Girlvolution_Web LogoLast spring, a couple of coworkers and I did some outreach at an event called Girlvolution. It was a completely youth-led conference, with sessions on social justice issues ranging from foster care reform to sexual identity. The teens leading each session mixed statistical and factual information with their own perspectives and experiences.

It was the best conference I had ever been to. I was blown away by how poised, informed, and prepared the youth were. But I wondered: how did they do their research? Had they been visiting our libraries every year without us even knowing it?

Our Youth and Family Learning Manager looked into it and found out that this was exactly the case. Although Powerful Voices (the organization that hosts Girlvolution)  had a "Library Day" as part of their program each year, the library had not been providing direct support.

PV

What an awesome organization.

So this year, we collaborated. My coworkers and I met with their staff to hear more about their organization's mission and goals, and to learn how we could help. We arranged for me to visit Powerful Voices on a Thursday afternoon a couple of weeks ago to talk to the youth and their adult allies (mentors) about research. It was a great conversation about everything from whether all the world's information is available on Google (heck no) to evaluating resources.

PV survey results

Results of a survey asking participants to rate the effectiveness of Library Research Day.

That Saturday, the girls and their allies all came to the library. We settled down in the computer lab and got SERIOUS about research. I showed them how to find books in our catalog, and how to decode Dewey. We dug into databases to find the most up-to-date information and the best statistics. We ended the day with pizza, which is never a bad idea.

Powerful Voices ends their sessions with a gratitude circle. That Saturday, many youth and adults mentioned finding out about all the great resources the library has to offer, and how helpful librarians can be. I was grateful for all I learned from them, and to be part of the support network for such talented and engaged young women.

Are you preparing for Summer Reading?

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

Where has the time gone? Is it really almost time for summer reading again? Didn't we just finish last years summer reading? Well let's get our super powers charge up and talk about how we are preparing for teen summer reading.

This year's theme is UnMask! How fun is this going to be?! The 'grams below are just a taste of what we can do to prepare. From awesome displays to getting in to full superhero character to creating great PR materials. Teens are going to love this theme this summer and by using your imagination you can draw in there attention! Maybe have a wall that is a depiction of Gotham City, or use old boxes and make Superman's telephone booth. Dress like your favorite character or keep it simple and wear a superhero tie or fun headband. No matter how small or big you go, you are bound to hit it out of the park this year!

Comment below and let us know some of what you plan to do this summer!

YALSA wants to support you as you implement "The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: a Call to Action," and is currently considering publishing books focused on major topics in the report.

The YALSA Publications Advisory Board has identified some of the topics from the Futures report that are the most under-represented in professional literature, and we want your input. Fill out this brief poll to let us know which subjects and formats you would find the most useful in future publications from YALSA.

Which topics from the Futures report would you most like to see covered in books published by YALSA? (choose up to 3)

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In which format would you prefer to purchase titles from ALA/YALSA? (choose up to 2)

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Do you have a great idea for a book? Knowledge you want to share? A desire to give back to your professional community? Consider publishing with YALSA! Find more information about submitting publication proposals or writing queries for Young Adult Library Services (YALS) here.

Many libraries across the country are offering great STEAM programs for teens; but are these programs as accessible and interesting to diverse teens as we would like them to be? Teens identified as underrepresented minorities--i.e., African-American, American Indian, Hispanic/Latino, and Pacific Islander teens--routinely score below their white peers’ in math and science. It’s not about aptitude, though; it’s about whether these teens have adequate access to learning opportunities that prepare and inspire them to pursue and succeed in science, technology, engineering, and math. That’s where the library can step in with informal learning opportunities that engage all teens in STEAM.

To make STEAM programs accessible and motivating, directly involve teens in the process of “doing” STEAM. Hands-on learning is great, as it emphasizes that every person is capable of doing science. Even better is collaborative work, which allows teens to work together to create a product greater than they could accomplish on their own; this is often called “citizen science.” Hands-on activities also allow teens to prioritize the things they enjoy and find interesting in a program.

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Green Screen logoName: Green Screen by Do Ink
Platform: iOS, compatible with iPad
Cost: $2.99

While digital media labs complete with green screens, cameras, computers and software may be out of reach for many libraries, creating composite photos and videos with your teens doesn't have to be. I set out a few weeks ago to find a free or low-cost green screen option and have been fortunate. After testing several chroma key apps, Green Screen by Do Ink is the one I keep coming back to for flexibility and user friendliness. I had begun by looking for free apps, and quickly discovered that I could either pay up front for green screen capabilities, or download free apps that include "in-app purchases." In-app purchases meant paying to unlock the chroma key tool or to get rid of an obtrusive watermark that rendered the free version essentially useless. I also discovered in one case that the developers' definition of green screen did not match my own (it was basically a $4.99 masking tool, something that comes included in many photo editing apps). With no advertisements or watermarks, Green Screen's $2.99 cost is worthwhile.
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They were pretty excited about the new library.

