On Monday, February 13, 2017, teens are invited to join a national conversation about teen dating violence. According to a 2016 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “[a]mong high school students who dated, 21% of females and 10% of males experienced physical and/ or sexual dating violence.” The same study also concluded that “[a]mong adult victims of rape, physical violence, and/ or stalking by an intimate partner, 22% of women and 15% of men first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age.” As teen library staff, have an opportunity to raise awareness about teen dating violence by helping teens advocate for their loved ones, friends, and themselves.
Given the amazing selection of books and resources that have been published for teens about dating violence (DV), we can bring awareness in many different ways. One method is to create a display that is going to invoke a powerful statement that needs to be said. For the month of February, my library posted this in our outside display case:
With these displays, we cab develop programming that can initiate a dialogue with teens about DV. If we have yet to connect with community groups and resources that can help us deliver our services, Teen DV month is a great place to start.
During Teen Dating Violence Awareness month, the teens at my library will discuss Jennifer Shaw Wolf’s Breaking Beautiful and a representative from Peace Over Violence will be there to answer any questions about teen DV. What I want to stress about these kinds of programs as that we need to declare that whatever happens at this event stays at this event. Victims of abuse need to know that the Library is a safe place so, by creating a circle of trust, we are actually stating we are here to help them. By opening up this conversation with our communities, it is incredibly helpful to invite an expert to answer the questions we don’t know or are qualified to answer.
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When initially looking at the Pew Research Report statistics Crystle Martin referred to in her YALS article, A Library’s Role in Digital Equity, one may assume the digital divide is coming to a close with the rise of teen’s access to technology. According to the 2015 study:
87% of teens have access to a desktop/laptop computer
73% of teens have access to a smartphone
58% of teens have access to a tablet computer
The report also shares the primary way teens access the internet with 91% of them using mobile devices at least occasionally. This means if a teen has a mobile phone with internet access they are adequately connected to the digital world, right? Martin counters this argument by throwing down more facts such as, “one-quarter of those earning below the median income and one-third of those living below poverty level accessed the Internet only through their mobile devices.” Resulting in a significant part of the population being under-connected according to the “Opportunity For All?” findings.
What does this have to do with libraries, though? In the current trend of libraries increasingly adding “innovation” to mission statements and “technology skills” to job descriptions while working towards increasing access we may be missing the key element in creating digital equity, or equal access and opportunity. Giving teens school tablets or providing free library wifi is a great start, but what happens when that teen lives in a home without an internet connection or lives too far away from the library to attend on weekends? When used correctly technology can be a valuable tool in fostering digital participation, but our approach as educators is the most important action to take.
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District Days offer the perfect opportunity for legislative advocacy. District Days are a period of time in which Congress is out of session and members of Congress are back in their hometowns. This year, District Days begin on August 1st and end on September 5th. This would be an excellent time for library staff to show elected officials how important libraries are and even get them to visit your library. Members of Congress are always busy in Washington and don’t get many opportunities to visit their local library and really see and understand all the services that libraries provide. It is important that they know this so that they can promote legislation that is beneficial to libraries and teens. If legislators actually see and experience all that libraries do they will be more likely to take action on behalf of libraries and teens. District Days offer library staff and teen patrons the chance to inform members of Congress of their constituents’ needs and help educate them on an issue that they might not know too much about. It can also help forge a relationship with elected officials that would be instrumental in bringing the needs of libraries to the minds of members of Congress, helping them make legislative changes that can only aid teens and libraries.
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YALSA is looking for creative video entries of up to 60 seconds in length that compellingly demonstrate to the general public how teens make use of 21st century libraries, programs and staff in order to succeed in school and prepare for college, careers and life. Winners will be announced no later than June 1, 2016. The top three entries will receive a box of books, audiobooks and graphic novels worth a minimum of $200. Examples of content may include, but are not limited to showing how teens use libraries to do things like get good grades, explore careers, pursue hobbies, plan for college, build digital skills, create stuff, connect with others, serve the community, become engaged citizens, etc. This is a great opportunity for teens to show off their film making skills! Get the details via this online entry form. This contest is being administered by YALSA’s Advocacy Resources Taskforce.
Recently, teens have been bombarded with rhetoric and actions that do not support their development or provide a safe environment for them to thrive. Unfortunately, there are far too many recent examples of young people being bullied or harassed by their peers or adults. For example, a report from the Council on Islamic American Relations of California indicated that more than half of Muslim students ages 11 to 18 report having been bullied because of their religion. As teen library staff, we should address this atmosphere of fear and social injustice and work with teens to turn it into something positive by promoting the intrinsic values of tolerance, equality, and acceptance. And we should do this regardless of whether or not our communities include a large population of people from diverse backgrounds. In order to be successful, well-adjusted adults, we need to help all of our teens learn how to understand, accept and work with others, regardless of their background.
Recent discussions at a national level about immigrants and Muslim-Americans point to the need to help young people separate fact from fiction. Regardless of whether or not your community is hosting immigrant families or has a large Muslim community, now is great opportunity to convey to our teens the importance of compassion and inclusion for people of all backgrounds. One tool that I found incredibly helpful is the YALSA’s Cultural Competence Task Force1. This task force has compiled an extensive list of resources that not only provides general information and training information in regards to cultural competence, there is a great section of resources that we can use to help our teens develop cultural competencies through youth involvement. One article, entitled Engaging Youth to Create Positive Change: Parent Support Network of Rhode Island published by National Center for Cultural Competence, Center for Child and Human Development, and Georgetown University, states the following:
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Erin Durrett, Youth/Teen Information Services Librarian at Novi Public Library in Michigan, is preparing to pitch an ambitious idea at the YALSA President’s Program Monday, June 29 from 10:30 a.m. to noon. She will advocate for a 3D virtual world created by teens in front of a panel of librarians and business leaders for the chance to win cash and technology prizes provided by YALSA, Tutor.com, Makey Makey, and 3D Systems.
