You may be aware that YALSA is partnering with Michigan State University and Indiana University for an AI literacy program for youth in underserved communities. The libraries involved in the project include the San Diego Central Library (San Diego, CA), Carroll County Public Library (New Windsor, MD), and the Capital Area District Library (Lansing, MI).  The following is an interview with Dr. Heerin Lee and Dr. Kayhun Choi who are leading the project. This will be a great resource for working with teens and AI!

Q: Please introduce yourself and briefly explain how you are partnering with YALSA.

A: Heerin: Hello! I am Heerin Lee, a Principial Investigator (PI) of a project called “AI & Co-design in public libraries: Empowering underserved youth to cultivate symbiotic relationships between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and their communities.” I am an assistant professor in the department of media and information at Michigan State University, working in the field of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI). I design and evaluate robots for social good with the aim of empowering socially marginalized groups, including people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, racial minorities, and older adults.

Kahyun: Hi, I am Kahyun Choi, a co-PI of this project. I am an assistant professor of Information and Library Science at Indiana University Bloomington. I am an expert in AI models for music digital libraries. I bring my experience of developing and teaching an introductory and intuitive machine learning course to this project. When I am not working, I love to spend time with my husband and daughter, do yoga, and listen to audiobooks, podcasts, and music.

Heerin & Kahyun: YALSA as a partner will publicize our open-source education materials developed within this project to librarians all over the US. These materials will include a detailed process of how we develop our program and how we run it including a summary of each session, main takeaways, lessons learned, and suggestions for future literacy programs. YALSA will also help us develop AI literacy webinars for librarians, promote the program, and perform other marketing activities via their outlets, such as social media, weekly newsletter, e-blast and other platforms.

Q: What interests you most about AI, and what led you to it as a course of study?

A: Heerin: While AI influences many people, only a relatively small population of engineers determine how the public interacts with AI in everyday life. The public’s limited access to AI knowledge stems from the fact that it is mostly disseminated by higher education programs. In particular, these programs mostly focus on computational aspects of AI rather than on social and ethical aspects. This could reinforce a digital divide and inequity issues at a national level. Thus, I thought it is crucial to run AI literacy programs through sustainable infrastructures like public libraries where community members, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds, have access to AI knowledge.

Kahyun: About 15 years ago, I got fascinated by powerful emotions coming from music. Instead of becoming a singer-songwriter, I built an AI model that could understand music emotions to some degree by capturing relationships between audio signals and emotions. Ever since, I have developed AI models that can annotate music, song lyrics, and poems with topics, emotions, and genres. While developing and offering an introductory AI course based on music applications to students without technical backgrounds, I realized the importance of intuitive and accessible AI education for the public and, particularly, underserved populations.

Q: Why did you choose public libraries to focus your research?

A: Heerin & Kahyun: As I briefly explained in my answer above, I think it is significant to disseminate AI knowledge through well-developed infrastructures so that many people have access to it regardless of their socioeconomic status. Economically underserved communities, in particular, are vulnerable to AI’s negative consequences as they are largely excluded from the decision-making process of envisioning AI technologies in society. Since the internet emerged in the mid-1990s, public libraries, as early adopters, have long played a critical role in enhancing the public’s technology literacy in the US. As we enter an era of increased AI technology in our society, libraries have tremendous potential for nurturing AI literacy.

Q: Is there anything you hope that youth will gain with AI as a result of your project?

A: The two main components of our program are 1) Module 1—Understanding core concepts of AI, and 2) Module 2—Envisioning AI for local industries. With these two modules, we hope youth not only learn core AI concepts, but also get more actively engaged with their local civic issues as AI co-designers. For example, we will introduce local media stories about AI in their communities and discuss how technological issues are closely entangled with social issues. Our program will develop critical thinking capabilities, enabling youth to understand AI-related social issues in their communities and actively participate in public discourse about AI technologies.

This project particularly adopts an asset-based approach, which is a pedagogy built upon a critical race theory that views students from socially underserved communities not as people with deficits but as people with “community cultural wealth.” We hope this process help students see themselves as people with their own knowledge and position them as people who can utilize AI knowledge. This will also help them more easily become co-designers in our participatory design sessions.

Q: What is the timeline of your project -or when people can expect to see more information?

