Recently there was a discussion on the listserv for the Association of Rural and Small Libraries about what activities are good to undertake at the end of the year.  It seemed like a good topic for the YALSAblog, too, so I’ve adapted my answers to make them more focused on serving youth:

Reflecting on this year

  • Send thank you notes to volunteers, supporters, and anyone who gave a helping hand or moral support.
  • Do a post-mortem of your overall efforts to serve teens in 2017. What was successful? What failed and why?  What will you do differently next year?  For more about taking the time to reflect, read this article, Time to Reflect: why does it matter in the workplace?
  • Conduct a review library policies and procedures to see if they need updating. Some useful information is on the ALA site and YALSA’s wiki.
  • Conduct a review the teen pages on your school or library’s web site and social media sites to see what needs updating or improving. Check out ASCLA’s web accessibility resources.  Review content and style for inclusive language, professional content versus personal beliefs, and potential sexist, discriminatory, or similarly insensitive language or images.  Ensure graphics do not show people in stereotypical roles.

Looking ahead to next year

  • Build your skills: all of YALSA’s on-demand webinars are free to members, and our short, instructional videos are free to all.  Create a plan for your own professional growth: what conferences, e-courses, and other learning opportunities will you take advantage of?  YALSA’s wiki has some resources to get you started.
  • Draft a work plan for 2018—review the library’s strategic plan and identify what specific activities you’ll take toward meeting the goals in the plan. Find a template you can use or adapt to rough out your plan, like this one (MS Word)
  • Learn more about your community. What do you want to accomplish in 2018 and who in your community might be able to help you with that?  The free Map My Community tool will identify youth-serving organizations in your area.
  • Gather basic information about your school or library and community, so it is ready to drop into a grant application when opportunities arise in the coming year.  Think about collecting information and data on: community demographics, your library’s mission statement, budget size, key personnel, list of partners, etc.  The Kids Count web site is a good resource for demographics on youth
  • Do a walk thru of your library—inside and outside—and audit it to see how welcoming it is to youth from all backgrounds, abilities, etc.  Some resources to help are on YALSA’s wiki.
  • Identify at least one group in your community that is underserved by your library (e.g. foster youth, youth who speak English as a second language, homeless youth, homebound youth, etc.) and commit to providing better service to them.  Find out who in the community is already interacting with or serving this group and think about how the library might support that work.  Talk with teens and their parents or caregivers from the underserved group to learn more about their needs and interests. It may be useful to build your own cultural competence skills, so you can confidently and effectively connect with and serve the group you identify. Check out these resources on YALSA’s wiki.
  • Think about how you want to connect with others in the library community beyond your own library.  Check out these ideas for getting involved in YALSA.

What else would you add to this list?  Share your ideas in the comments section.

-Beth Yoke

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