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1. Teen Design Lab Day Four -- Time to Design!

Another good day at the Teen Design Lab. We had a pretty free form day, complete with some inspiration, project time, and stickers.

What we did:

  • Watched some library related humor videos (such as Check It Out made by the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library — what a great job they did incorporating Taylor Swift into EVERYTHING). These videos served as inspiration and a potential design project. We wanted to give teens the option of making a video parody to promote the library.
  • Then it was design time. This is the neat part of the camp. We just let the teens be, serving really only as sounding boards and offering words of encouragement. We provide laptops, paper, pens, and other design supplies (such as clay, building blocks, felt, etc) so they can create a prototype of some sort. It was neat to see the teens find their element — some needed to make something with their hands while others made detailed dream plans and steps to success charts. The design process also the teens to showcase their talents and strengths, which is awesome. At the same time, we are aligning with library and community priorities — giving suggestions on how to make the teens feel welcome or participate in their community and or library.
  • The day ended with a sticker workshop. Again, this pulls from Makerspace and Fab Lab ideas and equipment (check out the Maker & DIY Programs YALSA Wiki page for more information about this sort of programming). It was an easy setup — laptops running Silhouette software, Silhouette vinyl cutters, and vinyl for the stickers. It’s another workshop where the teens really have free reign over what they want to do. Our only suggestion was using a silhouette image for the cleanest cut. The teens really took off on this project, most printing multiple sets of vinyl. They picked up on it pretty quickly (and a few had done this before). It was a nice way to end the workshop.

The teens will be back tomorrow, continuing to work on their designs and then give a brief presentation to their peers and community members we’ve invited to come so the teens’ opinions can be heard!

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2. Teen Design Lab Day Three — Tech Playground & Teen Feedback

Wednesday was a bit of a slow day. Lucky for us, we had something free form planned for the teens to explore.

We called it a Tech Playground. Our potential project ideas were:

  • Facebook pot for the Peoria Heights Public Library
  • Google Maps with pins of their favorite places in Peoria Heights
  • Experiment with graphic design using Canva, Gimp, or Imgur
canva

Canva overview image from Reel Bold Media

What won out was Canva. I had only briefly worked with this website and I was the one who had recommended it after hearing about it at a social media conference. To sign up, all you need is an email address or can log in with Facebook or a Google account.

From there, you can make almost any sort of design. Flyers, Facebook covers, Etsy banners, posters, business cards — the sky is the limit. With the design, there are both free templates and templates that can be purchased at low cost ($1 or so). You can upload your own photos, use copyright free images, or purchase images from Canva (again around $1 or so). It’s relatively easy to maneuver around the site, and lots of tutorials to watch if you get confused. Here’s a thing we made!

We made a thing!

The teens seemed very into it and said it was one of their favorite things they did that day. It was a great project to just let them run wild and to create something they wanted to use. We also confirmed that Facebook is just not a social media this group of teens use (paralleling recent studies done that say teens are moving away from using Facebook).

After Canva, which was hard to tear the teens away, we had a volunteer from the Peoria Heights Historical Society come in. The teens seemed engaged with the volunteer and asked some good questions. The day ended with conversations on potential design projects they will officially start tomorrow and a conversation with the director of the library. He had looked at their feedback on the Hack Your Library project. The conversation was pretty good, but of course, came back to similar problems — teen involvement and investment. The teens gave good suggestions, such as scouting a couple of teens and allowing them to have a very active role in program planning. If they can bring a couple of friends, then the program has a chance of taking off. I’m curious to know in the future if the director keeps this in mind. I think getting teen feedback is so crucial. We can guess all we want, but at the end of the day, what the teens say and think does matter.

Looking forward to day four and getting more into the design process!

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3. Annual 2015: Oakland PL's Youth Leadership Council

This is a guest post from Perla Casas, a 2015 high school graduate. She will be part of the panel speaking on Sunday June 28th at 4:30 pm as part of "Empower Your Teens! Civic Engagement Strategies That Work."

The Youth Leadership Council (YLC) is a youth-driven advisory board for the Oakland Public Library. The YLC creates support strategies to improve its service for patrons and promotes the library simultaneously. The YLC is made up of twelve individuals from the ages of thirteen to eighteen. I was sixteen years old when I first stumbled across the YLC application at the TeenZone in the Main Library. I have always enjoyed reading and I am passionate about libraries, so I thought this group would be a perfect fit for me. After a nerve wracking three month application process, I was finally accepted as a member.

The YLC meets for two hours every third Saturday of the month at the Main Library. After my first official meeting, I was given the opportunity to facilitate the next meeting. I received training and multiple handouts on how to properly run a meeting while being respectful towards my fellow members and being an effective communicator. I became more comfortable with the other Youth Leadership Council members after I facilitated my second meeting and I had a better understanding of how we function as a productive team. I was able to identify and recognize the strengths and talents of my fellow members. It was a successful meeting.

The third annual Culture Festival held by the YLC allowed my creativity and organizational skills to shine. I volunteered to be the decorations and activities director alongside my best friend, Julia. After seeing last year’s decorations, we knew we had to completely revamp them. We brainstormed all of our ideas and I created a decorations schedule in order to materialize all of our ideas. Recreating the Great Wall of China for the Oakland Public Library was our greatest accomplishment. Over 100 hours were spent on creating various cultural decorations and we made sure every culture was included. It was an arduous process but at the same time extremely rewarding. Being able to see how our decorations transformed the library was fulfilling and gratifying.

