2019 Summer Learning Resources Grant: Summer STEAM Squad at the Lockport Branch Public Library

Lockport Branch Public Library was very grateful to be selected for the 2019 YALSA/Dollar General Summer Learning Resources Grant. The Lockport Branch Public Library is one of nine branches of the Lafourche Parish Public Library System. We are located in southernmost part of Louisiana. Our area is largely rural, with nearly 27% of households without internet access, making the library necessary for our patrons’ recreational and educational needs. Recent library programs have shown a marked increase of interest in S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics), but many adolescents and teens lack the resources, skills, and mentoring needed to expand their knowledge to succeed in future career paths and to benefit their communities.

A teen plays with lego bricks.

My Planet Rover w/ Lego Mindstorms

Our YALSA/Dollar General Summer Learning Resources Grant focused introducing teens to various aspects relating to STEAM, and generating interest in new technologies for a better tomorrow. With the grant, we were able to provide programs throughout the summer to the central area of Lafourche Parish. Each program theme tied into this year’s Summer Reading Program theme, A Universe of Stories.

A teen plays with lego bricks.

My Planet Rover w/ Lego Mindstorms

In the past, our teen program attendance rate has been lower than our children and adult programs offered during the summer months. To entice teens, we hosted 6-STEAM related programs over a 2 month period. Our teens were able to construct and build a Dobsonian telescope, create original bilingual hybrid media pop-up books, learn coding for web design, build and code with Lego Mindstorms, and learn the importance of clean water and sustainability. One of our main goals was to educate teens on STEAM related careers, as they are mostly exposed to agricultural and oil-field related careers. We strived to provide a safe space where our teens could learn math and engineering skills in a fun and non-formal way. Another main goal was to improve teen program attendance at programs during the summer reading program. Comparing this year’s attendance to last year’s, the Lockport Branch showed substantial improvement in program attendance.

A teen does a water purification experiment.

STEAM Squad: Water Purification

Teens play with popup books.

Hybrid Popup Books

In the future, we would like some of these programs to travel to school events in our parish, such as school job fairs, to reach more teens of Lafourche Parish. We hope to also partner with our local Louisiana State University Agricultural Center (LSU Ag Center, which provides Louisiana citizens with research-based educational information that will improve their lives and economic well-being) to offer more programs about the importance of health and sustainability. 

 

 

Katie Cheramie is the Central Area Administrator for Lockport Branch Public Library.

2019 Teen Summer Intern Program: Cecil County Public Library

In the spring of 2019, Cecil County Public Library was pleased to accept a YALSA Teen Summer Intern Grant of $1,000, enabling us to hire a local teen to assist with the 2019 Summer Reading and Learning Program.

While we knew the decision would be difficult, our first step was to recruit and select our summer intern. One goal we identified for our internship program was to provide the intern with an introduction to essential job and career skills, as this program was the first opportunity for many of our applicants to apply for a job. Knowing we wanted to introduce the teen applicants to a real-world hiring process, we created an application packet similar to what we use for adults applying for other positions at the library. This packet included a professional job description, application, essay question, and call for references. Rather than focusing primarily on work experience, we adapted many of our questions to focus on the applicants’ extracurricular or volunteer activities, leadership experiences, skills, and interests.

To promote the internship opportunity, we shared the application with the teen services staff at library branches across the county. Having close relationships with the teens, these staff members were able to share the opportunity directly with teens in their communities. We also leveraged the close relationship we have with the local school district, sharing the application with the school librarians at the area high schools. This word-of-mouth approach was very successful, as we received many applications for the position.

Knowing we could only hire one intern for the summer, we then scheduled interviews. Keeping with our goal of introducing the teens to real-world job standards, we conducted full professional interviews with the applicants. This was the first experience for all of our applicants to participate in an interview process, and while many were nervous, we did our best to keep a light, conversational tone to make them feel at ease. While we included many of our standard interview questions used with all new hires, “Why are you interested in this position?” “Please tell us about your prior experiences,” etc., we also incorporated questions that were more fun for the teens, giving us a better window into their personalities, motivations, and interests. We asked them to tell us about their favorite books, choose three words they or others would use to describe them, and share some of the things they hoped to do at the library this summer.

Although the decision was difficult, we ultimately selected Hannah, a 17-year-old long-time library user and member of our Teen Advisory Group, to participate as our 2019 summer intern. Hannah’s love of the library, volunteer experiences, and interest in working in librarianship were just a few of the many reasons we selected her as our intern. 

