Sachem Public Library developed a list of hiring expectations for our teen intern.  This included required dates/hours needed, an explanation of the job responsibilities, and desired qualities we were looking for in an intern candidate.  Each intern was required to submit a resume and letter of recommendation from a teacher, coach, or employer with their completed application. Intern responsibilities included:

  • Attend Intern Orientation.  The orientation introduced the intern to all areas of the library and library staff.  We discussed guidelines for professionalism in the workplace, our teen behavior policy, and any library policies that may impact the intern while assisting on the public floor or in library workshops. 
  • Complete assignments from the books The 7 Habits for Effective Teens by Sean Covey and Smile & Succeed for Teens: A Crash Course in Face-to-Face Communication by Kirt Manecke for mentoring on effective communication and successful work skills.  These books were intended to prepare the intern for real life work situations. Assignments were completed outside of work hours.  Each week the intern met with their supervisor to discuss weekly readings and assignments. We discussed what the intern had learned about themselves and pointers learned that could be applied to their internship and future jobs.  
  • Plan and teach activities for two (2) Friday night teen workshops and the Teen Summer Reading Club that are centered on encouraging reading and literacy learning.  The first event our intern assisted in planning was our family outdoor movie night for Spider-man: Into the Spider Verse.  A button maker station was set up for youth to make pins of their favorite Spiderman characters.  The intern operated the button machines, created character templates, and engaged youth in the activity while assisting in managing a large crowd.  Our Friday night programs typically average 80-90 youth.
  • Write questions, formulate trivia challenges, and lead Battle of the Books meetings with Battle coaches.  Our intern was an Assistant Coach for our Battle of the Books team.  The team meets three times per week for three months. It is competitive and although we start our team with 25+ team members, the library can only select six team members to compete in the county competition.  Our intern helped select the team, making tough choices about which students to select or eliminate based on skills and knowledge. The team won 2nd place in the county against 39 teams. 
  • Assist in various aspects of teen summer workshops including running activity stations in coding and technology at Welcome 6th Graders and STEAMCon.  The intern created special effects photos with our green screen at Welcome 6th Graders.  For STEAMCon which focuses on trends in emerging technology, our intern assisted with digital art, low tech crafting, and coding with robotics. 
  • Assist in selecting themed books for book displays in summer workshops.  Our Teen Book Reviewer initiative was used to create monthly book displays based on submitted reviews by teens.  Bookmarks were also created for selected books pulling quotes from teen reviewers.  
  • Submit a weekly log on assigned duties detailing experiences in workshops. 
Teens participate in Battle of the Books.

Battle of the Books Team 2019

Teens participate in Battle of the Books.

Battle of the Books Team 2019

Teens participate in Battle of the Books.

Battle of the Books Team 2019

 

 

 

The library desired the following qualities for our potential intern: 

  • Experience working with youth.
  • Interest in creating and teaching innovative workshops for youth.
  • Ability to work as part of a team.
  • Ability to receive/follow instructions.
  • Willingness to learn and participate in everyday library work.
  • Be self-motivated and able to work independently.

The potential candidate was interviewed by two teen librarians. Our goal was to simulate a real job interview as practice for future job interviews.  We prepared a list of interview questions:  

  1. Why did you apply for this internship?
  2. What interests you the most about the position?
  3. What do you hope to learn or take away from your internship experience?
  4. What are your career interests?
  5. How would you describe your work or study style? How do you approach assignments and big projects?
  6. Are you comfortable speaking in front of a group of people?
  7. Do you have any ideas for programs or projects you would like to facilitate with teens?

We were extremely happy with the intern selected, Anaelle Surprise, who will be an incoming senior at a local private school. Anaelle was a welcome addition to our Teen Services team and had a wonderful rapport in engaging our teens.  

 

Laura Panter is Head of Teen Services at Sachem Public Library.

The 2019 YALSA/Dollar General Summer Learning Resources Grant allowed us to make the most of our summer kids and teens program Nerd Camp. Nerd Camp was five days at each of our branches where the campers were able to perform from NASA’s and Stennis Space Center’s AstroCamp as well as a day of retro video gaming using Raspberry Pis, monitors and controllers purchased with our grant. By partnering with Stennis Space Center, we were able to increase the learning opportunities for rural and under-served teens and youth and present them with NASA created projects to pique interested in space-related learning. Stennis provided eight hours of training in science as well as many projects that we integrated seamlessly into our program. This training allowed us to pass the knowledge on to youth service specialists and volunteers within the program. The coverage created by this allowed for all our volunteers, our summer intern, as well as our youth specialists to engage with the youth and ensure a higher level of help and learning.