This is a two-year project that started in Aug 2021. We are currently recruiting youths and their teachers for interviews to understand how they think about AI and their career paths. Based on findings, we will build and evaluate the two AI education modules by Aug 2022. Subsequently, we will run the AI education workshops with the materials in three public libraries one by one, the Capital Area District Library in Lansing, Michigan, the San Diego Central Library in San Diego, California, and the Carroll County Public Library in New Windsor, Maryland, until May 2023. After the workshops, we will disseminate our findings and materials through YALSA, our website, and conferences.

Q: If people want to read more about the grant, where can they find it online?

A: The grant proposal, which includes detailed project design, is available online. https://www.imls.gov/grants/awarded/lg-250059-ols-21 If you want more information, feel free to contact us at heerin-at-msu.edu.

 

 

 

YALSA is known for its work in providing professional development toolkits to teen serving library staff. Take a look at a listing of all the toolkits YALSA provides under the ‘Resources and Tools’ tab-it’s a lot!

Like most information, the content periodically needs to be evaluated to determine what, if anything, may need to be updated in order to be more relevant. If that’s a task you would like to participate in-here’s your chance!

The YALSA Board recently passed a motion during Annual to create a taskforce to evaluate the need to update both the Teen Literacies Toolkit and the Teen Advocacy Toolkit with a recommendation report submitted by December of this year. While other toolkits may need to be evaluated as well, we’re starting with these two first.

If you’re wanting to apply, fill out the Volunteer Committee Form. Make sure your YALSA membership is updated and you follow the ALA Policy of a 3 committee limit.

Any questions? Contact Kelly Czarnecki, YALSA President 2021-2022 (kellyczarnecki1@gmail.com)

Article proposals for the Winter 2021 issue of YALSA’s journal, YALS are currently being sought. The theme for the issue is Youth Voices. Prospective articles include those that consider teen voice, what it is, how teens use it, and how we can provide support through library services, resources, and programming. How do we train ourselves to encourage and support teens who want to engage their communities and the world at large? Learn more and submit by Oct. 28.

TeenTober Logo

Celebrate TeenTober this October with the release of our new digital poster, bookmark, and toolkit!

TeenTober replaces YALSA’s previous Teen Read Week and Teen Tech Week celebrations to allow libraries the flexibility to celebrate all types of literacies according to their library and teen patrons’ schedule anytime during the month of October. It aims to celebrate teens, promote year-round teen services and the innovative ways teen services helps teens learn new skills, and fuel their passions in and outside the library. Library staff are also encouraged to utilize this new celebration to advocate for and raise awareness of the importance of year-round teen services in libraries.

To help libraries plan programming for TeenTober, YALSA has developed a list of suggested weekly topics for the celebration month:

  • Week 1: Literacies
  • Week 2: Writing
  • Week 3: Technology & Gaming
  • Week 4: Art & Music

Libraries are encouraged to adapt and alter the schedule to fit its library and teen patrons’ needs. Find more helpful resources related to planning, advocacy, and programs in the TeenTober toolkit. Don’t forget to also visit our Teen Programming HQ database to share and find more program ideas. Free marketing graphics such as a logo and social media graphics are also available. Share your celebration plans with @yalsa and join the conversation online with #TeenTober.

Hi everyone,

YALSA has accepted an invitation from NAMLE, the National Association for Media Literacy Education, to be a founding member of the National Media Literacy Alliance.

This coalition brings together educational and library associations from across the country to “advance media literacy education as a necessary element of a complete 21st-century education in America. At a time when misinformation threatens civil discourse and the very nature of our democracy, the Alliance will work to ensure that students across our nation have the critical thinking skills necessary to navigate our ever-expanding modern media landscape.”

Other groups joining the 12-member Alliance include the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

This fits YALSA’s mission statement that puts all teens on the path to successful and fulfilling lives. “Alliance members will work together to support their network of educators in integrating media literacy education into their classrooms, reference media literacy in their instructional standards, include media literacy content in their respective national and regional conferences.” Tenets from YALSA’s Teen Literacies Toolkit and Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff are being included in producing these standards. Twitter has provided initial funding for the Alliance.

Additionally, NAMLE has announced its International Research Initiative which will map and assess the current state of media literacy education in the United States and Australia. With the advent of social media in the past two decades, the importance of understanding its influence on teens’ literacy is paramount.

