In response to President Obama’s ‘Educate to Innovate‘ campaign in 2010, in order to improve student’s participation and performance in STEM, Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and MacArthur Foundation teamed up to offer planning and design grants to libraries and museums throughout the country. “The Labs are intended to engage middle- and high-school youth in mentor-led, interest-based, youth-centered, collaborative learning using digital and traditional media.”

YALSAblog contacted all of the grantees to learn more about these exciting plans and partnerships with their organization. While the details for each place varied, especially by incorporating the local significance to the services and programs, there were several aspects that were pretty uniform across the board. Some of these tenets include the importance of teen input, mentorship (peer and adult), Connected Learning, principles of HOMAGO and of course over-the-moon enthusiasm for supporting teens and giving them all opportunities to become successful adults.

Dallas Learning Lab Today we will read about the Dallas Learning Lab in Texas which is a partnership with the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science from Nicole Stutzman Forbes, Chair of Learning Initiatives and Dallas Museum of Art League Director of Education (nstutzman@dallasmuseumofart.org). Twitter: @nicstutzman Read More →

As I work with students and teachers, I keep close tabs on my email and RSS feeds throughout the day. It’s not killing time, it’s keeping up, and it’s essential to my work as a school librarian. And I’m just as quick to respond to a request from a colleague thousands of miles away as to help those in my building. And when I have a question, I throw it out to my PLN, educators and librarians across the country and around the world using a vast variety of networks, automation systems, and applications in a diverse range of settings. And the response is always useful, and often thought-provoking.

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It’s what’s called being a Connected Educator, and this is how it’s described ‘ by the’ eponymous organization:’ “Online communities and learning networks are helping hundreds of thousands of educators learn, reducing isolation and providing “just in time” access to knowledge and opportunities for collaboration. However, many educators are not yet participating and others aren’t realizing the full benefits. In many cases, schools, districts, and states also are not recognizing and rewarding this essential professional learning.”

I’d venture to say that many school librarians were connected educators before connected educators were a thing.If you’ve worked in this field for more than a decade, I’m sure you can remember earlier incarnations of burning up the bush telegraph, via listservs, gopher-esque discussion boards, or text-based email between buildings or across the state. Then blogs and RSS started cropping up, making it even easier to pull the information you want, rather than just the information you need, or to push your own information to others.

So many youth services librarians work alone — as either the only information professional, or the only teen specialist, in a larger institution. And I hope that our professional preparation armed us for combating this this isolation. I remember signing up for two listservs as a requirement in an introductory class in library school in the late 1990s. I chose one for art librarians (I had majored in art as an undergraduate) and one for newspaper librarians. And I now know ridiculous amounts about working in those type of special libraries, just because of that passive exposure years ago.

Read More →

We’ve all probably got an opinion or reaction when we hear the word “leadership.” Maybe we think, “oh that’s just not for me,” or “I want to be more successful at making change,” or perhaps “I think I’m doing a pretty good job but could always use more pointers” or even “I’m not a manager so this probably doesn’t really apply to me.”

If it’s all or none of the above, you’re in the right place. Read More →

Think fast. What’s the last thing you’ve purchased online? It’s probably easy to come up with an answer, because it’s something many of us do quite often. You quickly fill out a convenient form, and something appears on your doorstep, practically’ the next day.’ YALSA’s new Opt-in Opportunities form is not exactly like unwrapping a new pair of warm slippers, but it’s close. Read More →

This summer, after working with teens in public libraries for seven years straight, I made a career change and now I am an elementary school librarian in a large urban school district. I will be writing a series of blog posts about my new position and the perspectives I’m gaining from my life on the school side of library services to children.

Jumping from one service group to another has been an enlightening experience, to say the least. My school serves children in grades K-4, so I’ve been switching gears to picture books, early readers and chapter books. The kids at my school can mostly be classified as struggling readers, but their enthusiasm for books and the library is very strong, and I hope that trend will continue with my help throughout the school year.

