Libraries, Partnerships, and Lights on Afterschool

This post was written by Megan Burton, STEM and Learning Supervisor at Kitsap Regional Library in Washington State and originally published by the Afterschool Alliance on August 30, 2018. Read the original post.

photo of youth at STEM activity“It is a real collaboration,” said Nicole Rawlinson, Teen Services Librarian at the Sylvan Way branch of the Kitsap Regional Library describing her work with the local Boys and Girls Club.

In the middle of summer, a large construction project near the Boys and Girls Club put a damper on their planned activities. The Club’s Site Coordinators had to think fast. Where could they bring nearly 80 youth where they knew they could continue to offer high quality youth programming? They had a lightbulb moment– the library.

The partnership between the Library and the Boys and Girls Club is one built on trust, strengthened by a mutual understanding and a shared purpose. Over time these partners moved beyond simply sharing resources and began to think of ways they could engage in deeper partner activities. Throughout the summer, the Library and the Boys and Girls Club hosted an 8-week journalism program with the goal of co-supporting youth in creating their own magazine.
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YALSA Summer Intern Grant for Wake County Public Libraries

This summer Wake County Public Libraries (WCPL), located in Raleigh, North Carolina, started a new teen internship program for older teens (grades 11-12) to assist in providing fun engaging learning opportunities for participants at selective USDA funded Summer Food Sites in partnership with Wake County Parks and Recreation . The funding from the YALSA Summer Learning Grant that is funded by Dollar General helped offset the costs of this program.

In our grant application, our initial goal was to hire two interns. However, once we started to review the program and interview candidates we decided to increase this number to five interns. All five interns were selected from WCPL’s Teen Leadership Corps that served the areas of some of our most vulnerable communities.

The teens were interviewed and hired in May. In early June, they received training, participated in leadership building skills and worked with four of our librarians to design the program they would deliver to the food site participants from mid-June to early August. The interns provided programs Monday through Thursday with oversight from our librarians and staff from the parks serving as food sites. On Fridays, members of the local Boys and Girls Club worked at the sites while our teens participated in debriefing meetings with the librarians, as well as skills building and enrichment opportunities to enhance their experience.

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Dollar General Literacy Grant @ St. Regis Falls Central School District

As a new librarian at a small, rural school I was thrilled to have the opportunity of utilizing the Dollar General Literacy Grant on behalf of my students. Since our community is without a public library, I used the library funds to create six separate programs to coincide with open library nights at our high school library. From a cooking night to a night on 3-D printers, we tried to appeal to a wide variety of interests. We used grant funds purchase books related to the program’s theme, supplies so students could participate in making and creating, and as a final attempt to get students into the library, free pizza.

Without extensive experience creating reading programs for teens, this program seemed fairly well planned. I thought I hit several of the right notes with a variety of themes, active participation for the students, and the time honored free pizza. I had planned to have a meeting with interested students and get them involved in the planning, but the last two months of the school year exploded with award ceremonies, a softball and baseball season suddenly full of double and even triple headers due to prior inclement weather, regents study groups, and last minute fire and lockdown drills. Suddenly I was without student input and left to my own devices. I decided to simply carry on with the original plan because it was a pretty good plan, right?

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Programming-mobile: One Rural Library System’s Attempt to Engage Underserved Teens & Children

Marion County, South Carolina is rural and fairly spread out. The Marion County Library System relies heavily on bookmobile services to reach patrons in some of the farthest corners of the county and those who live in underserved areas. However, in recent years, bookmobile usage has begun to decline, especially among young adults and children, and the disparity between branch and bookmobile services has widened.  This inequality of access is most apparent during summer reading.

Patrons who only receive bookmobile service are encouraged to track their reading and receive prizes during the summer months, but they do not receive any programming and our time with them is very limited. During Summer Reading 2018, however, the library system was given an incredible opportunity—turning the bookmobile into a programming-mobile.

With a Summer Learning Grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and YALSA, we were able to turn our bookmobile into a programming machine for the summer months and give some of the bookmobile children the full library experience!