During my time as a member I feel like I have formed a bond with the Youth Leadership Council members (some of which are alumni now), the supervising librarian of teen services, Lana Adlawan, and my amazing moderators, Amy Sonnie and Jeanie Austin. Amy Sonnie gave me the confidence to join the YLC and accomplish things that I thought I never could do before. She taught me how to prosper inside and outside of the YLC. Jeanie Austin, who I have only known for a short time, has become a good friend and has given me support throughout the entire process of my last few months with the Youth Leadership Council. I am thankful and truly blessed for these wonderful, dedicated, and hardworking people in my life. My experience with the Youth Leadership Council has been unforgettable and I am proud to become a YLC alumni in the fall.

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4. Programming is challenging, especially when you have to anticipate

Since May, I’ve been part of a planning team designing a week-long summer camp (July 20-24, 2015) for 8-12 year olds and for teens in the Peoria Heights (IL) area. This team is a smaller aspect of a much larger project, the Digital Innovation Leadership Program (DILP). This project is funded through the University of Illinois Extension and works with 4H offices across Illinois to plan and lead programs. Our goal is to focus on three learning areas: digital manufacturing, digital media production, and data analytics.

For me, it’s an exciting grant because it really builds off what I’ve done this past year. I get the opportunity to think more about digital literacy and how what I learned can be applied in other situations, always bending the curriculum/workshop to fit the context of the group. Additionally, I played a major role in the creation of the 8-12 year old camp and played a support role in developing the curriculum for the teens. The teens are building off the work of Ann Bishop and her team have been doing in Seattle: InfoMe, which I wrote about in my December 2014 post. Here are five things I learned (or got confirmed) about planning along the way.

  1. Plan A is rarely your best plan.
    • I think our morning camp is in version 3.5. We would have an idea, run with it for a bit, think of something better, tweak it, and run with it again. A few times, we threw out the whole idea and came up with something better. Just like writing a paper for my English classes in undergrad, my best work comes after a few revisions, a few freakouts, and some good conversations with mentors & peers.
  2. Nail down objectives early so that when new ideas come up they can quickly be  assessed if they fit the objectives. If yes, then accept the idea and if not, the idea is vetoed.
    • This was incredibly helpful as we kept coming up with different plans. Our team had met with some community leaders in Peoria Heights at the beginning of May to get an idea of what they wanted from this camp. The main objective that came through was strengthening community pride. When we came back to Urbana-Champaign to play, we had that strong objective in mind. Our camp was framed around that idea and it helped keep us focused and remember what was important.
  3. Give yourself enough time, especially if you’ve working with community partners.
    • Everyone is busy. It seems like such a simple fact, but often forgotten. While a community partner you meet with several months before the program seems very excited about collaboration, as the program actually approaches and the summer is flying by, they might be harder to get in touch with. However, if you contact them early enough, get the date on their calendar sooner rather than later, and provide solid information on expectations and program objectives, then you can feel confident going into the program. Also, I don’t know about you, but I never can estimate how long something will actually take me.
  4. Clear communication is crucial. 
    • Use clear and direct email subject lines, direct emails with questions or bullet points of information, call the person/people on the phone when needed, and also don’t forget about the value of visiting the place the program will take place (if it’s off site or for us, in a completely new city). We took another trip to Peoria Heights in June with a draft of our camp and some questions. It was so nice to sit across from the stakeholders and on-site organizers to make sure we were on the same page.
  5. Anticipate all you want, but sometimes you just have to relax and rely on your ability to change on the fly.
    • With the camp a week away, we suddenly started coming up with all these ideas. Well, if project A doesn’t work, we could do this alternative project A, or alternative project B. Oh…wait, here’s another idea. When you start to go into that spiral, things become overwhelming. I think it’s good to have a backup plan, but somethings you just can’t anticipate. I found myself needing to feel confident about what we had planned and trust myself to think on my feet if during the week, something changes.

Since the camp is right around the corner, I’ll be blogging reflections after the morning camp on my personal website and then will be posting short reflections on the teen camp here on the YALSA blog. Looking forward to sharing this camp with you!

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5. Teen Design Lab Reflections, Day One

Hi everyone! So I wrote a post on Friday about an upcoming camp I was helping to plan. During the afternoons this week, we are leading a Teen Design Lab camp. Our general objectives for the camp are:

  • Help youth learn about the community through exploration
  • Engage youth in contributing to community problem-solving
  • Learn about digital media and technology

I’ll be leading a week long reflection series about how the camp goes with the teens each day and how what we are doing fits in while YALSA’s programming guide. I’ll try to have the reflection post every evening, although this first post is the morning after (since the first day is full of craziness, debriefing, and figuring out where to get dinner).

Day One 

What we did:

  • Spent some time on designing a roadmap for the week (see photo). Ann had written this roadmap for the week in terms of the themes of the projects we would be working on and then what skills and outcomes we were hoping for. This roadmap was partially empty and in the picture, you can see we asked questions and got answers from the teens to fill in the roadmap.
  • Community tour. We had the teens go out into the Peoria Heights downtown area and observe what they liked about the area (and what teens might like about this area), what they thought was problematic or what they didn’t like about the area, and then what questions they had or what surprised them about something they saw. We also sent them out with iPad Minis to take photographs with. We encouraged them to talk to store owners and ask questions. The facilitators wandered around the downtown area as well, but we really let the teens do their own thing. We will use this feedback for future design projects this week.
  • Spoke with the township administrator, Roger, (we had met him previously and he gave us input in how he hoped the camp would run). He talked about his beliefs in doing community engagement and some of the neat projects the Richwoods Township had done recently.

