Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: The Future of the Past

YALSA’s new Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff continues to set out a vision for the skills and knowledge library staff need in order to successfully support teens. In this 55 minute video (a recorded version of a presentation at the YALSA National Forum on Transforming Teen Services Through CE) Mega. Subramaniam , Rachel McDonald, Jennifer Ilardi, and Shannon Lake discuss many of the skills set out in the Competencies. These include: Cultural Competence and Responsiveness, Continuous Learning, Outcomes and Assessment, Community Engagement, Teen Growth and Development, and Interactions with Teens.

Continue reading Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: The Future of the Past

Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: Making Space for Competencies

by Katie Baxter, Director, Kodiak Public Library, Alaska
The Kodiak Public Library, funded by the City of Kodiak, and, under the governance of the City Manager, serves the entire remote island of Kodiak, Alaska in the Gulf of Alaska located 350 miles south of Anchorage. City population is approximately 6,300; island population is approximately 14, 373.

cover of YALSA's Competencies for Library StaffAs a Library Director who is committed to providing staff with leadership development tools and on-the-job experiences, I am excited by the ways YALSA’s newly released Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff takes us beyond the boundaries of a Teen Room. I shared the competencies document with full-time and part-time employees a few weeks ago without fanfare or discussion. I anticipated that some staff would find the competencies framework formal, academic, and, not necessarily intended as a tool for their individual use. I wanted staff to come to the document on their own terms and in connection to the work we have been doing over the past four years to settle into our new building of 16,000 square feet which includes the “first-ever” Teen Room in the city’s public library.

When getting to know a new building, it’s easy to get caught up, or, closed in, by the realities of settling into rooms with labels and specific purposes. YALSA’s Competencies provides a context for establishing a library’s teen-service style in a teen-focused manner. My gut was telling me that the nature of the physical space was creating assumptions in the minds of staff and patrons that our teen patrons have what they need from the library. However, that space does not have a dedicated service desk, or a dedicated staff presence. I wanted to create a purpose-based reason for each member of the staff to be aware of how he or she works with and in support of teens. The Competencies provides me with a comprehensive springboard for that, and I decided to go for it.
Continue reading Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: Making Space for Competencies

Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: Ongoing Learning & Reflection

cover of the YALSA Teen Services Competencies for Library StaffHave you heard? At the end of 2017 YALSA released the brand new Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff. The 10 categories of competencies are an important revision to the association’s previous documents of this type because they take into account the paradigm shift in library services for and with teens as described in the Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action report. This shift is in direct response to the world that teens live in today. A world where technology is key and literacies include digital, media, print, and more. It’s a world in which anyone working with teens needs to acknowledge the principles of connected learning and recognize and respond to the social emotional learning needs and cultural components of a teen’s life.

One way that YALSA is providing library staff with information about the competencies and the ways to develop skills for each of the 10 categories, is through a series of blog posts throughout January 2018. These posts will explore the way that individuals are gaining and demonstrating the various skills and knowledge noted as important in the new Competencies. Continue reading Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: Ongoing Learning & Reflection

Research on Competency Content Area 2: Interactions with Teens

Authored by the YALSA Research Committee

Throughout the current term, the YALSA Research Committee will be looking at Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff through the lens of research.  Through our posts, we will attempt to provide a brief snapshot of how scholarship currently addresses some of the issues put forth through the standards.

This post focuses on Content Area 2: Interactions with Teens, which is generally described as “Recognizes the importance of relationships and communication in the development and implementation of quality teen services, and implements techniques and strategies to support teens individually and in group experiences to develop self-concept, identity, coping mechanisms, and positive interactions with their peers and adults.” Bernier (2011) approached the notion of youth patron engagement by examining media representations of young adults.  The author argued that libraries, like most institutions, institute policies and assign resources for groups based on cultural assumptions, such as those established and reinforced by news media.  In his content analysis of news stories, Bernier found that teens are generally negatively portrayed, often as voiceless criminals, trouble-makers, and in need of adult rescue. Bernier encouraged libraries who serve young adults to deliberately consider their institutional approach to this group with regard to policies, resources, space, and relationships with teens.

Continue reading Research on Competency Content Area 2: Interactions with Teens

Teen Services Competencies: An Opportunity

Last week YALSA published the newest edition of Teen Service Competencies for Library Staff. The introduction to the document states:

YALSA’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth was frst published in 1981 and last updated in 2010. Since that time the role libraries play in teen lives has gone through a paradigm shift, wherein library staff have been called upon to take a co-learner role in facilitating teen learning that is hands-on and interest-based.

As a result of the paradigm shift mentioned in the introduction, the Competencies are entirely new. Categories, used in the past to organize the skill areas that library staff need so to work for and with teens successfully, are completely re-envisioned. This re-envisioning is set within the context of the work YALSA has done over the past several years including the Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action report and the association’s research agenda.
Continue reading Teen Services Competencies: An Opportunity

Research on Competency Content Area 1: Teen Growth and Development

Authored by the YALSA Research Committee

Throughout the current term, the YALSA Research Committee will be looking at YALSA’s new Competencies for Teen Librarians through the lens of research.  Through our blog posts, we will attempt to provide a brief snapshot of how scholarship currently addresses some of the issues put forth through the standards.

Our first post focuses on Content Area 1: Teen Growth and Development, which is generally described as,  “Knows the typical benchmarks for growth and development and uses this knowledge to provide library resources, programs, and services that meet the multiple needs of teens.” This standard includes different facets of teen development, cultures, media, and preparing patrons to transition into adulthood and how each of these themes apply to collections, programs, and services.  For this post, we’ll focus solely on aspects of teen development in research about youth library services.

