When 3rd Place is Good. Empowering Students in the Library.

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This photo, “First place, second place, third place” is copyright (c) 2009 Joe McCarthy/ gumption and made available under a Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 license.

One reason I love my high school  library job is that I don’t have to tell people what to do all day.  Sure, I’m always checking passes, giving instructions and directions, or pointing the way to obtain the desired outcome.  But, when a teen walks through the doors of our school library the decision about what to do next is totally up to them.  It is so unlike walking into a classroom where the next 90 minutes are highly structured and choices are circumscribed.  The ability to provide an intellectually stimulating environment where teens get to make the choice of what to do next is empowering for our young people and deserves to be protected.

The high school library is one of the few places where students are given decision-making power.  Sure, it is the decision-making power over their own actions, but, that is where empowerment starts.  When they walk through that library door, decisions await.  Where to sit, computer or table?  Do they need to work, or socialize a bit?  Should they listen to music while they work independently, or work with a group of classmates? Do they want to work with a group of our coders on the 3D printer or lounge in a comfy chair and read a magazine?  Perhaps they stayed up late studying last night and just need to take a nap. The library is one of the few places on the high school campus where students can be self-directed. Continue reading

Back to School: Building the Resume

Many libraries are in a great position to help teens develop skills and experience they can add to their resume. Whether it be volunteering on a regular basis or honing graphic design or other useful technology proficiency, teens can gain that needed edge through the library for when they seek out other opportunities.

Last school year, I stumbled across a program at my local public school system that gives students school credit for being part of a library program such as volunteering! What a win-win situation for all! Read on for more details on how the program works. Continue reading

Virtual Road Trip: New Jersey

Making a Difference in the Garden State

The Teen Advisory Board (TAB) of the Montclair Public Library has come a long way since its inception. This group of teens has sought to create a welcoming environment, not merely for themselves but for children and adults as well. new-jerseyThey have implemented successful programs such as a Wii & Board Games day and Minecraft; during which they invite people of all ages to interact and play together. TAB is also a strong advocate of literacy, especially at an early age; so much so, that they host various events such as a Fairy Tale pajama story time, Star Wars Reads Day, as well as a book buddies program in celebration of Read Across America. In addition, TAB has created and maintained their very own bi-monthly newsletter called, The TAB Chronicle. This has proven to be a great outlet for the group to share their thoughts and talents through their poetry, artwork, and opinion pieces. Continue reading

Virtual Road Trip: Rhode Island

Coincidentally and fortunately, both of Rhode Island’s contributors decided to share how they are staying in touch with teens to develop popular programs, create welcoming teen spaces, and build relationships. In that same spirit, “hi” from all of us in the Ocean State!sic-rhode-island

Where everyone knows your name: Back to Basics in Teen Services

When I see a young adult in the library whom I don’t know, I go up and introduce myself. It’s such a simple step that it can be easy to overlook! Continue reading

Virtual Road Trip: Delaware, Part 2

Teen programming at the County and branch level

In the New Castle County Delaware Library System, successful teen programming tends to focus on the practical preparation for challenges teens will soon face. We host two annual series of workshops at multiple branches, one on applying for scholarships for college, and one on volunteering. The teen volunteering presentations culminate in a large Volunteer Fair at one of the branches, to which we invite local and national non-profits who accept teen help. Many NCC branch libraries use teens to staff the popular Summer Reading Club, as well as to help out throughout the year. For most of the teens, volunteering is their first exposure to a professional workplace.delaware

On the individual branch level we have more recreational programs. The Teen Doctor Who Club at the Brandywine Hundred Library, which was began as a summer program last year, has been so popular that we just keep having it! Teens from different schools have met and formed friendships based on a common love of the mad man in the blue box. Continue reading

Virtual Road Trip: New Jersey

Teen Advisory Board Summits

For the third year, the New Jersey Library Association and the New Jersey State Library are proud to support the state-wide Teen Advisory Board Summits. The intention of this program is to allow teens who advocate for libraries to really get a chance to meet other like-minded teens who are also passionate in their love for their libraries.NewJersey

Libraries and librarians have professional meetings where we can share experiences and feel a sense of community, but Teen Advisory Boards can feel isolated and there were no resources in place to allow them to all interact. Continue reading

Teen Tech Week: Judge a Book by Its Cover

If you’re still looking for ways to celebrate Teen Tech Week, consider a “Judge a Book by its Cover” contest.  For the contest, teens redesign covers of their favorite books. At my library, we give winners a brand new copy of their book with their remixed cover.banner_1002x200