IMG_1146What went well:

  • The teens were great. They were engaged and actually interested in the camp and the design projects we are going to be working on. They enjoyed how we didn’t teach at them, but instead involved them in the conversation. They also asked a lot of questions, which allowed us to see where we were doing well in explanation and when we weren’t communicating well.
  • While we had less teens than expected, the group wasn’t phased. They rolled well with our flexible and always changing schedule.

What we want to improve on:

  • We did a quick evaluation at the end of the day to see what the teens thought went well and what didn’t go so well. This is a great way to remind the teens they do have a voice in this program. [Note: it also is YALSA’s #10 in their programming guide]. We found out on Monday that one teen wished we did more stuff, more project time, and less chatting. We have a schedule that is flexible enough to truly listen to this request and altered our agenda for today (Tuesday) accordingly.

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6. Teen Design Lab Day Two — Maps, notebooks, and hack your library!

Back for day two reflection! We added one more teen to the group, bringing our total up to five. Today was a heavy work day, although we were taking into consideration the request from the teen for more projects.

The afternoon began with working on something for the internet. We gave the teens three options: make a Facebook post for the Peoria Heights Public Library page (since our camp takes place at this library), make a blurb that could go up on the Richwoods Township website (since Roger came from the township to talk to us yesterday), or create a Google Map with pins at places they had visited on the community tour on Monday. More on that in what went well and what could be improved. 

Then, the Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab made an appearance (and they are team members in this larger grant helping to pay me and my co-teachers to develop and run this camp). They brought along a friend, aka a portable laser. Holly, one of the Fab Lab instructors, led the five teens though designing a notebook cover to be lasered on a small Moleskine notebook. It was a great workshop and the teens had to find a quote they liked. We can definitely think of this workshop as a way to develop interest-based, developmentally appropriate programs that support connected learning. The teens had full say in what their notebooks looked like and this design process exposed them not only to design tools, but file management, USB procedures (like eject USB before physically removing it), and exposure to technology they might not have seen or used before.

With the notebooks begin lasered, the teens then did Hack Your Library. Essentially, they each had a clipboard, pencil, and a bunch of post-it notes. They were to carefully and thoughtfully go through the library, writing down on the post-it notes what they liked about the library, what they didn’t like, and things that surprised them (very similar to what they did the day before in downtown Peoria Heights). The afternoon ended with the teens presenting their findings to the group. The director of the library who we’ve been working closely with couldn’t sneak away to hear the presentation but was looking at the feedback on our way out after camp was over.

What went well

  • The teens really seemed to enjoy the notebook design workshop. It was great to see each other being lasered because they really showed off each teen’s unique personality. I think it’s a great strength to be able to have programming and activities that allow teens to be themselves in that sort of creative process. I feel I learned even more about them from those simple notebook covers.
  • Hack the Library activity ended up with so many interesting notes. Very few teens noticed the same things, which again helps to show how each teen is unique and brings a new perspective to the table.

What could be improved on

  • They seemed a little lackluster about creating website/Facebook/Google map content. I’m not sure if it was how we explain the activities or if that is something they just weren’t interested in. This gets me thinking about how can we encourage them to be creators of material on the internet in a way that’s engaging and fun to them.

Resources to check out

Photos coming soon! Check back tomorrow night for day three reflections!

 

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7. Instagram of the Week - March 30

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

It's that time of year when public, school, and academic libraries start to feel the madness -- the book madness, that is!  To coincide with the March Madness basketball tournament, many libraries are hosting their own tournament with brackets of books. Frequently called Literary March Madness or Book Madness, librarians pit books against one another and ask library users to vote for their favorite titles. The sky is the limit when it comes to organizing brackets as the examples below spotlight different genres or categories (teen books vs. banned books, humor vs. local writers), sports books in general, staff picks, or pit popular characters against each other. When it comes to the voting process, there is also a bit of variation with some libraries opting for traditional handwritten bracket sheets and others heading online via social media, Google forms, or Survey Monkey.

Is you library participating in the big book dance and hosting a literary tournament? We want to hear from you! How do you go about choosing which books to include? Do you set up the pairings yourself or are you a fan of an online bracket generator?  Which method of submitting votes have you found works best for your teens? Do you change your categories from year to year to keep it interesting?

 

Have you come across a related Instagram post this week, or has your library posted something similar? Have a topic you'd like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

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8. 30 Days of Teen Programming: Providing for the Underserved

"Mrs. Thompson, why we only got two Bluford High books?"  "We need more manga."  "I like that Sharon Draper lady.  We got anymore of her books?"  These were just a few of the questions and statements directed at me about our high school media center's collection when I became a media specialist.  Through day-to-day direct observation and through results of a student survey, I quickly realized areas of our collection that were being underserved - manga and urban fiction.  There were groups of students who were all clamoring for the same few titles that we had of a certain genre or series and our "hold lists" were growing longer by the day.

