WEEK OF MAKING: THE MAKING OF LIBRARIAN MAKERS

By Kelly Czarnecki and Marie Harris

In the fall of 2014 our library in Charlotte, NC applied for a grant with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to fund Idea Box, a Makerspace in our downtown location. The funding was to be used for equipment as well as consultation to help meet our goals:

• Generate new energy around this lifelong learning center
• Attract new users; especially those ages 19-34
• Be a place where anyone can bring their ideas to life
• Build partnerships/collaborations with the local maker community
• Create a prototype space within the library that can be refined and expanded on with testing and use

Aubrey As the generous funding that was received did not cover staffing, administration appointed two existing staff as project leads whose task it was to have the space open and operable by January 2015. They in turn went through the process of establishing a dedicated Makerspace (now called Idea Box) team that would focus on developing policies for the space, programming, and focusing on bringing our target audience through our doors. Fortunately, our organization has over seven years of experience in a similar space at one of our branches for youth where film and music creation and editing has been a part of how teens are served, and we had a staff of many talents to choose from.

While the staff were unexperienced as trained Makers, they were definitely enthusiastic and brought with them experience in everything from film making to graphic design. Once the team of ten was established through an online application process that asked questions related to their experience with the kinds of activities and technologies the space would have, the task of how to get everyone on board with knowing how the major equipment works was going to be the next step in the process. Did the secret lie in an Arduino code that you can plug the library employee into? Or do you start from scratch and prototype a librarian Maker in Inkscape (a free software design program) to cut out on the laser cutter? Continue reading

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!

Continue reading

What Your Manager Wishes You Knew – Part 1

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! Over the next six weeks, I’ll be sharing some tips from managers that you can integrate into your work life and maybe make some positive changes in your library.

In March, YALSA surveyed members whose job titles identified them as supervisors or managers. We asked them some questions about administrative support for teen services in their libraries, and what would improve that support. There were some common threads, and today I’m going to start with a big one:

Presenting Yourself as a Professional

In the comments to our survey, one manager said that YA librarians need to learn how to “code-switch” between being “hip” and being “professional.” It’s true that a lot of YA librarians have a lot invested in their look and style–and that works with teens. But sometimes the style doesn’t come across with the people who are making decisions–especially the ones who are of a different generation.’  Continue reading

What’s the Latest With YALSA Badges?

We’ve been talking a lot about badges on the YALSAblog but haven’t given readers much of an update on what’s going on with the association’s badge project. First, we’ve just made an Xtranormal video with a bit of information about how the project is going to work. Check it out below:

Continue reading

Badges Meets Connect Create Collaborate

In this five minute interview learn from YALSA President Jack Martin about YALSA’s Badges for Lifelong Learning project which gives library staff the opportunity to gain skills related to the association’s Competencies for Serving Youth in Libraries. The project is funded by HASTAC, Mozilla, and the MacArthur Foundation.

An interview with Jack Martin on Badges

The badges, which will launch in early winter 2013, support Jack’s presidential theme which is Connect, Create, Collaborate.

YALSA would like to learn more about your interest and knowledge of badges in learning. Let us know by taking a short survey. The association will be publishing articles and providing a variety of learning opportunities before the badge project launches. Stay tuned for all we have planned.

You can learn more about YALSA’s Badge project on the Digital Media and Learning (DML) site and on YALSA’s website. If you would like to learn more about badges in education check out this article from EdWeek.

Free webinar on Nov. 23 on using YALSA’s competencies for serving youth

Join YALSA President-elect Sarah Flowers for Young Adults Deserve the Best: Using Competencies to Serve Teens in Your Library, a free webinar on Nov. 23 from 2 to 3 p.m. Eastern.

The current generation of teens is the most ethnically diverse and technologically plugged-in ever. Is your library ready to serve them? YALSA’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth play a key role in everyday service to young adult patrons. Join Sarah Flowers, YALSA President-elect and author of Young Adults Deserve the Best: Putting YALSA’s Competencies into Action, to discuss practical ways to promote and apply the competencies to ensure quality library service to the teens in your community. WebJunction is pleased to host this webinar in collaboration with the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA).

The webinar is free, but you must register online first.

An interview with Sarah Flowers, author of YOUNG ADULTS DESERVE THE BEST

YALSA president-elect Sarah Flowers recently authored Young Adults Deserve the Best: YALSA’s Competencies in Action, which expands on YALSA’s competencies for librarians serving youth and gives practical advice and examples for fulfilling those competencies. Sarah was kind enough to answer a few questions about her new book.