Please reach out to me if you have any questions.

Thanks as always for your work for and with teens!

Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020 

Two people sit on a couch looking at a laptop together. The text reads: Citizen Science Month and Participate from Home!It’s Citizen Science Month AND it’s (almost) National Library Week! SciStarter and the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University, and ASU Library—with support from the National Library of Medicine—will shine a light on libraries’ citizen science-related resources during a live event on April 21 at 5pm ET…and we invite YOU to 1) send us resources you’d like us to highlight, 2) join us during the event, and 3) invite your library audiences to tune in, too!

LIVE: The Field Guide to Citizen Science–and other free resources from your library!

Text reads: The Field Guide to Citizen Science

The live, online event will feature library resources, including: The Field Guide to Citizen Science, a new book from the experts at SciStarter. The event will include a reading by Darlene Cavalier, founder of SciStarter, Professor of Practice at ASU, and one of the authors, who will help audiences discover what citizen science is, who can be a citizen scientist (everyone!), and how to find and join a project from home. We’ll all do one project together.

The Field Guide to Citizen Science reading and related activities will serve as a pathway to help people (families, seniors, teens, adults—everyone!) connect with other books and resources they can access for free, online through YOUR libraries. Then, Tess Wilson from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine will join us to spotlight projects on SciStarter.org/NLM, related health and medicine resources, and more.  

Please register for this free event and spread the word using any of the resources in this Google Folder! The event will be hosted on Zoom, live-streamed to YouTube, and shared on Facebook. 

We want to hear from you!

  • Does your library offer citizen science resources you’d like us to promote during the live event? Great! Please send us links and the name/city/state of your library.
  • Would you like to be listed as a partner of this event? Please send us your logo and website. Partners commit to attend and promote the event.
  • We will run live polls and invite you to send us questions you’d like us to ask the audience (“Have you engaged in a citizen science project?”  “Have you used your library’s online resources during social distancing?”)

If you have access to your library’s Facebook page, please share the event invitation and post the link to the YouTube video where the event will be streamed. We’ll post that link at the opening of the Zoom event. This way, your library’s Facebook community can tune in without going through Zoom.

Please send materials and comments to CarolineN@SciStarter.org . Better yet, call into the Citizen Science Month call tomorrow (Thursday) at 8 am and 11 am ET: Join Zoom Meeting https://zoom.us/j/264491167
Meeting ID: 264 491 167.  One tap mobile +16465588656,,264491167#

Happy Citizen Science Month!

Dear YALSA membership,

Recently, we posted a new Outstanding Books for the College Bound list. In an attempt to get an already delayed list out to the membership and other interested parties in a timely fashion, an incomplete and occasionally inaccurate product was provided. The rushed product did not meet YALSA’s standards of quality, and for that reason, we’ve decided to pull the list until an improved version can be created. We want to get this right, as this list is established every five years.

I want to personally apologize for the confusion. We look forward to providing teens and library staff with a strong, valuable Outstanding Books for the College Bound list.

Thank you,

Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020 | Twitter: @toddbcpl

Hello everyone,

As a continuing commitment to look at the YALSA Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff through the EDI lens, and my presidential theme of Striving for Equity using the same Competencies, I considered the fourth of these Competencies. I thought about how career preparation is a considerable aspect of Learning Experiences (formal and informal), and realized that a notable, ongoing issue of equity, inequity and inequality revolves around gender issues in the workplace.

Because I feel that our perspective can become myopic if we stay wholly within the library sphere, I chose to interview women in the non-library workforce and I asked them about their experiences around gender inequity and inequality, and how these elements shaped them, both as teens and during their careers. I also asked them about how they feel gender inequity and inequality has affected the teens in their own lives today.

The last interview in the series is with Erin Anderson Wenz. She is a Professional Engineer and Principal/Vice President at an environmental engineering consulting firm in Minneapolis.  She has over 20 years of experience managing stormwater and lake water quality in urban environments.  Her project work also includes the design and construction of low-impact development features such as rainwater cisterns, rain gardens, and porous pavement. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband, two sons and a daughter.

If there was one element of gender equity that you would like to see promoted in the workplace, what would it be?

Paid family leave for moms and dads so that working parents can be equally supported in taking time off from work to be with their small children, and coaching for women to consider more leadership positions in the workplace.