Several reasons may attribute to underserved groups in a library program.  Community dynamics change.  Our small suburban school system has seen tremendous growth in the 18 years that I have been here - 400% growth.  That translates into a graduating class of 78 in 1998 to a graduating class of 478 in 2015.  In the same time period, our minority population grew from 5% to 30%.  Our media center's collection does not reflect this growth.  Another reason for underserved groups is the rapid growth in new styles of writing, like manga.  It can be difficult to know whether new styles of writing are going to be accepted by your patrons, and we hate to waste money on books that are just going to sit on the shelves.  We started out with three different manga series to test the waters.  The popularity of these titles exploded!  They rarely made it back onto the shelves as students would grab them from the "re-shelf" cart as soon as they were checked in.  They also became our most stolen titles!  (We do not currently have a book security system.)  There were titles that our students desperately wanted to read, so why wouldn't I listen to them to continue to foster their love of reading.

As a reader, I cannot stand to read things in a series out of order.  Many of my students are the same way.  Why did we only have some of the Bluford High series?  Why were #1, 4, 6-8 of Full Metal Alchemist missing?  Our database showed that we had owned, at one point, #1-15 of the manga series BlackCat, but several of the titles were now marked "Lost".  I set filling in the gaps of the asked about series as my first goal in strengthening our collection for our underserved patrons.  In the urban fiction section, we went from two Sharon Draper titles to all 10 of her young adult titles.  We were also able to fill in the missing Bluford High titles, which serve our urban fiction fans as well as our Hi/Lo students.  For the manga patrons, we filled in all of the holes in the series we already had and aimed to include four new series a year.

Another strategy for building our collection for these underserved populations was to get input from the students.  In adding more manga, we allowed the students who were most interested in these series to help us with the selection of new titles.  They perused catalogs and looked online for reviews and suitable content (as some manga is aimed at a more adult audience). My African-American girls, who were devouring the urban fiction, asked about adding the Drama High series.  They loved looking for new authors to tell me about as well.  With the addition of the new titles, plus the marketing of the items through displays, our circulation increased 67% in one year!  Allowing students to assist in making our collection stronger for them gave them a sense of ownership and pride in our media program.

YALSA's Teen Programming Guidelines states that librarians should "create programming that reflects the needs and identities of all teens in the community."  Many media centers and libraries run into the problem of having an underserved population, and it is the duty of the librarian to recognize the needs of all patrons and work to strengthen the weak areas.  Investigate your collection for missing titles and allow your teens input.  These practices can go a long way in reflecting the needs of the communities we serve.

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9. 30 Days of Teen Programming: Providing for the Underserved

"Mrs. Thompson, why we only got two Bluford High books?"  "We need more manga."  "I like that Sharon Draper lady.  We got anymore of her books?"  These were just a few of the questions and statements directed at me about our high school media center's collection when I became a media specialist.  Through day-to-day direct observation and through results of a student survey, I quickly realized areas of our collection that were being underserved - manga and urban fiction.  There were groups of students who were all clamoring for the same few titles that we had of a certain genre or series and our "hold lists" were growing longer by the day.

Several reasons may attribute to underserved groups in a library program.  Community dynamics change.  Our small suburban school system has seen tremendous growth in the 18 years that I have been here - 400% growth.  That translates into a graduating class of 78 in 1998 to a graduating class of 478 in 2015.  In the same time period, our minority population grew from 5% to 30%.  Our media center's collection does not reflect this growth.  Another reason for underserved groups is the rapid growth in new styles of writing, like manga.  It can be difficult to know whether new styles of writing are going to be accepted by your patrons, and we hate to waste money on books that are just going to sit on the shelves.  We started out with three different manga series to test the waters.  The popularity of these titles exploded!  They rarely made it back onto the shelves as students would grab them from the "re-shelf" cart as soon as they were checked in.  They also became our most stolen titles!  (We do not currently have a book security system.)  There were titles that our students desperately wanted to read, so why wouldn't I listen to them to continue to foster their love of reading.

As a reader, I cannot stand to read things in a series out of order.  Many of my students are the same way.  Why did we only have some of the Bluford High series?  Why were #1, 4, 6-8 of Full Metal Alchemist missing?  Our database showed that we had owned, at one point, #1-15 of the manga series BlackCat, but several of the titles were now marked "Lost".  I set filling in the gaps of the asked about series as my first goal in strengthening our collection for our underserved patrons.  In the urban fiction section, we went from two Sharon Draper titles to all 10 of her young adult titles.  We were also able to fill in the missing Bluford High titles, which serve our urban fiction fans as well as our Hi/Lo students.  For the manga patrons, we filled in all of the holes in the series we already had and aimed to include four new series a year.

Another strategy for building our collection for these underserved populations was to get input from the students.  In adding more manga, we allowed the students who were most interested in these series to help us with the selection of new titles.  They perused catalogs and looked online for reviews and suitable content (as some manga is aimed at a more adult audience). My African-American girls, who were devouring the urban fiction, asked about adding the Drama High series.  They loved looking for new authors to tell me about as well.  With the addition of the new titles, plus the marketing of the items through displays, our circulation increased 67% in one year!  Allowing students to assist in making our collection stronger for them gave them a sense of ownership and pride in our media program.

YALSA's Teen Programming Guidelines states that librarians should "create programming that reflects the needs and identities of all teens in the community."  Many media centers and libraries run into the problem of having an underserved population, and it is the duty of the librarian to recognize the needs of all patrons and work to strengthen the weak areas.  Investigate your collection for missing titles and allow your teens input.  These practices can go a long way in reflecting the needs of the communities we serve.

