2019 Teen Summer Intern Program: YALSA Grant Makes Big Impact at Montclair Community Library

From improving teen summer reading volunteer training to increasing visibility and enhancing teen programs to raising funds, the YALSA/Dollar General Summer Teen Intern Grant made a big impact this summer at Montclair Community Library, one of Prince William Public Library System’s 11 branches located just 30 miles outside of Washington, DC.

Our grant had three components: develop an interactive training element for teen summer reading volunteers, plan and execute a fundraiser for Montclair Community Library, and produce a teen outreach video. Rob Solka, Librarian I and Teen Volunteer Coordinator, and I conducted 29 interviews to choose the two teens that would be awarded $500 each for 50 hours’ work.

Teens sit around a table working together.

Teens hard at work on the outreach video.

First, the teens developed a popular scavenger hunt to highlight the summer reading program and Montclair Community Library. They also created a role-playing component to help teens handle situations that might happen during their shifts. “The surveys after the training said the scavenger hunt was the best part because it was so much fun,” Solka said. “We will definitely do it again next year.”

Selected teens Katelynn L. and Sally D. also led teens on other projects. This provided individual professional development for them and also helped build the Montclair teen program since the projects were fun and memorable for teens participating.

Four teens pose in dance outfits in front of a rock wall.

Teens dressed up for the Rhythmaya program.

“We got our own project and got to be creative about it,” Sally said in describing the best part of participating in the grant. She was in charge of leading the outreach video that featured other teens. She added, “I liked working with everyone. You guys were really nice.”

Sally offered a unique perspective: she had never been to the library before being selected as one of the two interns. She was unaware of all the great resources that the library makes available to the public, but promotional efforts for the grant opportunity paid off.  “I learned about what the library has to offer for sure. OverDrive, hoopla digital. I didn’t even know the Digital Media Lab existed,” she said.

Four teens pose in front of a green screen.

Teens pose in front of a green screen in the Digital Media Lab.

Sally said she heard about the grant three different times before she decided to apply. “First, my English teacher told me. Then my school librarian told me. After that, I heard it on the school morning announcements,” Sally said. The Prince William Public Library System regularly coordinates and collaborates with Prince William County Public Schools and other schools in the community.

Katelynn, an active Montclair teen volunteer, was also selected and led a fundraiser selling doughnuts that raised $174.50. “The fundraiser was my favorite because of the experience it gave me. I’ll be able to use the skills I gained here in the future,” Katelynn said. She said she developed time management, leadership, and sales skills. “I always felt that I worked better alone. This helped with group project skills. I think it strengthened those.”

Solka, Katelynn, and I will be joining Tiffany Duck from Suffolk Public Library, the other library in Virginia to receive the YALSA Teen Intern Grant, to present “YALSA Teen Intern Grants: A Tale of Two Libraries” at the Virginia Library Association this October.

“I’m honored to have been given this position. I really enjoyed it,” Katelynn said.

 

 Robin Sofge is the Youth Services Supervisor at Montclair Community Library.

2019 Summer Learning Resources Grant: East New Orleans Regional Library

With my Summer Resources grant, I purchased video games for our teen room and supplies for a maker wall and cart. Here are some lessons I’ve learned from this process, and what I wish I had been telling myself (and my coworkers) at the beginning of the summer:

  1. It doesn’t take as much as you’d think.
    When I applied for the YALSA Summer Resources grant, I predicted that I’d need to spend half of my grant money on video games. I spent months polling teens and asking for feedback about what games we should buy. (They’re not allowed to play M-rated games at the library, so that limited their options.) I don’t know much about video games, but I imagined we’d need a ton of them for teens to feel like they had enough choices. I was wrong. The same titles came up over and over again. It didn’t take as much money or as many video games as I thought it would to give teens some solid choices.
  2. Stop worrying about things that haven’t happened (or, just fix them when they do happen and move on!).
    If you work with teens, you have probably heard these concerns from your coworkers:
    “They’re going to draw/write/make/say/do something inappropriate.” I have only removed one inappropriate drawing from our teen room all summer.
    “They’re going to make a mess.” Yeah, they will make a mess. Then they’ll clean it up. If they don’t, I will.
    “They’re going to think it’s dumb.” Probably not. If they do, we’ll change it.
    “They’re just going to steal that.” Most of our maker wall supplies have not walked away. Bigger ticket items are in a cart that I can move in and out of the teen room. But I think that leaving some supplies in the room at all times shows teens that you trust them, and building that trust is critical. And if they do steal some stickers or a ball of yarn—who cares? Maybe that item will occupy them on a long bus ride or make them smile before a test. Plus, adults steal pens and other supplies from our library all day long—I’m not going to worry about it if teens take stuff that I’m specifically leaving for them to use.
  3. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good (or even the good enough).

I know this—we all know this—but I still have to remind myself all the time. If I waited for the perfect space or the perfect day or the perfect idea, I’d never get anything done.  Especially with a project like this, it will change over time. I can always add supplies or project ideas later, but it was important to start with what I have!

