This post was written by Jill O’Connor who was a school librarian for 12 years before making the switch to a public library and, as the Youth Services Librarian at the Merrill Memorial Library in Yarmouth, Maine, she is loving the freedom to craft programs for a willing audience. She is an avid reader of YA and middle grade books and a book reviewer with the Maine State Library Book Review group. When not thinking up glorious new STEM programming, she can be found driving to her son’s hockey games or her daughter’s dance classes, routing for the local baseball team, or cooking up new foods to tantalize her family.
As a former school librarian, I am new to the public library world. In the public library setting, programming looks very different than it did in school where you are a teacher, on par with all other educators in the school with learning objectives and curricula in hand. A school offers an audience of a knowable set of bodies in your class every day. You plan classes (programs) that hit your objectives and you present information. You don’t have to know everything, and it’s okay to say, “I don’t know, let’s look it up,” but for the most part, I always felt that I had to be the one in the know and in the position of teaching my audience something.
Fast forward to this past fall, I am the shiny new Youth Services Librarian at a public library, excited to try new things in a completely different setting, no longer hostage to the multiple classes-per-day grind. My domain is 3rd through 12th grade, and I am in charge of collection development, reader’s advisory, and all programming for the patrons within my assigned demographic. I know that I have to offer some STEM programming; it’s being asked for by parents and it’s a sensible and sought-after topic for all kids to be participating in, but what to do?!
Welcome to Research Roundup. The purpose of this recurring column is to make the vast amount of research related to youth and families accessible to you. To match the theme of the fall issue, this column focuses on year-round teen services by examining current articles that share opportunities to mentor teens and support their leadership development.
Boerner, H. (2016). An Incubator for Better Outcomes: Innovation at work at Prince George’s Community College. Community College Journal, 86(4), 18–23.
Prince George’s Community College in Maryland partnered with the Prince George’s County Public Schools by actually creating a high school on campus. Students who attend the high school have an opportunity to also take courses at the community college. Many of those students graduate with an associates degree as well as their high school diploma. A collaboration like this one allows easier access to everyone and curriculum alignment is definitely at the forefront of the high school.
As a part of the YALSA and Association for Small and Rural Libraries (ARSL), Institute of Museum and Library Services funded Future Ready with the Library project, cohort members meet monthly to talk about working with middle schoolers and community in support of social emotional learning (SEL) leading to college and career awareness. In December, the third cohort of the project spoke with LaKesha Kimbrough, the Student Success Coordinator at Washington Middle School in Seattle. LaKesha spoke about SEL, how to help library staff work successfully with middle schoolers, and how to build partnerships that build opportunities for success for middle school students.
The 38 minute video below is a compilation of clips from LaKesha’s conversation with cohort members.
From large urban libraries to small rural ones, makerspaces are happening. Spaces like these are important because they give people of all ages the opportunity to gain knowledge on their own through hands-on exploration. The possibilities are endless and can range from being tech-based, such as 3D printing and multi-media, to art carts and building stations.
Libraries are Always Ahead of the Game:
In 2015, The Teen Tech Week theme Libraries are for Making highlighted the fact that indeed libraries have always been “centers for “making” and “creation” for as long as we have been having crafts, programs, and classes! Everyone seems to think that a makerspace needs to be high-tech and technology driven, but all it really needs to be is a program or space that enables and encourages teens to explore, create, and share.,” says Christie Gibrich, Senior Librarian at Grand Prairie Library System. (Young Adult Library Services, Volume 13, Number 2)
Our Art Cart
I work at the Reading Public Library, District Center in Reading, PA located in Berks County. We are fortunate to have a space dedicated to teens called the Teen Loft. In that space, teens have simple makerspace areas that I have created based on the interest of the teens and the resources many lack at home. One of those spaces is our Art Cart. We take for granted having access to simple things such as crayons, markers, paper, scissors, and glue. Our building makerspace consists of K’Nex, Legos, Moon Sand, and more. We also have a monthly themed makerspace challenge to keep things interesting such as our Granny Square project and decorating bookends that we featured for Teen Read Week this year. In many circumstances, these are luxuries for our patrons because their parents and guardians cannot afford them. They look to us for a space to relax and socialize with their peers. Programs are great and fortunately, we can provide them daily, but there is something about being able to have the time to explore on your own terms. Makerspaces provide that opportunity and support resources in our collection.
Greetings from the Rancho Cucamonga Public Library in Rancho Cucamonga, CA! We are honored to receive this year’s Teen Read Week Grant and are excited to share our plans for our upcoming programs.
