30 Days of Social Justice: Students and School Culture

YouthTruth, a national nonprofit, that “harnesses student perceptions to help educators accelerate improvements in their K-12 schools and classrooms,” recently conducted a survey about school culture that answers the question: “How do students feel about the culture of their schools?” YouthTruth surveyed 80,000 students, grades five through 12 from 2013 – 2016; this was an anonymous survey across 24 states in a partnership with public schools. The results of the survey brought four major elements to light, but library staff can also use these results to make their library spaces more culturally positive.

The first alarming  fact is that only one in every three students would say their school is culturally positive. Only 30 percent of high school students believe their school is culturally positive, while 37 percent of middle school students believe this. There are many ways the library can make their spaces  culturally positive, especially if your library is located in a diverse community. Library staff can provide information, displays, book lists, and programs about cultures. Periodically, my branch offers a program to teen and adult customers called Discover Another Culture. For this, a volunteer from a specific country comes in to share about their culture. In November, the library held a program about Japan; library customers not only learned about Japan, but learned how to make origami too. There are a wealth of possibilities the library can utilize to make their spaces culturally positive to help fill in the gap that some schools are lacking.

The second fact found may not be alarming to too many. It states that students know they are less respectful to adults than adults are to them. From my experience, I would agree with this fact. Local high school teacher, Catherine Baker states:

“[Teens] think we are there to work for them, so it’s our job to be respectful and as helpful as we can possibly be to them. It’s our job to get them to pass, not the other way around.”

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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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Instagram of the Week – September 28

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

Banned Books Week kicked off yesterday, Sunday, September 27 and Instagram users are posting photos in celebration of their fREADom to read. Running from September 27 through Saturday, October 3, this year’s Banned Books Week focuses on young adult books. It may be easy to call to mind cases of challenged books and censorship that made their way to media outlets, but both the YALSA wiki and the American Library Association’s Challenges to Library Materials page remind us that a challenge can also include a patron expressing concern over an item or requesting that it be shelved in another collection. YALSA’s The Future of Library Services for and with Teens report lists intellectual freedom as one of the core values librarians should hold as they protect the rights of teens to access information and educate the community about intellectual freedom.

Are you doing something to celebrate Banned Books Week? Book lists, displays, games, posters? We want to know! Share with us in the comments section below.

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Resources for Youth Services

Summer Reading is over! Many schools have already cranked up, and more will be getting going in the next couple of weeks. Fall, to me, means planning. I love doing long-term planning and reading materials that inspire me.  I’ve compiled a list here of a few more non-traditional resources that we could all benefit from. I hope one or all of these sparks your creative ideas for the fall!

Think Outside the Stacks – This is a TinyLetter newsletter written by Beth Saxon, also known as BethReads. Beth uses this newsletter to compile information that is relevant is YS librarians from outside the usual library sources–family blogs, news sources, museums, craft sites, educators. The title is apt. We have a lot to learn from people who aren’t librarians that also have interest in serving children and family, and Beth beautifully curates current, pertinent information.

Fairy Dust Teaching Blog – Fairy Dust Teaching is a resource site for teachers that actually offers online courses. But the blog is free to browse and is chock-full of classroom fun that can easily be adapted to library programming. She also highlights what educators all over the country are doing.

Planet Esmé – You might know Esmé Raji Codell from her book, Educating Esme, and her site is a wonderful resource for books, teaching, and other fun. You could get lost in those archives.

Podcasts are having their moment in the sun and I, for one, love them! Here are some great resources for podcasts that can help you be a better librarian:

Podcasts to Help Build Your Teen Collection: a post by Anna Dalin over at the Hub about great podcasts for collection development!

Secret Stacks – a podcast about comics in libraries by Kristin Lalonde and Thomas Maluck.

I hope this gets you started. Happy planning!

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Our guest blogger from ALSC today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a Library Consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.