Libraries looking for ways to harness the DIY ethic for Teen Tech Week can run this contest by eschewing pencils and paper. Photography, digital cartooning, 3D modeling, desktop publishing— not only are a wide range of tools available, but often teens are itching for a chance to play with them. Contests like this always get more traction if you can work together with a teacher or school. If the teens can get extra credit by working in their school computer lab or design class, so much the better. However, if access to those expensive Creative Suite programs isn’t that easy, there are excellent alternatives that are open source and library-friendly. Continue reading

Virtual Road Trip: California

Lunch @ the Library Brings Unexpected Rewards for Teen Engagement

Last summer, the Sacramento Public Library, in California, offered free lunches to young people, up to 18 years old, at the Valley Hi-North Laguna Library. CaliforniaThe project was part of the California Library Association and California Summer Meal Coalition’s Summer Lunch at the Library program, developed to keep kids healthy and engaged while school is out. The program combined summer nutrition programs and summer reading programs to meet multiple community needs.  It was a runaway success, with 3,406 meals served, but the most inspiring result was also the least expected: the engagement of teen volunteers.

We did not anticipate the strength of commitment that this project would engender. Within the first week, teens who did not originally know each other were sitting at the tables sharing lunch and joking.Lunch They were from different backgrounds, and from at least four different high schools and the junior college, but they became a positive and supportive team. With the guidance of volunteer coordinator Susan Bloom, they took the lead in designing the work flow. Intern Kate Ramos served as a mentor for the teens, acting as a sounding board for questions — personal and/or educational. The program provided a safe place for young people to learn how to work together, hone communication skills and provide support to each other in accomplishing a goal.

Susan talked to the teens throughout the summer about the useful skills they were learning. At the end of the program, we had a celebration to thank them. Susan shared job-hunting techniques, including tips from HR personnel at the local Target store. She also invited the executive vice president of a local tech company to talk about his life/job journey, providing a real-world example of a successful outcome after a rough start. And she presented the teens with sample resumes and letters of recommendation, articulating the workforce skills they had developed over the summer. LunchvolunteersJamba Juice gift certificates were also distributed. The Library expected to feed children, and hoped to enroll summer readers. That Lunch @ the Library turned into a training ground for the teens was an unexpected bonus.

The Summer Meals program at Valley Hi-North Laguna was nothing short of transformational.  The library impacted lives and changed the behaviors of the meal recipients, the volunteer crew and library staff . It also changed everyone’s expectations of what a library is and can be.

Submitted by Christie Hamm, Manager of Youth and Community Services, Sacramento (CA) Public Library

 

Virtual Road Trip: Maine

A Project that Brings Teens Together

At the Ellsworth Public Library (in Ellsworth, Maine) we have a small, but dedicated Teen Advisory Board.  They are willing to help out with anything from craft prep to after school programs.  During the meetings we talk about upcoming volunteer opportunities (as well as brainstorming for future teen programs and watching the occasional YouTube video).  This is great because the TAB members can get their required volunteer hours and I have a wonderful, helpful group of teens to work with. maine

However, I have been looking for a project they could relate to.  This year, I think I found it–the CSLP Teen Video Challenge.  Inspired by the teen slogan for CSLP 2014 (“Spark a Reaction”) the teens have written, directed, and filmed a short video to promote summer reading.  We happen to have a couple of aspiring film makers in the group who are studying video at a local technical school, Hancock County Technical Center, so we partnered with them to produce the video. Continue reading

Virtual Road Trip: Oregon

Katie Anderson, Youth Services Consultant for the Oregon State Library says when the Virtual Road Trip was proposed, she “immediately thought about all the Oregon libraries tweaking their teen programs in small and big ways to provide more college and career readiness activities. Attached is just one example of what Oregon libraries are doing.”oregon

TLC Interviews—Preparing Teens for Real-Life!

By Dawn Borgardt, Beaverton City Library

It’s not a new idea, and many of you probably already do this. I just started last year, so I want to add my two-cents to the conversation in favor of formalizing your Teen Library Council (or whatever you call it at your library). Last year, we instituted an application process in the month of July and interviewed every applicant. Interviews were short and we accepted everyone who interviewed –it’s not really a process of weeding out the unqualified as it is finding out who is really interested and committed. We only asked three questions during the interview, so each interview took about 15 minutes. When you multiply that by 17 and add the time it took our Volunteer Manager to schedule the interviews, it does take extra staff time. But the payoff is so worth it! Continue reading