These activities mixed into our existing ideas and program well and flowed directly into our retro gaming and raspberry pi ending extremely well. This showed how science and technology can pair with programming and computers and the use of the pis showed a common use that simple computing knowledge can achieve. Also, this built excitement for science and technology within an underserved community that dovetailed into the summer reading theme of “A Universe of Stories.”

With our five Nerd Camps across all five of our branches, we saw a preponderance of engagement from the community. Our community is an economically diverse one. Because many of our youth patrons get free lunches at school during the year, we wanted to be able to offer that for the days of our camps. To do this we partnered with various restaurants at each branch to provide lunch for the youth and volunteers at each camp. This allowed our partners to have an impact in the community and for the youth at our camps to have a provided meal. While we were able to provide lunch every day at our camps, there was a time we struggled to find partnerships. In the end, however, we locked in both local eateries as well as chains to have lunch provided. Also, through working with McAllister’s Deli we were able to provide snacks and iced tea to two camps as well. During our time in the Canton branch we utilized the summer free lunch program that we offer through the school district at the branch to provide meals for the campers. This allowed us to focus on finding partners for our other four branches while ensuring that the youth at Canton had food provided.

Engagement during camp was a wonderful success. At the Madison branch, we saw a turnout of 20 children. This number was steady through all four days of our camp. At our Camden branch, which is a rural community that serves a population of 900, we saw 10 campers daily. During these days, we were able to have the youth design and fire rockets, learn about computer and gaming, and be exposed to STEM concepts in a fun and engaging way.

 

Dawn Collins is the Youth Services Director for the Madison County Library System.

The Lenox Township Library was awarded the YALSA/Dollar General Summer Learning Grant. My idea for the grant was to reach as many teens in the area as possible. To accomplish this, I partnered with the local public schools food services director in order to attend their Meet Up and Eat Up summer lunch program. I decided to partner with the school this summer to help reach as many youth in the area as possible. During the summer, the school has SACC (school age child care) and summer camp programs. During the breakfast and lunch hours, all youth, 18 and younger, are allowed to come in for free. I saw this as a great opportunity to bring awareness of what the library has to offer as well as giving out books to the youth to bring home. I started the process by emailing the superintendent of the school district. I informed her of my plans and from there I was connected to the director of food services for the school. Overall, it was a smooth transaction and everyone involved was very excited to have me come in. 

With this program, I think the only thing I would do differently is make sure I have either a teen volunteer or another staff member to help. There were higher numbers of youth than I had anticipated due to the summer camp programs. In many ways this is a great thing, however, because it was just me, I feel I could have reached more if I had a partner. Even with the craziness of it all, I will definitely partner with the school next summer. 

 

Casee Hill is a Youth Librarian at Lenox Township Library.

Lockport Branch Public Library was very grateful to be selected for the 2019 YALSA/Dollar General Summer Learning Resources Grant. The Lockport Branch Public Library is one of nine branches of the Lafourche Parish Public Library System. We are located in southernmost part of Louisiana. Our area is largely rural, with nearly 27% of households without internet access, making the library necessary for our patrons’ recreational and educational needs. Recent library programs have shown a marked increase of interest in S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics), but many adolescents and teens lack the resources, skills, and mentoring needed to expand their knowledge to succeed in future career paths and to benefit their communities.

A teen plays with lego bricks.

My Planet Rover w/ Lego Mindstorms

Our YALSA/Dollar General Summer Learning Resources Grant focused introducing teens to various aspects relating to STEAM, and generating interest in new technologies for a better tomorrow. With the grant, we were able to provide programs throughout the summer to the central area of Lafourche Parish. Each program theme tied into this year’s Summer Reading Program theme, A Universe of Stories.

A teen plays with lego bricks.

