Are you ready for National Voter Registration Day?

September 27th is National Voter Registration Day! There are currently 8.9 million 18 and 19-year-olds who will all be first time voters this year. They can register to vote through the Nation Voter Registration Day website which is powered by Rock the Vote. Your teens can also look up their polling information on the Voting Information Project Get to the Polls map, a handy tool created by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Internet Association, and Google.

Make sure your teens know how they register and that their vote matters!

 

 

YALSA at ALA Midwinter 2017 in Atlanta


CONFERENCE SEEKING PARTICIPANTS

You: A youth services librarian in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area surrounded by young adult patrons who have a lot to say about the books they are reading. Or, maybe you are a youth media specialist who lives a littler further afield but are planning on attending the ALA Midwinter meeting in Atlanta AND you happen to know 5 kids with a lot to say about A Study in Charlotte.

Us: YALSA Local Arrangements committee.


The YALSA Local Arrangements committee for ALA Midwinter in Atlanta, GA is recruiting youth participants for a Best Fiction for Young Adults feedback session. As you know, YALSA takes input from the youth very seriously. Not only does it allow us to shape and support our organizational goals, but also it creates a unique and valuable experience for all participants – those speaking and those listening.

For Atlanta we are interested in hearing 50 local teens tell us what they did or (especially) did not like about the books on the BFYA nomination list. The session will be held on Saturday, January 21, from 1pm – 3pm. But that is not all, these lucky teens and sponsors will also get to tour the exhibition halls that morning and have a lunch party before the session even begins.

All interested parties should submit an application for their groups here: https://ugeorgia.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_e8umnTXWMKd8dH7

Please direct any questions to Micki Waldrop at waldropmicki@gmail.com

Teen Read Week: An Immersive Experience

This year I am extremely honored and thankful to be a YALSA Teen Read Week grant recipient. I took my time this year deciding what I would do for Teen Read Week. My past Teen Read Weeks had been small in scale. Last year I had teens write a short book review and enter it for a raffle prize (a set of books related to last year’s theme). What could I do this year to really encourage a wide variety of teens to participate, and get excited about reading? I decided to combine a reading program for the month with a fun incentive: Read 1 book for the month of October, get an invitation to our International Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre!!

This year’s theme is “Read for the fun of it”, encouraging multicultural reading and involvement. For the month of October, teens can sign up to be part of our online reading program where the goal is simple: Read 1 book for the month! I wanted an achievable goal, to encourage teens of all reading interests and levels to take part. Upon registering, they will receive a bookmark with suggested multicultural YA books. They won’t be required to read these books, as I really want all teens to be able to participate.  I also wanted a non-reading related incentive, to encourage teens who wouldn’t normally read to do so, thus the murder mystery! I will probably give everyone an Applebee’s Ice Cream Coupon for finishing their book too, for those who aren’t into mysteries. I decided to extend Teen Read Week to a month long celebration, as many teens would find 1 week a daunting time constraint to read a book.  Finally, I will be adding a Teen Foreign Language collection, as part of the grant, to encourage ESL students to become involved as well. I will be working with the school literacy coaches to spread the word and encourage as many students as I can to participate.

Once we have our ‘guests’ invited, it’s time to put on the show! Upon completion of 1 book read, teens will receive the highly coveted and illustrious invitation to the event of the year- An Assassin in Our Midst: An International Interactive Murder Mystery. Thanks to the grant, we will be able to serve a variety of foods from different cultures for our dinner. Guests will be given programs with their team number, a list of the suspects, space to write notes, and a tear out for their team’s murderer guess. Suspects will be played by members of the Teen Advisory Board, with whom I will have at least 2 practices ahead of time. The TAB members will receive character descriptions, and then they will improvise based on who their character is. Each team will get to speak with and question all of the suspects to determine who was involved in the assassination of an important diplomatic figure. Intrigue, fun, and suspense are sure to ensue!

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Back to (After)School – Desperately Seeking Teens for TAB

With school back in session, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and recruit new blood for our Teen Advisory Boards (TAB). If you already have a good group as it is, it’s still a great idea to recruit new members as their perspective would be incredibly valuable as every teen brings new and interesting ideas. Although some of us may be reluctant to have a large TAB, the sky is the limit when it comes to the size of TAB because the more passionate teens we get, the more spectacular results we will get!

