cover of the teen services competencies for library staffEach month, through December, YALSA is sponsoring free webinars (for members and non-members) on topics related to the Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff.

The March webinar kicked-off the series (the full video recording is available after the break). Led by Jutta Dotterweich, the Director of Training and Technical Assistance, ACT for Youth Project at Cornell University. This session focused on positive youth development with particular attention to how adolescent’s brains develop and how youth engagement can be and is an important aspect of positive youth development.

YALSA will host a follow-up Twitter chat on youth development on Thursday, March 22, at 7PM Eastern. Use the hashtag #yalsace to participate.
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When I was a teenager I thought that I’d graduate college and be done with learning. For my generation learning wasn’t something people talked about as taking place out of the classroom or as taking place throughout one’s entire life. It wasn’t until after college that I really began to understand that learning never stops. As that is the case, the YALSA Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff content area on Continuous Learning is important to pay attention to and reflect on.

In the Continuous Learning content area the Developing level includes the phrases “seeks knowledge” and “seeks new knowledge.” I’ve been thinking about these phrases a lot lately and in particular thinking about how these phrases point out that the learning needed is action oriented. Library staff have to actively participate in learning in order to support teens in the community successfully.

What does it take to be an active learner?

  • Being ready to do hard work. No one should ever expect that learning is easy. Learning might be fun or energizing or interesting. And, in many cases it is probably going to be hard work. The work comes with deeply engaging with the content. The work comes with constantly reflecting on how the learning relates to the work you do with and for teens. And, the work comes with moving outside of what you think you know and what you think is best. Instead you need to work hard to learn about what teens need and think about how you can support those needs in your local community. This hard work can come with asking questions while at a professional development session, talking to people you may never have met before, going out in the community and building relationships, and so on.
  • Being open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. Sometimes library staff think that new ideas and new ways of doing things in some way reflects poorly on how the job was done previously. That’s not the case at all. The work library staff do with and for teens is always changing as the world in which teens live is constantly changing. Doing things in new ways doesn’t mean the old way was bad it just means that it no longer resonates with what teens need today.
  • Being ready to be uncomfortable. Discomfort is a good thing. As a 2014 Psychology Today article states: Read More →

competencies coverOn Sunday, February 11, during ALA Midwinter YALSA sponsored two sessions on the Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff.

The first session was facilitated by University of Maryland College of Information Studies Associate Professor, Mega Subramaniam. In this quick 90 minutes LIS faculty discussed how they can integrate the dispositions, skills, and knowledge that are the focus of the Competencies into the pre-service and in-service library staff educational setting. The conversation included review of a current syllabus – the syllabus that Mega is using for a Design Thinking course – and considering where the syllabus helps students to gain skills and knowledge highlighted in the Competencies and where changes and additions might be made in order to help students achieve what is outlined in the Competencies. The small group discussed how the Competencies aren’t just about the activity of library staff but also about infrastructure and systems of/in libraries – including job descriptions and internal and external policies. They also brainstormed ways their own syllabi could be revised to support the ideas in the Competencies.

Towards the end of the session, Sandra Hughes-Hassell, YALSA President and Professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science, reminded the group that at the LIS level, instructors don’t need to focus on the bits and pieces of the Competency content areas. Instead they need to support students in being able to demonstrate what is outlined in the Competencies.
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competencies coverYALSAblog posts throughout this month focused on different aspects of the Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff. Authors covered topics related to specific content areas of the Competencies – Teen Growth and Development and Cultural Competency and Responsiveness for example – and ideas related to the implications the Competencies can have on the library as an institution – for example job descriptions and policies. You can read all Competencies related posts by searching the Competencies tag on this blog.

YALSA will continue to provide opportunities for library staff to discuss and learn about the dispositions and content areas covered in the Competencies. We’ll do that through blog posts, 10 months of free webinars that begin in March, and Twitter chats that also start in March.

You can learn more about building high-quality teen services with YALSA’s wide-variety of resources. These include: Read More →

I just did a search in the YALSA Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff document on the word “policies” and found 13 results. That’s not surprising since it’s essential to make sure that a library’s use and customer related policies allow for high-quality teen services. However, have you looked at the internal staff policies and procedures your library has in place that might hinder developing the skills needed as outlined in the Competencies? For example.

  • Are there internal policies that make it hard to get out of the building in order to become skilled at developing relationships with community members, partners, families, and even teens? What policies are there about desk time and/or how you are supposed to spend your time while at work? Do these make it hard to succeed in areas related to Community and Family Engagement?
  • What about professional learning polices or procedures that focus the Continuous Learning you can engage in in areas that do not allow for the skill and knowledge development covered in the Competencies? Read More →

This post was written by Amanda Barnhart. Amanda is a teen librarian for the Kansas City Mo. Public Library and began her career as an undefined teen library services member in 2003. She serves as the YALSA ALA Liaison.

cover of the YALSA competenciesBy its very definition, the journey of a Continuous Learner is never complete. The skill attainment levels within YALSA’s Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff are set out vertically in order to illustrate how the initial skills build upon the next, much like Maslow’s hierarchy. Yet, the way in which we navigate through “developing, practicing and transforming” may not necessarily lead us straight down the list. Once we start becoming competent in one area, we more fully begin to understand how far we still have to go treading up and down along the scale as we deepen our knowledge of a topic.

