Transforming Youth Services: Supporting Youth Through “Adulting”

About seven months ago, I noticed a new trend among public libraries of offering adulting programs. When I first saw a posting via social media about this program, my brain screamed, Where were these programs when I was 17?! I didnt know ANYTHING about adultness.If youre unfamiliar with the concept of adulting, it means to carry out one or more of the duties and responsibilities expected of fully developed individuals (Urban Dictionary, 2017, ¶ 1). These included duties and responsibilities that seem bewildering to an older teen: finding an apartment (and roommates), signing up for utilities, managing bill payments, etc. Some youth may receive this type of instruction and guidance at home, within their communities, or by participating in youth-supportive groups but this isnt always the case.

Adulting programs are generally geared towards older teens (16 -18) and emerging/new adults (19 – early 20s) and support these young patrons in developing life and college ready skills. News articles and similar commentary about library adulting programs appeared somewhat flippant and even disrespectful or disparaging of young adult attendees. Yet through such programming, libraries are providing a unique service which appeals to two underserved age groups and impacts their lasting success, health, and wellbeing.

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Ways Public Librarians Can Support Media Specialists to Celebrate National School Library Month

April is School Library Month! Here are some easy strategies for public librarians seeking to build productive partnerships with their school colleagues.

Get in touch with your local school librarians! Sometimes, this can be the most difficult aspect of cross-agency collaboration. I’ve noticed that, especially with regard to youth services librarians in larger, more bureaucratic public library systems, outreach specialists may try to follow a chain of command, asking for the building principal or even the superintendent for access to the school librarians. In many cases, those administrators may either not realize that the public library wants to help, rather than place demands, on school staff, and they often have a lot on their plate anyway. Reaching out to school librarians directly can be more effective, or better yet, ask a school librarian you have worked with in the past to connect you.

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Give local school librarians and teachers some extra privileges. One easy way to support the educators in your community: create a special patron class in your automation system, with an increased checkout limit. Nashville Public Libraries are on the cutting edge of this, with their Limitless Libraries program. They even have the high school and middle school libraries as routing stops! If your library doesn’t allow holds against on-shelf materials, you might consider a different policy for teachers. No teacher or school librarian wants to swing by the public library at the end of the day to find the audio version of Fahrenheit 451 has been nabbed since they looked it up in the OPAC that morning. Continue reading

America After 3 PM: How Do Libraries Fit In?

From Open Clip Art

From Open Clip Art

The Afterschool Alliance just published a study regarding after school programs in the United States. This is the third study of its kind, following in the results from the 2004 and 2009 studies. The group wants to document where and how children spend their time between 3 and 6 PM. The previous studies, along with this one, show that there is a demand for after school programs.’  However, more programming is needed to help reach the approximately 11.3 million children who are unsupervised after school.

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Winding Down or Gearing Up? Fall Months in a Public Library

After the Summer Reading Program Ends…

This year the teen summer reading program ended August 1st, giving the teens six weeks of reading and earning prizes and lots of programs to attend. I held about three programs a week. The rest of August is spent helping teens track down their summer reading books – at this point, most of the books are out, so it’s a struggle finding something they want to read and that’s on the list.

Once school starts, the library will be quiet until the afternoon when teens start coming in to use the computers. During the day, I’ll start inventorying the collection. Doing an inventory also counts as shelf-reading as I make sure everything’s in the right place. It also helps with weeding. I check to make sure the book’s circulated in the last three years. If not, then I make a decision to keep or toss that book. I don’t have extra shelf space and with all the great new books that keep coming out, I need all the room I can get. Continue reading

June Eureka Moments

All set for Annual? For this month’s Eureka Moments, I tried to tie some research and news to some of the sessions you might want to attend at the conference. And if you’re not able to attend, I hope these items will allow you to participate from afar and to still feel up to date on what’s happening.

  • A 2010 case study in The Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy concluded that “educators cannot expect students to separate their identities from literacy practices” through interviews and observations with two gay teens. The researcher noted how a multigenre research project, rather than the more traditional paper, allowed the teens to explore themselves more fully and integrate their academic study of history and literature with their sexual orientation. The article ends with the researcher imploring schools and educators to become more sensitive to LGBTQ issues and to explore ways to allow students identifying in the spectrum to feel included in traditional classroom topics and texts and to respectfully invite all students to participate together.
    Vetter, A.M. (2010). “‘Cause I’m a G”: Identity Work of a Lesbian Teen in Language Arts. The Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(2), 98-108.
    Related session: Stonewall Awards Presentation, Monday 10:30am’  Continue reading

Teach a Man to Google

I’ve been working at my new job for less than a month, but already I’m raising some eyebrows. And for once, it’s not the piercings or tattoos.

