2019 Summer Learning Resources Grant: Collaborating Among the Stars – Summer Teen Programming at the Randallstown Library

This summer, the Randallstown Branch of Baltimore County Public Library received a Dollar General/YALSA grant. Randallstown is located on the west side of Baltimore County. Our summer population teen population visits daily. Many teens walk to the branch both after school as well as during the summer. Our branch features the highest computer use in the county.

We used the funding to offer additional summer programs. In conjunction with the “Universe of Stories” summer reading theme, we sought programs that connected to astronomy and space science. We marketed these programs heavily to schools and on in-branch flyers. Programs were also featured in the system’s summer calendar.

In addition, one of our staff filmed an internal video for staff across the system. This let the entire system know about the background of the grant. This video was taped after we had confirmed dates; it also highlighted the programs we were presenting.

We sought to use this money to provide programs featuring outside presenters. We serve summer lunches and provide daily activities in conjunction with that initiative. Staff researched a variety of potential options including NASA, the Maryland Science Center, Baltimore Robotics Club, and the National Museum of Aeroscience. We decided to go with two local presenters: Future Makers and The Science Guys of Baltimore. The branch and the system have worked with these partners in the past. Both groups have a reputation for engaging well with both kids and teens.

Programs were scheduled throughout the summer. In June, Future Makers presented two standalone programs: Build it: Mechanical Rovers and Build it: Light Orbiting Machines. This allowed us to capitalize on interest in the first month of summer reading. Eight teens attended Mechanical Rovers, and twelve attended Light Orbiting Machines.

In the mechanical rovers program, teens explored how to modify devices to move over different types of terrain.  In the light program they discussed centrifugal force before creating mechanisms that spun and glowed. These machines featured motors, batteries, and LEDs. Attendees got to take all assembled projects with them at the end of the sessions.

The Science Guys presented DIY Comets and Vacuums on July 31. In this program, teens worked in groups to make their own comets from dirt, sand, and even dry ice. Participants also experienced putting things into a space “vacuum.” Each group member shared their experiments to one another. Twelve teens attended the program. Sessions focused primarily on collaboration. Teens worked independently as well as in small groups. At the end of each session, attendees showcased their items.

 

Sarah Smith is the Manager and Ife N. Allette is a Librarian at Randallstown Library.

2019 Teen Summer Intern Program: Suffolk Public Library Career Fair

Suffolk Public Library hosted a Career Fair for six teens and one summer worker who were chosen to participate in our Teen Summer Internship Program made possible by the grant from the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) and the Dollar Tree Foundation. We wanted to do this because our internship consisted of a continuing education element as well as a practical element. The teens really enjoyed using the O*Net Interest Profiler in one of their earlier activities to see how their interests related to their career goals. The interns were fascinated to learn which areas of the United States employed their chosen career field, expected income, and the technology skills related to their future paths. We wanted to further ignite this spark, by inviting individuals to speak at the career fair to the teens about their businesses and jobs aligning with career paths that were highlighted during the career profiling session. This internship took place in a high poverty area with limited resources. Working in such an environment gave the teens an opportunity to see individuals, who hailed from the same, achieve their career goals. The teens were able to interact with these individuals and explore their success.

This event was rather casual, as we wanted the teens to feel comfortable asking any questions. We began the career fair as a group enjoying hors’doeuvres in a meeting room.  Then the teens went to a separate room and each individual speaker came into that room, sat down, and had a conversation with the teens. If we could do it over again, we would get a bigger room, have each speaker set up a table and have the teens walk around a little bit  and ask them questions in order to get them up and moving. However, space was an issue this time. We would not change the causal manner in which the program was done so that the teens would feel comfortable and be relaxed.

Teens sit around a conference room at the Suffolk Public Library Career Fair.

The speakers included a local high school teacher, an owner of an art business, a law school student, a construction worker, and a manager at the library. We also had a wonderful opportunity for the teens to send questions in advance to a scout for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Many of our male teens that hang out in the library are interested in sports so through some connections we were able to provide them with an opportunity to get real answers from someone who works for a team in the NFL. They asked all types of things from “What do players eat?” and “How often do they practice?” to “How did Donovan Cotton become a scout?” Library staff who worked with the teens during the internship asked community members to volunteer their time to speak with the teens.

