YALSA Symposium Inspiration from a Stipend Winner

As a young librarian, it can be difficult to find your footing. After receiving my degree and being a teen services librarian for a little over a year, I was thrilled to embark on the journey to Louisville in early November for this year’s YALSA Symposium, made possible by YALSA’s travel stipend. I was expecting a weekend full of information and new ideas, but I wasn’t expecting to come home with a new outlook on teen services and a reinvigorated passion for my job, which is exactly what happened!

Teens often feel like no one understands or cares about them, and I hear

this often from the teens that frequent my library. At the Symposium I realized that bringing them into the library wasn’t enough – I had to build a community of teens that supported one another and could make changes within their own communities, as adults are separate from the lives of teens in so many ways. Nearly every session I attended in Louisville focused on communities in some way, through either building a community of teens or drawing the surrounding community into the library through partnerships and local resources.
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Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: The Future of the Past

YALSA’s new Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff continues to set out a vision for the skills and knowledge library staff need in order to successfully support teens. In this 55 minute video (a recorded version of a presentation at the YALSA National Forum on Transforming Teen Services Through CE) Mega. Subramaniam , Rachel McDonald, Jennifer Ilardi, and Shannon Lake discuss many of the skills set out in the Competencies. These include: Cultural Competence and Responsiveness, Continuous Learning, Outcomes and Assessment, Community Engagement, Teen Growth and Development, and Interactions with Teens.

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Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: Making Space for Competencies

by Katie Baxter, Director, Kodiak Public Library, Alaska
The Kodiak Public Library, funded by the City of Kodiak, and, under the governance of the City Manager, serves the entire remote island of Kodiak, Alaska in the Gulf of Alaska located 350 miles south of Anchorage. City population is approximately 6,300; island population is approximately 14, 373.

cover of YALSA's Competencies for Library StaffAs a Library Director who is committed to providing staff with leadership development tools and on-the-job experiences, I am excited by the ways YALSA’s newly released Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff takes us beyond the boundaries of a Teen Room. I shared the competencies document with full-time and part-time employees a few weeks ago without fanfare or discussion. I anticipated that some staff would find the competencies framework formal, academic, and, not necessarily intended as a tool for their individual use. I wanted staff to come to the document on their own terms and in connection to the work we have been doing over the past four years to settle into our new building of 16,000 square feet which includes the “first-ever” Teen Room in the city’s public library.

When getting to know a new building, it’s easy to get caught up, or, closed in, by the realities of settling into rooms with labels and specific purposes. YALSA’s Competencies provides a context for establishing a library’s teen-service style in a teen-focused manner. My gut was telling me that the nature of the physical space was creating assumptions in the minds of staff and patrons that our teen patrons have what they need from the library. However, that space does not have a dedicated service desk, or a dedicated staff presence. I wanted to create a purpose-based reason for each member of the staff to be aware of how he or she works with and in support of teens. The Competencies provides me with a comprehensive springboard for that, and I decided to go for it.
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Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: Ongoing Learning & Reflection

cover of the YALSA Teen Services Competencies for Library StaffHave you heard? At the end of 2017 YALSA released the brand new Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff. The 10 categories of competencies are an important revision to the association’s previous documents of this type because they take into account the paradigm shift in library services for and with teens as described in the Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action report. This shift is in direct response to the world that teens live in today. A world where technology is key and literacies include digital, media, print, and more. It’s a world in which anyone working with teens needs to acknowledge the principles of connected learning and recognize and respond to the social emotional learning needs and cultural components of a teen’s life.

One way that YALSA is providing library staff with information about the competencies and the ways to develop skills for each of the 10 categories, is through a series of blog posts throughout January 2018. These posts will explore the way that individuals are gaining and demonstrating the various skills and knowledge noted as important in the new Competencies. Continue reading

How Student Engagement is Important for Libraries

A recent survey conducted by YouthTruth discusses whether or not students feel engaged in their school studies. Understanding student engagement is important for educators and librarians because it can give great insight into challenges affecting learning both inside and outside of the classroom. YouthTruth analyzed survey responses from over 230,000 students in grades three through twelve. The information was gathered through YouthTruth’s anonymous online climate and culture survey across 36 states. View the entire report here.

