? For starters, we can share reading challenges with our teen patrons or create our own for our communities. The 2015 Goodreads Reading Challenge has users set a goal of a specific number of titles to read, but other sources like Popsugar, Book Riot, and the TBR (To Be Read) Jar Challenge give category guidelines in which readers select a title of their choice.  Others, like Epic Reads' 365 Days of YA reading calendar and YALSA's 2015 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge (which counts toward the upcoming 2015 Hub Reading Challenge), ask participants to read a number of books from a provided list. Either way, these reading challenge avenues provide inspiration for creating your own reading challenge for your teens. Check out Random House of Canada's year-long Reading Bingo Challenge (one general card and one specific to YA) -- fun and motivating!

Another way to engage teens in a discussion of their reading is through book photo challenges. Offered monthly, these challenges ask users to take a book-related photo a day and post it on social media with the corresponding hashtags. The sky is the limit when it comes to daily photo tasks! Engaging library users in this type of discussion can provide clues to collection development and potential programming.

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