This content was originally posted on the YALSA Future Ready with the Library Cohort 1 community of practice and written by Christina Boyles. The YALSA Future Ready project is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services

On Monday, March 20th, my library hosted our first College and Career Readiness programming roundtable event. Our goal was to find out what our community members feel the youth in our community need in order to be successful. We personally invited community members (including teachers, school administrators, school counselors, school board members, county commissioners and parents) to the meeting, we encouraged youth to attend and it was advertised on Facebook, at the school literacy night and through word of mouth. We had food – I ordered pizza and breadsticks and had water available. We only had five adults and two middle school students attend. It was definitely not the turnout I was looking for – I had a lot more people say they were coming than who actually came – but that is okay. I know the people who attended care, I know they had opinions that they wanted to share and I was there to listen.

image of first page of handout from roundtableI started with a brief discussion on what the Future Ready with the Library project is all about and what the library’s goals are as a part of that project. As each person walked in I gave them a copy of the pamphlet I created that provides information on the project. I also gave everyone an article from Forbes on the top 10 things employers are looking for in employees and an article on the seven skills students need to succeed. Then I opened the floor for open discussion to the public and what followed was a fantastic two hour discussion.

The people who were in attendance were all pretty adamant that middle school youth need a chance to learn “life skills.” This includes social emotional skills and some basic day-to-day living skills. Participants were basically saying adults in the community need to do a better job so that when youth plan for college and career, go to college, move into the workforce, and begin to lead lives as adults, they have the skills they need to make good decisions.

Our closest city is 3 hrs away and that is where many of our students head after graduating high school. Those who attended the meeting felt a strong need to prepare young people for being out on their own where they don’t have someone reminding them to stay on track all the time. The two middle schoolers who came to the meeting added their opinions and thoughts to the conversation.

The roundtable was definitely a step in the right direction for my community and after that meeting and talking with the library director; we are trying to coordinate our Summer Reading program theme “Build A Better World” into our Future Ready with the Library work. I definitely think that making our youth more productive members of society is a way of building a better world. So we are moving forward with that and I am planning on having a few one-on-one meetings with community members and organizations in April (after spring break). We have scheduled another roundtable for April 24th, 2017 – at this roundtable we will start with the idea that we know our youth need life skills – so we’ll begin to talk about how we can work with the community to achieve that goal.

Christina Boyles is the Assistant Director at the Mineral County Library in Hawthorne, NV

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