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10. Instagram of the Week - April 6

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

In the past few days, not only have we had to flip our calendars, but the seasons have transitioned and spring has sprung! Are you in the process of switching over your book displays and bulletin boards? This week we're sharing some fun display ideas from libraries and librarians on Instagram. Focusing on "April showers" is popular as well as gardening, spring creatures, and spring cleaning. April displays also provide an opportunity to highlight monthly themes such as National Poetry Month, National Humor Month, and Autism Awareness Month.

In addition to providing inspiration for new displays, spring can be a great time to spice up social media accounts with a new series or game. As our teens are heading outside for spring sports and activities, social media can be a great way to keep them engaged with the library when they're on the go. To encourage patrons to interact with the library on Instagram, some libraries post fun trivia questions using emojis, pieces of text or illustrations, or clues that highlight a specific area or collection of the library. Creating a unique hashtag for the community to share images of their reading and showing a side of librarianship not usually witnessed at the service desk (such as mugs used by staff or their favorite snacks), will help patrons learn more about staff members without being present in the library. There are also a number of popular hashtags that are widely used by libraries and patrons alike that are specific to days of the week such as #bookfacefriday in which the face on a book cover is photographed over one's own or #tbt to share an image for Throwback Thursday. Hover over the images below to see the hashtags libraries have created for weekly series posts.

Have an awesome spring display idea? Created your own hashtags for your library? Developed social media games for your patrons? We want to hear about it! Share with us in the comments section below.

 

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11. 30 Days of Teen Programming: Consulting YALSA's Teen Space Guidelines

The Teen Programming Guidelines discuss the physical spaces of hosting teen programs in their eighth guideline.  When YALSA released its Teen Space Guidelines in May 2012, I dove into the wealth of information that the guidelines provided.  My school was in a transition period where we gained an additional media center space that needed to be completely renovated.  Our original media center also needed some updating, so the Teen Space Guidelines was the perfect tool for me to use in approaching our spaces.

The first teen space guideline states, "Solicit teen feedback and input in the design and creation of the teen space." Librarians and media specialists should always take into consideration the community they serve.  I needed feedback on what our students wanted to see in our original space.  A simple Survey Monkey survey was all it took to gain valuable insight into layout, furniture, needs, and wants for our high school students.  With their advice, we were able to rearrange furnishings and incorporate a few new pieces to freshen up our original media center.  Students also suggested that we move our manga section closer to the circulation desk.  Manga books are cataloged in the 740s in the nonfiction collection.  In our media center, this happened to put them in a far corner of our space and hard to see from the circulation desk.  Not only are these super popular books that are checked out frequently, but they became hot commodities that were frequently stolen.  (We do not have a book security system.)  After moving these books closer to the circulation desk, students have easier access to them, and we do not lose near as many to theft.  This also allowed us to promote the books more easily, which is also one of the guidelines in Teen Space Guidelines.  Teen feedback can never be underestimated.

In renovating our newly acquired media space, the main goal was to create a comprehensive digital lab that allowed us to add tools to "link" education with technology in a more efficient manner.  Thus our school's LiNK was created.  "Provide furniture and technology that is practical yet adaptive" is another guideline for teen spaces.  In creating the LiNK, I knew we needed mobile furniture that would allow students and teachers to work as individuals, small groups, and entire classes.  Teen Space Guidelines also states that teen spaces should "be technology rich and include both stationary and portable technology."  We are able to do that by having 21 Windows desktop computers available, as well as 35 Chromebooks, and 30 iPads.  Students have many technology options for researching and creating. Here is what we were able to accomplish as we took into consideration the Teen Space Guidelines:

Panorama of LiNK from entrance

Panorama of LiNK from entrance - couch pieces are sectional and movable

Panorama of LiNK from back

Panorama of LiNK from back

Desktop computer area; student artwork on walls

Desktop computer area; student artwork on walls

Collaborative table near dry erase boards

Collaborative table near dry erase boards that we made with plexiglass and paint

Teacher using interactive flat panel for demonstration to class

Teacher using interactive flat panel for demonstration to class

Teacher asisting group in another collaborative area.  Students LOVE the sofas with tablet arms.

Teacher assisting group in another collaborative area.
Students LOVE the sofas with tablet arms, and they are on wheels to easily move around.

The Teen Space Guidelines are essential to librarians as they consider their library's physical space. Teens need spaces that allow them to grow intellectually and socially, and these guidelines will ensure that our libraries are able to meet their needs.

 

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12. Instagram of the Week: April 20th

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

What have you made with your library?

This year's National Library Week campaign focuses on the library as a place of creativity, creation and community engagement. All week, librarians and library users are posting what is #librarymade on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Unsurprisingly, many libraries are using this year's theme as an opportunity to encourage the creation, not just reading, of poetry during National Poetry Month. Teen services are a natural treasure trove of unlimited #librarymade action. Whether you have a 3D printer and circuits projects, book clubs, button-making workshops...anything!, your teen services are absolutely #librarymade.

How have you taken advantage of National Library Week? Are you incorporating the #librarymade theme into your National Poetry Month activities? In what ways could the vision of #librarymade change, improve or revitalize long-running teen services programs? Please share in the comments below!

 

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13. YALSA Shark Bowl: Meet the Finalist Jennifer Bishop

Jennifer Bishop, Library Associate at the Carroll County Public Library in Maryland, 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 "CRATE" 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 Jennifer before she heads to San Francisco for ALA's Annual Conference.

