Rethinking What We Do: Fines

“If you didn’t have library fines, no one would return anything,” I said this, to myself and others, time and again, over the course of the decade when I worked at a school with library fines. Worst of all, I had to receipt every five cents.

I didn’t feel our fine structure was unreasonable. After a two-day grace period, the school library charged five cents a day, for twenty-five a week, versus 25 cents per item, per day, over a seven-day week, totaling 1.75 a week at the public library.

Fines weres important because ittyhey were my funding source. Those fines and dimes for printouts and photocopies, supplemented with small grants, made up my materials budget. I struggled with charging students, but other schools charged more for printing. One librarian had hers in line with the supermarket photocopier, 25 cents per page.

Not that I ever went after fines or the overdue materials. There were only a handful of times that I stopped a kid at checkout for overdue books. More typically, I might not even remind them of overdues or outstanding fines if someone else was in earshot. When I left that school, the new librarian wanted to check the list of overdues. I guess she imagine a box or, at worst, a shelf of unprocessed returns.
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Why Teens Need Libraries

If you have a passion for serving teens, advocate for them! District Days is an excellent opportunity to speak directly to legislators and maybe even include your teens in the conversation.

There are many reasons to serve teens at your library, including that you may thoroughly enjoy reading young adult literature and helping teens find a book they might like as well.’  Did you know that the impact of libraries on teenagers reaches farther than we could ever imagine?’  Take into account some of the following statistics:

  • 25% of all public high school students fail to graduate on time
  • 34 million American between ages 6 and 17 are not receiving sufficient developmental resources
  • 74% of U.S.eighth-graders read below the proficient level

Libraries are vital but challenged sources of support for the growing youth population in the United States. Census data shows that in 2010 there were over 42 million young people aged 10 -19 (comprising 13.6% of the population) in the US.’ ‘  In 2010, half of the nation’s 14 – 18 year olds reported visiting a library to use a computer.’  The Opportunity for All study‘  reported that youth ages 14-24 make up 25% of all library users, which makes them the largest group in the study, and that youth were drawn to libraries to use computers, receive help with homework, socialize, and participate in programming.’ ‘  Similarly, school libraries are available to about 62% of youth enrolled in public schools’  and youth turn to their school libraries for recreational reading, learning support, and technology access.’  However, critical library resources are endangered by widespread economic impacts on public and school libraries, as noted in the State of America’s Libraries Report 2012 .’  The 2012 PLA PLDS Statistical Report indicates that just 33% of public libraries have at least one full time staff person dedicated to teen services (down a startling 18% from five years ago).

Teens are likely to suffer most in the absence of library services, yet libraries are key to supporting teens’ learning and development.’  The impact of library services and programming is astounding: students that are involved in library programs and have a library available to them with extended hours score higher on ACT English andReadingtests than those who don’t.

We also have the opportunity to give teens not only positive reinforcement, but a visible role model who enjoys the pursuit of leisure reading. ‘ Other than the educational setting, many teens may not have a person in his or her life who noticeably appreciates the written word.’  You could be having an impact on a teenager without even realizing it.’  Isn’t that worth just a little extra effort now and then?

What can you do?’  At the local level, you could become a Friend of your Library or start a Friends group, volunteer at your local library, sponsor or support legislation that helps libraries, or serve on your library’s board of Trustees.’ ‘  You can participate in National Library Legislative Day, District Days and other advocacy activities sponsored by ALA and YALSA.’  Check out the advocacy resources on YALSA’s web site for more information.

Do teens need libraries?’  Of course they do.’  Keep these statistics in mind when talking to friends, colleagues, and administrators.’  This is why YOU need to participate in District Days!

Information used in this post was gathered from the YALSA Brochure “Teens Need Libraries.”

Megan Garrett
Legislative Committee

30 Days of Innovation #28: Reaching homeschoolers

American Libraries recently posted an article about programming for homeschooled kids and their families. There are a lot of great ideas there that you should take a look at, but very few of the ideas are focused on teens. Like any library media specialist knows, teens need to have their reading, research, and library skills in check before college, and those being homeschooled are no different.

In addition to inviting those teens to your regular programming and events, consider doing things for them during the lull of the day, when everyone else is in school. Not all parents who homeschool are necessarily schooled in how to use library databases, scholarly journals, and online media for research projects, so perhaps a small group might appreciate a workshop similar to the ones high school students get from their librarians. You could even designate a special hour a week for drop-in lessons.

