One of my favorite sections of the Teen Programming Guidelines (is it nerdy to have favorite sections?) is "Align programs with community and library priorities." But you have to be deeply involved with community agencies and activities in order to be ready to act on the community's priorities as they arise. This sounds obvious (and it is!), but it's taken me a few years to figure it out.

Several years back my coworker and I began working with the Seattle Youth Employment Program (SYEP). SYEP is a city agency that places youth with barriers in paid internships in a variety of environments in city government and the private sector. It also provides them with job training and academic support. We worked with SYEP staff to design a curriculum that would build the interns' digital and information literacy skills. We were sometimes surprised by the needs identified by SYEP staff and the interns' employers: touch typing, for example, and basic MS Word. We learned a lot about putting our own assumptions aside.

Over the years, we continually evaluated and adjusted the program. We dropped some pieces and added others to make it as relevant as possible to the youth's needs and the needs of their employers. Mayor YEP Logo

This year, Seattle's mayor put forth a huge Youth Employment Initiative in which he asked SYEP to more than double the number of youth placed in jobs over the summer. Suddenly, the community had spoken: youth employment was a major need. Because we already had an ongoing relationship with SYEP, the library was poised to expand the partnership to serve more youth with our trainings. We also helped in other ways, like providing meeting rooms for SYEP staff trainings. Next summer, the mayor intends to make the program five times larger than it is this year (eep!), which will present a huge opportunity for library involvement.

Of course, being in the right place at the time is always partly a matter of luck. But you can't be lucky if you're not out there.

Admission time: like many of us in Library Land, I am still figuring out the best ways to measure program outcomes. Marking attendance is relatively easy (although to be fair, sometimes the teens move do around a lot, which can make them tricky to count). It's a bit harder to identify the changes I want to see as a result of my program, and then accurately measure those changes.

The Programming Guidelines ask us to "Engage in youth-driven, evidence-based evaluation and outcome measurement." I'm not quite there yet. As I mentioned in my post about our weekly drop-in, we've been working with participants in that program to identify priorities, and now we're moving towards evaluations that will measure whether those priorities are being met. But it's still a work in progress.

What I have gotten better at is working with community partners to create evaluations for programs. For example, we regularly work collaborate with Year Up to build their students' information and digital literacy skills. Before each workshop, we meet with Year Up staff to make sure that we'll be teaching the skills they want participants to gain. Collaborating with partners on our evaluations and learning from them about their own evaluation methods has made a huge difference in the quality of our evaluations overall.

At Year Up, I give the students pre- and post-tests to see how much our classes are moving the needle on desired skills and knowledge. We send Year Up staff an early draft of the tests (same questions for both) and incorporate their feedback in the final evaluation tool. Seems foolproof, right?

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Green Screen logoName: Green Screen by Do Ink
Platform: iOS, compatible with iPad
Cost: $2.99

While digital media labs complete with green screens, cameras, computers and software may be out of reach for many libraries, creating composite photos and videos with your teens doesn't have to be. I set out a few weeks ago to find a free or low-cost green screen option and have been fortunate. After testing several chroma key apps, Green Screen by Do Ink is the one I keep coming back to for flexibility and user friendliness. I had begun by looking for free apps, and quickly discovered that I could either pay up front for green screen capabilities, or download free apps that include "in-app purchases." In-app purchases meant paying to unlock the chroma key tool or to get rid of an obtrusive watermark that rendered the free version essentially useless. I also discovered in one case that the developers' definition of green screen did not match my own (it was basically a $4.99 masking tool, something that comes included in many photo editing apps). With no advertisements or watermarks, Green Screen's $2.99 cost is worthwhile.
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SEA Urban Academy visit to TC & CEN Fall 2010

A partner brings some skeptical-looking teens to the library for a research workshop. (I'm pretty sure we won them over in the end.)

In my last post, I talked about the importance of relationship-building in outreach and community partnerships. It's not always easy to create the time and space necessary to figure out what a partner organization really needs from the library, but for a strong community partnership, it's well worth the investment.

But "community partnership" is a pretty vague term. I should probably clarify what I'm talking about.

For me, library partnerships fit into one of two main categories. Read More →

We often hear about amazing library programming-enormous board games, scavenger hunts, and stellar teen turnouts. ' But what about the programs that didn't exactly work out as expected? ' Sometimes it happens! We can't have perfect programs every time, but we can certainly make sure others don't walk right into the same programming problems. Join us for the vent session, complete with goat poop, all-nighters, and a surprising amount of marshmallow-related problems. Please feel free to include your own Teen Programming Flop in the comments section-we'd love to hear. Let the commiseration begin!