My Planet Rover w/ Lego Mindstorms

In the past, our teen program attendance rate has been lower than our children and adult programs offered during the summer months. To entice teens, we hosted 6-STEAM related programs over a 2 month period. Our teens were able to construct and build a Dobsonian telescope, create original bilingual hybrid media pop-up books, learn coding for web design, build and code with Lego Mindstorms, and learn the importance of clean water and sustainability. One of our main goals was to educate teens on STEAM related careers, as they are mostly exposed to agricultural and oil-field related careers. We strived to provide a safe space where our teens could learn math and engineering skills in a fun and non-formal way. Another main goal was to improve teen program attendance at programs during the summer reading program. Comparing this year’s attendance to last year’s, the Lockport Branch showed substantial improvement in program attendance.

A teen does a water purification experiment.

STEAM Squad: Water Purification

Teens play with popup books.

Hybrid Popup Books

In the future, we would like some of these programs to travel to school events in our parish, such as school job fairs, to reach more teens of Lafourche Parish. We hope to also partner with our local Louisiana State University Agricultural Center (LSU Ag Center, which provides Louisiana citizens with research-based educational information that will improve their lives and economic well-being) to offer more programs about the importance of health and sustainability. 

 

 

Katie Cheramie is the Central Area Administrator for Lockport Branch Public Library.

In the spring of 2019, Cecil County Public Library was pleased to accept a YALSA Teen Summer Intern Grant of $1,000, enabling us to hire a local teen to assist with the 2019 Summer Reading and Learning Program.

While we knew the decision would be difficult, our first step was to recruit and select our summer intern. One goal we identified for our internship program was to provide the intern with an introduction to essential job and career skills, as this program was the first opportunity for many of our applicants to apply for a job. Knowing we wanted to introduce the teen applicants to a real-world hiring process, we created an application packet similar to what we use for adults applying for other positions at the library. This packet included a professional job description, application, essay question, and call for references. Rather than focusing primarily on work experience, we adapted many of our questions to focus on the applicants’ extracurricular or volunteer activities, leadership experiences, skills, and interests.

To promote the internship opportunity, we shared the application with the teen services staff at library branches across the county. Having close relationships with the teens, these staff members were able to share the opportunity directly with teens in their communities. We also leveraged the close relationship we have with the local school district, sharing the application with the school librarians at the area high schools. This word-of-mouth approach was very successful, as we received many applications for the position.

Knowing we could only hire one intern for the summer, we then scheduled interviews. Keeping with our goal of introducing the teens to real-world job standards, we conducted full professional interviews with the applicants. This was the first experience for all of our applicants to participate in an interview process, and while many were nervous, we did our best to keep a light, conversational tone to make them feel at ease. While we included many of our standard interview questions used with all new hires, “Why are you interested in this position?” “Please tell us about your prior experiences,” etc., we also incorporated questions that were more fun for the teens, giving us a better window into their personalities, motivations, and interests. We asked them to tell us about their favorite books, choose three words they or others would use to describe them, and share some of the things they hoped to do at the library this summer.

Although the decision was difficult, we ultimately selected Hannah, a 17-year-old long-time library user and member of our Teen Advisory Group, to participate as our 2019 summer intern. Hannah’s love of the library, volunteer experiences, and interest in working in librarianship were just a few of the many reasons we selected her as our intern. 

With the hiring process complete, we then worked with Hannah to make a plan for the summer. Having recently completed a book study with all teen services staff of YALSA’s Putting Teens First in Library Services: A Road Map, we recognized the importance of following the principles of the Connected Learning Model and designing an interest-driven internship experience for Hannah. Having talked with Hannah about her interests and skills, future goals, and what she hoped to gain from the internship, we worked together to design a program that would give her opportunities to use these skills in the library setting. 

Hannah holding up a book she reviewed

Hannah holding up a book she reviewed.

Hannah was very interested in teen services, so one of her main responsibilities this summer was in assisting the teen library staff with their programs for the Summer Reading and Learning program. Hannah is an avid artist and photographer, and she was able to assist in programs by running art stations at our Teen Nights, taking photos, and helping to engage younger teens in activities. She is also interested in science and technology and was essential in helping to run the “Drone Pilot for a Day” program, the “Painting with Robots” program using Sphero robots, and the “NASA Universe Discovery” astronomy program series for middle school teens.

In addition to assisting with programming, Hannah put her artistic and STEM skills to work this summer by creating engaging bulletin boards and displays for our Young Adult section and conducting a training for teen services staff on using newly acquired technology for programming, including Nintendo Switch, Oculus Go, and Ozobots. Hannah is also an avid reader of Young Adult fiction, so when she was not assisting with programs, she worked on a project to create staff recommendations of her favorite books to add to the Young Adult shelves and on the teen page of the library’s website.

