Cultivating Teen Programming at the Library

When someone wants to start their own garden, there are a lot of things they have to think about–location, climate, soil, and maintenance to name a few. It is important to know what kind of soil you are dealing with before you start cultivating the ground. Determining the quality of your soil allows you to utilize the ground to produce the best crop possible.

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”  -Audrey Hepburn

What does this have to do with having a teen presence and programming at the library? I have found the same principles and practices used in having a successful garden can be applied to cultivating a teen presence at your library.

I am the director of Bolivar-Hardeman County Library in Bolivar, Tennessee. We are a small and rural public library serving a diverse community. When I started nearly two years ago our teen attendance at our programs were at an all-time low—basically zero at our library. The demographic of our patrons is increasingly getting older. It was and is my passion to revitalize the library into a place where teens want to come. Shortly after I started, I became of a member of YALSA (Young Adult Library Service Association) and ARSL (Association for Rural and Small Libraries). You can become a member by going here for YALSA and here for ARSL. I was starting from ground zero on developing any type of teen programming at the library. YALSA and ARSL has and continues to provide invaluable information and resources regarding teens and young adults with little to no budgets. One example is the Future Ready with the Library grant I received to be a member of the second of cohort. Future Ready with the Library provides support for small, rural, and tribal library staff to build college and career readiness services for middle school youth. I highly encourage you to read more about Future Ready with the Library. The past several months I have been very busy with gathering information about my community, schools, and youth for the Future Ready with the Library project. Because of my recent research and community engagement it has given me a fresh perspective on Bolivar. One thing that stuck out like a sore thumb was the lack of teen involvement in the library.

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Back by Popular Demand: Building Basic Leadership Skills E-Course

This course is not just for teen librarians but for any person working in libraries seeking to understand and grow themselves as a leader from the ground up. The topics covered were progressive and forward thinking, and challenged traditional leadership norms. Self reflection was a big component of this class. The instructor provided variety in the readings, assignments, and use of technology. I felt very engaged by this course and the instructor, and I will refer back to the what I have learned here as I try to improve my leadership skills.

For four weeks in winter 2018 YALSA ran the Building Basic Leadership Skills E-Course. To accommodate those on the waiting list and to provide the opportunity for more people to participate in the highly rated course, the association is offering another section starting in April. The instructor is Josie Watanabe and you can hear more about what the course covers – including information about topics and assignments – in this 18 minute audio interview with Josie.

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Run for YALSA Board in 2019!

Interested in Serving on YALSA’s Board of Directors?

The YALSA Board Development Committee is looking for candidates for next year’s slate for the following positions: President-Elect, Secretary, and Directors-at-Large.  Successful candidates will stand for election in the spring of 2019 and begin their term during at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.

For more information on the responsibilities of each role on the Board, please visit the Governance page which includes some handy links under the topic Get Involved in Governance & Leadership.

Are you ready to put your name forward? Please submit the online nomination form soon and a committee member will be in touch.

Not quite ready yet?  Please feel free to contact me, the Board Development Committee Chair, at gsarahthelibrarian@gmail.com with any questions or to request additional information.  

The Board Development Committee will also be hosting YALSA 301 at Annual 2018 in New Orleans on Saturday, June 23, from 9-10 am. Pencil it in and hope to see you there! If you can’t make it, we’ll have a virtual session this summer, too.

Thank you for considering if YALSA Board is right for you!

YALSA Snack Break: Creativity in Leadership

YALSA’s November webinar, Creativity in Leadership, was facilitated by three librarians in Montana – Rebekah Kamp, Heather Dickerson, and Cody Allen – who inspired attendees with strategies and examples of bringing innovative practices and leadership to services for and with teens. The November YALSA Snack Break is a five minute excerpt from this webinar. It focuses on how to make decisions about teen services activities, the importance of risk in teen services, and accepting and reframing failure. Check it out below:

You can view all of YALSA’s Snack Breaks by accessing the Snack Break playlist.

YALSA members have free access to all webinars (login required). Non-members can purchase webinars for a low cost.

Level Up Your Leadership Skills: Overcoming Perfectionism

Most of us in the library profession are high achievers aren’t we?

Our attention to detail has likely saved that flyer or that web page more than once from putting out incorrect information to a large amount of people. Can you imagine if that error would have gone out? Some of us might start sweating a bit just thinking about it.

Project planning? That’s our specialty! Months ahead we’re already thinking about decorations for the summer learning kickoff program or what the posters will look like for our annual film festival. Closer to the event itself we might even go so far as to lose sleep and take over most of the work ourselves just so we can make sure it’s done ‘right’.