Instagram of the Week – August 31

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

As libraries continue to evaluate the needs of their communities, the physical space of libraries may evolve in an effort to meet those needs. Space may be repurposed for a teen area, new tables and chairs might arrive so patrons can create their own collaborative spaces, and group study rooms may be constructed. For patrons that rely on digital devices, additional outlets or charging stations could be in demand, desktop stations may move to make room for laptop bars, and mounted televisions for gaming, video conferencing, and collaborative projects may be needed. Below are some examples of libraries that underwent renovations, purchased new furniture, or reorganized bookshelves to make room for more open spaces and meet the changing technology needs of their patrons. Has your library undergone a similar change? We want to hear from you! Share with us in the comments section below.

For more information about teen spaces and the envisioned future of library spaces, please see The Need for Teen Spaces in Public Libraries and The Future of Library Services for and with Teens report.

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President’s Report – July & August 2015

Happy End of Summer and Back-to-School!

I’m so excited to be sharing my first YALSA President’s Report!

It’s been a whirlwind since ALA Annual, and here’s what I’ve been working on since then:

Done & Done!

  • Appointments to Edwards, Printz & Nonfiction Committees
  • Assigning Board liaisons to Strategic, Selection & Award Committees
  • Assign Board Members to Standing Board Committees
  • Column for Fall 2015 issue of YALS
  • Virtual training for New YALSA Board members
  • YALSA blog post on Presidential Initiative: 3-2-1 Impact! Inclusive & Impactful Teen Services
  • Worked with YALSA Board to appoint Renee McGrath to fill Krista McKenzie’s vacancy on the YALSA Board
  • Had first call with the Whole Mind Group, who YALSA is working with on Strategic Planning
  • With Chris Shoemaker, hosted first monthly chat with the YALSA Board, where we discussed YALSA’s Standing Board Committees
  • Interviewed candidates for Member Managers for the Hub blog and Teen Programming HQ; appointed Molly Wetta as new Hub Member Manager and Jessi Snow as new Teen Programming HQ Member Manager

Works in Progress

  • Filling Strategic Committee vacancies
  • Filling Rachel McDonald’s Board vacancy
  • Appointing YALSA representatives to ALA groups
  • Strategic Planning
  • Preparing for YALSA’s YA Services Symposium & Fall Executive Committee meetings
  • Seeking content experts for Teen Programming HQ
  • Seeking out partnerships with ALA ethnic caucuses, ALA LGBT Round Table, ASCLA, Wattpad, National Writing Project, Connected Learning Alliance, DeviantArt and more

Media & Outreach

Stats & Data

  • Friends of YALSA raised $1,155 in June 2015
  • Friends of YALSA raised $436 in July 2015
  • Membership: 5,113 (down -0.3% over this time last year)

Important Deadlines

  • Oct. 1 – Deadline to submit a volunteer form to be on YALSA’s upcoming award, selection and strategic committees! More information here

Last, but certainly not least –

THANK YOU

  • All of our members for all that you do to support teens and teen library services in your communities, every day!
  • Chris Shoemaker, YALSA’s immediate Past President, for passing the torch and mentoring current President-Elect Sarah Hill
  • YALSA’s ALA Annual 2015 Local Arrangements Committee, for a terrific job coordinating travel tips & info and local YALSA events in San Francisco
  • YALSA Board, for your hard work, leadership and enthusiasm – I know it’s going to be a great year!
  • YALSA Staff, especially Beth Yoke, Letitia Smith & Nichole O’Connor, for your assistance and support with association logistics

Until next time!