GK: You were on the taskforce that updated YALSA’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth. What were the most important things you wanted to see changed in the newest version?

SF: I wasn’t on the Board when they decided that the Competencies needed to be updated, so I just tried to look at them with fresh eyes when I was appointed to the taskforce, and the other members did, too. We thought they were really good competencies, but we all began to notice that there were some repetitious parts, and we also thought that the language was perhaps a little too academic, so our goal was to streamline them.

GK: What motivated you to not just serve on that taskforce, but to write this book as well?

SF: Most of my library career has been spent as a manager. And as a manager, I tend to look at things in terms of: “How can I help librarians grow and get better at their jobs?” “What can I do (or provide) that will help these people develop and be better able to serve our population?” And the competencies fit that. They give a framework for growth and professional development. And in writing the book, I had a chance to really focus on how a front-line librarian (even one without a lot of administrative support) could grow and become a better YA librarian.

GK: Looking over the list of competencies, the sheer number of qualities and areas of knowledge that librarians working with teens should have can feel overwhelming. What advice would you give someone for prioritizing the competencies and knowing which to focus on developing first? Is there one competency area that you think is the most important or that is essential to have to fulfill the others?

SF: I think it depends on two things: what a specific librarian feels that he or she lacks, and what actually can be accomplished. Some things it’s really hard to do if there is no budget, or no support from library management. So you look at the whole thing, and work on the little pieces that you can manage. In terms of a most important area, I do think that Leadership and Professionalism are critical. I think that in a lot of ways they lead to all the others–especially in those situations when you’re on your own, without a lot of support. Be professional, be a leader, and you will be able to work toward achieving the other things.

GK: In the book, you mention a few times that these competencies aren’t so much a list of qualities those in entry-level positions should have so much as a vision for YA services that librarians grow into throughout their careers. Which competencies do you think take the most effort or time to develop?

SF: Again, it depends a lot on the individual, and their own gifts, talents, and background. Some people are natural advocates and communicators, so that part isn’t a problem for them, but maybe they have a tough time doing the administrative stuff. Others may be great at programming and services in the library, but shy about making the case for YA services to administration, or to elected officials, or even in doing outreach.

GK: You’ve had an impressive career so far with your work in libraries as a YA librarian, adult and YA services supervisor, library manager, and most recently as the deputy county librarian for the Santa Clara County Library in California; your previous books and articles; and your recent election as the 2011-2012 president of YALSA. Are there competencies you still feel like you’re developing?

SF: Oh, always! I think I am always working on being a better advocate for teens and teen services, and communicating their needs to the wider world. Also, because I jumped fairly early into management-level positions, I never felt like I had a chance to develop skills in programming for teens, so I’m really in awe of some of my YALSA colleagues who have been able to create terrific programs with and for teens.

GK: What do you think the biggest hurdle is in providing quality services to teens, and how can a librarian who may be working with a small budget or working in a department of one do to overcome that hurdle?

SF: I think lots of times it’s just inertia or lack of knowledge: “we’ve never done this before and we don’t know how and we don’t know why it’s important.” But I think attitude is key. And that’s where leadership and professionalism come in. If you can take your enthusiasm for serving teens and your knowledge of their needs and desires, and convince others on your library staff that services for teens are important, you can overcome any hurdle. It won’t necessarily be quick or easy, but there are plenty of success stories out there.

Thanks a lot, Sarah!

Latest YALSA Board News

The YALSA Board of Directors held their winter meeting via conference call on Thursday, February 25. The primary focus of this meeting was to go over post-conference reports from YALSA member group chairs. However, a few other items were discussed and acted on. These include:

  • Establishment of a Teen Services Evaluation Task Force – the YALSA Board voted to form this task force that will be charged with creating a tool that library administrators and librarians can use in order to evaluate an individual institution’s overall level of success in providing teen services. The group working on the development of this tool will use YALSA’s recently revised Continue reading

Board Meetings – 1/17 & 1/18/10

I planned to post about YALSA’s Board meetings every day of Midwinter. But, as they say, “The best laid plans….”

Following the Saturday 1/16/10 meeting, the YALSA Board met twice more and the hard-working members continued to strategically plan for the Association. Items on the agenda on Sunday and Monday were discussion items. That means that what was discussed was not slated for specific action. Items listed as discussion usually are related to topics that haven’t yet been discussed by the Board and which may need more thought, and perhaps revision, before placed on a future agenda for a specific action. Discussion items can be acted on, but they do not have to be. An overview of topics discussed on Sunday, 1/17/10, and Monday, 1/18/10, follows. Continue reading