In February I wrote a YALSA blog post about how, during tough economic times, opportunities arise for trying out new ways of providing services to, and connecting with, teens. What if every library took to heart the idea that economic challenges are an opportunity to improve service and take chances? What if teen librarians started to say, “OK, lets start thinking completely differently – or at least a little bit differently – about what we do and how we do it? What if, as we struggle to make ends meet, we don’t just try to maintain but we try to rethink? What if, we don’t think small but actually think big?” It sounds risky, doesn’t it? But, maybe it’s the perfect time to be risky. Take a chance, walk with me on the edge for a few minutes: Read More →

Looking for a fresh approach to staff development? Suffolk Cooperative Library System tried an “unconference” format and found that sometimes the best ideas are the least expensive. ‘

The plans for this conference were an adaption of the June 2009 LibCampNYC sponsored by METRO and Brooklyn College Library.

“LibCampNYC was a participatory user-generated “unconference” focusing on libraries and library technology; attendees were expected to share their work, skills, or knowledge as active participants. Participants determined the day’s offerings in the opening session, and all sessions were summarized in the closing session. This collaborative environment presented unique opportunities for learning, sharing, and relationship-building that can be elusive at more formal conference.” Read More →

The other day The New York Times published an article on teens and the recession. The article focused on teen spending practices as a result of the downturn in the economy, how home finances are having an impact on teen spending, and how typical teen oriented stores are faring during the recession.

The article was an interesting look at teens and their spending practices, but it also got me thinking about how teens earn the money that they spend. That thinking led me to another New York Times article. This one is on teen entrepreneurs, those teens that decide the traditional teen employment – jobs at fast food restaurants, as camp counselors, and so on – isn’t for them. Read More →

Once you’ve identified the areas of need for your community/school teens, it is time to put the parts together for the grant. There are usually parts of a grant that work together as a whole, but these parts explain to the grant committee how the grant will work: the narrative and the budget. The narrative is the overview and will describe the “big picture” in a way that explains the grant goals, objectives, and how the grant will benefit your target group, teens. It will have sections that you will need to address such as describing how the grant will be implemented, who is willing to donate time and funds for “cost sharing,” and how the success of the grant will be evaluated and the results disseminated. The budget is a tricky piece that is a detailed accounting of how all monies will be spent, and if this is a federal grant, there will be rules that have to be strictly followed.

For successful writing, remember that your “data,” how it will be collected, analyzed, and evaluated, will be critical because data is the only thing that will show if the grant has been successful, and the grant committee members will be closely examining how you will show that their investment will be used to benefit the greatest number of teens in the most efficient way. The narrative will be more credible when you use the data from your needs assessment to justify the need for the program you and the grant committee/network envision for the community/school. Read More →

Yesterday Beth Gallaway wrote about Return on Investment (ROI) and how to make sure to get a good bang for your buck. Beth’s specific focus was on how gaming provides great opportunities to demonstrate ROI.

Continuing on the theme of ROI, how do you:

  • Make sure that administrators, community members, foundations, grant makers, etc. understand the value of all aspects of the job that you do?
  • Demonstrate that the full scope of services for teens is an invaluable part of what the library offers?
  • Guarantee that those who have the bucks will make sure that you have dollars that you need when you need them?

In order to prove that the money spent in teen services is a good investment, it’s important to have data and stories that you can present to others. How do you do that? Focus groups, circulation statistics, door counts, and surveys are traditional methods libraries use. But, in the web 2.0/social networking world, there are several other techniques to employ in order to find out what other’s have to say about your services and their value: Read More →

What’s ROI? Return on Investment, or, spending a little, and getting a lot back. ROI = bang for your buck!

In tough budget times, libraries look for ways to stretch their dollars, and strive to maintain the level of services patrons expect. Board, card and/or video gaming is an excellent low budget investment, because hardware, software and equipment can be utilized for multiple age groups and styles of play. Read More →

Some of your best program leaders may already be attending your programs. They’re sitting there, watching you struggle to cut the snow flake from the recycled printer paper, thinking the whole time about the really awesome program they want to run. Yes, one way to enhance your programming during lean times is to involve your teens as workshops leaders.

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Grant “writing” does not begin with writing; it begins with gathering people and information. Successful grants are not created and implemented in a vacuum. Grants are a collaborative process and include those who are willing to assume one or more roles:

• Visionary[ies]: those who can take information (data) and identify trends and needs
• Communication expert[s]: those who can successfully communicate needs, form partnerships, communicate data results, and draw conclusions
• Data trackers: those who can design methods of collecting data and track the data to show whether the needs are being met
• Community liaisons: those people who “know people”
• Stakeholders: those who will peripherally benefit from grant sponsored programs
• Target population: those who will receive direct benefits from grant monies Read More →

Abundance of Teens…

When I first saw this topic, my first thought was of Colin Singleton in John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines. Child prodigy that he was, Colin was afraid he would never do anything of worth that would classify him as a genius…so he went on a road trip to work it all out. He knew he would not find the answers at home in Chicago. What he was searching for was “out there,” and he ended up in a small town, Gutshot, Tennessee. It was here in this seemingly small, insignificant town with a powerfully painful name where he would find the answers to his conundrum amid people of large character.

Thinking about Colin’s story reminded me that most teens do not live in our libraries. We have to go “out on the road” to find them where they are, working out their own identities and problems. We have to have Colin’s tenacity and confidence that we can truly make a difference for the teens in our community, but we have to go “out there” where they live. This is a perfect opportunity to form collaborative partnerships with local junior high and high school librarians. Read More →