They were pretty excited about the new library.

For the past six months or so, my fellow teen services librarian and I have been building a partnership with a local drop-in center for homeless youth. We began by meeting with staff several times and taking a tour of their facility to get a better sense of what they do, and how we could help. Then we moved into outreach efforts, like tabling at an on-site job fair. We even revamped their on-site library.  Read More →

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

In the past few days, not only have we had to flip our calendars, but the seasons have transitioned and spring has sprung! Are you in the process of switching over your book displays and bulletin boards? This week we're sharing some fun display ideas from libraries and librarians on Instagram. Focusing on "April showers" is popular as well as gardening, spring creatures, and spring cleaning. April displays also provide an opportunity to highlight monthly themes such as National Poetry Month, National Humor Month, and Autism Awareness Month.

In addition to providing inspiration for new displays, spring can be a great time to spice up social media accounts with a new series or game. As our teens are heading outside for spring sports and activities, social media can be a great way to keep them engaged with the library when they're on the go. To encourage patrons to interact with the library on Instagram, some libraries post fun trivia questions using emojis, pieces of text or illustrations, or clues that highlight a specific area or collection of the library. Creating a unique hashtag for the community to share images of their reading and showing a side of librarianship not usually witnessed at the service desk (such as mugs used by staff or their favorite snacks), will help patrons learn more about staff members without being present in the library. There are also a number of popular hashtags that are widely used by libraries and patrons alike that are specific to days of the week such as #bookfacefriday in which the face on a book cover is photographed over one's own or #tbt to share an image for Throwback Thursday. Hover over the images below to see the hashtags libraries have created for weekly series posts.

Have an awesome spring display idea? Created your own hashtags for your library? Developed social media games for your patrons? We want to hear about it! Share with us in the comments section below.

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I learned about the YALSA The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action report through colleagues in the YOUmedia Learning Lab Network when I was managing the Maker Jawn Initiative at the Free Library of Philadelphia. The report affirmed so much of what we had been discussing as a network; connected learning, librarians taking on the role of facilitators and co-learners rather than experts, rethinking staff models, and more. But in Philly, the report didn’t go far enough. We wanted more than a paradigm shift. Maker Jawn’s goal was to break down hierarchies in libraries by eliminating the top-down approach to staff management, and top-down teaching in a library (where knowledge is typically transferred from librarian to youth). Our team believed that while these institutional hierarchies existed, they would continually reinforce each other resulting in no true innovation, regardless of new technology or language to reframe learning in informal spaces.

Maker Jawn’s solution to this problem was to collectively rethink staffing. At its heart was the concept of the co-op: a team where everyone involved has a stake in the maintenance, effectiveness and deepening of the group as a whole. It required everyone in Maker Jawn to be completely on board. This involved a lot of collegiality and community-building amongst the staff themselves; they had to respect each other as equals, and acknowledge that they all brought different strengths and ways-of-getting-things-done. This also involved a lot of collective learning. We developed “tinkering sessions” in addition to weekly administrative meetings, where each week one member of the Maker Jawn team brought a new medium, tool, or technique they wanted to teach.

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When I started as the Teen Services Librarian at the Hancock County Public Library in 2013, one of the first things I noticed about HCPL teens was their love for comics and manga. My desk is located next to the teen room, parallel to our comic and manga shelving. Day after day at 3:30 p.m. teens would flock to that section and take over the entire space in the teen room. Inspired, I started a monthly comic book club and anime/ manga club – which just celebrated its 1st birthday!

During our clubs, teens discuss the respective genres. Many create their own art or have started drawing their own comic/ manga panels. Numerous teens expressed their interest in making comics at the library.

Our library uses the yearly Collaborative Summer Library Program themes, and this year’s focus is superheroes. While planning for Summer Reading 2015, superheroes and villains were dancing in my head. Teen Tech Week, Summer Reading, and the wishes of our library’s teens came together and formed a program plan. The grant funds awarded from YALSA and Best Buy were used to purchase 10-Wacom Intuos digital drawing tablets equipped with comic-making software.

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