Jennifer Bishop, Library Associate at the Carroll County Public Library in Maryland, is preparing to pitch an ambitious idea at the YALSA President’s Program Monday, June 29 from 10:30 a.m. to Noon. She will advocate for “CRATE” in front of a panel of librarians and business leaders for the chance to win cash and technology prizes provided by YALSA,, Makey Makey, and 3D Systems.

We wanted to catch up with Jennifer before she heads to San Francisco for ALA’s Annual Conference.

LWB: Tell us about the project you submitted to the Shark Bowl:
JB: Our idea is to follow the popular subscription box model to create monthly CRATEs (Create/ Re-invent/ Apply/ Teach/ Explore) for teens to explore selected technology at all six branches of the Carroll County Public Library. By providing self-guided access and resources on the public floor of all branches on a monthly basis, we will reach a greater number of teens and showcase technology as a tool for learning, innovation, and play.

LWB: What was your inspiration for this project?
JB: Teens are highly motivated to learn new technologies, but they often lack the access and facilitated introduction to emerging technologies. The response to our technology programs for teens has been very positive, but we want to reach more teens and not limit exposure to the small group programming setting.

LWB: In what ways are teens involved in the project?
JB: Teens will guide the direction of the CRATES to follow their topics of interest. They will learn multimedia tools as they create short videos of the monthly crate unboxing, will share their ideas and creations on our social media sites, and will gain knowledge in order to volunteer at tech programs.

LWB: How is your community involved in the project?
JB: Our community has expressed the need for more STEAM and technology offerings for teens and the library is a perfect partner to support digital literacy. This project will support not only teens but also those who work directly with teens such as teachers, parents, and organization leaders in modeling how they can support technology education for teens.

LWB: What are you updating/changing as you get ready for the Shark Bowl at Annual Conference
JB: We are working to refine our pitch by creating a short survey to evaluate success and preparing a draft budget. We are also drawing additional insights to reinforce our pitch from two recent ALA publications: YALSA’s The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action and ALSC’s Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth (birth to age fourteen).

LWB: What are you most excited about in getting ready for Shark Bowl
JB:We are excited to share our ideas, learn more about the other projects, and spread the word at ALA Annual about the importance of empowering teens to innovate and learn through exploring technology.

LWB: Anything else you want to tell us?
JB: I encourage all librarians to try out new technologies with your teens and remember that it’s okay to learn alongside and even from the teens in your library.

Learn more about YALSA Shark Bowl and don’t forget to attend the YALSA President’s Program on Monday, June 29th from 10:30 a.m. to noon to see the sharks and pitches live.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

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