On a similar note, homeschools don’t employ full-time college counselors, but you probably have a circulating and non-circulating collection of test prep books, college guides, and more. Another unique daytime program you can offer, then, is a college workshop. Invite some current college students, whose schedules also allow them to have some free hours during the day, to answer questions about local schools and essay topics, and see if any of your regular homework tutors can volunteer to come in and help with the process. Continue reading

Learning as I Go

I am about to finish my first year as a real full-time librarian. ‘ While my education was invaluable in starting my career as a YA librarian, it definitely did not prepare me for everything. ‘ I have learned a lot this year and am looking forward to applying these skills to next year.

First off, kids have too much energy. ‘ They like to be sassy towards authority figures. ‘ I expected some of this, but not to the extent I experienced it. ‘ I now have a very solid set of rules displayed and all of the kids and adults are subject to them. ‘ No matter what. ‘ I let one kid bargain with me once and it ruined the next two weeks. ‘ I know when to be lenient and when to be harsh. ‘ Most importantly, the teens now know exactly what my rules are and that they will be kicked out if they don’t follow them. Continue reading

Teen Read Week: Read It, Picture It

Our public library regularly hosts film festivals for teens, offering them a choice of a variety of movies and allowing them to decide which to view that evening. We provide snacks and some quality company. For Teen Read Week, we focused on movie choices that were stories that originated as novels, including I Am Number Four and Flipped (the latter title was a huge hit with summer reading this past year). The focus of the PICTURE IT Film Festival was to point out that movies and books are two different perspectives on telling a story. For many readers, stories are told beautifully with words that allow us to create our own scenery and become connected to characters in our own ways. For just as many viewers, stories are told through images, colors, actions, and emotions portrayed directly through our physical senses. The stories are the same, but the perspectives are often vastly different. Some readers (and viewers) simply enjoy a different method of storytelling over another. It’s up to the readers and viewer to internalize the story in their own way, whether it’s read, seen, or both!

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The Library is NOT a Supermarket

Recently I graded a set of library school student projects. For these projects students needed to talk with teens about the ways teens spend their time, how they find out about the materials and activities in which they are interested, and what they think of libraries – school and public. As I read through the assignments something became very clear. For at least some teens, the library is not much more than a supermarket. It’s a place where you go when you have to “pick something up.” It’s a place that you visit as quickly as possible and only when you have to. Like a supermarket, it’s a place that can be confusing if the signs are not helpful and there isn’t staff that is willing to engage and answer questions in a friendly manner. Continue reading

Great Stories about the Great Stories CLUB

You might have read about the Great Stories CLUB Grant here on the YALSA blog or maybe you received a flyer or e-mail about it.’  Now you may be wondering if this program is right for you, your library, and your community.’  What better way to find out more than to talk to some librarians who have used the Great Stories CLUB Grant in their communities?’ 

To give you a better idea of what a Great Stories CLUB Grant can mean for the teens in your community, some past participants in the program have volunteered to discuss their experiences.’  These first-hand stories give you a closer look at what the Great Stories CLUB Grant can do.’  We start with Deborah Motley, the Young Adult Services Librarian at the Orion Township Public Library in Lake Orion, Michigan.

For more information on the Great Stories CLUB, including guidelines, book descriptions, application instructions, and even more feedback from past participants, visit www.ala.org/greatstories. Online applications will be accepted through November 2.’ 

Keep an eye out for other participant stories here on the YALSA blog.’  Any past recipients reading are’ encouraged to discuss their experiences in the comments!

Now let’s’ hear Deb’s great story’ …

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South Park, Goths and Twilighters

Like all good satire, the television show South Park is often thought provoking. The recent episode The Ungroundable hit me’ where I work. In it, the school’s popular students embrace the current vampire craze (Twilight is directly referenced) to the point of wearing black clothes, plastic fangs and drinking Clamato juice as a blood substitute. No one is more horrified and disgusted by this than show’s well established clique of goths. They feel this is an appropriation and debasement of their style. For me, the show raised an immediate question with larger implications; how as a youth librarian, do you cater to both the vampire kids and the goths?

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Why Knowing What “Speidi” Means Makes You a Better Teen Librarian

As teen librarians, we have to connect with our users–and this may be true for us more than other library professionals. Teens are great at seeing straight through us, and being fake is no way to earn a teen’s trust or get them interested in using the library. With that said, there are some easy ways to learn about things that interest teens.

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Being Engaging

Over the past few weeks a couple of students tweeted about a video on Teacher Tube called Pay Attention. It’s a seemingly simple presentation that focuses on why educators need to actively integrate technology into teaching. With that focus, it’s really about engaging students of all ages in learning.

Engaging teens in library programs and services is something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. What does it take to engage 13 to 18 year olds so that they are interested in what librarians have to offer?
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