With the hiring process complete, we then worked with Hannah to make a plan for the summer. Having recently completed a book study with all teen services staff of YALSA’s Putting Teens First in Library Services: A Road Map, we recognized the importance of following the principles of the Connected Learning Model and designing an interest-driven internship experience for Hannah. Having talked with Hannah about her interests and skills, future goals, and what she hoped to gain from the internship, we worked together to design a program that would give her opportunities to use these skills in the library setting. 

Hannah holding up a book she reviewed

Hannah holding up a book she reviewed.

Hannah was very interested in teen services, so one of her main responsibilities this summer was in assisting the teen library staff with their programs for the Summer Reading and Learning program. Hannah is an avid artist and photographer, and she was able to assist in programs by running art stations at our Teen Nights, taking photos, and helping to engage younger teens in activities. She is also interested in science and technology and was essential in helping to run the “Drone Pilot for a Day” program, the “Painting with Robots” program using Sphero robots, and the “NASA Universe Discovery” astronomy program series for middle school teens.

In addition to assisting with programming, Hannah put her artistic and STEM skills to work this summer by creating engaging bulletin boards and displays for our Young Adult section and conducting a training for teen services staff on using newly acquired technology for programming, including Nintendo Switch, Oculus Go, and Ozobots. Hannah is also an avid reader of Young Adult fiction, so when she was not assisting with programs, she worked on a project to create staff recommendations of her favorite books to add to the Young Adult shelves and on the teen page of the library’s website.

While many of Hannah’s projects and responsibilities this summer were directly related to her interest in assisting with teen services, we also recognized the importance of introducing her to a well-rounded view of the library, giving her opportunities to shadow and assist with additional departments. In addition to working with the teen services department, Hannah spent time shadowing the children’s library staff and assisting with early childhood storytimes, riding on the bookmobile and helping with outreach visits, shadowing the circulation staff and assisting with customer service, and helping to serve summer lunches. These opportunities gave Hannah practice in many aspects of library service, providing her an in-depth view of working in a library.

Hannah standing with our teen services librarian in front of a bulletin board she made.

Hannah standing with our teen services librarian in front of a bulletin board she made.

Hannah doing a training on Ozobots for our youth services staff.

Hannah doing a training on Ozobots for our youth services staff.

Through the internship program, we hope working at Cecil County Public Library this summer has helped Hannah to grow her customer service skills, communication skills, knowledge of professional working standards, and comfort level working with the public, all of which are essential for future success in whichever profession she chooses. As a library, we have learned through this experience the importance of providing opportunities for teens to contribute to the library in meaningful ways, acting as leaders and using their skills and interests to inspire our patrons and staff. 

 

Katelyn McLimans is the Youth Services Coordinator at Cecil County Public Library.

2019 Teen Summer Intern Program: Amazing Teens Provide Inspiration – Grant Mentor Experience of a Seasoned Librarian

Children gather near large toy castles.

Memories of “Universe of Stories” with creative aliens including our YALSA/ Dollar General Summer Teen Intern, Angel.

During the 2018-2019 School Year, I was invited to start attending the SAC meetings for a local high school’s magnet programs. As the only adult services librarian of a small library, I certainly did not need more things to do, especially when much of my time is spent doing administrative tasks such as planning a major renovation project, purchasing, managing budget lines, and processing related paperwork. I was honored to attend as I’m a people person and the Community’s Librarian, I feel it is vital to be engaged with the community in different ways.

While attending the SAC meetings, I learned that students in some of the magnet programs were required to do an internship and all students were required to volunteer. Teachers told me that finding paid internships was difficult but necessary for many of the students who need to help their families with a paycheck. I informed the board that I could certainly provide internship opportunities for a few students but was not able to pay for them.  Over 90% of the students in our city limits qualify for free or reduced lunch programs at the neighborhood schools so when I saw the Dollar General/ YALSA Summer Teen Intern Grant program I eagerly applied knowing this would help someone in my community if I received the grant.