As we recruit new members, it’s super important to get the incoming freshmen on TAB. Freshmen literally have a full four years before they graduate, which means they are more inclined to stick with TAB as they  have a bit more flexibility and availability compared to upper classman who are swamped with AP classes, extracurricular activities, and applying for college.  By taking an interest in lower classman, not only will they find a sense of purpose, they will feel like they a part of something that won’t require tryouts or anything intimidating. However, before we start recruiting like crazy, it’s a good idea to review our applications, guidelines, and procedures just so we can outline what we expect from TAB members.

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Back to (After)School – Rethinking a School Book Club

Our school reading specialist and I decided to revisit our middle school student book club. We took a year off from it for several reasons, not the least of which was lack of interest by students and us. It had been run like a traditional book club, everyone reads the same book and meets twice a month after school to discuss the book. Our problem was that our after school clubs meet for an hour and a half, and that time was too long to just discuss a book and choose the next one. We tried having everyone read a book by the same author to give more choice. We found a similar, disinterested reaction. Our students were happy to talk about the book for about half an hour, but wanted the rest of the time for social chat. We tried coming up with some related crafts to fill the time. Everyone painted one of the standard ceiling tiles with a reading theme or based on a book. This was a hit and made for a colorful library ceiling, but that only covered two meetings. We tried to make the book club available 24/7 through an Edmodo group to develop stronger relationships with our students, and get everyone to share what they were reading.The students found it to be just an extension of what some of their classes were already doing – it was too much like school. Our attendance dropped off, resulting in no book club for the last school year. We needed to regroup and rethink what a book club looks like for middle school students.

In the meantime, the library has had some spontaneous, pop-up or “lunch bunch” book clubs. Groups of four to six students create their own book club by reading the same book and meeting during lunch to read and discuss it. These clubs may read only one book and disband or choose to read several throughout the school year. Lunch bunches are not formal and are student led. Usually, student visitors will notice a lunch bunch eating and meeting in the library and then form their own with their friends. We just monitor to make sure the noise level is appropriate and suggest books when the club is stuck for ideas. It is very hands off for adult participation. A way to inspire students to create their own lunch bunch is to create a display of books that have multiple copies for a lunch bunch club. We hope our lunch bunches will meet again this year.

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Back to (After) School: Community Service for Preteens

More and more these days, teens and preteens are expected to participate in community service for their school requirements. This is a great opportunity for teens and preteens to give back to their community and learn skills that are helpful in their lives, education, and career. For a library, it can often be difficult to accommodate the vast number of teens and preteens who wish to participate. It is also difficult dealing with different ages and abilities.

In my library system, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, we have a program for older teens, ages 14 – 18, that they apply to, are interviewed for, and dedicate their time for a semester. Because of the responsibilities that are given to these teens, it would be difficult to accommodate those that are younger. This is why our system developed the Community Service Project for Preteens program(s).

The Community Service Project for Preteens is a great way for youths, aged 11 – 14, to earn their community service requirements, but they are also given tasks that are more appropriate for their age. These preteens are not required to apply, as if for a job, they simply have to register to come and complete the given task. By having preteens register for the program, staff are able to control the number of participants, but it also teaches preteens the responsibility of signing-up on time. These programs often fill up fairly quickly, and we do not allow a waiting list due to the quantity of the materials, etc. By meeting the deadline for registration, preteens are gaining responsibility for themselves. 

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Back to (After) School: Programming with Food in an After-School Club

As many library staff members have noticed, the library is a great place for teens to go after school. Whether it be for studying, working on projects, or a safe place to wait for a parent, teens are visible in the library after school.  At my branch, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library at University City, we have a group of teens that come after taking early college classes at our local university down the road. Library staff have noticed that the teens come into the branch around two o’clock, and stay until their parents get off work; often, this is not until around five o’clock. That aspect got teen library staff thinking. What can we do to provide teens snacks, but in a fun, educational way? And thus, Cuisine Corner was born.