Walter (2009) described “The Public Libraries as Partners in Youth Development Project” which described a specific set of developmental outcomes that occur when teens successfully transition to adulthood.  The author further unpacked each outcome and examined how certain youth programs addressed the needs of youth to meet those outcomes through a youth employment program, which engaged teens in meaningful library work that allowed them to understand how their work impacted their community.   Akiv and Petrokubit (2016) examined the impact of the approach of youth-adult partnerships (Y-AP) in youth library programs.  The Y-AP approach suggests that youth and adults will collaboratively make programmatic and organization decisions.  The researchers found that giving teens the progressive responsibility that may help them prepare for adulthood.  Acknowledging the diverse needs of urban youth, Derr and Rhodes (2010) described how the development of an urban youth library space that meets these diverse needs can foster a continued engagement in library services as youth transition to adulthood.  Williams and Edwards (2011) examined how public library spaces can help sustain the psychological development of teens living in urban spaces.  They noted the conflict that often occurs between teen and adult schedules and the general lack of social space for teens.  The authors argued that providing specific space for teens in the library gives teens the space to feel safe, interact with adults other than their parents, and engage with resources.

Williams and Edwards (2011) and Walter (2009) make references to the need for library staff to educate themselves on youth development and what teens need to grow and transition to adulthood.  This education may help to mitigate the adversarial approach sometimes taken by library staff who don’t specifically work with teens on a regular basis. Walter specifically stresses that practitioners need to work with instead of do for teen patrons in order to best help them acquire those skills and dispositions that will help them grow.

Akiva, T. & Petrokubi, J. (2016). Growing with youth: A lifewide and lifelong perspective on youth-adult partnership in youth programs. Children and Youth Services Review, 69, 248-258.

Derr, L. & Rhodes, A. (2010). The public library as ürban youth space: Redefining public libraries through services and space for young people for an über experience. APIS, 23(3), 90-97.

Walter, V.A. (2009). Sowing the seed of praxis: Incorporating youth development principles in a library teen employment program. Library Trends, 58(1), 63-81.

Williams, P. & Edwards, J. (2011). Nowhere to go and nothing to do: How public libraries mitigate the impacts of parental work and urban planning on young people. APLIS, 24(4), 142-152.

Transforming Teen Services Through CE

This post written by Carrie Sanders, Youth Services Coordinator, Maryland State Library.

At the beginning of the month, I journeyed to Louisville, KY for the annual YALSA Symposium. I heard vibrant authors and teen services librarians discussing current literature written to meet the needs and interests of today’s teens, and I learned about serving teens with disabilities, social action programming, and strong teen volunteer programs. At the end of these very full days, my brain took a breather on Sunday afternoon, and then it went into full gear on Monday-Tuesday, November 6-7, during the YALSA National Forum.

photo of participants in the YALSA ForumWhat was the purpose of this Forum? Under the theme “Transforming Teen Services Through Continuing Education”, YALSA and COSLA, through a grant funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), gathered representatives from 45 states, along with YALSA Advisory Committee members and other facilitators, to align library teen services with current societal and learning trends of this age group. We gave equal attention to the “what and the how” of Continuing Education (CE) for library staff: what should today’s content be in our teen programming? — and how should this CE be delivered to library staff so that our public library programming and services, nationally, meet the identified emotional, social, and learning needs of today’s teens? Big questions for us to tackle in a day and a half! We listened to a variety of experienced colleagues with experiences and research to share; we looked at national trends and research about the social/emotional needs of teens and their learning styles; we discussed what we are doing in our states; and we asked questions throughout the Forum that bubbled up from our learning. YALSA will take information gained at the meeting to continue developing a national agenda for supporting professional learning needs of library staff working with teens. And, the state representatives attending the Forum, will take back the findings and discussion from our time together and start implementing, through communications and trainings, some of the learnings from the event.

photo of Sandra Hughes Hassell presenting at the YALSA ForumSandra Hughes-Hassell, YALSA President and Associate Professor, School of Library and Information Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) opened the Forum noting key paradigm shifts that need to happen in teen services, in response to YALSA’s IMLS-funded report, “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action.” The shifts include:

  • Library services to teens need to be “Teen-centric” – not “library-centric.” Library staff need to put teens first; we need to reach ALL teens in our communities (not just the readers). Today, 48% of our total youth population are teens of color – our services need to reach the marginalized teens in our community. Our services should focus on the person or the process — not the “stuff” or the product.
  • Amplify Teen voice. Library staff should involve teens in the development and implementation of their programs, and they should be the ones to identify social issues in the community. Involving teens in this way is not “giving them a voice” because they already have one. Rather, including them in the planning of teen programs centers their voice.
  • Broaden literacies. Work skills have changed, but skills taught in school are not mirroring these changes. Library staff needs to go beyond book clubs and specific events by focusing on learning in teen programming. Learning should include multiple literacies and include aspects of connected learning: student choice; collaborative, social learning; self-directed learning; authentic audience; maximizing use of technology (producers, not just users). These learning experiences created by and for teens is purposeful and centered on relevant issues. It often includes service learning. Continue reading Transforming Teen Services Through CE

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 WEEK OF MAKING: THE MAKING OF LIBRARIAN MAKERS

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 6

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 Your Manager Wishes You Knew – Part 1