What did they learn?
The unanimous response was that you can have fun doing something that you love.

When asked what we could have done differently?
The teens suggested that we could have invited even more guest speakers to the Career Fair.

 

Tiffany Duck is Manager of Library Locations at Suffolk Public Library.

2019 Summer Learning Resources Grant: Marion County Library System

Graphic reading "TEEN TECH" with media equipment in background.

Some Background Info
Our Teen Tech program had six scheduled meeting times, each lasting one hour. Originally, we had intended to make a short documentary-style video telling the stories of our small community and of its strength and resilience following two major flooding events. In doing so, we hoped to provide teens with the opportunity to work with technology they may not have access to without the assistance of the library. Through this, we hoped they would gain problem solving skills and become reacquainted with the offerings of the library.

Getting Started
Before our program, we contacted another library system –experienced in doing videography with teens—to gather information on which equipment we would need. We also collaborated with our city’s municipal government, and met with the city administrators on several occasions, discussing possible ways they could help with our summer programs. At times, we felt like we may have been asking for too much, but the city’s administration was more than happy to grant any and all requests we had of them. Through trial and error, we discovered that some of the equipment we had ordered needed add-ons to function as intended. The municipal government supplemented the equipment we had purchased with grant funds. The city administrators truly exceeded our expectations!

The Best Laid Plans…
Our plan was to divide the teens into teams and alternate times recording interviews of local people and editing the footage, so we would always have someone using the camera and learning the software. The first day, we had enough teens show up that this would have been possible. The next week, however, only two teens showed up. With the small number of attendees, we gauged that it would not be feasible to proceed as originally planned.  Instead, we decided to make a movie trailer-style promotional video for our library.

Because we only had two consistent attendees, every week we feared that nobody would show up and our program would be a complete failure.  To our surprise, we learned that low attendance does not necessarily indicate the program is doomed. Additionally, we learned that even though we are in a very economically disadvantaged location, some of the schools have camera equipment, so the teens had already been exposed to professional videography tools. Because of this, the teens were able to work collaboratively and give each other insight on angles, lighting, and video editing.

In Conclusion
Although only a couple of teens saw the project through to the end, they worked diligently to ensure their project got completed. (I must admit, though, we underestimated the amount of time it would take to edit the footage and condense it into a cohesive video. We wound up asking the teens to come back on unscheduled days to work with us on the project, to ensure it would be completed.) The teens and their families were excited to see their project in its final form. Once we uploaded the video to YouTube and posted it to Facebook, we saw that many of the family members and community members shared it and there was a positive buzz in the community.

This project has reaffirmed in my soul that we should never underestimate our power as a small community. We had a small turnout, but we accomplished big things. Though our small, rural community is poor, we are all willing to work together and pool resources to ensure that our children are learning and growing, in spite of hardship. In this way, we told the story of our community’s strength and resilience.

 

Ashley Hall is the new Youth Services Librarian at Marion County Library System in Marion, South Carolina.

2019 Summer Learning Resources Grant: Denton Public Library

This year our library was selected as one of the recipients of the YALSA/Dollar General Summer Learning Resources Grant. We chose to use the awarded funds to provide “starter” books to incarcerated teens in our county’s juvenile detention center and to our local school district’s summer high school ESL program. By providing the students with a book up front, we were able to give them the tools necessary to spend a summer reading and improving their literacy skills.

This partnership was not a new one to us as we have worked with these groups in summer of 2018 as well, but this year was special because we were able to provide the kids with the tools to succeed right off the bat. In 2018, the students participated in our summer reading program by borrowing books from their teachers and counselors but this year we were so excited to give them their own book to keep as soon as they signed up.

Instead of buying a variety of books for the students to pick from, we bought each participating student a copy of Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X. We felt this book really represented the teenage experience well and that the students reading it would find it appealing as well. Our hope was that each child reading the same book would lead to lively discussion and team building in their group. This also provided another great outreach opportunity because our two teen librarians were able to go out to the sites, meet the students participating, and book talk one of their favorite books. Our ESL group had never read the book before but their teacher had. The class decided to swap out the group reading they had previously chosen for this one instead. At the detention center, several students had read the book before but enjoyed it so much they were happy to receive their own copy to keep. They even helped us make our book talk more appealing by commenting on how much they enjoyed reading it and pushed their classmates to give it a chance as well.