LWB: Tell us about the project you submitted to the Shark Bowl:
JB: Our idea is to follow the popular subscription box model to create monthly CRATEs (Create/ Re-invent/ Apply/ Teach/ Explore) for teens to explore selected technology at all six branches of the Carroll County Public Library. By providing self-guided access and resources on the public floor of all branches on a monthly basis, we will reach a greater number of teens and showcase technology as a tool for learning, innovation, and play.

LWB: What was your inspiration for this project?
JB: Teens are highly motivated to learn new technologies, but they often lack the access and facilitated introduction to emerging technologies. The response to our technology programs for teens has been very positive, but we want to reach more teens and not limit exposure to the small group programming setting.

LWB: In what ways are teens involved in the project?
JB: Teens will guide the direction of the CRATES to follow their topics of interest. They will learn multimedia tools as they create short videos of the monthly crate unboxing, will share their ideas and creations on our social media sites, and will gain knowledge in order to volunteer at tech programs.

LWB: How is your community involved in the project?
JB: Our community has expressed the need for more STEAM and technology offerings for teens and the library is a perfect partner to support digital literacy. This project will support not only teens but also those who work directly with teens such as teachers, parents, and organization leaders in modeling how they can support technology education for teens.

LWB: What are you updating/changing as you get ready for the Shark Bowl at Annual Conference
JB: We are working to refine our pitch by creating a short survey to evaluate success and preparing a draft budget. We are also drawing additional insights to reinforce our pitch from two recent ALA publications: YALSA's The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action and ALSC's Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth (birth to age fourteen).

LWB: What are you most excited about in getting ready for Shark Bowl
JB:We are excited to share our ideas, learn more about the other projects, and spread the word at ALA Annual about the importance of empowering teens to innovate and learn through exploring technology.

LWB: Anything else you want to tell us?
JB: I encourage all librarians to try out new technologies with your teens and remember that it's okay to learn alongside and even from the teens in your library.

Learn more about YALSA Shark Bowl and don't forget to attend the YALSA President's Program on Monday, June 29th from 10:30 a.m. to noon to see the sharks and pitches live.

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14. Instagram of the Week - June 22

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then what is a video worth? Instagram may be best known as a platform for sharing images that have been enhanced with just the right filters and photo editing tools, but it also comes in handy for sharing video content. The app may limit video to only fifteen seconds, but users can either shoot video live through Instagram or export content created through another app to Instagram of sharing. From book reviews and clips of programs in progress to behind the scenes looks and how to use library resources, the videos that can be shared with users are endless. Do you take so many photos at programs that you can't decide which ones to post without overloading your followers? Apps like SlideLab, Replay, and Flipagram allow you to select and organize your photographs to create a slideshow, add music, share the final product on Instagram, and not feel the pressure to pick only a few favorite pictures. Looking for something different to spice up your feed? With the Dubsmash app you can take video of yourself lip-synching well known bits from movies, tv shows, commercials, or songs for a post that's hilarious and shows a different side of the library staff. Turn up your volume and take a look at a sample of library Instagram videos that we've included below. Have you posted videos on your library's Instagram? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

 

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15. Back to School: Building the Resume

Many library’s are in a great position to help teens develop skills and experience they can add to their resume. Whether it be volunteering on a regular basis or honing graphic design or other useful technology proficiency, teens can gain that needed edge through the library for when they seek out other opportunities.

Last school year, I stumbled across a program at my local public school system that gives students school credit for being part of a library program such as volunteering! What a win-win situation for all! Read on for more details on how the program works.

The Academic Internship program is for high schoolers (though targeting 16-18 year olds) to receive work-based learning opportunities and earn school credit. Library programs that are ongoing such as tutoring, volunteering, creating a podcast program, reading to toddlers during storytime, etc. are some examples that would qualify teens for this opportunity. The credit appears on their transcript which in turn reflects their overall academic success.

Feel free to share if a similar program exists in your area. If it doesn’t already, a few suggestions to get started might be to seek out what kind of workforce development opportunities are in existence and bringing the library into the dialogue by sharing a portfolio of information about the programs you feel might qualify. Gathering anecdotes and outcomes from a program can show that it’s really making a difference in the lives of teens and helps connect them to their greater career goals and interests.

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16. When 3rd Place is Good. Empowering Students in the Library.

One reason I love my high school  library job is that I don’t have to tell people what to do all day.  Sure, I’m always checking passes, giving instructions and directions, or pointing the way to obtain the desired outcome.  But, when a teen walks through the doors of our school library the decision about what to do next is totally up to them.  It is so unlike walking into a classroom where the next 90 minutes are highly structured and choices are circumscribed.  The ability to provide an intellectually stimulating environment where teens get to make the choice of what to do next is empowering for our young people and deserves to be protected.

The high school library is one of the few places where students are given decision-making power.  Sure, it is the decision-making power over their own actions, but, that is where empowerment starts.  When they walk through that library door, decisions await.  Where to sit, computer or table?  Do they need to work, or socialize a bit?  Should they listen to music while they work independently, or work with a group of classmates? Do they want to work with a group of our coders on the 3D printer or lounge in a comfy chair and read a magazine?  Perhaps they stayed up late studying last night and just need to take a nap. The library is one of the few places on the high school campus where students can be self-directed.