A maker wall at East New Orleans Regional Library.

The “Maker Wall” at East New Orleans Regional Library.

Carolyn Vidmar is a Teen Services Librarian at East New Orleans Regional Library.

Thoughts on two common teen developmental topics

Hi everyone!

To wrap up the month of the first of YALSA’s Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff, Teen Growth and Development, I thought I’d look at a couple developmental issues that affect teens and can cause inequities. Returning to the US Health and Human Services website, I found this fascinating statistic:

According to teens themselves, 57% of males and 37% of females (no data was apparently collected for non-binary teens) reported devoting at least sixty minutes of physical activity to their schedules, five or more days a week. Research has shown that among male teens, there is a considerable importance for “boys of all abilities to seek both structured and unstructured physically active fields, activities, and opportunities that elicit excitement, novelty, a sense of inclusion, and pleasurable experiences. However, those teen males in the same study “who self-identified as having low physical ability also revealed negative self-perceptions and body dissatisfaction and had internalized the idea that their (too fat or thin) bodies had no place in mainstream sport and physical activity”. Some teen males are less likely to use library services because they focus their time on physical activity; yet that very focus may limit them from pursuits that potentially will be of more interest to them and make them prosper as individuals. There are also many aspects to what type of physical activity options are available to teens, depending on their access to parks, gyms, rec centers, and other optimal locations and environments to pursue physical fitness. It is a critical need to close the gap to provide all teens in all communities with equal opportunities.

Chronic health issues affect nearly 1 in 3 teens. While many people default to thinking of adolescents as being in the “physical primes” of their lives, this is often not the case. Many teens struggle with often debilitating physical conditions (the most common of which is asthma), which library staff need to be aware of to best serve these users. As an example, sharing information with your peers about what asthma in teens looks like can be helpful is better understanding what some of your students or library users may be going through. Teens that deal with chronic illnesses, particularly those with issues that are not instantly visible, deserve understanding and the same services that are provided to those who have not been diagnosed with these maladies.

Thanks for reading and the work that you do for and with teens! Don’t forget to watch the free webinar that discusses this competency in-depth.

Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020 | Twitter: @toddbcpl

2019 Teen Summer Intern Program: Teens engaging children through inquiry-based play

In my rural community, opportunities for teen employment are limited mostly to food service, yard work, and babysitting. When I applied for the YALSA/Dollar General Teen Summer Intern Grant, my goal was to offer meaningful employment that would allow teens to share their skills and passions with younger children. By employing interns in this way I could have helping hands during summer activities and provide a deeper learning experience for school-age participants.

I advertised the position through the guidance office of our local high school, who kindly emailed the details to all students. We also posted the opportunity on our library website, bulletin boards, and social media. With my program goals in mind, I needed candidates who genuinely enjoyed spending time with younger children. I also hoped for applicants who had experience with hands-on STEAM activities and who could take a leadership role during activities. Several applicants had leadership experience through Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, which has sparked my interest in reaching out and partnering with these community groups. Most of my interns had experience with the Technology Student Association at the high school, which might be another source of future collaboration.
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2019 Teen Summer Intern Program: Reaching Underserved Youth through Teen Internship at Indian Prairie

As a district library, the Indian Prairie Public Library serves parts Darien, Burr Ridge, and Willowbrook, IL. One of the underserved areas in our district is known as Willowbrook Corner. In the summer, staff from the Kids & Teens department visit the Willowbrook Corner Summer Camp at Anne M. Jeans Elementary each week. We present activities to four different groups—approximately 72 kids, in grades K-5.

Our Teen Summer Intern, Carson Wagner, planned and presented the activities for the kids and led various staff members who took turns accompanying him on the visits. With Carson, the kids were able to plant seeds and learn about gardening, create Makey Makey banana pianos, play with a variety of musical instruments that the library circulates, make catapults, complete various art projects, and more. He taught them several cooperative group games, like Frogger, which he incorporated into his visits. On the last day, Carson delivered prize books. Each of the children received a new book to keep.
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Teen Demographic Shifts

Hi everyone!

As we continue to consider Teen Growth and Development, the first of the YALSA Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff, particularly through the lens of equity, it’s critical that we realize just who the teens are that we serve both today and in the coming years. The below (left) image from the US Department of Health and Human Services website The Changing Face of America’s Adolescents shows that by approximately thirty years from today, there will have been a major race/ethnicity shift. This demographic shift was also outlined in YALSA’s landmark study The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action. As the faces that we serve in school and public libraries change, so must our actions in providing them with appropriate services. (To clarify a couple acronyms on the chart on the left, AIAN = American Indian / Alaskan Native, and HPI = Hawaiian / Pacific Islander.)