A couple of years ago, I was awarded an LSTA grant to utilize tabletop games for the development of young adults’ job readiness skills. I established a small, four person learning cohort that was made up of both teen and children’s professionals within the Kansas City Mo. Public Library organization. At our branch libraries, we already had several teen groups that enjoyed video games. However, we wanted to offer a different type of gaming experience, one that more strongly connected with specific skills. The cohort met 1-2 times per month, for a couple of hours around these topics of Tabletop Games, job readiness skills and youth programs.
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cover of teen services competencies for library staffFor over a year I’ve been thinking a lot about libraries and social emotional learning (SEL). In part because many school systems are developing curriculum (or integrating SEL into curriculum), in part because it’s something that library activities support – even if library staff don’t think of what they do in that way, and in part because the new Teen Services Competencies of Library Staff include Dispositions and Content Areas that strongly connect to SEL.

The most recent edition of the Future of Children journal notes, in the introduction to the issue:

Researchers, educators, and policymakers alike have trouble pinning down exactly what’s included in this broad domain—and what isn’t. The popular press has highlighted a wide array of skills, such as grit, empathy, growth mindset, social skills, and more. At its core, SEL involves children’s ability to learn about and manage their own emotions and interactions in ways that benefit themselves and others, and that help children and youth succeed in schooling, the workplace, relationships, and citizenship.”

Think about that. Wouldn’t you say. that in order for youth to gain SEL skills they need adults in their lives who help them to “learn about and manage their own emotions and interactions in ways that benefit themselves and others, and that help children and youth succeed in schooling, the workplace, relationships, and citizenship?” These adults include library staff and teachers along with family members, caregivers, community members and so on.
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teen services competencies for library staff coverIn just aver two weeks the ALA Midwinter Meeting gets started in Denver. While in Denver YALSA is hosting two News You Can Use sessions, each focused on the Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff.

On Sunday, February 11, at 8:30 AM, is a session titled, Incorporating the Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff into LIS Curricula. This 90 minute session looks at how LIS educators and continuing education coordinators can leverage YALSA’s new Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff to better prepare future library employees to work for and with teens. In a participatory format attendees will have the chance to redesign and re-envision their very own youth and school library courses to support successful teen services skill development. Those who plan on attending are encouraged to bring a current syllabus, or lesson plan, to use in re-envisioning activities. This session will be facilitated by YALSA President and Professor at the University of North Carolina School of Information and Library Science, Sandra Hughes-Hassell, YALSA Board member and Associate Professor at the University of Maryland College of Information Studies, Mega Subramaniam, and YALSA CE Consultant, Linda W. Braun.
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cover of the teen services competenciesOne of the topics you want to consider when reviewing the Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff is what impact the document has on job descriptions within your organization. Does your job description reflect what’s included in the Competencies? Do your staff member’s job descriptions support what’s in the Competencies? Do your colleague’s job descriptions make it possible to maintain the ideas of the Competencies in your organization? As you ask yourself these questions perhaps you will realize that it’s time to re-envision the job descriptions in your institution to better reflect the Competencies.

Get started by reviewing job descriptions and asking questions like these:

  • What in the job description supports the dispositions outlined in the Competencies? Are there areas where it’s clear that the dispositions listed are required in order to perform the job successfully?
  • How do the tasks outlined in the job description reflect the skills and knowledge needed by library staff?
  • What opportunities does the job description provide for improving/leveling up within the different content areas of the Competencies?

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cover of the YALSA competenciesThe introduction of the Cultural Competency and Responsiveness area of the YALSA Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff states:

“Library staff actively promote respect for and seek self-understanding of cultural diversity. They come to know and respect diverse cultural backgrounds and characteristics through interaction with individuals from diverse linguistic, cultural, socioeconomic, and other groups; and to fully integrate the culture of diverse groups into planning, implementing and evaluating culturally sustaining and bias-free programs, services, and workplaces. The development of complex, interconnected, and evolving cultural competencies on both personal and organizational levels requires dedication and cumulative and consistent work.”

Along with that introduction, the Developing Level of the content area includes the following two items for staff that are developing their Cultural Competency and Responsiveness skills:

  • Is aware of own cultural beliefs and practices
  • Recognizes barriers such as racism, ethnocentrism, classism, heterosexism, genderism, ableism, and other systems of discrimination and exclusion in the community and its institutions, including the library, and interrupts them by way of culturally competent services

The January YALSA webinar titled, Acknowledging the Elephant in the Library: Making Implicit Biases Explicit helped library staff understand what is required to gain skills in this area and ideas on how to work with colleagues, administration, and community members in advocating and leading in this work. In this session Nicole Cooke clearly addressed topics such as stereotypes and micro-aggressions and provided concrete examples of what these terms mean and the impact they have on library staff and customers. In this 13 minute YALSA Snack Break, a clip from the webinar, you can hear some of what Nicole covered.

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