Library Intersections: Where Does YALSA and Academic Librarianship Intersect?

At the start of my time in graduate school, I saw a post on a community forum. “Be a writer for YALSA” the subject line read. It was August, I was a young, excited, happy-to-be-becoming-a librarian and wanted to end up in a public library working with children and teens. The opportunity seemed perfect. I emailed the current YALSA blog editor at the time and the writing spot was mine.

I wrote for YALSA for two years, covering reports on after school opportunities, digital literacy, and reflections on the profession as I mixed theory from the class with practice in the field. The blog was a touchstone, a way for me to stay abreast with the field. I also love a good community of writers.

In the middle of my second year, the infamous job search began. I wrote up cover letters and polished up my resume. As I found public library jobs to apply for, I also was applying to academic librarian jobs.

I veered.

Today, I find myself at Pennsylvania State University Libraries. I’m a reference and instruction librarian who works a shifted schedule (Sunday-Thursday, 1-10 PM). I spend a lot of time with undergraduates, mainly freshman and sophomores but an occasional senior. What I love about my job is the ability for me to have one-on-one reference conversations with these students. I can really dig into how to research and I’m persistent – I’ve had conversations lasting up to two plus hours. While I’m still learning how to teach, I feel more settled in doing reference with undergrads.

But then why I am back blogging for YALSA you might ask? I’m back because I’m interested and invested in the intersection and overlap of the work of YALSA and the work I do as a librarian at Penn State. If we think about the long line of fantastic librarians a person has in their lifetime, we have an important handoff. I’m curious in the ways we are preparing teenagers for information literacy in college and also want to share the ways I’m teaching and learning from the teens during their first years of undergrad. I want to explore collaborations between academic libraries, public libraries, and school libraries. What are the ways we can work together, share resources, and build a community?

I’ve got some ideas on ways to talk about these ideas, but I also want to hear from you. Comment below on this blog post with topics you want me to explore. What should I write about? I would love any and all feedback.

I’m so glad to be back and blogging with YALSA.

Breaking the Silence about Teen Dating Violence @ Your Library

On Monday, February 13, 2017, teens are invited to join a national conversation about teen dating violence. According to a 2016 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “[a]mong high school students who dated, 21% of females and 10% of males experienced physical and/ or sexual dating violence.” The same study also concluded that “[a]mong adult victims of rape, physical violence, and/ or stalking by an intimate partner, 22% of women and 15% of men first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age.” As teen library staff, have an opportunity to raise awareness about teen dating violence by helping teens advocate for their loved ones, friends, and themselves.

Given the amazing selection of books and resources that have been published for teens about dating violence (DV), we can bring awareness in many different ways. One method is to create a display that is going to invoke a powerful statement that needs to be said. For the month of February, my library posted this in our outside display case:

With these displays, we cab develop programming that can initiate a dialogue with teens about DV. If we have yet to connect with community groups and resources that can help us deliver our services, Teen DV month is a great place to start.

During Teen Dating Violence Awareness month, the teens at my library will discuss Jennifer Shaw Wolf’s Breaking Beautiful and a representative from Peace Over Violence will be there to answer any questions about teen DV. What I want to stress about these kinds of programs as that we need to declare that whatever happens at this event stays at this event. Victims of abuse need to know that the Library is a safe place so, by creating a circle of trust, we are actually stating we are here to help them. By opening up this conversation with our communities, it is incredibly helpful to invite an expert to answer the questions we don’t know or are qualified to answer.

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How Food, Music, Gaming, and Volunteering Can Transcend Fear and Intolerance

Recently, teens have been bombarded with rhetoric and actions that do not support their development or provide a safe environment for them to thrive. Unfortunately, there are far too many recent examples of young people being bullied or harassed by their peers or adults. For example, a report from the Council on Islamic American Relations of California indicated that more than half of Muslim students ages 11 to 18 report having been bullied because of their religion. As teen library staff, we should address this atmosphere of fear and social injustice and work with teens to turn it into something positive by promoting the intrinsic values of tolerance, equality, and acceptance. And we should do this regardless of whether or not our communities include a large population of people from diverse backgrounds. In order to be successful, well-adjusted adults, we need to help all of our teens learn how to understand, accept and work with others, regardless of their background.

Recent discussions at a national level about immigrants and Muslim-Americans point to the need to help young people separate fact from fiction. Regardless of whether or not your community is hosting immigrant families or has a large Muslim community, now is great opportunity to convey to our teens the importance of compassion and inclusion for people of all backgrounds. One tool that I found incredibly helpful is the YALSA’s Cultural Competence Task Force1. This task force has compiled an extensive list of resources that not only provides general information and training information in regards to cultural competence, there is a great section of resources that we can use to help our teens develop cultural competencies through youth involvement. One article, entitled Engaging Youth to Create Positive Change: Parent Support Network of Rhode Island published by National Center for Cultural Competence, Center for Child and Human Development, and Georgetown University, states the following:

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#ACT4TEENS: USING COMMUNITY INFORMATION TO SUPPORT ADVOCACY

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In this podcast (click through to download or connect to online player), LeeAnna Mills, Former Legislative Chair and Past President of the Alabama School Library Association, librarian at Northside Middle School and District Library Media Coordinator for Tuscaloosa County Schools, discusses how you can use data to reach administrators, school board members, and legislators in support of library services for young people.  And, don’t forget to check out YALSA’s advocacy resources at www.ala.org/yalsa/advocacy

Wendy Stephens is a member of the YALSA Advocacy Resources Taskforce.