While many of Hannah’s projects and responsibilities this summer were directly related to her interest in assisting with teen services, we also recognized the importance of introducing her to a well-rounded view of the library, giving her opportunities to shadow and assist with additional departments. In addition to working with the teen services department, Hannah spent time shadowing the children’s library staff and assisting with early childhood storytimes, riding on the bookmobile and helping with outreach visits, shadowing the circulation staff and assisting with customer service, and helping to serve summer lunches. These opportunities gave Hannah practice in many aspects of library service, providing her an in-depth view of working in a library.

Hannah standing with our teen services librarian in front of a bulletin board she made.

Hannah standing with our teen services librarian in front of a bulletin board she made.

Hannah doing a training on Ozobots for our youth services staff.

Hannah doing a training on Ozobots for our youth services staff.

Through the internship program, we hope working at Cecil County Public Library this summer has helped Hannah to grow her customer service skills, communication skills, knowledge of professional working standards, and comfort level working with the public, all of which are essential for future success in whichever profession she chooses. As a library, we have learned through this experience the importance of providing opportunities for teens to contribute to the library in meaningful ways, acting as leaders and using their skills and interests to inspire our patrons and staff. 

 

Katelyn McLimans is the Youth Services Coordinator at Cecil County Public Library.

Children gather near large toy castles.

Memories of “Universe of Stories” with creative aliens including our YALSA/ Dollar General Summer Teen Intern, Angel.

During the 2018-2019 School Year, I was invited to start attending the SAC meetings for a local high school’s magnet programs. As the only adult services librarian of a small library, I certainly did not need more things to do, especially when much of my time is spent doing administrative tasks such as planning a major renovation project, purchasing, managing budget lines, and processing related paperwork. I was honored to attend as I’m a people person and the Community’s Librarian, I feel it is vital to be engaged with the community in different ways.

While attending the SAC meetings, I learned that students in some of the magnet programs were required to do an internship and all students were required to volunteer. Teachers told me that finding paid internships was difficult but necessary for many of the students who need to help their families with a paycheck. I informed the board that I could certainly provide internship opportunities for a few students but was not able to pay for them.  Over 90% of the students in our city limits qualify for free or reduced lunch programs at the neighborhood schools so when I saw the Dollar General/ YALSA Summer Teen Intern Grant program I eagerly applied knowing this would help someone in my community if I received the grant.

I was thrilled to be chosen and created job ads for the positions. Knowing our library would be closing down for renovations in the end of July, I decided to create two positions for the first busy weeks of the Summer Reading Program. Not only did we post the job at the front service desk but I recruited students at the high school during their “Dress for Success” job skills event. I collaborated with our HR and Finance Departments and the teens had to fill out the same application that we have for any job openings at our Village. I conducted interviews for the position following the same types of questions and scoring guidelines as I do for our part time circulation clerk position. Two teens stood apart from the group which attests to great mentoring by library staff as both top candidates had been part of our youth volunteer programs and one was an officer of our Teen Advisory Board. Both students were able to answer the questions clearly and articulate their answers by describing their experiences working with people or technology. Both were dressed to impress! The young man had even shined their shoes!

The interview process led me to begin a Youth Leadership Series for the summer to teach job preparation skills and introduce teens to the public library and its services. The two YALSA Summer Interns participated in this series that covered aspects of differences between public libraries, Library Advocacy, local government, the importance of getting to know the organization when one starts in a new job as well as many tips about how to fill out an application, creating a resume, and preparing for an interview.  

YALSA/ Dollar General Intern, Sofia, reading to the Preschool Storytime Class.

YALSA/ Dollar General Intern, Sofia, reading to the Preschool Storytime Class.

 

Angel working with children, caregivers and other Youth Volunteers during the craft he planned for the class.

Angel working with children, caregivers and other Youth Volunteers during the craft he planned for the class.

