Teen Summer Interns @ Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

At Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, we have a year-round VolunTeen program that gives teens the opportunity to volunteer at any of our 20 branches to gain workforce development skills, while also earning community service hours.  Part of our process involves applying and interviewing to become a volunteer each term because we want to better prepare teens for the real world.  Our teens assist with various duties such as shelving, program prep and delivery, in addition to more specialized opportunities like being a reading buddy or a teen tutor.  This year, we were also able to offer three paid internship positions this summer thanks to YALSA and Dollar General.

Upon receiving the Teen Summer Intern grant, we were able to work with three fantastic teens who took their VolunTeen position to the next level.  As we require our interns to have previously volunteered with the library, they come in with a basic skill set that we can then build upon over the summer.  This gives our teen interns a more focused approach, and also instills qualities that help them to become stronger leaders.  We use our grant funds to invest in our teens by providing our interns with a stipend for their service over the summer.  Not only do they serve as a VolunTeen at their home library branch alongside their peers, but they also intern at Main Library and ImaginOn for a more concentrated project.    

This year, we had an intern working in Idea Box, which is our makerspace at Main Library.  In addition to learning new equipment such as laser cutters and 3D printers, she also helped to brainstorm programming ideas about how we can develop community service programs for teens using Idea Box.  During downtime, she also helped to create booklists and work on special projects when she was able because: “I enjoy being productive and trying out new things.”  We also had a teen working on admin duties related to our Summer Break program at Main Library, which is our online summer learning program for all ages.  Whether it was entering statistics, creating spreadsheets, or even reorganizing the collection, our intern was ready to help.  Lastly, we had an intern in our Outreach Services department at ImaginOn assisting with checking-in our Storytime to Go kits, labeling and organizing program materials, and preparing literacy-based extension activities. 

From the library’s perspective, we were able to have reliable, creative, and eager interns to assist us during a busy and hectic time of year.  More importantly, we were able to help those teens develop essential skills and knowledge that they can continue to use and build upon as they grow.  One of our interns said: “It’s really fun because I get to learn more about what the library does for different parts of the community and be a part of it!”  All around, our interns are able to get a well-rounded experience that empowers them to be their best selves thanks to this grant.  Participating in this program has been a wonderful experience for everyone involved and has positively contributed to our mission of improving lives and building a stronger community.

Holly Summers-Gil is the Teen Services Coordinator for Charlotte Mecklenburg Library where she has worked for the last 9 years.  Her passion for serving teens still drives and inspires her work every day. 

Teen Fun Day @ Whiting Public Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

Thanks to YALSA and Dollar General the teens at the Whiting Public Library had a BLAST this year – and so did the staff! 

The grant that we received this year made it possible for us to offer our teens a variety of fun activities.  They got to experience building and playing with Little Bits, Makey Makeys, coding with robots, as well as making their own robots and much, much, more.  Our teens had a summer full of fun activities with tools that they had either never seen or played with.   

Every Thursday was Teen Fun Day at the Whiting Public Library.   We offered a variety of different activities – some low key and some more technical, and while I stressed about our teens having fun, they always enjoyed themselves.  Our first program of the summer started with both Shrinky Dinks and Makey Makeys.   None of our teens had ever used Makey Makeys, but once I started playing with the laptops and the Makey Makeys and showing them the basics, they couldn’t wait to take over. Soon every laptop was taken! It was the first time that I have seen them walking away from Shrinky Dinks! The following week we had a Scavenger Hunt which tested our teens’ library skills, and they had a blast.   After we finished our Scavenger Hunt, we moved to our activity room to make our BristleBots.  None of our teens had ever heard of them and I think that they were a little hesitant, but once we got started building them they loved them and we had no free table tops as they came up with different ways to race them. But the fun didn’t stop there.

As I mentioned before, thanks to the grant that we received, we were able to purchase a number of things for our teen programs, including Lit

tle Bits.  Our teens had never seen Little Bits before and it was a lot of fun showing them how they work.  We did a number of activities from the Little Bits site and once I felt everyone was comfortable seen how the Little Bits circuits worked, I let them get creative.  I put out a few things for them to use such as cups, paper tubes, LEGOS, markers, pipe cleaners, etc… It was a lot of fun watching them come up with ways to use the Little Bits and helping them figure out how to get something to work.   But we didn’t stop there – we also made our own operation games and our own board games. Both programs were a lot of fun and our teens were very excited about their creations. 