I was thrilled to be chosen and created job ads for the positions. Knowing our library would be closing down for renovations in the end of July, I decided to create two positions for the first busy weeks of the Summer Reading Program. Not only did we post the job at the front service desk but I recruited students at the high school during their “Dress for Success” job skills event. I collaborated with our HR and Finance Departments and the teens had to fill out the same application that we have for any job openings at our Village. I conducted interviews for the position following the same types of questions and scoring guidelines as I do for our part time circulation clerk position. Two teens stood apart from the group which attests to great mentoring by library staff as both top candidates had been part of our youth volunteer programs and one was an officer of our Teen Advisory Board. Both students were able to answer the questions clearly and articulate their answers by describing their experiences working with people or technology. Both were dressed to impress! The young man had even shined their shoes!

The interview process led me to begin a Youth Leadership Series for the summer to teach job preparation skills and introduce teens to the public library and its services. The two YALSA Summer Interns participated in this series that covered aspects of differences between public libraries, Library Advocacy, local government, the importance of getting to know the organization when one starts in a new job as well as many tips about how to fill out an application, creating a resume, and preparing for an interview.  

YALSA/ Dollar General Intern, Sofia, reading to the Preschool Storytime Class.

YALSA/ Dollar General Intern, Sofia, reading to the Preschool Storytime Class.

 

Angel working with children, caregivers and other Youth Volunteers during the craft he planned for the class.

Angel working with children, caregivers and other Youth Volunteers during the craft he planned for the class.

In addition to the Youth Leadership series and assisting patrons to sign up for the Summer Reading Program, the YALSA Summer interns had a special project during the Summer Reading Program with the Children’s Librarian. They each were given a book and a craft they were responsible for presenting during Bilingual Preschool Storytime. They engaged the attendees in activities by asking questions and allowing interaction with the book. Both interns learned about early literacy education, the reasons for: placement of furniture/ items in the room and why there is social time in the Children’s Section of the library prior to storytime as well as the importance of routines for early learners. Interacting with preschoolers can be a challenge and both learned flexibility and how to “think on their feet”. In addition to storytimes, they assisted our Children’s Librarian with several other summer library programs such as our PAWS-to-Read with a Delta certified Reading Dog. 

Working with the interns and other teen volunteers was definitely the spark I needed this summer! 

Sofia overseeing a Youth Volunteer and the PAWS-to-Read program with Village of Palm Springs Summer Camp children and other patrons.

Sofia overseeing a Youth Volunteer and the PAWS-to-Read program with Village of Palm Springs Summer Camp children and other patrons.

 

Suvi Manner is the Library Director at Palm Springs Public Library, FL. You can contact her at smanner@vpsfl.org. To others interested in this project: I am available to provide feedback about working with teams with other staff when mentoring teens/ youth volunteers as well as any insight about working with HR and Finance Departments when administering a grant. Our library is also very active in community outreach and partnering with other organizations to serve the community.

2019 Teen Summer Intern Program: Teen Interns Contribute to Making a Community Library Brighter

The Charlotte Mecklenburg library system in a large library system with many teen volunteers across twenty branches. Our focus for the grant this year was to choose a branch that does not have a high recruitment and retention rate for teen volunteers. Our Sugar Creek branch is in a low-income and widely served area in our county, and in the past, we have had teens not complete the summer volunteering program at this branch.

Three teens pose in the library.

Our teen interns were integral to making some of our summer programs a success. Summer Interns assisted with our Summer Reading Kickoff at the beginning of summer. Each intern operated a STEAM station and helped the Children’s Department with various projects such as, prepping Summer Reading materials, Summer Reading registration, book displays, and programs. They maintained weekly shelf-reading assignments which included pulling duplicate copies from our fiction and nonfiction collection as well as processed Book Sale items, and they have assisted the Circulation Department by pulling morning holds and processing daily delivery. 

The teen interns were asked which experience this summer was the most meaningful, and each of them gave a different view of why libraries are so important for teens. One of our interns, Treyson, also volunteered to be Clifford the Big Red Dog as part of the Summer Reading Kickoff. As Treyson was dressed as Clifford the Big, Red Dog in the summer sun, he said that even though it was a very hot costume, he “didn’t have to wear it” and that he “wanted to”, especially seeing how happy it made the children to see him.

Three teens pose in the library.

Aleah shared about a moment when she was shelving in the children’s department, there was a child who told her she did not have anyone to play with. So, Aleah started coloring on the chalkboard with her, and she commented that she enjoyed spending time with the child, instead of leaving her alone. Aleah also stated that volunteering “gave her an excuse to read”. She never put books on hold before this summer, and now has a large stack. She also discovered ebooks and audiobooks and sometimes requests them at the same time!

