Thanks so much to YALSA and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation for all they do to promote literacy through funding libraries. With the funding from their foundation, this year we were able to hire 3 teen interns from the community. Our interns were able to help with existing programs as well as design and implement one of their own programs.
Our Teen Interns were Tabetha, Aysha, and Philip; each had their strengths in helping out with programs. Tabetha and Aysha helped with our Summer Splash program where kids come and learn about the summer reading topic (Libraries Rock!) and create a craft relating to it. This year in Summer Splash, the interns helped with activities such as musical chairs, making kazoos out of popsicle sticks, and drums out of oatmeal containers. They were even able to share some of their musical abilities playing instruments like the cello.
Philip helped with programs such as Lego Club & STEM Club and lent his technology expertise. One of the teens implemented a Java Coding Class that met biweekly June through August where middle school age kids could learn about the basics of Java coding language on the Eclipse platform.
There was much that the teens learned in helping out with the programming and much that we learned as well, with this being our first time receiving this grant. The teens developed skills in leadership, punctuality, organizing, teamwork skills, and conflict resolution with the kids. We really appreciated having the teens help us and teaching them some valuable skills as well. Some of the teens’ takeaways or favorite moments of the program were making friends with the kids. They felt like they could fit in with them and get to know who they are. One of the interns said it was a great experience to learn behavior management, which will help with their future since they desire to be a teacher. Another said that they realized teaching is a good experience, but harder than they realized. They liked helping with classes and getting to watch kids make something whether they wrote a simple computer program or built a Lego Castle.
Maria Vander Plaats is the Teen Services Librarian & Program Assistant at the Sioux Center Public Library.
The Collaboration Toolkit published this spring highlights successful collaborations between school and public libraries. One of these programs is ONE Access in Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. As outlined in the toolkit, students in participating schools use their student ID numbers, rather than a library card, to access resources of the public library. School staff may use their employee IDs to access digital resources.
ONE Access began as a collaborative project between the library system and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, a district serving over 140,000 students. In the following years individual charter and independent schools have joined ONE Access.
Creating access to resources alone, however, is insufficient to reach the goals of the program. In order to ensure success, Martha Link Yesowitch, the Educational Partnerships Manager for the Library, has created presentations and handouts that may be individually tailored to the needs of various stake holders. The library provides staff development for school personnel at the beginning of the academic year. Additionally, local branch liaisons visit schools to educate students about library resources and programming. The following examples illustrate some of the audience-specific presentations for teachers and students.
Lake Norman Charter School is a K-12 charter school located in the northern Mecklenburg County town of Huntersville. The humanities faculty of the high school were interested in the online resources that would support students as they engaged with language arts and social studies curriculum. The presentation created for this team focused on the following resources:
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Exploring Culture in Teen Programming
I first got this program idea from reading the YALSA Teen Literacies Toolkit. I’ve been curious about library programming and the intersection with community identity. The definition of literacy is evolving and it’s exciting to see that these additions are relevant to the audiences we serve.
One of the competencies listed is Cultural Competence. The definition given for this concept is:
Ability to recognize the significance of culture in one’s own life and in the lives of others; and to come to know and respect diverse cultural backgrounds and characteristics through interaction with individuals from diverse linguistic, cultural, and socioeconomic groups; and to fully integrate the culture of diverse groups into services, work, and institutions to enhance the lives of both those being served by the library profession and those engaged in service (Overall, 2009)
This topic is actually very close to my heart. My parents moved to the United States when I was ten years old which makes me into a first-generation immigrant. Growing up, I’ve always felt that I was a part of both the Middle Eastern culture and the American culture. At times, I felt that I needed to pick one and other times I refused to choose and just called myself a “Global Citizen”. I didn’t see that as an intellectual activity at first, culture was always something I explored on my own, it was my hobbies that gave me a love of Reggaetón and Korean fried Chicken.
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(Image courtesy of American Library Association)
This week (April 8th-14th) is National Library Week. Celebrating its 60th anniversary since its inaugural year in 1958 with the theme “Libraries Lead!”, libraries across the nation will be observing the week with activities, programs, and more. This week also celebrates National Library Workers Day (April 10), National Bookmobile Day (April 11), and Take Action for Libraries Day (April 12).
