Sometimes it can be frustrating to hear great, innovative ideas that don’t sound like they’d ever be possible with your budget. Or maybe you’re tired of hearing about great “new” tools you’ve been using since you were in grad school. Maybe you even read some of the posts in this series and thought, Yawn. Been there, done that. What’s innovative to another librarian might not be for you–it might be scary, or passe, or just not right for your library.
So why not try something that’s new for you?
When we talk about innovation, I think too often we feel a lot of pressure to be truly on the cutting edge, whether it’s using the absolute newest technology or finding the next Printz winner. And let’s be honest: that can be exhausting. I don’t mean to discourage taking risks–please do!–but I also want us to give ourselves permission to applaud the little innovations in our daily lives.
Is your library embracing bookstore shelving? Way to go! Are you diving in to co-teaching a class? Fantastic! Encouraging a spontaneous dance party in the stacks? That is great, and also please invite me next time.
In the comments, what’s one new thing you’re trying?
American Libraries recently posted an article about programming for homeschooled kids and their families. There are a lot of great ideas there that you should take a look at, but very few of the ideas are focused on teens. Like any library media specialist knows, teens need to have their reading, research, and library skills in check before college, and those being homeschooled are no different.
In addition to inviting those teens to your regular programming and events, consider doing things for them during the lull of the day, when everyone else is in school. Not all parents who homeschool are necessarily schooled in how to use library databases, scholarly journals, and online media for research projects, so perhaps a small group might appreciate a workshop similar to the ones high school students get from their librarians. You could even designate a special hour a week for drop-in lessons.
On a similar note, homeschools don’t employ full-time college counselors, but you probably have a circulating and non-circulating collection of test prep books, college guides, and more. Another unique daytime program you can offer, then, is a college workshop. Invite some current college students, whose schedules also allow them to have some free hours during the day, to answer questions about local schools and essay topics, and see if any of your regular homework tutors can volunteer to come in and help with the process. Continue reading
Collaboration. Everyone probably wants to do it in order to provide excellent services to teens. You might have the chance to collaborate regularly with teachers, parents, teens, colleagues, bookstore owners, authors, police and fire personnel, and others who work in community agencies and departments. These are people it’s probably fairly easy to connect with and whom you may have fairly easy access to. But, are they the right people to work with in order to be innovative in services?
I’d like to suggest that they may not be. In order to be innovative the collaborations we pursue and get involved in have go be as innovative as the programs and services we want to sponsor. It becomes comfortable to collaborate with people you know and have a history with. But that means it also becomes easy to miss opportunities for doing something new, reaching teens you might not regularly interact with, and gaining new insights and ideas.
I admit that this is more of a call for you all to innovate than it is me giving you ideas. I’ve been thinking lately about how today’s popstars, especially Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Jessie J, are all about having distinct, out-of-this-world style and attitude to go along with their music. Instead of the concept albums of the 1960s and 1970s, today’s pop culture likes its concept artists. Gwen Stefani mixed ska and angst with Jean Harlow, Katy Perry fetishizes and infantilizes herself, and the UK’s Marina & the Diamonds is unabashedly seeking popstar superstardom, and her aesthetic is all about how she’s “obsessed/with the mess/that’s America.” You can argue whether or not these artists are good or bad, whether they’re obvious or esoteric, whether they’re legitimate or faking it–I know I do–but you can’t deny that they are memorable and fascinating.
So what does that have to do with youth services? Lots, I’m sure. Thinking about popstars and performance/concept art can lend itself to all kinds of interesting book displays and programs. You may even end up inspiring a new generation of quirky songstresses and 21st century Bowies.
- First, check your catalog for CDs by any musician you would consider a “performance artist” or “concept artist.” You can also check at the end of this post for some suggestions. Next, create a display where you connect these albums to biographies that may be in your adult nonfiction section, novels about teen musicians, and other nonfiction titles relating to the artist’s aesthetic, from vintage fashion to abstract art. If you don’t feel you know enough about this topic, this is a great opportunity to bring in your teen advisory board or an awesome library student intern. Continue reading
Though teen services are usually defined as serving patrons in the 12-18 age range, in practice, teen librarians serve a broader range of patrons than merely 12-18 year oldsâ€”from 10 year olds with mature tastes and reading abilities, to college students uninterested in transitioning to adult fiction, to grandparents pulled to teen books by the young adults in their lives and the quality of the materials.
In serving this broad age range with teen materials, I find that I need to have different cultural glasses at the ready during readers’ advisory.’ After all, the patron whose adolescent experience is being molded right now, page by page, is different from the patron who fondly recollects reading a particular book the summer when she first fell in love.