Kaliyah has goals to become a graphic designer, and during this internship, she spent time with a staff person who is also an artist. The staff member gave her tips for her art and showed her how she can market her art as well. This internship gave her a connection she may have not made before.

Three teens pose in the library.

Giving the teens several opportunities to work and collaborate with each other and library staff really benefited Sugar Creek. They were able to shine through their different personalities and have a fun experience, while learning how a library operates. This experience showed growth in each of the teens as well. By giving them a variety of tasks, they were able to find their niche, and they had a very positive impression of the library. By making the tasks fun and diverse, the teens committed 229 hours this summer, and there was no concern about retention.

 

Hayley Burson is a Teen Librarian at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

2019 Summer Learning Resources Grant: Programming through Partnerships Enables Life Literacy at the Library

Ashe County Public Library (ACPL) was awarded the YALSA/Dollar General Summer Learning Resources Grant. With this funding, I designed a three-month-long program for and with teens broadly called Life Literacy at the Library (LLL). LLL was designed around the county’s most recent community health needs report, which identified three key areas of need for Ashe County residents: “mental/behavioral health, substance abuse and misuse prevention, [and] physical activity and nutrition” (CHR). Through both teen advisory councils and surveys, the teens voiced their desire for programs and collection development geared toward mental health, physical health and nutrition, and structured educational programming, all of which corresponded with the health needs report.

My department began researching ways we could provide teens with programming focused on these needs. We knew that partnerships with community organizations were going to be important, but it was in my reflection on LLL at the end of the summer that I realized how crucial partnerships are to creating a robust summer program.

Programming through partnerships benefited LLL in several ways. First, we were able to offer more variety in program options for teens. We held cooking and nutrition classes, dance classes, writing workshops, mental health classes, etiquette classes, and art classes. This variety worked well because teens could select classes based on their interests and comfort level. Additionally, the variety attracted teens who do not attend regular teen programming.

Programming through partnerships also connected teens with resources in the community of which they were not aware. A large percentage of our teens are home-schooled and utilizing partnerships helped broaden their knowledge of community resources and opportunities.

Teens gather around a table filled with food.

Teens learn to cook!

It also served to initiate new relationships and strengthen existing relationships between the library and community partners. Advertising our programs and our partners brought increased awareness of teen programming at the library, and I had several community members contact me about potential future collaborations.

The other partners I discovered through existing personal relationships. For example, my sister is an accomplished choreographer and gave the library an excellent discount to lead a dance class. The instructor who led etiquette classes is a friend of library staff. The published poet who led the writing workshops is a former English teacher of my department supervisor. A Safe Home for Everyone (A.S.H.E.) led the mental health classes. A.S.H.E. is a local non-profit that provides services to individuals who have experienced domestic and intimate violence, and the library had an existing partnership with A.S.H.E. Utilizing the social connections staff members have within the community is an excellent way to bring new opportunities to the library. The benefits of partnerships also extend to the partnering organizations. Several of the organizations we partnered with have community outreach goals, and the library can help meet those goals. For example, both the Ashe County Cooperative Extension and the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts seek to conduct community outreach as part of their organization’s goals. Ashe County Cooperative Extension led the cooking and nutrition classes, and the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts led the art classes. After researching the organizations’ missions and goals on their websites, a friendly phone call was all it took to secure these partners. I would advise contacting potential partners as early as possible, since both of these specific organizations fill their calendars quickly. I contacted them in January, within the same week I found out we had received the grant award. I continued to correspond with partners via email throughout the year, answering any questions they had and offering help or assistance when possible.

Finally, programming through partnerships saved the library and library staff enormous amounts of time, effort, and money. Eight of our nine LLL programs were led and co-sponsored by partners. My department and I were solely responsible for one program, a Teen Spelling Bee. Because of the time saved through partner collaboration, I was able to devote more time to planning this event. The teens loved the Spelling Bee and based on their feedback, our county librarian even suggested making a summer spelling bee one of our recurring events. Programming through partnerships for summer learning also served to maximize the grant award. We saved an enormous amount of money by working with our partners, most of whom gave us a discounted rate because of our relationships. With our savings, I was able to purchase more collection items and offer more programs. I wanted to stretch the grant award as far as possible and provide the teens with a full summer learning program with varied learning opportunities, and partner collaborations, along with the YALSA/Dollar General Summer Resources Grant, made it happen.