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Dollar General Summer Intern Grant @ Turner Free Library

The Turner Free Library’s YALSA Teen Intern Grant was a huge success! We used the grant to hire two interns to both take over an existing and well-established summer teen volunteer program as well as undertake a new construction project. The internship position was posted in April and the library had 15 teen applicants. After reviewing resumes, we had 8 teens come in for interviews in May. This process was fantastic as many came with great resumes and in very professional attire. We used this as an opportunity to give direction to any teens that were not as well prepared. We selected two candidates for the internship position based on their qualifications, resumes, and leadership abilities (evident in the interviews). The library was able to pass along information from the other qualified candidates to the town, which had its own internship program this summer.

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Dollar General Grant Winner: Teaching Teens Real World Skills

Butler, Pennsylvania, is a small city 25 miles north of Pittsburgh. Parts of Butler can be fairly suburban, while other parts are quite rural.  The Butler Area Public Library is located in downtown Butler, and serves a population of about 14,000. Two thirds of individuals ages 25 and over have had no post-secondary education. As a result, many of the teens that the library serves are preparing to be first generation college students; families are often not well prepared to teach the skills of adult life to their teens. While local schools have begun making an effort, teens are still finding themselves unprepared to transition into adulthood.

This is just a small sample of the materials we added to the YA Collection on various topics related to “adulting”.

BAPL was fortunate to receive grant funding from YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to create summer programming to help teens work on learning or improving real world skills, such as job seeking, budgeting, and meal preparation.  We planned six weeks of programming, with a different focus area covered each week. The goal of the program was to teach the teens soft skills and life skills in ways that were fun and engaging. We also used a portion of the grant funding to update our Young Adult Collection to have more materials that covered these topics.

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$50 for 20: A Dollar General Grant Winner’s Shopping Spree

The $50 for 20 Program made possible by the Dollar General/YALSA Summer Learning Grant had a broader reach than we had ever imagined. The idea was born from a conversation I overheard between a student and the counselor as I was passing in the hallway. The counselor asked, “What do you like to do during the summer?” The student replied, “I just read my mom’s books over and over.” She didn’t have her own books.

Our original was to have high school teachers select twenty of the most at-risk students who needed books at home. We then gave each student $50 each to spend on books and took them on a field trip to the closest bookstore, Books-A-Million, which is 70 miles away.

We started by planning with the 9-12th grade English teachers to help identify the twenty students who would benefit most from having books to read over the summer. Once they were identified, I met with each student individually and explained what we had planned for them and checked to see if they could go with us on the scheduled trip. I met with the principal and received pre approval for our school district to provide the bus driver’s salary, the fuel expense, and the cost of a meal for each student.

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Barrio Writers – It’s all about Intentionality

Barrio Writers is a free, week long, college level writing workshop that is specifically geared towards youth in underserved communities. The program came to my attention through the direction of my colleague, Patricia Valdovinos, our former Outreach Services Librarian. She mentioned that she knew of a cool program an author friend of hers had started down in Santa Ana; I looked into it (you can too, https://www.barriowriters.org/), and knew almost immediately that we needed to bring the program to our youth.

2017 Barrio Writers and writing mentors at the Mary L. Stephens Branch in Davis, CA

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Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff Webinar: Cultural Competence and Responsiveness

cover of the teen services competencies for library staffEach month, through December, YALSA is sponsoring free webinars (for members and non-members) on topics related to the Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff.

The September webinar (the full video recording is available after the break) on the topic of Cultural Competence and Responsiveness. The focus of the session was on creating inclusive computer science opportunities for youth and was by Lecia Barker from the National Center for Women and Informational Technology (NCWIT) and Cheryl Eberly from the Santa Ana Public Library.
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Summer Learning Program Grant updates juvenile detention library

I attended a breakout session at MLA about reaching out to incarcerated youth. I was inspired by the session to do just that – reach our incarcerated youth! I connected with our local juvenile detention center, and worked closely with their summer activities director to bring books to three different groups of incarcerated teens every week. This has been a very rewarding experience!

I have one group of female youth and two groups of males. I have enjoyed experiencing the variety of interests ranging from ancient historical fiction to auto mechanics to lots of NBA! They are always excited to see the new selection of books to choose from each week!

The grant dollars allowed me to update their in-house library which was much needed and greatly appreciated! The detention center has asked me to continue my weekly visits throughout the school year which is the best measure of success to my way of thinking!

Kristine Swanson is the outreach librarian for the Public Libraries of Saginaw. She has the privilege of taking the library to underserved groups of people in her community including the juvenile detention center, assisted living communities and memory care units. She feels blessed every day to be doing what she is doing!