lrng logoFor the past few years I’ve been really curious about the Cities of Learning initiative. I’ve watched with interest as several cities launched, using the Cities of Learning framework, a variety of activities to support youth learning. One aspect of this work that impressed me was the way in which different community groups, elected officials, and community agencies worked together to provide quality formal and informal learning opportunities for teens.
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photo of a park with fork in the pathYou may have already read about YALSA’s IMLS funded project, “Future Ready with the Library.” It’s focus is on helping library staff in small, rural, and tribal libraries to support the college and career readiness of middle school students. That’s right, middle school students. Some people I talk with wonder, why start at that young age? Isn’t that too young? These are teens who are as much as 7 years away from graduating high school, why make them think that far in advance?

Those are all good questions and it’s understandable why they get asked. The thing is that what we do in libraries to support middle school student (and beyond) passions and interests, really helps them to think about pathways to college and career success, even if it’s not overtly presented that way. For example:
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I’m really excited to be participating in a National Afterschool Matters fellowship that gives practitioners in the out-of-school time (OST) field an opportunity to investigate and write, for an academic journal, about an OST issue in their profession/workplace. This program was running in NYC for a few years and last expanded to Philadelphia and the Bay Area, and this year it’s Minneapolis’ turn.

I’m the only library person, but it’s fascinating to talk with my colleagues in the field. We’ve only met once but I’m looking forward to the year and getting some time to write about where libraries fit into this important area. Has anyone else participated in this or similar fellowships in other parts of the country? We have so much in common with other OST providers, but so much that’s different, too. What has been your experience working with other youth-serving providers in your area?