Molly Price is an Adult Services Librarian at Ashe County Public Library

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YALSA Member Task Force Volunteer Opportunities – Apply By 11/12

Greetings, YALSA Members,

Do you consider yourself to have strong organizational qualities, nurture a creative mindset to problem solving, and are savvy with social media? Does it sound appealing to participate on a national committee, but perhaps shine the spotlight on someone else? Consider your strengths to serve on the YALSA’s Task Forces for the YA Services Symposium Marketing & Planning, ALA Conference Marketing & Local Arrangements, and Midwinter Marketing & Local Arrangements Committee. Complete and submit your Committee Volunteer Form by Tuesday, 11/12. 

Do remember that to serve on any of these committees, applicants will need to have a current YALSA membership. Also, much of the work is accomplished virtually, but some do require attendance to the event for ensuring the smooth running of YALSA activities. Committee members will soon begin work and run for roughly 6 months of work. 

Committee member duties can be found here and here. A few examples of committee life might include:

  • Vetting applications and selecting winners for the Symposium stipends.

  • Make arrangements for local teens to participate in the live Best Fiction for Young Adults feedback session that takes place at Midwinter where teens share their critical comments on literature with Best Fiction for Young Adults committee members.

  • Write posts for the YALSAblog to inform conference attendees of local places to eatvisit, or support their interests.

  • Research, collate, and recommend resources for YALSA’s activities and presence at conference to be posted to a wiki page.

If you are still reading this post, what are you waiting for?! Go ahead. Fill out your Committee Volunteer Form. However, should the timing of this volunteer opportunity not fit your schedule, do consider volunteering for the next round of opportunities, including one of the many YALSA strategic committees. Volunteer forms for strategic committees will open between January through February 1, 2020. 

If you have any questions, head over to the Committee FAQ or feel free to reach out to me AmandaBarnhart@kclibrary.org

Thank you for considering YALSA service,
Amanda Barnhart, YALSA President-Elect (2019-2020)

2019 Teen Summer Intern Program: Managing Teen Summer Interns – (Some) Mistakes Were Made

The Ypsilanti District Library’s (YDL) 2019 Teen Summer Intern program was a great learning experience, not only for the teen interns, but also for the YDL staff! This was my first year managing teen interns at YDL and, as a result, I did not have my predecessor’s resources or anecdotes on past teen internships… I was starting from scratch for literally everything involving this process. I recruited for our internships mainly by word of mouth with our regular teen volunteers and patrons. I also added the application to our Teen Interest Page on the library’s website. All interested teens had to submit an application to me by June 1st in order to be considered. After distributing at least 12 applications in person, I only received five back, only three of which were totally complete. We had a lot of teens express interest after the deadline, which led into multiple conversations about prioritizing, managing deadlines and “there’s always next year”. Given the status of completed applications, my choices were pretty apparent and I hired the three teens who filled out their applications correctly and completely. I did have individual conversations with the other two teens about the incomplete status of their applications and encouraged them to try again next year, letting them know the reason as to why they were not selected. I felt like this aspect of the process was extremely important, as a lot of our teen patrons come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and are interested in working but lack work experience and 21st century career skills. This remained a constant theme throughout the summer with multiple conversations about anything from being late to cell phone use during shift times.

Photo by K. Scott

Once the interns were selected, we did a quick one-on-one session to go over expectations, tour the library spaces they would be working in and the supplies they were going to be using. They were also given their summer schedules based on their noted availability from their applications. In retrospect, as a time saver, I would plan for the future to have this be a more formal training that everyone attends at the same time. This would also ensure that the teens are all receiving the same information. I would also make sure to introduce the teens (maybe via email with their pictures, as well as walking them around for in-person introductions) to all the library staff, so they are familiar with the teen interns and understand why they are in the “staff-only” areas during the summer months.  One of our teen interns was incredibly shy and laconic. This was challenging for some of our librarians and library staff who did not work directly with the teen interns. Some misconstrued her demeanor as rude or unengaged. She also felt shy because there were a few staff members who kept forgetting her name and repeatedly did not recognize her. The only time she conveyed this to me was in her final evaluation and review meeting. In retrospect, I also wish I had hosted a couple mid-summer check-in meetings with the teen interns, as I could have hopefully made her feel more comfortable sooner and also allowed for more opportunities for her to engage with the staff members who did not know her. Providing the teens with nametags and lanyards would also have been helpful, to create a more “official” vibe for them when working at the library in their roles as interns. Lastly, and most importantly, I think managing library staff’s expectations for teen volunteers would be essential. Providing them in advance with information on the teen brain and how to engage teens would have been helpful for both staff and the teen interns. 

