Winners Announced: YALSA’s 2017 Top Ten Summer Learning Programs!

YALSA just announced its list of 2017 Top Ten Summer Learning Programs from its Teen Programming HQ contest!

Congratulations to:

1. TechStyles submitted by Aubrey Gerhardt; Otto Bruyns Public Library; Northfield, NJ
2. Teen Summer Internship submitted by Elizabeth Lynch; Addison (Illinois) Public Library
3. Robots Build a Better World submitted by Ricky Statham; Oneonta (Alabama) Public Library
4. Raspberry Pi ad Codrone submitted by Kate Chalman; Charles Ralph Holland Memorial Library; Gainesboro, TN
5. Summer Reading Intern submitted by Sonya Harsha; Algona (Iowa) Public Library
6. Adulting 101 submitted by Elizabeth Lilley; Pope County Library System; Russelville, AR
7. Summer of Service submitted by Stephanie Herrman; Union Parish Library; Farmerville, LA
8. Open Minds: Competitions in the Library Makerspace submitted by Sara Frey; Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School; Plymouth Meeting, PA
9. Recycled Tech for Teens submitted by Cat Mullen; Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Public Library
10. 3D Printer Clubs & Student Leadership Opportunities submitted by Pamela Jayne; Boone County Public Library; Burlington, KY

Each winner will receive a gift pack of YALSA books and swag. The winner of the $50 Amazon gift card – chosen randomly from all entrants of the contest – is Donna Bishop.

Entries were submitted via YALSA’s teen programming site, Teen Programming HQ.

YALSA’s Teen Programming HQ is a free, one-stop shop for library staff to find and share program ideas and to network with one another around issues related to planning, implementing and evaluating library programs for and with teens. The site aims to promote best practices in programming by featuring user-submitted programs that align with YALSA’s Teen Programming Guidelines and Futures Report.

Don’t Forget to Participate in the Top Ten Summer Learning Programs Contest!

Due to the success of last year’s “Top Ten” Summer Learning Programs Contest,” and in celebration of National Summer Learning Day on July 13, YALSA will be running the contest once more this year. We are looking for programs for your best ideas for summer learning and programs that focus on STEM/STEAM, digital literacy, college and career readiness, service learning, or that are aimed at under-served or underrepresented populations in your community are of special interest.

All interested individuals can enter the contest by submitting their program on the Teen Programming HQ site. All programs will be judged by the Teen Programming HQ’s member manager and its group of Content Experts who will select the top ten ideas that will become YALSA’s official 2017 Top Ten Summer Learning Programs. Submit your program now through July 15, 2017.

All ten winners will receive a gift pack full of great YALSA resources and swag. Additionally, one lucky winner from all submissions will be chosen at random to receive a $50 Amazon gift certificate. The official “top ten” list will be revealed in early August.

If you have any questions about the contest or the submission process, you can send your questions to the Teen Programming HQ’s Member Manager, Angela Veizaga at

Good luck!

YALSA Seeks Content Experts for Teen Programming HQ

YALSA is seeking up to four teen programming Content Experts, especially those with expertise in STEAM, school libraries, ESL, outreach, or community partnerships, for its web resource, Teen Programming HQ.

The mission of the site is to provide a one-stop-shop for finding and sharing information about programs of all kinds designed for and with teens. The site promotes best practices in programming by featuring user-submitted programs that align with YALSA’s Teen Programming Guidelines and Futures Report.

The site also enable dissemination of timely information about emerging and new practices for teen programming; raise awareness about appropriate YALSA tools to facilitate innovation in teen programming; and provide a means for members and others interested in teen programs to connect with one another to support and share their efforts to continuously improve their teen programs. In its first year, the HQ ran contests where prizes were given out to “top” programs.

Content Experts will work with the site’s Member Manager to vet all incoming program submissions and determine which meet the necessary criteria for being featured on the site. As part of this effort, Content Experts will be expected to give timely, constructive feedback to individuals regarding their program submissions. Please note that the Content Experts will not be submitting the content; rather, they will be reviewing content that is submitted by others. Content Experts should also feel comfortable with social media and have an understanding that marketing the website will be a crucial part of their role.

Continue reading

YALSA’s Top Ten Summer Learning Programs

Last month, YALSA held a “Top Ten Summer Learning Programs” contest on its teen programming database, Teen Programming HQ. Thanks to the HQ’s member manager and content experts for reviewing the submissions, we have the winners of the contest.

The top ten are:

Congrats to all the winners and thanks to everyone who participated in the contest! Don’t forget to visit the Teen Programming HQ to share and find great teen programming ideas!


What is the YALSA Teen Programming HQ?