Cuisine Corner is a club that teen library staff developed to help high school students learn to cook simple things during after school hours. This program provides them with a fun snack, but also teaches them ways to cook for themselves. This is a great skill for high school students to take with them to college. Not only are library staff teaching teens a life skill, but, often, the teens are teaching each other things to cook. The club also coincides with The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action. The shared idea, for the envisioned future, is that teens are “learning a skill of personal, work, or academic interest.”

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Speak up for Teens this August

District Days offer the perfect opportunity for legislative advocacy. District Days are a period of time in which Congress is out of session and members of Congress are back in their hometowns. This year, District Days begin on August 1st and end on September 5th. This would be an excellent time for library staff to show elected officials how important libraries are and even get them to visit your library. Members of Congress are always busy in Washington and don’t get many opportunities to visit their local library and really see and understand all the services that libraries provide. It is important that they know this so that they can promote legislation that is beneficial to libraries and teens. If legislators actually see and experience all that libraries do they will be more likely to take action on behalf of libraries and teens. District Days offer library staff and teen patrons the chance to inform members of Congress of their constituents’ needs and help educate them on an issue that they might not know too much about. It can also help forge a relationship with elected officials that would be instrumental in bringing the needs of libraries to the minds of members of Congress, helping them make legislative changes that can only aid teens and libraries.

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Rethinking YALSA: Virtual Town Hall on Monday!

Don’t forget to login on Monday, June 13, 2016, from 2 – 3 pm Eastern for a Town Hall Discussion!

The Town Hall will be about the Organizational Plan that the Board just approved.  See President Candice Mack’s recent blog post for more information.

The Town Hall will be led by Candice and me, and we’ll be joined by many board members, too. The agenda is as follows:

2:00 – 2:15 pm:  Overview of the Organizational Plan & Steps Already Taken

2:15 – 2:45 pm:  Discussion with Participants about Involvement & Engagement Activities

Question to Ponder: What YALSA member engagement activities have you found most meaningful?

2:45 – 3 pm: Q&A and Wrap-Up

If you can’t make it to the virtual town hall, but you’re attending ALA Annual in Orlando, we’d love to see you at the session What’s New in YALSA and How You Can Be a Part of It! The session will be on Saturday, June 25th, from 8:30-10 am at the Rosen Centre, Room Salon 03/04. It will be similar to the virtual town hall, and YALSA’s strategic guru Eric Meade will join the discussion. You can find out more about the Whole Mind Strategy Group in this interview with YALSA Board member Kate McNair.

We’ll be using a format that the Board has been using to meet virtually– Zoom. You don’t have to use video, but it does make conversation easier. And we always love when cute animals accidentally walk in front of the screen!

Email the YALSA Office soon to receive the login information: yalsa@ala.org

The Calm Before the Storm: How Teens and Libraries Can Fight Mental Illness

If you haven’t had a chance to read YALSA’s 2016-2018 Organization Plan, I highly recommend that you do because it rocks! Not only is this the plan that most of us have been waiting for, it is a sign that our work as teen library staff has shifted to focus on the needs of our teens and how YALSA can support us1:

Mission: Our mission is to support library staff in alleviating the challenges teens face, and in putting all teens ‒ especially those with the greatest needs ‒ on the path to successful and fulfilling lives.

Vision: Our vision is that all teens have access to quality library programs and services ‒ no matter where they occur ‒ that link them to resources, connected learning opportunities, coaching, and mentoring that are tailored to the unique circumstances of the community and that create new opportunities for all teens’ personal growth, academic success, and career development.

With this plan, we now have the opportunity to tackle difficult issues that our teens are experiencing such as mental illness.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “that 1 in 5 children, ages 13-18, have or will have serious mental illness where symptoms arise at the age of 14 and will eventually manifest by the time they are 24 years old.2” In other words, if we have 20 teens who regularly attend our programs, that means 4 of them are predisposed or have a serious mental illness. Furthermore, 90% of death by suicide occurred among teens with mental illness. With the current efforts that are being made to de-stigmatize mental illness and portray it as a disease that can be managed, libraries can raise awareness and join this much-needed conversation.

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