The survey targeted four specific statements, which followed with percentages of their findings. The first was that, “across all grade levels, the majority of students feel engaged.” The results to this statement showed 78 percent of elementary school students, 59 percent of middle school students and 60 percent of high school students respectively felt engaged in school work. It is interesting to see that number drop from the time a student left elementary school and finally made it to high school. However, it isn’t surprising. In elementary school students are constantly praised for the work they do and are often times engaged in more “fun programs” than those who entered the older grades.

This isn’t to say that middle schools and high schools aren’t doing their job of praising students or that they are not having fun. They are – I see it on a daily basis on the social media websites and social media accounts that the schools and teachers at middle and high school levels use. A lot happens in middle school and high school: Life changes occur, college prep begins and suddenly the fun of school is hidden beneath the requirements needed to leave and enter the real world. Students may not feel engaged, not because their teachers aren’t showing how important they are but because so much is happening that education gets lost in the shuffle.

According to the survey, “most students take pride in their school work.” This result shows 72 percent of middle school students taking pride and 68 percent of high school students. The survey broke it down even further to state that females are slightly more likely to take pride in school work than males or students who identify as other than male or female.

The last two survey findings were interesting to me, as they speak a lot to an area I feel public libraries can step in and help fill the gap.

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ALA Midwinter 2018: Fun Places to Visit in Denver

There are loads of things to do while you are in Denver for ALA Midwinter! To take a break from the conference and see the city I would recommend taking in at least two of my top 5 places to visit.

  1. Downtown Aquarium

The Downtown Aquarium in Denver is my top choice for things to do. It could be because I love seeing things up close, it could be because I love going at my own pace, or it could simply be because Colorado is a land locked state so seeing tropical fish is super fun!  Although it is a little pricey, the experience is worth it and once in the building, you can go through as many times as you would like. The Aquarium also has a 4-D Theater for those that really want to “feel” the experience. A must-see when you are in Denver.

  1. Denver Zoo

Number two of top things to do in Denver when taking a break from ALA Midwinter is the Denver Zoo! The Denver Zoo is a wonderful experience and a great way to relax after a busy day at ALA Midwinter.  The Zoo is laid out to include many different climates for different types of animals so you will get your steps in.  As an added fun bonus, you can purchase beer at the zoo and enjoy a cold one as you get to experience all the sights and sounds of the numerous animals.

  1. Denver Museum of Nature & Science

No visit to Denver is complete without a visit to the nature and science museum! The hands-on experience you will get at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science will ignite anyone’s curiosity for sure. With Bill Nye speaking at ALA Midwinter, it is a great tie-in to what will be experienced at the conference.

  1. Denver Botanic Gardens

With all the focus on animals, don’t forget to give plants some love while you are in Denver. The Denver Botanic Gardens is another great adventure to see plants both native and not native to the Colorado region. Take a walk through and enjoy the peaceful experience of the gardens.

  1. Denver Art Museum

To round out my top 5 places to visit in Denver, escape to the Denver Art Museum. The traditionalist and the modern artist will find peace in the galleries.  Many exhibitions will be open during ALA Midwinter including “Revealing a Mexican Masterpiece: The Virgin of Valvanera”, “Then, Now, Next: Evolution of an Architectural Icon”, “Stampede: Animals in Art”, and “Past the Tangled Present”.  Also opening on February 11th, the exhibit “Degas: A Passion for Perfection”.  The Denver Art Museum is the sole American venue for this exhibition.

*Bonus Activity!

Because I couldn’t just end at 5 things, take in a show at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts while in town. Choose from 4 different shows during the weekend of ALA Midwinter.  All are sure to be a fun time!

Antonia Krupicka-Smith is the Adult and Teen Services Manager for Library 21c of the Pikes Peak Library District in Colorado Springs, CO.  She loves all things science which is clear in what she thinks is best to do in Denver!