I can’t forget our LED pop-up cards which were a lot of fun to create.  We had a few problems with using copper tape correctly, but it was a great program and the teens had a lot of fun adding LED lights to their projects we had both regular LED lights in different sizes and had Chibitronics LED sticker lights which are really great.   Also this summer we were inspired to create our own book covers. We let our inner Harry Potter out and created our very own Spells and Potions books.  It was a little messy, but our teens got creative and they were happy with their final projects. 

At our last Teen Fun Thursday, our teens wanted to know what we would be doing next year, because they enjoyed themselves so much and they also made some wonderful friends.   Thank you YALSA and Dollar General from the Whiting Public Library!


My name is Montserrat Inglada and I am the Youth Services Librarian at the Whiting Public Library in Whiting, IN.   Books and kids have always been my passion, but I didn’t start off as a librarian.   I first went to Art School to become a Children’s Book Illustrator and ended up getting a degree in Graphic Design and later I went back to school and I obtain my teaching degree, but while trying to find a teaching job I came across and opening for a Youths Services Librarian and to my surprise I got the job and again I went back to school and obtained my degree in Library Science and I have been at the Whiting Public Library ever since. 

I love working with kids and coming up with ideas for programs.   Every year my staff asks me to slow down, as we always seems to have a crazy amount of programs for the kids and teens, especially in the Summer and I always promise that I will not go so crazy the following year, but I get excited about new ideas and every year ends up being crazy, but at least it’s never boring and I love it and most importantly I think the kids enjoy it too!

Droids Invade the Putnam County Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

The theme for this year’s Summer Reading Program was “Build a Better World”. I think it is safe to say that in the world of the future, robots will be doing most of the building. I once heard someone say, “There will be two types of jobs in the future…telling a computer what to do, and being told by a computer what to do”. With that in mind, the Putnam County Library hosted a three part robotics programming workshop for kids and teens during the Summer Reading Program. We want to lead the way for our community to be on the side of telling the computers what to do. With such a focus on STEM learning nowadays, and with the 2017 YALSA/Dollar General Summer Learning Resources Grant that we received this year, we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to host a programming workshop and it would be the ideal way to steer our community in this direction.

This entire program came about with a partnership with Cummins Filtration, an engineering corporation with a distribution center and offices located here in Cookeville, TN. Cummins provided much needed volunteers (robotics mentors), while the funding for the robots was provided by a generous summer reading grant from Dollar General and YALSA, as well as a donation from Cummins. The idea was to get kids interested in robotics and programming. The more they get interested when they are younger, the more this should translate to a desire for learning eventually leading to future engineers and programmers. So, using the grant money from DG and the donation from Cummins we bought our very first robots. They are Star Wars BB-8 droids made by Sphero and they are magnificent. Through an app we are able to manually control these droids as well as program them to run autonomously. The plan was to have kids program these droids to run a maze. So we set up the program, created a curriculum, collaborated with our Cummins volunteers, invited kids, and crossed our fingers.

The results were better than expected. In the first session, we had 17 kids ranging in age from 6-16 (and a few parents that wanted to participate). Many of them stayed for the entire 3 program event and others came on board later. In the first event, we taught everyone what robots were, why we use/program them, and the fundamentals of programming. Next we went through some simple programs with our droids and found out just how difficult it can be to correctly program a robot and account for all the variables. Finally, in our last session, we programmed our droids to run the maze. And they did it! Our programs worked! The droids raced through the mazes to reach the end!

With the success of this program comes the inception of even more robotics programming. We are still working on the specifics and logistics of future programs, but rest assured that more droids will be invading the Putnam County Library soon.


Written by Phil SchallerWith a BA in History from the University of Florida and a MLIS degree from Valdosta State University, I currently work as the Assistant Director/Adult Services Librarian of the Putnam County Library System in Cookeville, TN. This position is also in charge of collection development and programming for the young adult part of the library. I have a love of gaming of all kinds and have recently gamified our SRP with the result of having a much increased buy-in from teens and adults patrons.

Teen Read Week 2017: Unleash Your Story

It’s the first full week of August. Summer Reading Programs are ending, it’s time to start putting together “Back to School” booklists, and library staff everywhere can finally breathe a sigh of relief. But wait! Teen Read Week is right around the corner! From October 8-14th, libraries can support teen readers by helping them unleash their story and participate in Teen Read Week. There are lots of great ideas to help you plan a successful week for your teens in the Teen Read Week Manual and discussions happening on the forum.