Respectfully submitted,

Candice Mack, YALSA President

 

Instagram of the Week – August 17th

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

While the most popular of public library summer programs, Summer Reading/Learning is only one of many activities that benefits and serves teen communities. Tapping into the various motivations within your own teen community are crucial to creating and implementing a well-received passive or active teen program. Are there other creative and publicly available spaces in your community, or does your library provide the only opportunity for free creative exploration? Does your library serve teens who seek to advance themselves academically during the summer months? Is there an independent maker space in your town or city, or is the library the sole source of maker activities? Do the teens in your community attend magnet schools or schools with advanced tech programs? Do those schools offer opportunities for summer tech projects, or does the library have a unique opportunity to provide the space and tools for coding, movie-making, and more? Exploring what teens already have free access to (and use!) and identifying what service and material/supply vacuums exist in your wider community will teen services librarians create and implement effective programming.

What research do you do before implementing a new program or innovating an existing program? Do you research other offerings in your town/city to prevent overlap or identify potential collaborative opportunities? How does the summer closure of schools affect programming opportunities in your pulic library? Please discuss in the comments below!

For more information, please see the Summer Reading/Learning section of the YALSA wiki, as well as the YALSA Teen Programming Guidelines.

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Back to School: Implementing the Futures Report in Middle School Libraries

Think literacy, not reading. Think content, not books.  Think relationship, not supervision.  Think participation, not outreach.  Think “culturally responsive, information-rich, and technologically advanced environment” and not “teen room.”  This is the paradigm-shift that is advocated in YALSA’s The Future of Library Services for and with Teens Report.  

Reading this report as a school librarian, I feel like many of us have already felt this mind-shift and participated in its momentum.  School librarians often work in “media centers” now, after all, not libraries.  We talk about the achievement gap at every staff development day and already discuss “literacies” plural when we are teaching and creating curriculum.  

But there is still a long way to go before all school libraries really become the ideal neutral, safe places where teens can grow intellectually, emotionally, and socially.  And I think this is especially true in the school libraries of our youngest teens: middle schoolers.

Middle school can be a rough time.  Navigating the transition from child to adolescent is tough, as we all remember.  New interests and identities emerge (sometimes painfully) as 6th, 7th, and 8th graders face new challenges, meet new people and engage with new ideas.  But middle schools also provide a chance for teen library staff to engage with teens right at the start of their teen years, forming relationships with them, helping them become critical thinkers and life-long learners, and supporting them as they become who they are.  Middle school library staff can accomplish this by re-imagining literacy, diversity and community in the middle school library.  

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Instagram of the Week – June 22

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

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what is a video worth? Instagram may be best known as a platform for sharing images that have been enhanced with just the right filters and photo editing tools, but it also comes in handy for sharing video content. The app may limit video to only fifteen seconds, but users can either shoot video live through Instagram or export content created through another app to Instagram of sharing. From book reviews and clips of programs in progress to behind the scenes looks and how to use library resources, the videos that can be shared with users are endless. Do you take so many photos at programs that you can’t decide which ones to post without overloading your followers? Apps like SlideLab, Replay, and Flipagram allow you to select and organize your photographs to create a slideshow, add music, share the final product on Instagram, and not feel the pressure to pick only a few favorite pictures. Looking for something different to spice up your feed? With the Dubsmash app you can take video of yourself lip-synching well known bits from movies, tv shows, commercials, or songs for a post that’s hilarious and shows a different side of the library staff. Turn up your volume and take a look at a sample of library Instagram videos that we’ve included below. Have you posted videos on your library’s Instagram? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

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Spring is here!

It’s springtime! In Mississippi, at least, it’s been spring for quite some time and actually hit 80 degrees last week. In celebration, let’s highlight some springtime tales for your displays! These books either have or are coming out this spring!

It’s the latest Penderwicks book! These are so lovely and the latest one is no exception. Available now, the fourth book in the Penderwicks series has a lot of heart and surprises for each family member. Your kids that have loved the last three books won’t be disappointed by this one.

Listen, Slowly is a gorgeous tale of a California girl who spends her summer with her grandmother in Vietnam. She must learn to find the balance between her two worlds. An excellent follow-up to Lai’s National Book Award Winning Inside Out and Back Again, this one is gorgeous and evocative. Your students that love to read about other places will devour this one.

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