Photo by K. Scott

Our Summer Learning & Reading Challenge kicked off on June 15th, which was the first day our teen interns officially started working. Throughout the summer, our interns mostly helped with programs- prep, running the events, and cleanup. Overall, our internships were successful and it was a lot of fun getting to know the teens better and watching their confidence grow over the summer. The most heartwarming aspects were watching the interns learn how to create iPad book trailers and then engaging with youth patrons at our Library Lab STEM program, teaching the younger children how to create their own book trailers. It’s been a long, crazy-busy summer, but our teen interns were super helpful and it was so much fun getting to know them these past couple months!  I am already looking forward to implementing some more positive changes and improvements to our internship program for the summer of 2020!

 

Kelly Scott is the Teen Librarian at Ypsilanti District Library.

2019 Summer Learning Resources Grant: Building Interest in Technology Programs for Teens

 The City of Warren is located in Southeast Michigan. In 2017, it was estimated that 31.4% of youth under the age of 18 in Warren live at less than 100% of the federal poverty level. Technological literacy is an important skill that can empower youth to have successful lives and careers. Youth who are affected by poverty are likely to fall behind their peer group in their ability to comprehend and manipulate technologies, limiting their future educational and career prospects.

The inside of a completed Google AIY kit.

The Warren Public Library was fortunate to receive a Summer Learning Resource Grant funded by YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. Our goal was to introduce teens to new kinds of technology, specifically virtual reality and artificial intelligence.  We used the grant money to purchase two Oculus Go headsets, four AIY kits by Google, and books about applied science.

Previous teen tech-based programs at the library have had low attendance. It is difficult to discern why this is the case, but we made a few decisions to help us try to raise teen attendance numbers throughout the summer. 

First, we decided that our technology programs would focus on “process” learning instead of “product” learning. Our goal was to familiarize teens with the technology tools, not to teach them to be experts. For this reason, we allowed them to experiment with the tools with very few specific goals in mind. This made the process more fun and lower pressure because the teens knew there was no right or wrong way to go about using the tools.

The Voice kit is on the left and the Vision kit is on the right.

Second, we brought the tools to programs that were not technology based. For example, the Oculus Go sets were available at our monthly Teen Spot program, Anime Club, and our summer learning closing lock-in. This allowed us to introduce them to a much wider audience. Specifically, it helped us to reach teens who would not have been interested in signing up for a “tech” program. 

Third, we did not focus on “educational” activities. Because our main goal was to interest young people in newer forms of technology, we felt that any use of the tools was educational. For example, while we did download Oculus Go apps that allowed users to “tour” the Anne Frank House, we also downloaded roller coaster simulations and adventure games. 

Finally, we asked our Friends of the Library to volunteer to assist with our teen programs this summer. While this was originally for practical purposes, it actually had an interesting effect. Many of the Friends are retirees who are not familiar with technology.  The teens’ greater comfort with technology led to collaboration and learning opportunities for everyone. 

The Oculus Go headset and control.

Although some programs still did not meet target attendance numbers, overall Warren Public Library had more successful teen programs than in previous summers. Perhaps most telling is our “Space Age Tech Day” which introduced both the Oculus Go sets and the AIY kits. While only six teens attended, it greatly improved over our previous technology event for teens, which had zero attendees.   

 

Julianne Novetsky is the Library Technician at Warren Civic Center Library.

 

2019 Teen Summer Intern Program: From Summer Learning to Summer Leading at the Auburn Public Library

The Auburn Public Library, northeast of metro Atlanta, currently serves a population of about 8,000 city residents, but is located in one of the most rapidly expanding areas in the state. Our small library draws in an average of 1,000 patrons per month just for its free programs, and is planning to expand later this year. As one can imagine, this number doubles or even triples during the summer months, and being able to hire interns to help handle the workload is a lifesaver!

Summer intern Christina Miller.

Thanks to Dollar General and YALSA, we were able to hire a part-time Summer Intern for eight weeks. We advertised the position for about a month via social media and at the two local high schools before conducting interviews. We received over 20 applications and interviewed 17 teens before deciding on Christina Miller, a 16 year-old rising high school senior, for her first paying job. Christina has grown up in our library, volunteering with us since she was 12. She came to the interview incredibly prepared with pages of notes and dressed more professionally than we had ever seen her, a sign that she was taking this opportunity seriously. We knew that she was the right choice for this position.