If you haven’t heard about YALSA’s new Teen Programming HQ, this is where you can learn everything you need to know. Everyone working with teens in libraries is conscientious in offering programs for and with teens that;

1. Have direct teen input and are teen driven

2. Demonstrate high-quality in teen library programming

3. Have identifiable goals and learning outcomes

4. Include evaluation components to ensure the program the outcomes and goals.

The YALSA Teen Programming HQ provides all library staff working with teens with examples to help create these high-quality programs.

The Teen Programming HQ is a website that anyone can access so to learn about quality program ideas  Each of the programs in the HQ include a description, the cost of running the program, age group targeted, instructions for replicating, learning outcomes and an evaluation strategy.

Where do the Programming HQ Programs Come From?

This is where YOU-teen library staff from all across the country-are needed. For the HQ to be successful we need you to submit your tested programs for review by the HQ team of experts. (Find out more about the experts below.)  YALSA is looking for programs that support the ideas in the YALSA Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action report (frequently referred to as the Futures Report) and the YALSA Programming Guidelines .

Why the Futures Report and the Programming Guidelines?  Both of these documents focus on areas of importance and highlight skills teens need to develop to succeed in life. The documents also focus on how libraries can help teens achieve these skills.  Both talk about the importance of identifying learning outcomes and developing evaluation plans for programs and highlight reasons why these are important.  The documents provide library staff with real-life and research-based recommendations for ways to help teens entering the workforce gain much needed critical and technology-based skills.

The Programming Guidelines specifically are intended to guide library staff who design, host, and evaluate library programs with and for teens. They were developed to align with YALSA’s  Futures Report and are specifically intended to help library staff leverage skills and resources to provide relevant, outcomes-based programs to better the lives of all teens in the community.  (Which is what the Programming HQ is also intended to do.)

Continue reading

Teen Programming: Building Teen Futures with Community Partnerships

In our last Teen Programming post, we outlined the importance of outreach and how to integrate it into your programming arsenal. Since “outreach” can translate to a wide range of ideas and actions, narrowing it down will help you take your next step towards effective methods of community engagement. This is where partnerships come in! This, however, opens a whole new can of worms. How does one establish positive community partnerships? How do you ensure that your goals aren’t lost in translation? How do I secure beneficial opportunities for teens through partnerships?

When I first began working in my position, I was immediately overwhelmed by the need my community has for the library and its community organizations. During my first few months, I had grand plans to “do it all” and open up so many more opportunity and learning experiences for my community’s teens. What actually happened was that I got burned out and became discouraged. I realized very quickly that I was not going to be able to accomplish many of my goals alone. I needed support from others who were positioned in the community to help me achieve what needed to be done.

So let’s break it down. YALSA’s Future of Library Services report states that today’s teens need libraries to connect them to other community agencies, but how do you establish these connections? Network, network, network! This may sound simple, but community leaders need to know who you are. Start by attending committee and board meetings to get a sense of the issues and climate of your community. PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) meetings are another community body that is important to engage with as they are directly connected to the teens that your services will affect. Are there task forces or coalitions that are specifically directed at alleviating a specific need? Don’t be hesitant to insert yourself into the community conversation because you have your library’s resources to back you up. As a library representative in the community, you are an integral voice in the larger network of organizations that are committed to improving the lives of teens. Pinpoint individuals whose resources are in line with your goals and begin a dialogue with them.

When starting this dialogue, how do you make sure that your goals don’t get lost in translation? Communication is so important when you are making efforts to partner with an outside agency. Before any communication begins, make sure that you have your goals and plans clearly defined. What is it that you want to accomplish? What role do you see this partnering organization offering? Additionally, offer your resources and begin a dialogue about how this partnership would benefit both organizations mutually.

How do you make sure that your partnerships bring beneficial opportunities to teens? Last month we discussed ways to discover your community through outreach. During this discovery process, locate areas that your community needs more from your library. Is there a group that’s being under-served? Who can help you bridge that gap? A few months ago, I recognized a gap in the services that we were offering. At the time, we had reached out to just about every group of teens to make sure that our programs and services were reaching our diverse teens’ needs. However, we hadn’t reached out to teen survivors of domestic violence. I made a connection with the director of a local organization that acts as a transitional agency for teens and families who are leaving abusive situations. They offer temporary housing, counseling, and resources to help them take control of their futures and I wanted the library to be a part of this transition. My goal in partnering with this organization was to bring enriching programs to the teens at this facility, as they might not have access to these opportunities during this transitional period of their lives. Upon meeting with the director, my goals were clearly defined and I listened as she described how our organization could benefit these teens. We agreed upon a plan and programs were implemented at their location. We also offered books from our collection that we had discarded. We wanted to give the teens that she serves the opportunity to continue reading since many of them were temporarily not in school. This partnership was a simple way of offering integral library services to a new demographic while still connecting to the larger community.