The library is the third place for our teens.  Described by Ray Oldenburg as neither work (classroom) or home the third place is where community building and a sense of place are fostered and nourished.  I say it is also a place where youth empowerment occurs.  In our library, where teens have choices and can create their own culture we have helped to foster this third place.  It is the place where the 3C’s of the 21st Century learning paradigm come together: communication, collaboration and creativity.

In a time when school and district administrators, as well as city government, want to defund  libraries, eliminate staff and cut hours it is time for librarians to show that keeping libraries open and accessible is valuable. Just because many of our students research online and are collections are more digital than ever, school libraries remain that third place where students can become creators rather than just consumers.  School libraries and teen libraries are that place where kids can meet, create, and communicate.  In fact, it is one of the few places left for students to be able to do this and we owe it to them to keep our libraries open and staffed.

 

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17. Instagram of the Week – September 22

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform. This week we explore “theme of the day” posts, contests, and good old #libraryshelfies.

Have you come across a related Instagram post this week, or has your library posted something similar? Have a topic you’d like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

[<a href="http://storify.com/mdarling/instagram-of-the-week" target="_blank">View the story "Instagram of the Week - September 22" on Storify</a>]

 

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18. Learning from Teens: Thoughts for Teen Read Week

Teen Read Week is coming up October 12-18, and libraries are encouraged to use the theme “Turn Dreams into Reality” 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 collection—in folder and binders, dog-eared books and browser bookmarks, or just in our haphazardly cataloged heads—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 “healthier” books than the ones they want—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.

Most library staff are good at observing. Circulation stats are great for long-term trends. For the short-term, pay attention to reference questions and keep an eye on the “Just Returned” shelves. Displays and handouts can be useful, too. I once put up a “Take a Book, Leave a Book” display in which teens were encouraged to check out a book off the shelf and replace it with one of their favorite titles from the collection for someone else to discover. Or, leave some genre booklists near your YA stacks, and observe which go out the quickest.take a book 2

Asking is perhaps a less commonly used tool. Asking a teen what books she likes may seem less efficient than checking stats, but its impact is great in a different way. When we make a habit of asking teens their opinions, we show that their library is their own, and exists to meet their needs. We acknowledge that we, the “book experts,” respect and want to learn from their expertise. We begin a conversation that builds relationships, which lead to trust and a sense of community that allow us to better encourage the teens’ love of reading and the library. With further questioning, we can learn why a teen likes what she likes, and can use that knowledge to gain a deeper knowledge of teens’ reading preferences which will allow us to serve them better in a wider variety of situations. By encouraging them to talk about books, we help the teens learn to summarize and distill the core meaning or experience of a story. They practice explanatory and persuasive skills in telling us why the book was good.

Identify the best opportunities for conversing with teens about books in your job. For me, one opportunity is when walking from the Youth reference desk to the Teen Lounge to help a patron locate a title. Readers’ Advisory interactions are naturally a time to learn about someone’s reading tastes, especially if you ask why the patron enjoyed a certain title rather than coming up with readalikes based on your own criteria. Making a comment like “That’s a great book” or “That’s a very popular book” can sometimes spark a conversation. (Remember, you don’t always have to like the book. Saying something is popular or that you’ve talked to other teens who liked it is a great way to say something positive while getting around expressing your own opinion.)

If you are a collection developer, asking knowledgeable teens for their input on the collection encourages them to feel that they can make a difference in the library. When a teen asks me for manga suggestions, after helping him out I might say, “I am actually the person who decides which manga we buy for the library. Are there any we don’t have that you think we should?” I might ask the same question to someone I see reading manga in the Teen Lounge, if she seems willing and I get a good opening (I wouldn’t want to interrupt someone’s reading, of course). Most libraries have a suggestion process, but patrons might not know about it or might not take the initiative to use it, whereas they’d be happy to take a minute or two to respond to a direct question.

Keep in mind that some teens won’t want to talk, and if they don’t, don’t push it. The goal is to help them interact positively with books and the library, and if talking to library staff is not positive for the patron, then you are subverting your own goal.

We can learn a lot from professional literature, degree programs, conferences, and fellow library staff, but you can only learn about the unique characteristics of your own community by engaging with its members, and you can only learn what it is like to be a teen by talking to teens. Teens are often looking for opportunities to be seen as adults rather than children, and will appreciate your interest in their opinions. Meanwhile, you will be building a program that is truly centered on those you serve.

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19. Instagram of the Week – September 29

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform. This week we explore posts that serve to educate and excite patrons about about a few of those important annual library themes — Banned Books Week (September 21-27), Library Card Sign-Up Month (September), and this year’s teen summer reading theme, Spark A Reaction. While there is no shortage of summer reading posts to be found, the posts below spotlight teens in action or showcase a unique reading motivator. Would you eat crickets if your teens outread you?

Have you come across a related Instagram post this week, or has your library posted something similar? Have a topic you’d like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

[<a href="http://storify.com/mdarling/instagram-of-the-week-september-29" target="_blank">View the story "Instagram of the Week - September 29 " on Storify</a>]

[&lt;a href="http://storify.com/mdarling/instagram-of-the-week-september-29" target="_blank"&gt;View the story "Instagram of the Week - September 29 " on Storify&lt;/a&gt;]

 

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20. Instagram of the Week – October 6

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform. From #librarianproblems to fun programs and new books to book messes, librarians are sharing really neat ideas through their accounts. Following library hashtags won’t just provide inspiration, but can also highlight different ways to showcase your library to the public. Is that just a photo of your desk or is it a behind the scenes look at the Youth Services office? Can that photo you just posted of your craft sample be turned into an advertisement for the program? You see new books to cover, they see a heads up on new books to check out! Which library hashtags do you follow most frequently?