Low attendance to a program? We’re likely mortified! We lose sleep again in thinking about how we could have gotten more teens to attend this author program that was advertised for months. The regular teen visitors even assured you they were coming. What could possibly have gone wrong?

Are you a perfectionist? Continue reading

Annual 2015: Oakland PL’s Youth Leadership Council

This is a guest post from Perla Casas, a 2015 high school graduate. She will be part of the panel speaking on Sunday June 28th at 4:30 pm as part of “Empower Your Teens! Civic Engagement Strategies That Work.”

The Youth Leadership Council (YLC) is a youth-driven advisory board for the Oakland Public Library. The YLC creates support strategies to improve its service for patrons and promotes the library simultaneously. The YLC is made up of twelve individuals from the ages of thirteen to eighteen. I was sixteen years old when I first stumbled across the YLC application at the TeenZone in the Main Library. I have always enjoyed reading and I am passionate about libraries, so I thought this group would be a perfect fit for me. After a nerve wracking three month application process, I was finally accepted as a member. Continue reading

Level Up Your Leadership Skills: Ways to Prioritize Your Work

If you’re working with teens in a library – any kind of library — you should be a leader. Being a leader doesn’t have to mean you’re the boss – or that you ever want to be the boss, but it takes intentionality and may mean thinking about your role in serving teens a bit differently. Level Up Your Leadership Skills is a regular feature on leadership topics for staff working with teens.

We all have a lot on our plates. Working the desk, doing outreach and working directly with teens are all important parts of our work. Depending on our role, we may not have direct control over our schedule or exactly how we manage our own time.

But we often have control over how we spend at least some of our time — so how can we decide what to prioritize within the many possible tasks we could be doing or new projects we could be starting?

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Behind the Scenes: ALA Leadership Institute

We’ve all probably got an opinion or reaction when we hear the word “leadership.” Maybe we think, “oh that’s just not for me,” or “I want to be more successful at making change,” or perhaps “I think I’m doing a pretty good job but could always use more pointers” or even “I’m not a manager so this probably doesn’t really apply to me.”

If it’s all or none of the above, you’re in the right place. Continue reading

Behind the Scenes: ALA Leadership Institute-Part 3 of 3

We’ve all probably got an opinion or reaction when we hear the word “leadership.” Maybe we think, “oh that’s just not for me,” or “I want to be more successful at making change,” or perhaps “I think I’m doing a pretty good job but could always use more pointers” or even “I’m not a manager so this probably doesn’t really apply to me.”

If it’s all or none of the above, you’re in the right place.

Last month, ALA held an inaugural four-day’ Leadership Institute‘ in Illinois.’ Forty participants‘ from all types of libraries and all kinds of positions were invited to participate on an application basis. Six YALSA members attended. We’ll hear from three of them on the YALSAblog. Stay tuned to hear from others through’ YALS,’ as well as other upcoming publications that will share their excitement about the powerful experience.

Maribel Castro, Instruction and Electronic Resources Librarian with Lubbock Christian University, TX shares her experience ‘ via podcast here.

Several resources Maribel recommends that can help us further our work with young adults and the communities we serve that were shared at the Institute include:

Behind the Scenes: ALA Leadership Institute-Part 2 of 3

We’ve all probably got an opinion or reaction when we hear the word “leadership.” Maybe we think, “oh that’s just not for me,” or “I want to be more successful at making change,” or perhaps “I think I’m doing a pretty good job but could always use more pointers” or even “I’m not a manager so this probably doesn’t really apply to me.”

If it’s all or none of the above, you’re in the right place.

Last month, ALA held an inaugural four-day’ Leadership Institute‘ in Illinois.’ Forty participants‘ from all types of libraries and all kinds of positions were invited to participate on an application basis. Six YALSA members attended. We’ll hear from three of them on the YALSAblog. Stay tuned to hear from others through’ YALS,’ as well as other upcoming publications that will share their excitement about the powerful experience.

Annisha Jeffries, Youth Services Manager, with the Cleveland Public Library, OH shares her experience via podcast here. Several highlights of her interview include:

  • Community engagement was an important theme at the Institute. For example, letting teens know that the library is their place and belongs to them.
  • Listening to others was very helpful.
  • Engaging others to buy-in to ideas is possible!
  • Sometimes people are put into a leadership role without setting out to and we need the tools to be able to be effective no matter what our situation is.
  • Teens are the library’s best cheerleaders!
  • As a librarian you have the responsibility to be the leader that you are!