In addition to the Youth Leadership series and assisting patrons to sign up for the Summer Reading Program, the YALSA Summer interns had a special project during the Summer Reading Program with the Children’s Librarian. They each were given a book and a craft they were responsible for presenting during Bilingual Preschool Storytime. They engaged the attendees in activities by asking questions and allowing interaction with the book. Both interns learned about early literacy education, the reasons for: placement of furniture/ items in the room and why there is social time in the Children’s Section of the library prior to storytime as well as the importance of routines for early learners. Interacting with preschoolers can be a challenge and both learned flexibility and how to “think on their feet”. In addition to storytimes, they assisted our Children’s Librarian with several other summer library programs such as our PAWS-to-Read with a Delta certified Reading Dog. 

Working with the interns and other teen volunteers was definitely the spark I needed this summer! 

Sofia overseeing a Youth Volunteer and the PAWS-to-Read program with Village of Palm Springs Summer Camp children and other patrons.

Sofia overseeing a Youth Volunteer and the PAWS-to-Read program with Village of Palm Springs Summer Camp children and other patrons.

 

Suvi Manner is the Library Director at Palm Springs Public Library, FL. You can contact her at smanner@vpsfl.org. To others interested in this project: I am available to provide feedback about working with teams with other staff when mentoring teens/ youth volunteers as well as any insight about working with HR and Finance Departments when administering a grant. Our library is also very active in community outreach and partnering with other organizations to serve the community.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg library system in a large library system with many teen volunteers across twenty branches. Our focus for the grant this year was to choose a branch that does not have a high recruitment and retention rate for teen volunteers. Our Sugar Creek branch is in a low-income and widely served area in our county, and in the past, we have had teens not complete the summer volunteering program at this branch.

Three teens pose in the library.

Our teen interns were integral to making some of our summer programs a success. Summer Interns assisted with our Summer Reading Kickoff at the beginning of summer. Each intern operated a STEAM station and helped the Children’s Department with various projects such as, prepping Summer Reading materials, Summer Reading registration, book displays, and programs. They maintained weekly shelf-reading assignments which included pulling duplicate copies from our fiction and nonfiction collection as well as processed Book Sale items, and they have assisted the Circulation Department by pulling morning holds and processing daily delivery. 

The teen interns were asked which experience this summer was the most meaningful, and each of them gave a different view of why libraries are so important for teens. One of our interns, Treyson, also volunteered to be Clifford the Big Red Dog as part of the Summer Reading Kickoff. As Treyson was dressed as Clifford the Big, Red Dog in the summer sun, he said that even though it was a very hot costume, he “didn’t have to wear it” and that he “wanted to”, especially seeing how happy it made the children to see him.

Three teens pose in the library.

Aleah shared about a moment when she was shelving in the children’s department, there was a child who told her she did not have anyone to play with. So, Aleah started coloring on the chalkboard with her, and she commented that she enjoyed spending time with the child, instead of leaving her alone. Aleah also stated that volunteering “gave her an excuse to read”. She never put books on hold before this summer, and now has a large stack. She also discovered ebooks and audiobooks and sometimes requests them at the same time!

Kaliyah has goals to become a graphic designer, and during this internship, she spent time with a staff person who is also an artist. The staff member gave her tips for her art and showed her how she can market her art as well. This internship gave her a connection she may have not made before.

Three teens pose in the library.

Giving the teens several opportunities to work and collaborate with each other and library staff really benefited Sugar Creek. They were able to shine through their different personalities and have a fun experience, while learning how a library operates. This experience showed growth in each of the teens as well. By giving them a variety of tasks, they were able to find their niche, and they had a very positive impression of the library. By making the tasks fun and diverse, the teens committed 229 hours this summer, and there was no concern about retention.

 

Hayley Burson is a Teen Librarian at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

Ashe County Public Library (ACPL) was awarded the YALSA/Dollar General Summer Learning Resources Grant. With this funding, I designed a three-month-long program for and with teens broadly called Life Literacy at the Library (LLL). LLL was designed around the county’s most recent community health needs report, which identified three key areas of need for Ashe County residents: “mental/behavioral health, substance abuse and misuse prevention, [and] physical activity and nutrition” (CHR). Through both teen advisory councils and surveys, the teens voiced their desire for programs and collection development geared toward mental health, physical health and nutrition, and structured educational programming, all of which corresponded with the health needs report.

My department began researching ways we could provide teens with programming focused on these needs. We knew that partnerships with community organizations were going to be important, but it was in my reflection on LLL at the end of the summer that I realized how crucial partnerships are to creating a robust summer program.