Contact Your US Senators to Support Library Funding

In an effort to strengthen library and museum services across the nation, Senator Jack Reed introduced the Museum and Library Services Act of 2017 (MSLA) along with Senators Collins, Cochran, Gillibrand and Murkowski.   This legislation, introduced on Dec. 22nd, would reauthorize the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  For this legislation to succeed, there needs to be a grassroots effort from citizens to encourage their Senators to support it.  Please take a minute to email or call your Senators and ask them to cosponsor S. 2271, and encourage your friends, family, colleagues, and library’s advocates to do the same. Ready to use talking points and email templates available on the ALA siteContinue reading

Gimme a C (for Collaboration!): Lessons Learned from a Waldorf School Partnership

In summer 2017, my branch library was invited to host seven on-site storytimes for The Denver Waldorf School (DWS), a local, private school whose philosophy aligns with the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. The agreement was for my library to provide a storytime and craft/art project for approximately 25 children (ages 3-6) once per week from June through August. This was our first opportunity to partner with the school, and the more I learned about the cornerstones of Waldorf education, the more inspired I became to apply the principles to our regular storytimes and school-aged programming. Additionally, the partnership motivated me to reevaluate the ways public library staff teach technology to middle grade and high school students, and has prompted me to incorporate more elements of Waldorf education into library programming.

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Research on Competency Content Area 2: Interactions with Teens

Authored by the YALSA Research Committee

Throughout the current term, the YALSA Research Committee will be looking at Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff through the lens of research.  Through our posts, we will attempt to provide a brief snapshot of how scholarship currently addresses some of the issues put forth through the standards.

This post focuses on Content Area 2: Interactions with Teens, which is generally described as “Recognizes the importance of relationships and communication in the development and implementation of quality teen services, and implements techniques and strategies to support teens individually and in group experiences to develop self-concept, identity, coping mechanisms, and positive interactions with their peers and adults.” Bernier (2011) approached the notion of youth patron engagement by examining media representations of young adults.  The author argued that libraries, like most institutions, institute policies and assign resources for groups based on cultural assumptions, such as those established and reinforced by news media.  In his content analysis of news stories, Bernier found that teens are generally negatively portrayed, often as voiceless criminals, trouble-makers, and in need of adult rescue. Bernier encouraged libraries who serve young adults to deliberately consider their institutional approach to this group with regard to policies, resources, space, and relationships with teens.

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ALA Midwinter 2018: Yummy Places to Eat in Denver

Denver has some amazing restaurants! While reading this post, you’ll discover that I’d never make it as a food critic. That said, I do enjoy really tasty food and have a very particular sister-in-law who has introduced me to some excellent places.

Pasta – gluten free, too.

Angelos Taverna puts together some mean pasta dishes – and has delicious gluten free pasta (the additional $5 is worth it).  The Gorgonzola Steak Fettuccine was wonderful.

Something a bit fancy!

Corridor 44 in Larimer Square is a small but neat place to try. They do lots of fun drinks with champagne. Their food ranges from Scottish salmon to beet salad to a short rib melt. I highly suggest that short rib melt. Nighttime at Larimer Square is a lovely place to walk around even if you aren’t going to eat in the area. 

Want a quick treat?

The Market at Larimer Square is a fun spot with a variety of baked goods, fresh salads, and hot drinks. The teas warm me up on a cold day!

Dive bar food with lots of class

As their website says, “Fried chicken and champagne? Why the hell not?” Max’s Wine Dive in Denver has a great atmosphere and a wonderful wine list to go with the fried chicken (gluten free option, too). Checkout their website – lots of tasty items including sweet potato donuts at brunch!

Your party can’t agree?

Try Avanti: they have loads of choices. Think food truck style, but enclosed. There are seven different vendors in the space – I’ve tried most and they are good. American Grind, Brava! Pizzeria Della Strada, Chow Morso, Kaya Kitchen, QuickFish, Quiero Arepas, and The Regional.

Like I said above, I’m not a food critic – there are only so many ways that I know how to say that something is yummy. Enjoy exploring Denver and all the delicious places we have to eat.

 

Joanna Nelson Rendón is an adult services manager and the young adult services division head for Pikes Peak Library District, Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is an adjunct professor for the University of Denver’s MLIS program and is on their Program Advisory Board. Joanna is the co-chair for the Colorado Association of Libraries’ Leadership Development. She is a blogger for Public Libraries Online. Joanna loves hiking, salsa dancing, and, of course, reading!