One big difference in this new job is that I am dealing with different stakeholders. At my last public library position, I served teens who wanted to be there and were interested in the materials and services we offered. Sometimes their parents directed their reading choices, but for the most part, they could check out whatever they wanted. Read More →

pink poodle Jeremy Scott’s Pink Poodle Shoes aren’t something I see too often. But they were worn by a teen at the library who was a member of our radio program. The two canines had their own story, of course, and it turns out they had a lot to do with bullying.

I was prepared to co-lead this session of my library’s Turn it Up Teen Radio program. It’s a podcast that’s also a partnership of a local ‘ NPR affiliate, WFAE. I came with an agenda. A plan.’ The curriculum dictated that this day was for research. Participants were scheduled to identify topics and resources pertaining to the segment on the topic of bullying. They would record next month.

I started the session off with a warm-up activity, selecting several short (4-7 minute) public radio segments, mostly on the topic of bullying. I divided the teens into teams and asked them to identify the research that informed the story, then come back in 15 minutes and share with the group.

When we came back together, I sat at the front of the group and asked them who wanted to go first. I noticed they were directing their feedback to me, when I really wanted it to presented the group. I asked them to take the stage, so to speak. They did, sharing topics and research pieces and then T., with the awesome pink poodle shoes, took the stage and said he had a story to share. Read More →

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 →

We’ve all probably got an opinion or reaction when we hear the word “leadership.” Maybe we think, “oh that’s just not for me,” or “I want to be more successful at making change,” or perhaps “I think I’m doing a pretty good job but could always use more pointers” or even “I’m not a manager so this probably doesn’t really apply to me.”

If it’s all or none of the above, you’re in the right place.

Last month, ALA held an inaugural four-day’ Leadership Institute‘ in Illinois.’ Forty participants‘ from all types of libraries and all kinds of positions were invited to participate on an application basis. Six YALSA members attended. We’ll hear from three of them on the YALSAblog. Stay tuned to hear from others through’ YALS,’ as well as other upcoming publications that will share their excitement about the powerful experience.

Maribel Castro, Instruction and Electronic Resources Librarian with Lubbock Christian University, TX shares her experience ‘ via podcast here.

Several resources Maribel recommends that can help us further our work with young adults and the communities we serve that were shared at the Institute include:

We’ve all probably got an opinion or reaction when we hear the word “leadership.” Maybe we think, “oh that’s just not for me,” or “I want to be more successful at making change,” or perhaps “I think I’m doing a pretty good job but could always use more pointers” or even “I’m not a manager so this probably doesn’t really apply to me.”

If it’s all or none of the above, you’re in the right place.

Last month, ALA held an inaugural four-day’ Leadership Institute‘ in Illinois.’ Forty participants‘ from all types of libraries and all kinds of positions were invited to participate on an application basis. Six YALSA members attended. We’ll hear from three of them on the YALSAblog. Stay tuned to hear from others through’ YALS,’ as well as other upcoming publications that will share their excitement about the powerful experience.

Annisha Jeffries, Youth Services Manager, with the Cleveland Public Library, OH shares her experience via podcast here. Several highlights of her interview include:

  • Community engagement was an important theme at the Institute. For example, letting teens know that the library is their place and belongs to them.
  • Listening to others was very helpful.
  • Engaging others to buy-in to ideas is possible!
  • Sometimes people are put into a leadership role without setting out to and we need the tools to be able to be effective no matter what our situation is.
  • Teens are the library’s best cheerleaders!
  • As a librarian you have the responsibility to be the leader that you are!

We’ve all probably got an opinion or reaction when we hear the word “leadership.” Maybe we think, “oh that’s just not for me,” or “I want to be more successful at making change,” or perhaps “I think I’m doing a pretty good job but could always use more pointers” or even “I’m not a manager so this probably doesn’t really apply to me.”

If it’s all or none of the above, you’re in the right place.

Last month, ALA held an inaugural four-day Leadership Institute in Illinois. Forty participants from all types of libraries and all kinds of positions were invited to participate on an application basis. Six YALSA members attended. We’ll hear from three of them on the YALSAblog. Stay tuned to hear from others through YALS, as well as other upcoming publications that will share their excitement about the powerful experience.

Elsworth Rockefeller, Manager, Adult and Teen Services with the Oak Park Public Library, IL, shares his experience through an email interview: Read More →