Ultimately, libraries must work with partners to alleviate their community’s needs. Start small, make connections, and be diligent about following through. YALSA’s Futures Report pinpoints the shift that libraries are experiencing in the 21st century. We have gone from quiet, solitary locations that provided relatively uniform services to spaces, both physical and virtual, that offer a broad range of resources that empower teens and grow their skills, interests, and goals. Partnerships are integral to meeting this standard because they allow us to continue to broaden the services we offer, bridge gaps in your community, and build a better future for teens.

What are your partnership success stories? How do you bridge the gap in your community with partnerships?

Teen Programming: Turn Community Outreach into Teen Programs

Outreach seems to be the library word-of-the-year as library programs, articles and even job duties add terms like outreach, marketing and community engagement. This past year fellow YALSA bloggers even developed two blog series breaking down outreach in teen services and highlighting how our colleagues are providing outreach services, but how do we connect outreach to teen programming?

While reading YALSA’s Teen Programming Guidelines I noticed “outreach” wasn’t explicitly mentioned in the first two points about creating programming that reflects teens in your community and aligning these programs with the community’s and library’s priorities; but how do you do this? Through outreach!

Back up. What is outreach? Straight from The Future of Library Services Report, the “envisioned future” of outreach is the:

“Year-round use of a variety of tools, both digital and physical. Includes connecting with stakeholders throughout the community in order to develop shared goals and an implement a comprehensive plan of service that reaches all teens throughout the community.

Librarians leave the physical school library or public library space regularly and provide services to targeted communities of teens (e.g. those who are incarcerated, homeless, in foster care, or in classrooms and other in-school locations) where they are, rather than waiting for teens to find a way to get to the physical library space.”

Continue reading

The “Activity Gap”: More thoughts on libraries and after-school programs

Back in October 2014, I wrote about a report entitled: “America After 3 PM.” The Afterschool Alliance was writing about how students spend their time after school. In it, I raised the point of libraries as hubs for after-school activities, a free spot for teens to come if they don’t have the resources or access to other after-school programs. At the end of January, Alia Wong from Atlantic wrote an article called “The Activity Gap,” which discusses the access issues students from various socio-economic classes face with participating in after-school and extracurricular programs.

Wong begins the article by comparing two different students, Ethan and Nicole, whose family backgrounds contribute to two different lifestyles and life paths. While their names have been changed, these two students do exist and were case studies in a study published in Voices of Urban Education. This national study was conducted by Brown University’s Annenberg Institute of School Reform.

Continue reading

Virtual Road Trip: South Dakota

Little Libraries on the Big State’s Prairie

The South Dakota State Library has seen some wonderful advances in teen services across the state in the last year after our summer Library Institute (June 2014) focused on teen services and programming.’  Our Library Training Institute is designed for directors and staff of our medium and small libraries.’  Our definition of medium and small is very different than the standard definitions – we’re talking libraries that serve populations of 5,000 – 15,000 for a medium and under 5,000 people for small libraries.’ SD Our curriculum is on a four year rotation – one year is on children’s & early literacy, one year is on teens, and two years are spent on administration, reference, grants, and technical services.’  For 5 days in June of 2013, 30 librarians from 26 libraries came together in Aberdeen, South Dakota and took part in intense learning about teens in their libraries.’  Topics covered included teen advisory boards, social media, programming ideas, booktalks & displays, book discussion groups, and how the teen brain functions.

As a result, we have not only seen an increase in programming for teens (annual report numbers are still coming in), but three libraries that had never done much for teens than purchase YA books started teen advisory boards and teen programming!’  For a state with only 111 public libraries, This. Is. Huge.’  At the 2013 Institute we featured the books Cinder and Scarlet, and we were even fortunate enough to Skype with Marissa Meyer! SQUEEEEE!!!!!’  Recently, one of the libraries that started a brand new teen advisory board also reported getting an 80 year old grandma hooked on Cinder!’  How awesome is that?

Two other statewide teen library initiatives have also seen wonderful growth over the last several years.’  The South Dakota State Library has focused more time and energy on promoting teen summer reading in our summer reading program workshops.’  Thanks to the amazing teen summer reading manual from the Collaborative Summer Library Program, teen summer reading numbers climb every year, with over 3,000 teens participating in summer reading in 2013!’  Also, in cooperation with the South Dakota Library Association, the South Dakota Teen Choice Book Award – YARP – has also seen increases in teen voting for the last 5 years.’  Over 2,000 teens voted last year across the state!

We can’t wait to see what happens in 2014!

Submitted by Jasmine Rockwell
Youth Services Coordinator, South Dakota State Library

Virtual Road Trip: Kentucky, Part 2

Recently, the Daviess County Public Library has seen an increase in teen participation as well as teen programming.’  As the person in charge of teen programming, I am astonished with the progress we have made.’  The success our library has experienced with teens is a result of several factors:’  A staff that truly embraces the idea of “teamwork,” a supervisor who is willing to allow her employees to express their creativity, and a group of teens who are willing to share their ideas and spend time making those ideas come to life. Continue reading