To lead the celebrations is Misty Copeland, author and American Ballet Theatre Principal Dancer, who serves as the 2018 National Library Week Honorary Chair. As described on the American Library Association page about National Library Week, Misty Copeland, an advocate for “youth to pursue their dreams regardless of what challenges they may encounter”, invites everyone to “discover your passions and achieve your goals at the library.” (American Library Association).
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(Image courtesy of American Library Association)
Teen Tech Week is finally here! “Libraries are for Creating” is a good theme for to introducing teens to Steampunk. Steampunk is not “punk” at all; the science fiction author, K.W. Jeter made up the word in the 1980’s. Think of it as science fiction meets Victorian Age. Jeter coined the word to describe some of his works, such as Morlock Night and Infernal Devices. It is not only a genre of literature, but also a style of clothes, video games, movies, and more. Steam-powered technology was prominent in Victorian times, when there was no electricity. Steampunk is a fun and creative way to get teens excited about reading and get them thinking outside the box. Not only does Steampunk inspire reading, but it also fosters creativity and encourages recycling. Read More →
This year’s Teen Tech Week theme, “Libraries are for Creating,” highlights how teens can combine technology and creativity to create some truly unique products. The ideas and resources here make for great program activities this Teen Tech Week and any time of the year.
This low-tech, low-cost project integrates art into an activity that is perfect for teaching how circuits work. The main supplies are copper tape, a 3-volt coin cell battery, and a basic LED. MIT’s High-Low Tech features a tutorial and templates, and Sparkfun has a list of projects. If money is not a barrier, take it a step further with LED stickers from Chibitronics.
Sewable Circuits / Wearable Electronics
Sewable circuits similar to paper circuits, only instead of copper wire, electrical current is conducted through conductive thread. Create a circuit with the thread, an LED, a battery holder, and metal snaps. The sewing is fairly basic, so sewing newbies should be able to participate, but teens without an existing understanding of circuits might do better starting with paper circuits. One draw of sewable circuits is that teens can create a functioning and (possibly) fashionable product in a relatively short amount of time. MIT has an excellent lesson plan here, or this Instructables project is a good starting point.
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The Boston Public Library (BPL) has had a partnership with the Department of Youth Services (DYS) since 2010. DYS is the state agency that serves teens who are incarcerated and there are two locations in the Metro Boston region that houses up to 90 young men in seven different units. DYS doesn’t have a formal library and for the past seven years each month two BPL Teen Librarians visit each of the units and provides library services by providing books-those books are booktalked to engage the teens and teens may also make specific requests. Each month approximately 70 books from BPL are checked out along with upwards of 30 of those that are specific requests. January 2018 marks the expansion of this program and brings technology into DYS provided by the public library as a pilot program. There are significant limitations for teens in DYS especially with technology and this type of program isn’t routine in most juvenile detention settings.
Twelve Kindles were purchased with up to 40 popular titles downloaded on each. The titles are recreational and popular in nature and many of the titles are only available in hardcover. Two units were designated as sites for this pilot year. Every other month one Teen Librarian goes to the two units and meets with the teens and talks about the books, some methods of accessing books and teaches tips in digital literacy with the Kindles. The teens have access to the Kindles in their classrooms every day and as this is a pilot program input from them is crucial as are new titles to add on the Kindles. The program has an MOU (memorandum of understanding) and responsibilities are expected from both organization such as keeping statistics of usage, surveying the teens usability and likability of the titles and the Kindles themselves. The hope is after the pilot year the program can expand into other units as well as expanding the program itself to incorporate the existing applications on the Kindles like Kahn Academy into exposing teens to these applications.
The existing BPL lending program gives teens a freedom of choice with their ability to choose the books they want to read, this program gives them even more of a choice by having multiple titles on one device that the teens can access as well as informally teaching them digital literacy. Programs like this with technology aren’t something that a lot of public libraries are doing with juvenile justice systems in the United States.
This is a pilot program and as such will be evaluated to see the success of the program. One of the expectations of the program is sharing out about the program, input from the Boston Public Library Teen Librarians, teens that utilize the program and staff at Department of Youth Services. Stay tuned for more YALSA Blog posts on this innovative program.
