national forum on libraries and teens logo.Over the past several weeks the YALSAblog has run a series of posts on rethinking how we do and what we do in libraries for teens. There have been posts on everything from library card policies to programming to professional development to social media policies. There’s a lot to rethink. And, actually, YALSA has been focused on re-thinking everything that we do in libraries for teens over the past year as a part of a year-long IMLS grant on the future of teens and libraries.

What does it mean to envision the future of libraries and teens? You can find out by reading the draft of the white paper YALSA is developing to help library staff and others determine next steps and how to move forward. And, YALSA doesn’t want you to just read the white paper draft, the association is looking for your comments. Read on for a sneak peek at some of what you’ll read about in the paper.
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At the beginning of every school year, some school librarians inevitably grouse about sitting through whole-faculty professional development because they have to get the library — both patron records and the collection — ready to circulate. They often say their needs differ from those of classroom teachers, and their professional learning should reflect that.

I would argue that school librarians need that learning and more. School librarians actually need more ongoing professional development than anyone else in the building. Why? It’s not because we’re bad at our jobs. It’s because, in this critical, school-spanning role, we have to stay ahead of the curve to support the needs of students and teachers. This means we need to know the school things and also the library things, and maybe the technology things as well… Read More →

My dad retired from NYC Board of ED in 2003. He was the principal of a K-8 school, and he was sort of a celebrity in the area. Every Christmas season, we would park in Williamsburg, take the train to the city for a play and then end our day at Fortunato Brothers. A little bakery in the heart of the school’s service area. My dad in this space was not just my dad. He was Mr. Buono. Every where he went people knew his name, and he knew everyone else’s. Granted, as a principal, people are forced to acknowledge your existence. But the difference is they loved him.

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It’s not a new premise that you can take part in professional development on your own time and at a computer. But, have you thought about the ways you can take part in professional development not just to learn new things but to expand your professional learning network (PLN) and learn from colleagues about how to provide exceptional service to teens? That’s the real new world of professional development. It’s not just about taking content in by listening to some expert tell you how it’s done. It’s also about connecting with others who have experience you can learn from and learning from a wide-range of community members how to do your job even more successfully. For example:

  • YALSA's communications badgeBadges: You’ve probably read posts on this blog about the YALSA badging project which will help library staff working with teens gain skills in the areas covered by the association’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth. A key aspect of the badges is that participants will get the chance to show what they’ve learned by creating artifacts. They’ll share those artifacts with other library staff serving teens. And, they’ll get feedback from those staff who will be members of the YALSA badging community. That’s a great way to learn and a great way to improve what you do. Not only that, when a learner completes an activity in the badge program, he or she will actually get a virtual badge. Read More →

“Cancel all your programs on Friday night, and spend some time just hanging out.” I uttered it to a small group of librarians, and they looked at me like I was crazy.’  We were at Sunrise session at Computers in Libraries.’  It was an interesting presentation innovation, and we were practicing the art of brainstorming. The idea hit me like a lightning strike.’  We were asked to share ideas without thinking about the specifics, and it just came out. When the group speaker shared it, there was an audible response.

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In our second week of school, we had our first 2013 graduate return from college to visit.

She had popped in on her way from work — she is working a morning shift at fast food and taking 15 semester hours at the community college — and as she looked around our temporary space, she wanted to know when the new school library would become open. “And will it be public?” she said, “I remember they said the library would be public…”

The construction is barely underway, so I told her it would be a while. While the planned space would be available for the community, I wasn’t certain if the library collection would be.

Photo, Tom Saint

Photo, Tom Saint

The problem with the library at the community college, she asserted, was there wasn’t anything good to read. “It’s all encyclopedias,” she said.

As I looked at this book-loving girl, a girl who dressed as Effie Trinket for costume day during homecoming week, who was thrilled to tell me that she has the sixth Mortal Instruments book preordered, and I realized I didn’t prepare her for the community college library. Read More →


CC Licensed Image via Google.

Techbrarian Confession Time: I really, really, really want to try Google Glass. Back in February, when they were choosing betas to “give” them to (read: offering folks with a compelling enough reason the chance to fork over $1,500), I threw my ring into the hat and prayed my mother would never find out I was willing to pay that kind of money to covertly cosplay as Georgi La Forge and freak people out in public places.

Half-mad with tech-lust, I pulled the “I’m an educator– you guys love us, right?” card: “I’d find the ABSOLUTE BEST educational use for them,” I wheedled, lying through my lying little teeth. “I’d teach with them on and integrate them into my classroom work.”

(Lies. Deceitful, awful lies.)

Shockingly, Google saw through this facade, and the closest I’ve come to Glass has been trying on a friend’s, and watching cooler folks than I smugly wearing them around Brooklyn. There’s a dilatory part of me that thinks this is all for the best. Bringing a technology like Glass into a school library is a bullet that Lazy!Clair would like someone else to bite first.

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An Emotional Goodbye

I am writing this article as an open letter. We are censoring what video games we provide people, but we are not stopping their consumption. We are shooting ourselves in the foot to avoid an argument, and it will hurt. Plus we are compromising our own integrity to avoid an argument. It is time to supply our public with access to M rated games.

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young person staring into space with balloon in the air by nic519A few years ago a colleague emailed me and asked about what his public library should do on their re-designed/re-developed website for its teen presence. I said, “don’t have one.” Well, what I really said is “if you have teen pages on your site then focus them on the adults in teen lives and not on the teens.” Anytime I get asked this question, which I do quite a bit, my answer is the same.

I know, some people are thinking that by not having teen focused web pages on a library site it’s like saying no to a teen space in a library. But I disagree. For public libraries, I think it is different for school libraries, I think spending time, effort, dollars and more on teen web pages as a part of a library site is a waste of time and money. Have you looked at your teen page statistics lately? How well are they doing? And, if you tell me they get lots of hits, are you sure those are teens visiting those pages, or are they the adults in teen lives – teachers, parents, youth serving staff, etc.? Or, if you tell me that your teen advisory board is using the pages then that’s great, but why no one else?
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“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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