Back to (After)School – Building a Positive Environment with a Library Afterschool Crowd – Part 2

This two-part piece looks at ways to manage large afterschool crowds in a library. To read about ways to build relationships and empathy, manage noise levels and energy, and work effectively with staff from other departments, see Part 1. This post discusses behavior and discipline.

To keep things fair, orderly, and predictable in a busy library, consistency is key.  At Addison Public Library, Elizabeth Lynch has found great success using a system called Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). She says, “The core of PBIS is…that kids really don’t know what appropriate behavior is, especially in a public setting. So the focus is to educate them on what expectations are and think about the systems we’re creating and whether that’s giving them the support they need in the space, or whether we’re making it impossible or difficult for them.”

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PBIS is not only a philosophy, but also involves a set of clearly-defined rules, consequences, and instructions for staff. These are discussed in the sections below. Having clear and explicit rules helps teens learn what appropriate behavior is, and creates consistency in staff responses to troublemaking. It also reduces friction among staff, since everyone is operating under the same rules about what is appropriate and how to respond to infractions.

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Back to (After)School – Building a Positive Environment with a Library Afterschool Crowd – Part 1

 

For some libraries, back to school is more like back to the zoo.

If your public library is in walking distance of a middle or high school, chances are you have what’s known as an “afterschool crowd”–a term uttered as often with alarm as it is with affection. While large groups of teens coming to the library is a gift and incredible opportunity, it can often leave library staff feeling out of control and create friction between Young Adult Services staff and staff from other departments, particularly those who value peace and quiet.IMG_6035 (960x1280)

While I was working on my Master’s of Library and Information Science, I had the pleasure of working for Elizabeth Lynch, the Teen Services Coordinator at Addison Public Library in Illinois. Every day, 60 to 120 kids troop across the street from Indian Trail Middle School to the library in a wave that calls to mind the Invasion of Normandy. The kids are hungry, chatty, sometimes cranky, and full of pent-up energy. Many come from low-income families and their parents work. The library is a safe place for them to stay until they can be picked up.

How do we provide these teens with education, fun, safety, and positive socialization—and keep them from damaging eardrums, property, or our relationships with other patrons and staff? I’ve drawn on my own experiences and advice from Lynch to offer some ideas.

In this post, we will discuss ways to build relationships and empathy, manage noise levels and energy, and work effectively with staff from other departments in your library. In Part 2, we will discuss behavior and discipline.

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Back to School: Locked, Stocked, and Two Sharpened Pencils: or, Starting Your School Year

It’s almost that time again. Time for all of us school librarians and teachers to pack away the short-shorts, scrape off the beach sand, and start going to bed at a reasonable hour once more. Time for lesson plans, and inventory orders, and new September signage. It’s time for school, ladies and gentlemen, and the start of the next year of academic awesomeness.

Are you ready? Is your bag packed and stocked with notebooks, clean writing pens, and fresh, sharp crayons wrapped in perfect paper? New cardigans folded and washed? Back to school as a grown up can be a huge undertaking; supplies can get expensive, and the gear shift from summer to school can leave you feeling dizzy and suddenly stressed out.

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Back to School: Summer Reading

Heading into my final year of high school, I realize I have much to look forward to. I’ll be (hopefully) passing my driver’s test in a week and, in addition, have my own car for the year. I’ll be taking many anticipated, higher-level courses that I’ve been thinking about since I was a freshman. I’ll be a leader in many of the clubs and activities I’ve been in for the last three years. Yet, despite all these grand new beginnings to kick off my new year, I know that there is also one grand ending: summer reading.

Having taking honors/AP English for all four years, a part of my summer has always belonged to the written word. Though there are novels I willingly pick up on my own when the warm months roll in, I can’t attest to having always been enthralled by the books handpicked for me. When I first heard about summer reading from my twin sisters, who were just heading into ninth grade at the time, I was appalled. Isn’t summertime designed for children to relax? I argued. To take a break from books and education? Of course, I’d watched movies with characters that had summer reading and even, ironically, read books with this same act of atrocity. But I never thought that I, a measly eighth-grader, would have to suffer through it. It wasn’t even that I hated the idea of reading; as I stated before, I willingly pick up books, quite often in fact. It was more the idea that I would have to read a book that someone else wanted me to read. It was the idea that I couldn’t choose what I wanted to read.

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30 Days of Back to School: The Playlist

Many of you, like me, have made a shift from one job to another this summer. Kudos to each of you who still managed to get their posts in during September. Me, I’m just now getting to my desk to write this. (I just now have a desk in my apt!!) During this transition, a few earworms have made their way in. I imagine others have found certain songs rolling around their brains this last month too. With Teen Read Week‘s theme being Books with Beat this year, and our blogmaster giving her students a weekly playlist, I thought it only fitting to put down some of the beats that have been in my head lately.

Here’s my playlist: Continue reading

30 Days of Back to School: Join YALSA (or renew) for a whole year of support!

At last, things are starting to settle down! As a school librarian the first month of school is the most chaotic and tiring of the whole year, well except maybe the last month. Getting the library set up – new books unpacked and shelved, posters hung, letters to parents and staff; the list goes on and on. The beginning of the year is always overwhelming; no matter how long you have been a librarian. For most of the country that beginning rush is starting to wane. For many of us, we rarely have time to collaborate with teachers, let alone other librarians.
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30 Days of Back to School: LIS Road Trip

Everyone wants to go on a road trip!’  Here is your chance to join YALSA’s LIS (Library and Information School) Road Trip!

Launching in 2011 this road trip will focus on the LIS’s around the country.’  We want students and professors to host an event, a program or happy hour on each of the ALA accredited schools to help faculty and students be aware of what YALSA does.’  We will contact the ALA Student Chapters as well to engage them in our road trip!’  Look for future announcements on the blog and on a newly created wiki space.’  The LIS Road Trip Task Force is looking for volunteers to promote YALSA and the values of membership to our future librarians!’  The Task Force will be creating promotional materials, how to sign up and how to market your event.’  Please contact Jerene Battisti, chair, if you have ideas or questions at jdbattisti@kcls.org.

30 Days of Back to School: The Challenge of Intellectual Freedom

“They say there is strangeness too dangerous in our theaters and bookstore shelves…Those who know what’s best for us must rise and save us from ourselves…” – from “Witch Hunt” by Rush

Yes folks, it’s September, and that means two things are certain:’  students are back in school, and potential censors and book challengers are coming out of the woodwork.’  Recent challenges to Sherman Alexie’s “Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” and Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Speak”‘  were just the first to greet the new school year.’  Interestingly enough, this last week of September is Banned Books Week, and therefore the perfect time think about the potential for censorship, and whether you’re ready for that challenge if it comes your way. Continue reading