Your teens can participate in Teen Read Week right now by reading books nominated for Teens Top Ten and voting for their favorites from August 15 until Teen Read Week (Oct 8-14). Go ahead, breathe your sigh of relief and pat yourself on the back for a job well done this summer, you deserve it. Then grab your bookmarks, your booklists, and your best display skills and get ready for Teen Read Week 2017: Unleash Your Story!

Teen Summer Intern @ Algona Public Library

When I started thinking about posting about out summer intern experience, I began thinking about why we hire a summer intern.  The obvious reason is that an intern fills the gaps for summer staff during our busiest time of the year.  But, the summer intern experience is not really for us, the staff.  We certainly benefit from having a teen here for the summer, but the summer intern experience is really meant for the teen.

So, how do we avoid just putting our teen to work, and instead give them an experience that could influence and direct their future?  That’s not a question that I have a clear-cut answer for.  While I’m sure that our summer intern spent lots of time just being put to work, I also know that our intern had a summer that shaped some of the choices that she will make for her future.

The range of activities that our summer intern participated in varied from checking books in and out, shelving, recording summer reading stats, helping with summer reading programs, creating summer reading craft projects, and developing promotional materials.  All of those activities met our needs as a library during the busy summer reading program, and they helped shape the overall experience of our summer intern.

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The American Library Association (ALA) defines outreach as providing library services and programs outside the walls of the library to underserved and underrepresented populations; populations such as new and non-readers, LBGT teens, teens of color, poor and homeless teens, and teens who are incarcerated. As these populations are often marginalized and underserved, it is crucial for libraries to recognize these populations and provide services and programs to them where they are.

The YALSA Futures Report calls out the importance of outreach to underserved populations and ways in which library staff can think about ways to work with targeted communities of teens (e.g. those who are incarcerated, homeless, in foster care, or in classrooms and other inschool locations) and where they are, rather than waiting for teens to find a way to get to the physical library space.

This month I interviewed April Witteveen, Community and Teen Services Librarian with the Deschutes Public Library in Central Oregon.

  1. What kind of outreach services do you provide for teens?

My outreach is currently pretty simple and straightforward—but very, very consistent, which is so important. Most of these relationships have existed for longer than the 12 years I’ve been with my library system.

I currently visit our Juvenile Justice facility every other week. The building holds two populations in separate “pods”: teens that are serving short criminal sentences or are awaiting trial (the general “locked down” juvenile justice population,) as well as a program for court-involved teen males who enter a non-profit therapeutic program called J Bar J. The J Bar J teens in the secure facility are either working their way up, behaviorally, to get placed at a residential facility (J Bar J Boys Ranch) or have been removed from the Ranch due to behavior to spend time in the secure facility.

I do booktalks year-round to the juvenile justice students when they are in their classroom time, and I try to read the room while doing so to see if I think a discussion of what they’re reading right now could work—it doesn’t every time and I’ve had to cut and run. I also offer the summer reading program, in a modified format, to these teens. They have the opportunity to earn free books with reading time, and many of them are surprised these are books they get to keep and take home when they are released. I’ve seen some incredible generosity here too—“I’m picking something for my sister, it’s her birthday next week,” “can I donate this to the classroom for others to read when I’m done?” etc.

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Volunteer for an Award Committee or Selected Lists Team!

It’s that time of year again! As YALSA President-Elect, I’ll make appointments in October for the following YALSA committees that will begin work in early 2018. The committees below are one year terms starting Feb. 1, 2018 (even though ALA’s Midwinter Meeting is Feb. 9 – 12, these groups will not meet there)

Additionally, appointments will be made for the Selected Lists Teams (one year term starting Jan. 1, 2018):

As a reminder, all of the selected lists are tranisitioning from traditional committees which met in person, to 100% virtual groups who work year-round through The Hub.  For more information, email the member manager of The Hub at yalsahub@gmail.com.  You can gain valuable YALSA and professional development experience by volunteering to be on a Blogging Team or YALSA committee.  You will also be helping YALSA achieve its mission 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.”

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Libraries Ready to Code Grant Application Information Session

Did you miss the information session earlier this week on the Libraries Ready to Code application process? Did you attend but want to review the slides and the information presented? If so, you can watch the recording of the session right here.