Virtual Town Hall

Hey YALSA members, I want to hear from you!

In recent years, the President and Board of Directors have held virtual town halls to hear great ideas, get feedback on activities, and talk through goal areas in YALSA’s mission. On May 7th at 2 pm EST, we’d like take the broad view and talk through your overall YALSA experience. Specifically, we’ll be covering the following four questions:

  • What is it about the organization that has earned your loyalty?
  • What does YALSA do that frustrates you?
  • What are three things that YALSA could do that would add the most professional value to the career of teen librarians?
  • What are your three biggest concerns or needs?

Your thoughts can help YALSA become an even more responsive and relevant organization, so please, speak up! We’ll be meeting via this Adobe Connect space. Chat and audio will be available, but virtual bonus points will be given to those with a microphone too! Feel free to log-in at anytime in the next week to test your device’s capability and setup.

Thanks and I look forward to talking with you.

Shannon

 

 

What Your Manager Wishes You Knew – Part 6

Do you sometimes wonder what you could do to get more administrative support for teen services in your library? There are some relatively simple steps you can take to win friends and influence managers! This is a six-part series that shares some tips from managers that you can integrate into your work life and maybe make some positive changes in your library.

In the first five weeks, I talked about’ presenting yourself as a professional,’ speaking the language,’ collecting data, sharing information up the ladder, and taking a big-picture look.’ I’ll conclude this series by talking a bit about:

Getting Everyone On Board

One way to get managers to take notice of teen services and programs is to get everyone talking about those services and programs. “Everyone” means:

  • library staff
  • teens
  • parents
  • community members
  • trustees
  • elected officials
  • everyone!

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Connect, Create, Collaborate: Using Seeds to Grow a Great Teen Program

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“The greatest service which can be rendered to any country is to add a useful plant to its culture…”’ â€“Thomas Jefferson; Memorandum of Services to My Country, after 2 September 1800

You may have heard a lot of talk lately about seed libraries. In February, NPR ran a story entitled “How to Save a Public Library: Make it a Seed Bank.” ‘ If we put aside the argument over whether or not public libraries’ need‘ to be saved, this story actually highlighted an interesting movement that has been sweeping across the country and libraries are leading the way.

A seed lending library works on the simple principle that you can ‘lend’ out seeds to be grown by patrons who will then harvest new seeds and return them to the seed library to be lent out again.

Hosting a seed library can help you’ connect, create, and’ collaborate with your community, and especially with your teens.

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What Does Connect, Create, and Collaborate Look Like With Staff (pt 3)

Connect, Create and Collaborate pt 3

In thinking this week about collaboration, connection and creation– in all its forms, this article in Forbes — about how most groups don’t truly collaborate got me thinking about times that I thought I was collaborating – even partnering – with other staff or community partners – but what I was actually doing looked more often just like listening patiently, tolerating, or convincing.

To enter a room of possible collaborators and acknowledge you might not have the best idea yourself – or that you need their help to do work differently and better can be a scary and risky endeavor. Scary because you might not be able to do it “your way” and risky because you have to give up more control than you might be comfortable with—and that this could change your outcome. Living in this place is a hard balance and I work on it almost every day because if it’s an idea with mutual investment – something a group came up with — you have that many more people invested in its success and sustainability over the long term.

In my library right now we have three new strategic change focus areas – students, seniors and readers. These are groups that we’ve always served and will continue to do so – but we’re identifying them as “change priorities,” meaning that we want to look for new, different ways of thinking about how to serve these groups throughout our library– ways that engage all our staff about things that they can each do in their work. In order to enter into this work in partnership with my colleagues, I had to back up and acknowledge I wasn’t the only expert in the room – that everyone around me had new and different ideas that I hadn’t heard before.

Like many of us, I’ve been following the news of elimination of telecommuting at major companies like Yahoo and Best Buy . In both cases the desire for increased collaboration, among others, were cited as reasons for these changes – it made me wonder what other strategies these companies – and others – were using to embed or reinforce a culture of collaboration – which is way harder than just sharing a cubicle.

What can libraries learn from other organizations about what a real culture of collaboration could look like? If we could figure it out among staff, it would probably be easier to teach it to young people.

Virtual Town Hall on Partnerships

Earlier today YALSA sponsored a Virtual Town Hall on how libraries and stakeholders can work together successfully to support teens. The event is a part of YALSA’s year-long National Forum on Libraries and Teens that is looking at the future of library services to adolescents.

Conversation at the Virtual Town Hall focused on four key questions:

  • Why are partnerships important?
  • What opportunities are a part of partnerships between libraries and stakeholders?
  • What do successful partnerships look like?
  • What’s required of libraries and stakeholders in order to support teens into the future?

You can view the lively discussion .
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