We wanted to catch up with Erin before she heads to San Francisco for ALA’s Annual Conference.
YALSA Shark Bowl: Meet the Finalist Erin Durrett
RK: What was your inspiration for this project?
ED: Novi is a community that very much strives for achievement, be that excellence in academia, or other interests. When developing programs and services for our community, we often think about what skills our patrons would like to learn and what would help them feel more involved in our library and ultimately our community. I wanted to create a project that joined those ideas together. My pitch involves STEM ideas, especially engineering and technology skills and having teens learn those skills and then utilize them in the creation of an interactive display in which they curate and of which they feel ownership.
RK: In what ways are teens involved in this project?
ED: When I developed the idea, I wanted to know not only if our teens would be interested in participating, but any feedback I could receive from them, to help mold and shape the project. I went to the next TAB (Teen Advisory Board) meeting and asked the teens directly what they thought of the idea. They thought it was “cool” and brought up the idea of legacy and ownership. Specifically one teen asked “Can we put our names on the pieces we create?” As a lot of TAB members are juniors and seniors at the high school next door, they want to be able to come back and visit the display and point out the pieces they have created. (They also smartly mentioned making sure no one abuses the 3D printer!) My favorite aspect of this pitch is the inclusivity for teens, if you are a teen 12-18 in Novi or the surrounding community, you can participate in the creation of a piece for the display.
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This is a guest post from the Local Arrangements Committee for ALA’s Annual Conference in San Francisco.
The YALSA Local Arrangements committee for ALA Annual in San Francisco, June 25-30, 2015, is recruiting youth participants to give feedback on nominated books at the Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA) Teen Session on Saturday, June 27, 2015 (a list of titles can be found here: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/bfya-nominations).
YALSA takes input from youth very seriously, and in order to get a wide representative of area youth, we are seeking applications from library staff in the greater San Francisco/Oakland area who would like to bring their teen book group to the ALA Annual Conference to participate in the BFYA Teen Session. Up to 50 local teens from the greater San Francisco/Oakland area will be able to participate.
Participation consists of teens (ages 12-18) speaking in front of an audience of the committee, publisher representatives, and conference attendees. The Teen Feedback Session runs from 1pm-3pm. Read More →
Teen Read Week is coming up October 12-18, and libraries are encouraged to use the theme â€œTurn Dreams into Realityâ€ to share our knowledge, resources, services, and collections with teens in an effort to promote reading for fun. As professionals working with teens in the library, each of us curates our own personal collectionâ€”in folders and binders, dog-eared books and browser bookmarks, or just in our haphazardly cataloged headsâ€”of resources that guide us in promoting reading. Yet as we inform our patrons about the epic books in our collection, the multiple formats in which they can check out our materials, and the research on the college success of avid readers, let’s not forget that some of our greatest resources are the very subjects of our resource-sharing: the teens themselves.
It’s an easy thing to forget since, as library professionals, we like to think of ourselves as the experts. In many things, we are. And in some, we aren’t. You know that book that won dozens of awards but you just can’t get any teens to pick up? How about the poorly-written piece of fluff that they can’t get enough of? In the end, we can only guess at what will go over well. Each person has his or her own individual taste, but more often than not, teens’ tastes will be more similar to one another’s than adults’ tastes will be to teens’.
Our goal during Teen Read Week is to promote reading for pleasure, and the only way to do that is to help connect teens with books they like. There may be a time and place for encouraging teens to read â€œhealthierâ€ books than the ones they wantâ€”that’s up for debate. But this week isn’t that time. If we want teens to learn that reading is fun, we need to think like teens. And while we can’t entirely re-wire our brains (and probably wouldn’t want to, having been through that angsty stage of life once already), many of us are lucky enough to spend enough time around teens that we have easy access to two simple techniques: observe and ask. Read More →
Coincidentally and fortunately, both of Rhode Island’s contributors decided to share how they are staying in touch with teens to develop popular programs, create welcoming teen spaces, and build relationships. In that same spirit, â€œhiâ€ from all of us in the Ocean State!
Where everyone knows your name: Back to Basics in Teen Services
When I see a young adult in the library whom I don’t know, I go up and introduce myself. It’s such a simple step that it can be easy to overlook! Read More →
Part 3: Marketing, Creating, and Running Your Program
In Part One of this series, I talked about the values of big programming and in Part Two, I talked about putting together a Teen Planning Committee to help you come up with something spectacular. Now, it’s time for your event. What do you do?
Marketing is one of the biggest components of big programming. You’re trying to draw in a new audience (and actually get people to come to your event), so it’s important to have a detailed marketing plan.
Split the effort between you and your Teen Planning Committee. Put a teen or a group of teens in charge of social media marketing. Teens are up on the latest trends that are happening in their community. Whether they use Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat, or _______ (I’m leaving a blank here to symbolize something I’ve never heard of), teens will know how to spread the word. Students also have an advantage you don’t have: word-of-mouth. Your Teen Planning Committee can talk to their friends and family about the event, who will talk to their friends, and so forth.
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