Summer intern Christina Miller.

Christina helped us with a little of everything over the summer. We offered a program every day of the week, including a free lunch program for youth 18 and under. She helped hand out summer reading prizes, take pictures, shelve, and interact with patrons at the information desk. But where Christina really shone was in helping lead teen programs. Our teen programs, for teens aged 12-19, took place on Thursday nights. One of our more popular programs that we repeated several times is Virtual Reality. We have a 40-inch TV set up in our teen section and an Occulus Rift system hooked up to it. Christina assisted with the setup of the device and by the end of the summer, she could operate it better than any staff member! She helped download updates, choose games, and we stepped back and let her run the show with the other teens. She was fair, making sure everyone got turns and keeping the audience engaged in the fun. She also ran her first-ever Dungeons and Dragons campaign sitting in the Dungeon Master chair to a group of seven very excited teens (we almost had to throw them out of the library at closing time).

 

Having an extra person to help during the summer was amazing, but seeing Christina step up and lead programs was an extraordinary experience. We provided her with tools and opportunities, and she performed beyond our highest expectations. We labeled our teen summer learning program a success for many reasons (higher participation, higher attendance), but watching Christina bloom with confidence was a highlight of the summer. Thank you, Dollar General and YALSA, for allowing us to be a part of your program – it changed lives. 

 

Bel Outwater is the Library Manager for the Auburn Public Library, part of the Piedmont Regional Library System serving Banks, Barrow, and Jackson counties in northeast Georgia. Working in a library combines her two passions: reading and helping people. She is obsessed with penguins, sloths, dinosaurs, and too many fandoms to count. 

2019 Summer Learning Resources Grant: Dollar General Literacy Foundation Contributes to Transformative Year at Rural Library

Community engagement and partnerships have always been essential to making library programming successful, but this year, the Dollar General/YALSA Summer Learning Grant provided our library with a unique opportunity to capitalize on an extraordinary new partnership with our local school system. We partnered with a local system and a local bank to make ChibiCon, a mini-con sponsored by our Teen Advisory Board, even better than ever–while opening new doors for even greater partnerships. 

Additionally, I was already involved in the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant at Bourbon County Middle School (BCMS), where I led a book club every Tuesday afternoon. If you’re unfamiliar, 21st Century federal grants are provided to schools to create a program that provides homework help, educational opportunities, and cultural enrichment to local children.  With BCMS, the grant manifests as an afterschool program and a two-week-long summer camp. The kids read 3-4 books per year and enjoyed STEM and art activities. 

However, the Summer Learning Grant provided us with an opportunity to take our partnership to another level by bringing a published, best-selling author (Gwenda Bond) to our rural Kentucky community and deeply involving the BCMS program. This energized all of the adults involved in the program and helped the students improve their critical thinking skills, literacy skills, and verbal communication skills as they prepared to speak with Gwenda Bond about her work. All the teens enrolled in the 21st Century Camp read Bond’s new book, the Stranger Things prequel Dangerous Minds

The teens from the summer camp made up nearly a third of the attendance at ChibiCon. The event was a game-changer for our relationship with that school program. Thanks to a generous sponsorship from a local bank, we were able to give every person who attended ChibiCon a signed copy of one of Gwenda Bond’s books. The teachers were delighted by this, as were the students, several of whom joined our Anime Club and joined our library’s fandom community. Since all the BCMS students had read Dangerous Minds, they elevated the discussion during Gwenda Bond’s author talk, contributing thoughtful questions and insightful commentary. This partnership with the school’s afterschool program made ChibiCon far greater than it would have been without their help. 

After ChibiCon, we had an even better relationship with BCMS. Since the event, we’ve been invited to join education committees and speak at school events, and we are collaborating further with the 21st Century program to co-sponsor community service events and expanded book clubs. ChibiCon proved that the school and library could collaborate on large events to the benefit of the students, building a foundation of trust that allows us more outreach opportunities–and a stronger presence in our local schools–than ever before. None of this would have been possible without the collaborations cultivated between teachers, school administrators, and library staff. School partnerships can take patience and hard work but are worth every student.

 

Beth Dunston is the Teen Services Librarian at Paris-Bourbon County Library.