Programming through partnerships benefited LLL in several ways. First, we were able to offer more variety in program options for teens. We held cooking and nutrition classes, dance classes, writing workshops, mental health classes, etiquette classes, and art classes. This variety worked well because teens could select classes based on their interests and comfort level. Additionally, the variety attracted teens who do not attend regular teen programming.

Programming through partnerships also connected teens with resources in the community of which they were not aware. A large percentage of our teens are home-schooled and utilizing partnerships helped broaden their knowledge of community resources and opportunities.

Teens gather around a table filled with food.

Teens learn to cook!

It also served to initiate new relationships and strengthen existing relationships between the library and community partners. Advertising our programs and our partners brought increased awareness of teen programming at the library, and I had several community members contact me about potential future collaborations.

The other partners I discovered through existing personal relationships. For example, my sister is an accomplished choreographer and gave the library an excellent discount to lead a dance class. The instructor who led etiquette classes is a friend of library staff. The published poet who led the writing workshops is a former English teacher of my department supervisor. A Safe Home for Everyone (A.S.H.E.) led the mental health classes. A.S.H.E. is a local non-profit that provides services to individuals who have experienced domestic and intimate violence, and the library had an existing partnership with A.S.H.E. Utilizing the social connections staff members have within the community is an excellent way to bring new opportunities to the library. The benefits of partnerships also extend to the partnering organizations. Several of the organizations we partnered with have community outreach goals, and the library can help meet those goals. For example, both the Ashe County Cooperative Extension and the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts seek to conduct community outreach as part of their organization’s goals. Ashe County Cooperative Extension led the cooking and nutrition classes, and the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts led the art classes. After researching the organizations’ missions and goals on their websites, a friendly phone call was all it took to secure these partners. I would advise contacting potential partners as early as possible, since both of these specific organizations fill their calendars quickly. I contacted them in January, within the same week I found out we had received the grant award. I continued to correspond with partners via email throughout the year, answering any questions they had and offering help or assistance when possible.

Finally, programming through partnerships saved the library and library staff enormous amounts of time, effort, and money. Eight of our nine LLL programs were led and co-sponsored by partners. My department and I were solely responsible for one program, a Teen Spelling Bee. Because of the time saved through partner collaboration, I was able to devote more time to planning this event. The teens loved the Spelling Bee and based on their feedback, our county librarian even suggested making a summer spelling bee one of our recurring events. Programming through partnerships for summer learning also served to maximize the grant award. We saved an enormous amount of money by working with our partners, most of whom gave us a discounted rate because of our relationships. With our savings, I was able to purchase more collection items and offer more programs. I wanted to stretch the grant award as far as possible and provide the teens with a full summer learning program with varied learning opportunities, and partner collaborations, along with the YALSA/Dollar General Summer Resources Grant, made it happen.

Molly Price is an Adult Services Librarian at Ashe County Public Library

.

The Ypsilanti District Library’s (YDL) 2019 Teen Summer Intern program was a great learning experience, not only for the teen interns, but also for the YDL staff! This was my first year managing teen interns at YDL and, as a result, I did not have my predecessor’s resources or anecdotes on past teen internships… I was starting from scratch for literally everything involving this process. I recruited for our internships mainly by word of mouth with our regular teen volunteers and patrons. I also added the application to our Teen Interest Page on the library’s website. All interested teens had to submit an application to me by June 1st in order to be considered. After distributing at least 12 applications in person, I only received five back, only three of which were totally complete. We had a lot of teens express interest after the deadline, which led into multiple conversations about prioritizing, managing deadlines and “there’s always next year”. Given the status of completed applications, my choices were pretty apparent and I hired the three teens who filled out their applications correctly and completely. I did have individual conversations with the other two teens about the incomplete status of their applications and encouraged them to try again next year, letting them know the reason as to why they were not selected. I felt like this aspect of the process was extremely important, as a lot of our teen patrons come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and are interested in working but lack work experience and 21st century career skills. This remained a constant theme throughout the summer with multiple conversations about anything from being late to cell phone use during shift times.