Following this year’s Teen Read Week theme “It’s Written in the Stars… READ,” our programs are centered around an outer space theme. We also chose the book Railhead by Philip Reeve (which is set in several galaxies) to be our focal point. With the help of the grant, we will be able to purchase several copies of Railhead, which will be distributed a month prior to our programs to our teens. The goal here is to provide our teens with the reading material so they can discuss and analyze the novel while relating it to their hands-on experiences during the programs.
The Octavia Fellin Public Library (OFPL) in Gallup, NM used the funds from the Summer Learning Resource Grant to purchase equipment to begin a Youth Media Lab where tweens and teens would have access to film and audio equipment as well as editing software. At the end of May OFPL was approached by the Miss Navajo Council, Inc. seeking help for creating a multimedia project to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of 1868, which allowed the Navajo Tribe to return to their ancestral homelands after being deported to the Bosque Redondo Reservation. We partnered with the organization utilizing our new equipment and community members to create an intergenerational reading of the Treaty accessible to a modern audience.
The resulting project involved 14 community participants (youth and adult) from the community, and historical photographs from the Library of Congress and National Archives. It was shown at 3 commemoration events in Flagstaff, Arizona; Farmington, New Mexico; and Gallup, New Mexico. OFPL also hosted an exhibit detailing the importance of the treaty and its lasting impacts.
Each year the YALSA president’s program serves a two-fold purpose: it is a membership meeting providing members with updates and highlighting YALSA’s accomplishments for the year under the leadership of its president, and it includes a session encompassing the theme the YALSA president has selected for the year.
During the membership meeting, YALSA President Sandra Hughes-Hassell, shared a long list of work put forth by YALSA this past year, much of which centered around equity, diversity and inclusion.
Some of the resources you can find through the YALSA website or created by YALSA around equity, diversity, and inclusion include:
During the panel presentation aligned with Sandra Hughes-Hassell’s theme of Youth Activism through Community Engagement, speakers presented on the social justice work being done for and with teens at their libraries. Presenters included Gabbie Barnes, YOUmedia Manager and Teen Services Librarian at Hartford Public Library (CT), Jose Cruz, Middle School Services Librarian at Oak Park Public Library (IL), and Julie Stivers, School Librarian at Mount Vernon Middle School (NC). One of the projects that Gabbie highlighted was the teen-led “Tell ‘Em Why You Mad” unconference led by YOUmedia Hartford teens in partnership with Grow Hartford Youth Program and COMPASS Youth Peacebuilders. The teens heavily utilized the Black Panther’s 10-point plan. As Gabbie notes, “I’m most proud of the hard work that the teens who organized the event put forth. I’m proud of their desire to honor their elders with the 10-point plan. I’m proud that we were able to support their ideas and their goals with funds, space, and resources.”
Is there anyone more equipped to meaningfully speak on the concept of inclusive libraries than our students or patrons? Of course not. Of course not. To leverage students’ experience, perspective, and wisdom—and to create student-driven PD—I worked with three of our amazing 8th grade students at Mount Vernon Middle School to develop student-led training for librarians.
In April of this year, Jaida Morris, Cesar Falcon, Jose Gomez and I unveiled our #LibFive concept—Five Key Foundations for Building Inclusive Libraries—at our district conference, WCPSS Convergence. Several weeks ago, I was lucky to share our ideas at ALA’s National Conference during the YALSA Presidential Program, a Panel on Youth Activism.
My students and I continue to work on crafting this professional development, but we’d like to share the work that we’ve already completed in this forum.
Our project was based on an initiative from the Chapel Hill Blue Ribbon Mentors called the Student Six, which is a student led professional development for teachers centering on six culturally sustaining strategies for educators to use to better connect with their students of color. I had seen the wonderful teens and educator Teresa Bunner presenting on the Student Six and each time, a question came up from the audience of mostly librarians. [You can probably guess what it was.] What was your experience with school libraries? Well, the answers were lukewarm at best and none of the teens in attendance had meaningful, positive stories or experiences with their school libraries or librarians. Which was, and is, heartbreaking. Read More →
YALSA’s February 2018 webinar focused on how informal learning institutions can support teen leadership development by engaging with youth in community action projects. In this webinar clip, Eli Weiss, the webinar facilitator, discusses the Youth Engagement Pyramid (developed by the Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality) and the importance of using a framework like this when designing and assessing youth led projects and activities.
As you read the Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff you may think to yourself, there are some things that I want to learn. Or, there are some areas that I want to get better at. One way to get started with that learning is with YALSA’s Snack Breaks. These videos, published monthly, are between 3 and 15 minutes long (well there might be a couple that are a bit longer) and cover a range of topics related to the new Competencies. Check out the Snack Break on Restorative Approaches to Behavior Management in Libraries.