Between 2014 & 2050, the percentage of youth in each demographic is expected to change: White: 54.1% to 40.3%. Hispanic: 22.8% to 31.2%. Black: 14.0% to 13.1%. Asian: 4.7% to 7.4%. AIAN Alone: .9% to .7%. HPI Alone: .2% to .2%. Multiracial: 3.4% to 7.0%

These figures are for the United States overall; your own community or service area’s population may be considerably different. But it’s a good starting point to consider the ways American society will change in the coming decades. It’s also interesting to note the chart on the right, below, that the teen population as an overall percentage of the US population is decreasing. This will be important to note when competing for funding and resources. With an aging population, an emphasis on care and assistance for those of an advanced age may eclipse that devoted to younger people. This will require continuing advocacy work for the needs of teens in your communities. Even though the net number of teens is estimated to grow from 42 to 45 million by 2050, the overall percentage will have decreased.

Adolescents will represent a decreasing percentage of the U.S. population, from 13.2% in 2014 to 11.2% in 2050.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for your work for and with teens today and in the future!

Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020 | Twitter: @toddbcpl

Being Fat and Fierce!

Hi everyone!

A big thanks to YALSA Board Member Melissa McBride for kicking off August with a great list of tools to consider when you think about Teen Growth & Development, the first of the YALSA Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff.  In addition to these many resources, be sure to check out the free webinar that was produced last year on the topic! Along with that, there are the many Teen Professional Tools provided on YALSA’s website, two of which are of particular interest to this competency: AMLE’s Development Characteristics of Young Adolescents, and the Search Institute’s Keep Connected series, focusing on Ages 15-18.

There are so many potential equity issues involving Teen Growth & Development! Probably the first and most obvious that will come to mind is the unequal ways in which teenagers’ bodies develop. One fairly well-known element is that cis teenage boys are known to develop at a slightly later age than their cis girl counterparts. But to date, little research has been done on how non-binary teens compare in terms of that development. And as this CNN article points out, “more teens are rejecting ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ gender identities.” The ways that individual teens develop at wildly different paces cannot be stressed enough. We recognize these differences (and likely remember them from our own adolescences), but in what ways do we acknowledge these differences without shining a spotlight on them? A lot has been discussed about the teen brain and issues of body image, but oddly enough there hasn’t been a lot of recent research on physical body differences. And an obvious example of how teens develop in a variety of ways is body weight.

Teens come in all shapes and sizes and must be served as individuals, rather than with preconceived, often negative notions of their health, eating habits, or genetics. Coming next month is an anthology edited by librarian and youth services expert Angie Manfredi called The (Other) F Word: a Celebration of the Fat & Fierce (Abrams/Amulet, ISBN: 9781419737503, 2019). Unique in its coverage, short vignettes by a number of authors, poets and others discuss the importance of “body image and fat acceptance”. In an interview on Matthew Winner’s The Children’s Book Podcast, Manfredi states that “we want to stress to teenagers that you are more than your body; and you do not have to be limited by what people say or judge about your body.” She describes the trouble with euphemisms like overweight and heavy-set, and how obese and BMI are two really problematic terms. Manfredi also wants to share the message that “your body is perfect, yes yours, exactly the way it is, right now, in this second, your body is perfect.” What an incredible reminder to library staff and the teens that you work with!

Thanks for reading and for the work you do for and with teens!

Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020 | Twitter @toddbcpl

New, Month-Long Teen Celebration, TeenTober, Announced!

YALSA’s new, month-long celebration will be named TeenTober and will take place every October. In June, a naming contest was held for the celebration and teens across the nation voted and selected “TeenTober” as their top choice. The winning name was submitted by Cailey Berkley from Franklin Avenue Library in Des Moines, IA.

TeenTober is a new, nationwide celebration hosted by libraries every October and aims to celebrate teens, promote year-round teen services and the innovative ways teen services helps teens learn new skills, and fuel their passions in and outside the library. TeenTober replaces YALSA’s previous Teen Read Week™ and Teen Tech Week™ celebrations, allowing libraries the flexibility to choose what to celebrate (digital literacy, reading, technology, writing, etc) and the length of time for each celebration.

Library staff are encouraged to utilize this new celebration to advocate for and raise awareness of the importance of year-round teen services in libraries. Digital marketing materials will be available for free download soon.

A special thank you goes out to the Teen Read Week/Teen Tech Week Taskforce members: Kelsey Socha (chair), Tegan Beese, Meaghan Darling, Megan Edwards, Shelley Ann Mastalerz, Jodi Silverman, and Kimberly Vasquez for all their work on helping create this new celebration.

Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: Teen Growth and Development

This year’s Presidential theme of Striving for Equity using YALSA’s Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff, has provided a unique opportunity to examine the competencies and talk about some practical applications for both school and public library staff who work with teens. I’m hoping this post will provide you with some research and ideas to help you develop, practice, and transform your work regarding the first competency: Teen Growth and Development. If you haven’t already done so, please watch Linda Braun’s webinar on this topic!

While there are basic benchmarks that relate to teen development it is important to consider cultural differences that are unique to your community in order to best plan programs and evaluate library resources. The following bibliography is in no way a comprehensive list of resources available, rather, it is meant as a starting point to investigate ways you can meet the needs of your teens. Not all resources are library specific, these links are meant to not only provide ideas for immediate use, but also to provoke thought on this important topic. Please comment with any links that you think are relevant to this topic!
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