Considering the research that gender stereotypes are set into motion around age 10, how would you say that you worked against these stereotypes for girls, and in what ways did they become a part of your own upbringing and adolescence?

Growing up, I guess I was a little lucky – I never felt like there were things I couldn’t do.  It wasn’t until college that I realized how gender-skewed my chosen profession would be (at least it has been for a while… things are really changing!).

Can you discuss any experiences that you have had that made you feel singled out as a woman or as one of the women in your workplace or chosen career? Are there particular instances of gender inequalities that you have had to deal with? How did you handle them?

Some years into my career, I realized that I was being a bit looked over for a promotion offered to senior staff with an established clientele.  I had gone a little “off the radar” with senior leadership after reducing hours to spend more time with small children, and even though I was taking on greater responsibilities and having success at work, I realized that my colleagues may have assumed I wasn’t interested in an increased role.  It took a little catch-up effort for me to get the word out that I was ready for the challenge, with the credentials to prove my eligibility.  Maybe that experience would have been the same if I had been a man that had taken time off to be with children, maybe not. The fact is that more women tend to take that kind of time away, and have to negotiate reentry, and balance the next steps of a career along with home life. Read More →

Hello everyone,

As a continuing commitment to look at the YALSA Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff through the EDI lens, and my presidential theme of Striving for Equity using the same Competencies, I considered the fourth of these Competencies. I thought about how career preparation is a considerable aspect of Learning Experiences (formal and informal), and realized that a notable, ongoing issue of equity, inequity and inequality revolves around gender issues in the workplace.

Because I feel that our perspective can become myopic if we stay wholly within the library sphere, I chose to interview women in the non-library workforce and I asked them about their experiences around gender inequity and inequality, and how these elements shaped them, both as teens and during their careers. I also asked them about how they feel gender inequity and inequality has affected the teens in their own lives today.

The next interview is with Kate Reigel. She most recently served as the Director for a new specialty master’s program at the University of Minnesota’s business school, the Carlson School of Management, launching the program from inception. At the Carlson School, she taught several graduate-level experiential learning courses, including the Global Business Practicum in China. Prior to the Carlson School, she served as an independent management consultant, working for executives on strategic initiatives. Prior to her independent work, Ms. Reigel was a project leader for the Boston Consulting Group. Earlier in her career, she was a platinum consultant for SAP.  She holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and earned her MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

If there was one element of gender equity that you would like to see promoted in the workplace, what would it be?

Pay. Pay and placement. I’d like to see equal pay for work being done equally, and I would like to see more women ascending to the ranks of senior management: Not only CEOs and other C-suite positions, but also VP and Director level positions, so women are experienced and prepared when entering C-level roles. I’d like to widen the pool of women candidates for C-suite consideration.

Considering the research that gender stereotypes are set into motion around age 10, how would you say that you worked against these stereotypes for girls, and in what ways did they become a part of your own upbringing and adolescence?

Regarding my own upbringing, my mom is a vascular surgeon who has now moved into an executive position at a hospital. She waited until I was in kindergarten, age 5, to enter medical school in the 1970’s. Prior to that, she was a homemaker. My childhood and adolescence was spent watching my mom furthering her education to attain a career she found fulfilling, and observing my dad step up on the home front, along with the rest of us, to allow her to do this. This early example set a foundational belief for me that we all can reach our goals, regardless of gender.

Can you discuss any experiences that you have had that made you feel singled out as a woman or as one of the women in your workplace or chosen career? Are there particular instances of gender inequalities that you have had to deal with? How did you handle them?

Throughout my career, I have typically been surrounded by more men than women in the room. I am incredibly privileged to have been in environments where my voice has been heard as much as those of the men in the room. I enjoy spirited debate and the back and forth that comes with the vibrant sharing of ideas in conversation, which often includes interruptions. However, there was one example recently that comes to mind:  I was in a formal meeting, with many powerful people in attendance.  It was the type of meeting where each attendee thinks carefully before speaking, and each individual has minimal air time. I contributed an idea when a male attendee interrupted and redirected the conversation. The momentum of the conversation shifted to his point. Immediately after the man completed his thought, another woman present said, “Let’s go back to what Kate was talking about; I think she has an important idea that we need to act on.” The entire cadence of the meeting highlighted the importance of amplification and advocacy. I sincerely don’t think the male attendee interrupted intentionally or with malice, yet the result of my idea being glossed over would have been the same, had it not been for the intervention of a female peer (or I would have had to interject and reiterate my point myself). I became aware of the issue in a way I hadn’t before. I’d like to increase awareness across both men and women of these nuances of conversation and how these can impact women’s involvement in decision making. A Forbes article from a couple years back discusses the scourge of “manterrupting”! Read More →