Photo by K. Scott

Once the interns were selected, we did a quick one-on-one session to go over expectations, tour the library spaces they would be working in and the supplies they were going to be using. They were also given their summer schedules based on their noted availability from their applications. In retrospect, as a time saver, I would plan for the future to have this be a more formal training that everyone attends at the same time. This would also ensure that the teens are all receiving the same information. I would also make sure to introduce the teens (maybe via email with their pictures, as well as walking them around for in-person introductions) to all the library staff, so they are familiar with the teen interns and understand why they are in the “staff-only” areas during the summer months.  One of our teen interns was incredibly shy and laconic. This was challenging for some of our librarians and library staff who did not work directly with the teen interns. Some misconstrued her demeanor as rude or unengaged. She also felt shy because there were a few staff members who kept forgetting her name and repeatedly did not recognize her. The only time she conveyed this to me was in her final evaluation and review meeting. In retrospect, I also wish I had hosted a couple mid-summer check-in meetings with the teen interns, as I could have hopefully made her feel more comfortable sooner and also allowed for more opportunities for her to engage with the staff members who did not know her. Providing the teens with nametags and lanyards would also have been helpful, to create a more “official” vibe for them when working at the library in their roles as interns. Lastly, and most importantly, I think managing library staff’s expectations for teen volunteers would be essential. Providing them in advance with information on the teen brain and how to engage teens would have been helpful for both staff and the teen interns. 

Photo by K. Scott

Our Summer Learning & Reading Challenge kicked off on June 15th, which was the first day our teen interns officially started working. Throughout the summer, our interns mostly helped with programs- prep, running the events, and cleanup. Overall, our internships were successful and it was a lot of fun getting to know the teens better and watching their confidence grow over the summer. The most heartwarming aspects were watching the interns learn how to create iPad book trailers and then engaging with youth patrons at our Library Lab STEM program, teaching the younger children how to create their own book trailers. It’s been a long, crazy-busy summer, but our teen interns were super helpful and it was so much fun getting to know them these past couple months!  I am already looking forward to implementing some more positive changes and improvements to our internship program for the summer of 2020!

 

Kelly Scott is the Teen Librarian at Ypsilanti District Library.

 The City of Warren is located in Southeast Michigan. In 2017, it was estimated that 31.4% of youth under the age of 18 in Warren live at less than 100% of the federal poverty level. Technological literacy is an important skill that can empower youth to have successful lives and careers. Youth who are affected by poverty are likely to fall behind their peer group in their ability to comprehend and manipulate technologies, limiting their future educational and career prospects.

The inside of a completed Google AIY kit.

The Warren Public Library was fortunate to receive a Summer Learning Resource Grant funded by YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. Our goal was to introduce teens to new kinds of technology, specifically virtual reality and artificial intelligence.  We used the grant money to purchase two Oculus Go headsets, four AIY kits by Google, and books about applied science.

Previous teen tech-based programs at the library have had low attendance. It is difficult to discern why this is the case, but we made a few decisions to help us try to raise teen attendance numbers throughout the summer. 

First, we decided that our technology programs would focus on “process” learning instead of “product” learning. Our goal was to familiarize teens with the technology tools, not to teach them to be experts. For this reason, we allowed them to experiment with the tools with very few specific goals in mind. This made the process more fun and lower pressure because the teens knew there was no right or wrong way to go about using the tools.

The Voice kit is on the left and the Vision kit is on the right.

Second, we brought the tools to programs that were not technology based. For example, the Oculus Go sets were available at our monthly Teen Spot program, Anime Club, and our summer learning closing lock-in. This allowed us to introduce them to a much wider audience. Specifically, it helped us to reach teens who would not have been interested in signing up for a “tech” program. 

Third, we did not focus on “educational” activities. Because our main goal was to interest young people in newer forms of technology, we felt that any use of the tools was educational. For example, while we did download Oculus Go apps that allowed users to “tour” the Anne Frank House, we also downloaded roller coaster simulations and adventure games. 

Finally, we asked our Friends of the Library to volunteer to assist with our teen programs this summer. While this was originally for practical purposes, it actually had an interesting effect. Many of the Friends are retirees who are not familiar with technology.  The teens’ greater comfort with technology led to collaboration and learning opportunities for everyone. 

The Oculus Go headset and control.

Although some programs still did not meet target attendance numbers, overall Warren Public Library had more successful teen programs than in previous summers. Perhaps most telling is our “Space Age Tech Day” which introduced both the Oculus Go sets and the AIY kits. While only six teens attended, it greatly improved over our previous technology event for teens, which had zero attendees.   

 

Julianne Novetsky is the Library Technician at Warren Civic Center Library.