And, no, it’s not even the shelf of new books (wildly popular new books, I might add) that maybe kinda sorta definitely have some risque content.

I’m not even talking about wiping out the library reservation system our teachers knew and loved with one fell swoop.

So what am I doing that’s so controversial?

Instruction.

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Visiting other libraries

As part of my so-called research & development plan for preparing to start a new teen department this summer, I traveled to Charlotte this past weekend to visit the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. I visited both Virtual Village and ImaginOn.–especially The Loft and Tech Central/Studio i.

There were a couple of reasons for visiting. One, of course, was to see all of the cool, cutting-edge things that PLCMC is doing for teens. The other was to take a look at basic, traditional teen services at their best. I was fortunate to be able to hang out with some super-friendly librarians and Loft staffers who were willing to answer my annoying questions about programming, the collection, staffing, you name it. I also got to play around with Teen Second Life, make a bracelet out of cut-up computer motherboards, and see hilarious teen-created animated films that had been shot in front of Studio i’s fantastic blue screen.

I collected all of the literature I could about PLCMC teen programs, including calendars and flyers. This is a great way to get a sense of what’s really happening in a library.

Back in my hotel room, I made a HUGE list of some of the things I’d learned. Here’s a sampling:

  • use laptops instead of desktops — eliminate wires whenever possible
  • make things portable — put them on wheels, have traveling kits
  • displays that teens can create — chalk boards? white boards? magnetic letters?
  • staff training — staff have to have time to play with stuff in order to learn how to use it
  • get expert to consult on software, etc. (for movie creation, animation, music making)
  • offer workshops and classes — freeware (picnik, Picassa, flickr, etc) and others
  • self-serve kiosks with information about how to use the library (maybe use touch-screen technology?)
  • use teen interns to manage computing areas
  • create myspace or facebook page with links to other online presences — flickr, youtube (figure out what social networking the kids in the community are using)

If you’re starting a new program, starting out as a new teen librarian, or looking for a shot in the arm, I highly recommend visiting another library. I was lucky to be able to go to Charlotte, but you can also check out local libraries that are doing a great job with teens. Everyone I met at PLCMC was so open about things they were happy they’d done, things they would have done differently, things they were still working on…and it got my mind racing.

I really appreciate the people of PLCMC’s hospitality and friendliness. If you’re reading this — thank you!

74% of Americans believe that providing services for teens should be a high priority for libraries

More ammunition for advocating for the need to serve young adults in our communities via the public library, forwarded today, July 20, 2006 to the YSCON listserv from Jim Rosinia, Youth Services Consultant at the State Library of North Carolina:

“Last Tuesday, the Americans for Libraries Council, a nonprofit library advocacy group, released “Long Overdue: A Fresh Look at Public Attitudes About Libraries in the 21st Century.” It reports the results of a national study of the general public as well as interviews with national and local civic leaders. The study was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and conducted by Public Agenda (a nonprofit, nonpartisan opinion research organization).

Quote from the press release, Americans Say Public Libraries Are Essential to 21st Century Communities:

“Four areas of opportunity resonated most with the public and leaders alike:
(1) providing stronger services for teens;
(2) helping address illiteracy and poor reading skills among adults
(3) providing ready access to information about government services, including making public documents and forms readily available and
(4) providing even greater access to computers for all.”

“The public is very concerned about teenagers and feel that providing safe and productive activities for teens should be a high priority (72%) for their communities. This is also an area where the public potentially holds their local governments accountable as they believe local government both can and should do more for teens. In the public’s reckoning, libraries can potentially fill the gap: 3 out of 4 Americans (74%) believe providing services for teens should be a high priority for libraries.”

Jim cited two resources:

Learning in Motion: A Sampling of Teen Library Programs
This Americans for Libraries Fact Sheet highlights three model programs and advocates for more of the same.

“Long Overdue: A Fresh Look at Public Attitudes About Libraries in the 21st Century.”

This full report includes a two-page summary, and “5 Things Civic Leaders Should Know About Libraries and the Public.”

Jim noted that of the “Five Things Civic Leaders Should Know About Library,” the fifth lists the “four specific opportunities for public libraries to integrate themselves more fully into the life of their communities” — the first of which is “a safe and engaging place for teens.”

For discussion: Providing stronger services for teens was NUMBER ONE on the list. If teens are such a high priority for our communities, why aren’t libraries earmarking more funding for teen spaces, collections, staff, and programs? Should young adults get the same amount of space as children in the library? An equal program budget? How about, proportional? If young adults make up 12% of the town’s population, does young adult services receive 15% of the library staff, materials, and programming budgets? 15% of the floor and shelf space? 15% of the webpage?

~posted by Beth Gallaway