The slides are also available.

Don’t forget you can learn more about the project, access grant application FAQs, and get started with the application on the Libraries Ready to Code website.

Robotics at Oneonta Public Library: Dollar General Grant Winner

What a Summer! Oneonta Public Library experienced everything from robotics to bees, from bubbles to modified stuffed animals, and all things in between during Build a Better World 2017. Oneonta Public Library is a relatively small library with a staff of 5 full-time employees and 2 part-time employees. This means that all of our employees wear many hats throughout the year but especially during the summer.

We do not have a teen services librarian, per se, but the staff here at Oneonta Public Library is filled with people willing to jump in and help with whatever comes up. Since this year’s theme was Build a Better World, we could think of no better way to decorate the teen area than with Minecraft. Here is what it looked like:

I am not a teen, but this was amazing. Cassandra, our programs coordinator, spent hours planning and assembling each block of this scene.

For a variety of different reasons, it sometimes seems like teen services and programs are an afterthought. We feel that if we provide books for teens, we are doing our jobs. According to the YALSA Futures report (2014), “The library is no longer simply a quiet place to connect to physical content. It is instead a place, physical and virtual, to learn how to connect and use resources of all types from physical books to apps to experts in a local, regional, or national community.” We wanted to make sure that we brought our teens to the forefront of Build a Better World 2017 by writing a grant to bring a robotics-type program to the teens, so they could experience the library as a place where teens can learn about things they are interested in. After weeks and weeks of scouring the internet for experts, looking at different technologies to develop a plan, and many hours in the office typing away at the keyboard, we submitted and won a YALSA/Dollar General Summer Learning Resources Grant.

This allowed us to spend $1,000 on a single teen program. To say the least, there were fireworks and cake to celebrate (not really but it felt that way). We decided to purchase Cubelets, 2 Makey Makeys, and a WonderWorks Dash Bot.

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President’s Report – July 2017


I am honored to submit my first YALSA President’s report. My goal with this monthly report is to keep you up to date on the work I’m doing in my role as YALSA president and to highlight key association activities in which I am involved.  Please let me know if you have any questions.


  • Filled various openings on committees and task forces
  • Welcomed incoming committee & taskforce chairs
  • Answered questions from YALSA members about committees, task forces, and various other topics
  • Wrote a blog post and email message about District Days
  • Appointed and met with President’s Advisory Taskforce
  • Inviting members to join the Advancing Diversity Taskforce that the Board approved
  • Communicated with ALSC, AASL, & ALA presidents
  • Prepared for August Board chat, check in with New Board Members, and monthly President’s phone call with Past and Incoming Presidents

Works in Progress

  • With a $500,000 sponsorship from Google, YALSA is administering Libraries Ready to Code – a grant program for libraries to design computational thinking and computer science programs for and with underrepresented youth.
  • Advocating!  District Days are here and your congresspersons are home on break. Now is your opportunity to advocate for federal library funding (#saveIMLS) and speak up for teens!  Find out how here. I made an appointment with my Congressman – I’ll keep you posted.
  • Applications being reviewed for member manager for the HUB
  • Working with the board and YALSA Staff on the 2017-2018 Implementation Plan for our Strategic Plan

Stats and Data

  • Funds raised in June = $1,461
  • YALSA Membership in June = 4,807 (down 5.3% over this time last year)

Don’t Forget!

  • Registration is open for the 2017 YA Services Symposium, Nov. 3-5 in Louisville, KY. Register through Sept. 15 and save with early bird rates! Housing is also open now through Oct. 1.
  • Applications are being accepted for Libraries Ready to Code through August 31, 2017.
  • Don’t forget to check out the Current Projects page to stay updated on what’s going on!
  • All chairs should submit their Quarterly Report by August 15!


  • To all our members for all that you do to support teens and teen library services in your communities, and especially for all of the out-going committee chairs and members whose work finished at the end of June.
  • To outgoing board members Candace Mack, Nick Buron, Jennifer Korn, Gretchen Kolderup, and Trixie Dantis for their contributions to the YALSA board and for all they do to support teens!
  • To Past President Sarah Hill and Executive Director Beth Yoke for their guidance in my first month as YALSA President!

Respectfully submitted,

Sandra Hughes-Hassell, YALSA President 2017-2018

Follow me on twitter @Bridge2Lit