Here is some information we teen librarians can use during readers’ advisory to guide adults to new teen titles similar to those they loved in their adolescence. Continue reading
Etsy, as you might know, is a flourishing online marketplace for independent artists, designers, and antiquers to sell and trade their wares. There are thousands of items in a ton of categories, from zines to custom-made wedding gowns to homemade soap and vintage lunchboxes. It’s not all great–they don’t have a parody site, Regretsy (NSFW), for nothing–but there are some gems. Here are some items available on Etsy that might spruce up your teen section, serve as a great prize for a reading contest, or just suit your own librarian style. And what’s better? Start a conversation with your craftiest patrons about what they’d do with an Etsy storefront, or use your library Pinterest account to pin all of your favorite (or most laughable) Etsy products.
Librarians Dewey It Better badge:
There’s a little bit of pin-up girl in all of us. This patch by user BadgesbyQuake will let you shout that out to anyone who sees your…tote bag?
Okay, so this isn’t really for the library, but it’s such an adorable idea I couldn’t resist! This is an excellent theme idea by user lilmoptop for a fellow librarian’s baby shower or wedding–or, frankly, any occasion, because who isn’t always building their personal library? Continue reading
Each year, YALSA sponsors preconference workshops and programs for the ALA Annual Conference. Through May 31, we’re seeking your proposals for a conference presentation at next year’s event in Chicago, June 27 to July 2. As you can see from our request for proposal, next year we are emphasizing creative conference proposals, highlighting best practices and innovations in five priority areas:
- Young Adult Literature/Readers’ Advisory
- Advocacy & Activism
- Programming & Outreach
- Research & Best Practices
- Teen Spaces (physical & virtual)
- Youth Participation
What innovations have you brought in these five areas? What inspiration have you found in our 30 Days series that could apply to them? YALSA is as creative and innovative as its members, which is to say very creative and highly innovative. So fill out our Annual 2013 request for proposal and tell your peers about everything you’ve accomplished at your library!
I love YA literature, which is probably a good thing since at times it feels like I’m floating in a sea of books. ‘ And the analogy is not an accident. ‘ Depending on which statistic you read there are between 3,000 and 10,000 new books YA books published every year. ‘ How then, can we be expected to sift through all of these titles and find that magic novel that will turn all of our students into life-long readers? ‘ Unfortunately, there is no magic pill or super secret that veteran librarians can pass on to new librarians in some slightly creepy candle-lit ceremony. ‘ The truth is, it takes work. ‘ But the good news is there are so many different options for getting to know more about YA literature that there’s bound to be a strategy to keep even the most overwhelmed teacher-librarian from’ despair.
1) ‘ Start with what you’ve got. ‘ Learn your own collection. ‘ I’ve been fortunate enough to have shifted and reorganized our library’s collection seven times in six years (why this happened is another story). ‘ I say fortunate because it forced me to pick up/touch/look at nearly every book in the collection (about 17,000 titles). ‘ While I don’t recommend this to everyone (I don’t think my clerk has forgiven me quite yet) in hindsight it was a fantastic way to gain an intimate knowledge of what was sitting on the shelves. ‘ Okay, stop. ‘ Deep breath. ‘ For those of you’ hyperventilating’ at the thought of all the dust and heavy lifting, the same thing can be accomplished (almost) during inventory or repeatedly browsing your own shelves. ‘ That’s right. ‘ Get up and head to the stacks.
Over the past couple of weeks as a part of the 30 Days of Innovation series I’ve written about the importance of embracing failure and the need to breed a culture of innovation in libraries. Last week I had some people ask me what happens when you understand the value of failure and innovative culture in the workplace, but your colleagues and administration do not? People wonder how they can feel safe in failure and get the innovative juices going when those around them aren’t supportive. Some ideas:
- Ask Yourself Why: Why are your colleagues and/or administrators against innovative practices? Is it because they are scared of looking bad to others? Do they not know how to articulate the ideas of innovation so that they are understood by elected officials and other town administrators? Have they never really had a chance to understand what it takes to be innovative? Do they think that innovation means throwing out everything, even what works really well, and starting from scratch? Ask yourself where the barriers to innovation are and then find ways to break through them. For example, If fear is an issue then come up with low-risk innovative opportunities to get things going so that colleagues and administrators can gain a track record of innovative success. Then build from there. Continue reading
The YALSA Board of Directors is always looking for ways to incorporate innovation into our overall mission to expand and strengthen library services for teens and to build the capacity of libraries and librarians to engage, serve, and empower teens and young adults. One of our core functions is to provide continuing education to librarians and library workers who serve teens.
We are all aware that because of the rapidly changing nature of how information is created and delivered, librarians must constantly learn new skills to be effective in our daily work. In addition, we know that in today’s world, learning happens everywhere, and YALSA wants to help librarians and library workers get recognition for the skills they are acquiring outside traditional settings. In looking for ways to be innovative in our approach to CE, YALSA was fortunate enough to be able to partner with Mozilla, the Macarthur Foundation, and HASTAC in their Badges for Lifelong Learning Project.
In March, YALSA, in cooperation with Badgeville, was awarded a $75,000 grant to create a Badges for Learning project that will increase YALSA’s capacity to deliver professional development in an exciting, innovative way. Continue reading