By TTaylor (Own work) CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 via Wikimedia Commons

By TTaylor (Own work) CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Top Things We Learned

If you invite a goat to the library, make sure he's wearing a good diaper.

Marshmallows are probably better outside toys.

All-nighters are less fun than they sound.

When all else fails, Gangnam Style videos on YouTube are a proven win.

Our Horror Stories

Public Domain Movies and The Bothersome Buffering

“For Teen Read Week one year, we had to pick from a list of programs to have, but I found out days before the program date, which had by then been advertised for months (via annoyingly tiny posters), that we were on our own to put together the described-by-someone-else program. I picked a Halloween horror movie, but then I found out that it had to be a public domain movie only, which, it turns out, means Really Old and Lame. All of our public domain horror DVDs were checked out, so someone sent me a website streaming old horror movies that we could play from the laptop. By old, I mean like, from the 30s. All of the ones that looked remotely fun popped up with an error message that said the content had been taken down due to copyright infringement. So we ended up with some random, ancient, lame movie with a picture too dark and grainy to see, and to boot, since it was streaming, it kept stopping every couple seconds to buffer. Most of the teens looked in and smartly walked on by, but I had one trooper who was content to watch this movie anyway. Soon, though, the other teens realized (exactly what I thought they would realize) that laptop= internet, so they came in and bogarted it and instead put on Youtube videos of Gangnam Style. I didn't even protest!” Read More →

“Cancel all your programs on Friday night, and spend some time just hanging out.” I uttered it to a small group of librarians, and they looked at me like I was crazy.'  We were at Sunrise session at Computers in Libraries.'  It was an interesting presentation innovation, and we were practicing the art of brainstorming. The idea hit me like a lightning strike.'  We were asked to share ideas without thinking about the specifics, and it just came out. When the group speaker shared it, there was an audible response.

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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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You! Yes, YOU! What kinds of programs are you doing in your library?! Have you created an innovative program that addresses a new teen interest or need, or a program that might meet an old teen interest or need in a new, unique way? Tell YALSA all about it, and you could win a cash award AND be included in the sixth edition of Excellence in Library Service to Young Adults!

Because we want to hear from YOU, YALSA has extended the deadline' in the search for Excellence in Library Services' to Young Adults. We want to hear about your creative programming ideas! Maybe you know someone who came up with an idea that is innovative?! Let us know who they are and we'll get in touch with them! Email me at ckausch@gmail.com and our committee will ask you all about it! Don't worry about the application, we want to hear from you directly!

 

I'm just back from YALSA's 2012 YA Lit Symposium in St. Louis. It's YALSA's third Symposium, but—for a variety of reasons—my first. There will be much discussion over at The Hub about the actual programs and presentations, but I wanted to say a few words about something else that I observed over the course of three days.

I've been going to ALA Annual and Midwinter for over 15 years, and they are great. But a Symposium like this is something really special, and it's all about the connections. Let me just give you a few examples that I observed:

  • I was chatting with someone at a break who works at the library in the area where I grew up. We knew people in common from the library, but then I found out where she had gone to high school, and immediately took her over to introduce her to another YALSA member who went to that same high school—turned out they had overlapped by a year or two.
  • A librarian told me that she was rooming at this Symposium with someone she had first met at the 2008 Lit Symposium.
  • At the closing session, I was asked to take a picture of four librarians who had met and bonded at the symposium. They told me they were all “orphans” who had come alone, but met and had a great time together.
  • At the Morris Lunch, a librarian who wanted to know more about staff development models happened to be seated with another librarian who does staff development as a full-time job.
  • At the same table, a person who is interested in library apps like Boopsie was put in touch with someone in her local area who was involved in getting the app for her library.
  • The symposium Twitter hashtag (#yalit12) was trending on Saturday afternoon, as attendees live-tweeted their sessions and got into back-and-forth discussions about what was being presented.
  • I found new people to follow on Twitter, and new people followed me.
  • Attendees had opportunities to have real conversations with authors at the Book Blitz on Saturday night, and at the networking breaks. Read More →

For some of us, it's an uphill battle advocating for the teens in our libraries. Budgets are never quite large enough, there's never enough time to do everything, so if any group gets the short end of the stick, it's our teens. We all know how important it is to have teen programming and teen spaces and an excellent teen collection, but it can be difficult getting the higher-ups to see it our way. You might find, as I have, that you need to justify your teen programs beyond getting teens in the door. Read More →