“I love all the maker programming ideas, but I just don’t have the time in the my day to make it work.” This phrase has been uttered by so many library staff, all of whom wear way too many hats in their daily jobs. So, instead of sharing out ideas for developing programming, today we’re going to focus on different ways to implement maker programming into our schedule.
If you are the type of library worker who is looking for new maker ideas, don’t forget to check out YALSA’s maker resources.
Students creating “galaxy pinwheels”
Before we begin…
Remember that library staff develop programming based on their community needs. Maker programming may be a need in your community, but there may be another organization filling that need. There also may be library staff who have embedded STEM programming in their library programs, but they may not be labelling it as STEM (children’s librarians are amazing at doing this during craft time at story hour). Knowing what your community needs will help you work it in the right way.
Option 1: Embed it in a program/lesson you already do.
Starting a new program can be a challenge. The best way to start a maker program is to start small. For some stakeholders, hearing an idea about a maker program doesn’t mean anything, but seeing a small maker program can make stakeholders understand the library’s goals.
Work with a group that you meet with already, such as a TAB group, book club (ex: challenge them to make a popsicle stick harmonica when discussing Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Echo), story hour, study halls). Throw in a quick challenge that they will like and make them come back for more (My favorite is the duck call challenge).
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On Thursday afternoons, in the heart of the Beacon Hill Library in Seattle, you might find an animated group of youth on laptops designing parkour courses, rendering torch lit dungeons or co-constructing capture the flag arenas—all in Minecraft, the popular world-building game. To some, this scene might seem somewhat out of place in a library: Aren’t video games and lively teen banter fundamentally at odds with an institution whose core identity markers are books and silence? Not according to Juan Rubio, the Digital Media and Learning Program Manager for the Seattle Public Library (SPL).
“This is how they begin to build a bond and affiliation with the library,” explains Rubio. “I want to create learning opportunities while keeping the environment fun and playful—and Minecraft is a good transition in that direction.” Creating teen-friendly zones and activities is part of a widespread movement by libraries to become dynamic hubs that engage the community in a broad range of services and events.
Rubio spearheaded the partnership between SPL and Connected Camps to deliver a free after school Minecraft program for 10 – 13 year-olds. He’d run successful Minecraft clubs in his previous incarnation with the Brooklyn Public Library and decided to build on the experience in Seattle. Following the successful pilot at Beacon Hill, Rubio aims to roll the program out to more of SPL’s 27 branches.
“We wanted to target middle school youth, and to add another layer—not just Minecraft for Minecraft’s sake. My outcomes are around design and computational thinking, so Connected Camps was a good fit for us,“ said Rubio. In terms of practical implementation, the library offers breakaway rooms, wired laptops, and on-site supervision, while Connected Camps provides a structured Minecraft program and the support of an in-game mentor.
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As schools and libraries look at new technology and decide how they want to design programming, some decide to implement a “Bring Your Own Device” policy (BYOD) instead of buying a series of devices. In other situations, school and libraries decide to invest in various devices. In our district, we decided to think outside the box and invest in a class set of iPods.
Bring Your Own Device
In our district, we have a class set of iPods that are used in addition to Chromebooks, laptops, and the computer lab. Our teachers love using Kahoot, but sometimes it’s frustrating when the kids use their own devices and you can see the snapchat notifications popping up at the top of their screen. In addition, it makes the digital divide very clear on who has devices and who doesn’t. Our teachers will do team activities to minimize that, but they love that they can send an email to the library and say, “can I borrow a few iPods?”
In addition, some teachers may be working on a project or activity that requires a few basic searches to complete the assignment. They feel guilty filling up the lab for a small chunk of a project, but they know that an iPod functions like a smartphone and the kids can use it for simple searches. This also allows teachers to model using a cell phone as a tool. Adults and teens use their phones to help them get through the day, it’s great to be able to practice on an iPod and teachers can model good cell phone etiquette and help students expand those skills (Neilsen, 2013).
During presentations, several teachers enjoy using Nearpod as a way to gather data, engage students with VR, and present their lesson. We’ve learned that if we use the iPods, there’s less distraction from social media notifications, and there’s a smaller chance of them getting kicked off the wifi. As public libraries work to develop programs, gathering data from teens can help library staff improve programming. Using Nearpod or Google Forms can put a survey in a teen’s hand, and they may be more likely to give feedback compared to a paper form.
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