This summer YALSA is offering a newly revised online course! ‘  Beth Gallaway and Alissa Lauzon, instructors for’ Navigating the Divide between Teens and Tweens, chatted with me about the course. This course runs from July 11- August 8th and is open for registration through the YALSA website.

Eve: You’re teaching a class for YALSA that starts in July. Tell us about Navigating the Divide between Teens and Tweens.

Beth & Alissa: The age range of patrons that young adult librarians serve is expanding. Although YALSA states that young adults are ages 12-18, the teens you serve in your library can range from 9-18 and they have very different needs from middle childhood to early adolescence to middle adolescence. We want to offer tools and resources that will help librarians better serve a wide range of library users.

Eve: What should students expect to learn from this course?

Beth & Alissa: Participants will become familiar with local, state, and national standards for service to tweens and teens. Students will identify three areas for institutional improvement based on standards observed and will complete a plan for an environmental scan of the library. In addition, participants will define differences between tweens and teens, and will identify methods to improve library marketing and communication to teens of different ages. Lastly, participants will evaluate current space and collection development policies in terms of local and national standards.

Eve: Tell us a little bit about the readings and assignments for this course? How do they fit into your typical librarian’s work schedule?

Beth & Alissa: All readings are free and available online; some may require a library database, but for the most part, are easily available and accessible. Assignments and readings are announced on Friday and “due” by the following Sunday.’  Each week’s module of readings, exercises, and discussion takes about 2 hours to complete. Assignments may be exercises, such as evaluate your teen space and tell us what your ideal space would look like, or may be reading related, such as read and respond to two articles with opposing viewpoints on adolescent behavior and development.

Eve: Why is this information important for librarians to know?

Beth & Alissa: Librarians need to have an understanding of how the tween and teen brain development impacts the services libraries provide.’  Understanding the differences between tweens and teens is critical to developing a service plan that meets the needs of both age groups.’  Librarians should also be aware of local, state, and national standards that exist to help them improve their services.

Eve: How do class discussions work? Are they real-time or can I post on my own schedule?

Beth & Alissa: The course is asynchronous, with no mandated times to log in and participate. Optional office hours–a time for an informal chat about course content or other questions about serving teens and tweens–will be announced based on everyone’s availability.

Eve: What can students take away from this course? How can they use the lessons of this course in their day-to-day jobs?

Beth & Alissa: Students will come away with standards to aspire to and resources to refer to, to attain those standards. They will develop a plan to determine who is served by YA services at their library, will revise current or upcoming marketing products, and will learn ways to improve communication with teens and tweens. Lastly, participants will create a plan for an environmental scan, so they can truly understand who they are serving.

Eve: What are you most excited about in this course?

Beth: I look forward to hear everyone’s ideas for what is working well – responses to behavior situations, cool programming ideas, those in-the-trenches stories. I especially love to hear what DIDN’T work, in terms of programs, marketing, communication – why it failed, and most importantly, what you learned – I’m a big proponent of learning from your mistakes.

Alissa: I’m looking forward to working with Beth to teach my first course for YALSA! I am excited to share my experiences with participants and like Beth, I am interested in hearing about, and learning from the experiences of others. I find tweens and teens to be fascinating and difficult age groups to serve. I look forward to discussing with course participants ways to improve library services when you consider elements of brain development and generational characteristics.

About Eve Gaus

Eve Gaus is the program officer for continuing education at YALSA.

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