Overall, 32 students participated in just a few short weeks and read a total of 15,600 minutes which averaged to about eight hours per person. After completing their first five hours of reading, each student received another free book courtesy of our Friends of the Library group to keep as part of their completion prize. We heard very positive reviews about The Poet X from students and teachers. Money leftover from purchasing the book was then used to stock and replace books in the counselor’s library at the detention center.

 

Sarah Ward is the Teen Services Librarian at Denton Public Library – South Branch.

2019 Teen Summer Intern Program: YALSA Grant Makes Big Impact at Montclair Community Library

From improving teen summer reading volunteer training to increasing visibility and enhancing teen programs to raising funds, the YALSA/Dollar General Summer Teen Intern Grant made a big impact this summer at Montclair Community Library, one of Prince William Public Library System’s 11 branches located just 30 miles outside of Washington, DC.

Our grant had three components: develop an interactive training element for teen summer reading volunteers, plan and execute a fundraiser for Montclair Community Library, and produce a teen outreach video. Rob Solka, Librarian I and Teen Volunteer Coordinator, and I conducted 29 interviews to choose the two teens that would be awarded $500 each for 50 hours’ work.

Teens sit around a table working together.

Teens hard at work on the outreach video.

First, the teens developed a popular scavenger hunt to highlight the summer reading program and Montclair Community Library. They also created a role-playing component to help teens handle situations that might happen during their shifts. “The surveys after the training said the scavenger hunt was the best part because it was so much fun,” Solka said. “We will definitely do it again next year.”

Selected teens Katelynn L. and Sally D. also led teens on other projects. This provided individual professional development for them and also helped build the Montclair teen program since the projects were fun and memorable for teens participating.

Four teens pose in dance outfits in front of a rock wall.

Teens dressed up for the Rhythmaya program.

“We got our own project and got to be creative about it,” Sally said in describing the best part of participating in the grant. She was in charge of leading the outreach video that featured other teens. She added, “I liked working with everyone. You guys were really nice.”

Sally offered a unique perspective: she had never been to the library before being selected as one of the two interns. She was unaware of all the great resources that the library makes available to the public, but promotional efforts for the grant opportunity paid off.  “I learned about what the library has to offer for sure. OverDrive, hoopla digital. I didn’t even know the Digital Media Lab existed,” she said.

Four teens pose in front of a green screen.

Teens pose in front of a green screen in the Digital Media Lab.

Sally said she heard about the grant three different times before she decided to apply. “First, my English teacher told me. Then my school librarian told me. After that, I heard it on the school morning announcements,” Sally said. The Prince William Public Library System regularly coordinates and collaborates with Prince William County Public Schools and other schools in the community.

Katelynn, an active Montclair teen volunteer, was also selected and led a fundraiser selling doughnuts that raised $174.50. “The fundraiser was my favorite because of the experience it gave me. I’ll be able to use the skills I gained here in the future,” Katelynn said. She said she developed time management, leadership, and sales skills. “I always felt that I worked better alone. This helped with group project skills. I think it strengthened those.”

Solka, Katelynn, and I will be joining Tiffany Duck from Suffolk Public Library, the other library in Virginia to receive the YALSA Teen Intern Grant, to present “YALSA Teen Intern Grants: A Tale of Two Libraries” at the Virginia Library Association this October.

“I’m honored to have been given this position. I really enjoyed it,” Katelynn said.

 

 Robin Sofge is the Youth Services Supervisor at Montclair Community Library.

2019 Summer Learning Resources Grant: East New Orleans Regional Library

With my Summer Resources grant, I purchased video games for our teen room and supplies for a maker wall and cart. Here are some lessons I’ve learned from this process, and what I wish I had been telling myself (and my coworkers) at the beginning of the summer:

  1. It doesn’t take as much as you’d think.
    When I applied for the YALSA Summer Resources grant, I predicted that I’d need to spend half of my grant money on video games. I spent months polling teens and asking for feedback about what games we should buy. (They’re not allowed to play M-rated games at the library, so that limited their options.) I don’t know much about video games, but I imagined we’d need a ton of them for teens to feel like they had enough choices. I was wrong. The same titles came up over and over again. It didn’t take as much money or as many video games as I thought it would to give teens some solid choices.
  2. Stop worrying about things that haven’t happened (or, just fix them when they do happen and move on!).
    If you work with teens, you have probably heard these concerns from your coworkers:
    “They’re going to draw/write/make/say/do something inappropriate.” I have only removed one inappropriate drawing from our teen room all summer.
    “They’re going to make a mess.” Yeah, they will make a mess. Then they’ll clean it up. If they don’t, I will.
    “They’re going to think it’s dumb.” Probably not. If they do, we’ll change it.
    “They’re just going to steal that.” Most of our maker wall supplies have not walked away. Bigger ticket items are in a cart that I can move in and out of the teen room. But I think that leaving some supplies in the room at all times shows teens that you trust them, and building that trust is critical. And if they do steal some stickers or a ball of yarn—who cares? Maybe that item will occupy them on a long bus ride or make them smile before a test. Plus, adults steal pens and other supplies from our library all day long—I’m not going to worry about it if teens take stuff that I’m specifically leaving for them to use.
  3. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good (or even the good enough).

I know this—we all know this—but I still have to remind myself all the time. If I waited for the perfect space or the perfect day or the perfect idea, I’d never get anything done.  Especially with a project like this, it will change over time. I can always add supplies or project ideas later, but it was important to start with what I have!

A maker wall at East New Orleans Regional Library.

The “Maker Wall” at East New Orleans Regional Library.

Carolyn Vidmar is a Teen Services Librarian at East New Orleans Regional Library.

2019 Teen Summer Intern Program: Teens engaging children through inquiry-based play

In my rural community, opportunities for teen employment are limited mostly to food service, yard work, and babysitting. When I applied for the YALSA/Dollar General Teen Summer Intern Grant, my goal was to offer meaningful employment that would allow teens to share their skills and passions with younger children. By employing interns in this way I could have helping hands during summer activities and provide a deeper learning experience for school-age participants.

I advertised the position through the guidance office of our local high school, who kindly emailed the details to all students. We also posted the opportunity on our library website, bulletin boards, and social media. With my program goals in mind, I needed candidates who genuinely enjoyed spending time with younger children. I also hoped for applicants who had experience with hands-on STEAM activities and who could take a leadership role during activities. Several applicants had leadership experience through Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, which has sparked my interest in reaching out and partnering with these community groups. Most of my interns had experience with the Technology Student Association at the high school, which might be another source of future collaboration.
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2019 Teen Summer Intern Program: Reaching Underserved Youth through Teen Internship at Indian Prairie

As a district library, the Indian Prairie Public Library serves parts Darien, Burr Ridge, and Willowbrook, IL. One of the underserved areas in our district is known as Willowbrook Corner. In the summer, staff from the Kids & Teens department visit the Willowbrook Corner Summer Camp at Anne M. Jeans Elementary each week. We present activities to four different groups—approximately 72 kids, in grades K-5.

Our Teen Summer Intern, Carson Wagner, planned and presented the activities for the kids and led various staff members who took turns accompanying him on the visits. With Carson, the kids were able to plant seeds and learn about gardening, create Makey Makey banana pianos, play with a variety of musical instruments that the library circulates, make catapults, complete various art projects, and more. He taught them several cooperative group games, like Frogger, which he incorporated into his visits. On the last day, Carson delivered prize books. Each of the children received a new book to keep.
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Apply now for YALSA’s 2017 Summer Learning Resources and Teen Summer Intern Grants

The applications for YALSA’s 2017 Summer Learning Resources and Teen Summer Intern grants is now open.

Through generous funding from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, two grants are available: the Summer Learning Resources Grant and the Teen Summer Intern Program Grant. The purpose of the grants is to help libraries combat the summer slide, as described in YALSA’s position paper, “Adopting a Summer Learning Approach to Increase Impact.”

Twenty summer learning resources grants, worth $1,000 each, will be awarded to libraries in need and will allow them to provide resources and services to teens who are English language learners, struggling in school and/or who are from socio-economically challenged communities. Twenty teen summer intern program grants, also worth $1,000 each, will be awarded to libraries to support the implementation of summer learning programs while also providing teens a chance to build hands-on job skills.

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