Hello everyone,

As a continuing commitment to look at the YALSA Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff through the EDI lens, and my presidential theme of Striving for Equity using the same Competencies, I considered the fourth of these Competencies. I thought about how career preparation is a considerable aspect of Learning Experiences (formal and informal), and realized that a notable, ongoing issue of equity, inequity and inequality revolves around gender issues in the workplace.

Because I feel that our perspective can become myopic if we stay wholly within the library sphere, I chose to interview women in the non-library workforce and I asked them about their experiences around gender inequity and inequality, and how these elements shaped them, both as teens and during their careers. I also asked them about how they feel gender inequity and inequality has affected the teens in their own lives today.

The next interview is with Sarita Parikh, who started her career as an engineer, with a belief that technology could improve the quality of people’s lives. She’s since learned that engineering is necessary, but not enough, and went on to do work in product design and consumer behavior. Sarita is the co-founder of jomanity, a startup focused on helping people live every day with more joy and more humanity. In her free time, Sarita hangs out with her kids, does yoga, and eats way too many donuts. She lives in Minneapolis with her family and her new puppy, Buddy.

If there was one element of gender equity that you would like to see promoted in the workplace, what would it be?

My instinctive answer is helping more people understand how the brain works and that as part of being human we all have unconscious bias. No one is immune from it and I think really understanding that is kind of liberating. If we know that, and we know that the “standard” picture of a senior executive is an older white male (this is the archetype in our minds because it’s what we see most often), it helps put context around why so many women aren’t seen as leaders. This is the “she just doesn’t ‘have’ what it takes” perspective. The most common feedback that I see women receive in leadership roles is that they are either too soft or too aggressive (the double bind.) It’s a narrow, narrow line between those two. Although that’s my instinctive answer, I also know that there is research indicating that when people learn a problem is a common problem, they can feel like they’re off the hook: see this NYT article.

Considering the research that gender stereotypes are set into motion around age 10, how would you say that you worked against these stereotypes for girls, and in what ways did they become a part of your own upbringing and adolescence?

I was a math/science kid, and oblivious in some ways, and my parents were strong supporters for those skills, so I was lucky that I didn’t feel bound by academic gender stereotypes. As a kid, I always knew I could beat the boys in math contests. (We used to have boy vs. girl math contests at school!)

I did, however, feel a strong need to be deferential to people with strong confidence, and I still grapple with that. I innately believed that people who spoke with confidence “knew” more than I did, and they tended to be boys. Side note: I had a real ‘aha’ moment when reading How Women Rise. I don’t have the exact quote, but it was essentially this: Women are more likely to be communal in their leadership and feel like luck and the people around them are the reason for their success. Men are more likely to feel that their success is preordained, that they will be successful irrespective of the people around them. That was a serious epiphany. I had never understood that idea, and after reading it, so many events from the past made sense to me. Finally, I always felt uncomfortable with the idea of having ambition. It felt embarrassing and aggressive and I rarely spoke of it. Now, I feel proud of having ambition: It no longer feels unseemly.

Can you discuss any experiences that you have had that made you feel singled out as a woman or as one of the women in your workplace or chosen career? Are there particular instances of gender inequalities that you have had to deal with? How did you handle them?

I’m often the only person of color in the conference room. I’m petite, I’m brown, I have a high pitched voice, and I’m female. For many years, I worked in technology and I knew people discounted me from the moment they saw me. It didn’t bother me that much because I knew that I had strong skills and that my professional value would become evident quickly. However, as I moved into leadership roles, being immediately discounted really bothered me. When other people underestimated me, it undermined my ability to lead. It made me nervous and question myself and that’s a bad combination for “presence.” Now, I have enough experience and confidence that I can project a warm gravitas. But it took a lot of intentional practice and mindset shifts to develop the confidence. Read More →