This week we’re also looking at posts for Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15) and the upcoming Star Wars Reads Day III (October 11).

Have you come across a related Instagram post this week, or has your library posted something similar? Have a topic you’d like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

 

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21. Instagram of the Week – October 13

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform. This week we’re all about those book displays! Are your displays getting patrons in the fall spirit, providing inspiration for costumes and pumpkin carvings, or taking the opportunity to spotlight horror novels? What’s the coolest non-holiday display you’ve put together? Share with us in the comments section. We liked these ones a latte.

In honor of Teen Read Week which kicked off yesterday, October 12 and runs through October 18, we’re highlighting a few ‘grams of programs in the works and a few ideas from last year.

Have you come across a related Instagram post this week, or has your library posted something similar? Have a topic you’d like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

[<a href="http://storify.com/mdarling/instagram-of-the-week-october" target="_blank">View the story "Instagram of the Week - October 13" on Storify</a>]

 

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22. Instagram of the Week – November 10

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform. From cupcakes to duct tape and candy sushi to spin art, this week we’re looking at how libraries advertise for teen programs, show off what participants made, and recruit new members for TAB and TAG groups. Does your library have an Instagram account specifically your teen population or TAB group? Who decides what gets posted on there?

Secondly, we mustache you… are you doing anything special for MOvember? If yes, please don’t shave it for later! We want to see your crafts, displays, and decorations in the comments section below.

Have you come across a related Instagram post this week, or has your library posted something similar? Have a topic you’d like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

Due to technical difficulties, please follow this link to view this week’s post directly on the Storify website: Instagram of the Week – November 10

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23. Instagram of the Week - December 22

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

Embarking on a new social media platform to engage your library users can be a tough decision. Which platform to use? Who will be in charge of posting? How can we get users to follow us? What do our followers want to see in our posts? However, when it comes to engaging teens on Instagram, there appears to be a split -- some libraries have accounts dedicated just to teens while others include posts for teens in an general library account alongside posts for adults and from children's events. How do you decide which path to take?

If your library posts images for teens on Instagram, whether it be through a general or teen-specific account, how did you come to decide which approach to take? What is the division of responsibility among staff when it comes to posting? How frequently are posts made? And, perhaps more importantly, how are things working out? Any words of wisdom to librarians thinking of branching into Instagram?

 

Have a topic you'd like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

 

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24. Instagram of the Week - January 5

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

Happy New Year! For many, the changing year brings with it a list of resolutions. What can we do for those who have made it a goal to read more books? For starters, we can share reading challenges with our teen patrons or create our own for our communities. The 2015 Goodreads Reading Challenge has users set a goal of a specific number of titles to read, but other sources like Popsugar, Book Riot, and the TBR (To Be Read) Jar Challenge give category guidelines in which readers select a title of their choice.  Others, like Epic Reads' 365 Days of YA reading calendar and YALSA's 2015 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge (which counts toward the upcoming 2015 Hub Reading Challenge), ask participants to read a number of books from a provided list. Either way, these reading challenge avenues provide inspiration for creating your own reading challenge for your teens. Check out Random House of Canada's year-long Reading Bingo Challenge (one general card and one specific to YA) -- fun and motivating!

Another way to engage teens in a discussion of their reading is through book photo challenges. Offered monthly, these challenges ask users to take a book-related photo a day and post it on social media with the corresponding hashtags. The sky is the limit when it comes to daily photo tasks! Engaging library users in this type of discussion can provide clues to collection development and potential programming.

Has your library hosted a reading or book photo challenge before? Is there a "go to" reading challenge that you recommend to your teens? If so, share with us the comments section below.

 

Have a topic you'd like to see in the next installment of Instagram of the Week? Share it in the comments section of this post.

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25. Midwinter Review: YALSA Research and Strategic Planning Programs

YALSA sponsored a variety of programs and events at this year’s ALA Midwinter Conference held in snowy Chicago.  On Saturday morning, the YALSA Past Presidents held their Trends Impacting YA Services session.  This year’s program featured Dr. Mega Subramaniam, assistant professor at the College of Information Studies, University of Maryland.  Dr. Subramaniam’s research focuses on participatory design and connected learning; in an ALA press release she states:

“Surveys, interviews, and forming a youth advisory council are no longer sufficient when designing programs for young adults. This paper calls for a substantial paradigm shift in how librarians are trained and how libraries can be used to serve diverse youth. It is time to involve the young adults themselves as co-designers.”

Mega’s presentation slides from the session can be found here.  She discussed the transition from traditional, “in-situ” learning experiences (such as formal education) to a new landscape of “learning in the wild.”  Librarians can bridge this transition, especially in a profession newly shaped by the Future of Library Services for and With Teens report.  So, how do we design FOR teens, WITH teens?

Enter participatory design; Dr. Subramaniam shared seven methods that get teens directly involved with planning, other than the traditional “librarian asks what we should do next.”  These methods include use of sticky notes to shape idea processes, “bags of stuff” where teens build and create with provided supplies to see what ideas bubble up, a big-paper approach to teen-led brainstorming, layered elaboration, fictional inquiry, “the cool wall,” and storytelling.  At the end of the program Mega asked each table in the room to think about a current design process we use when working with youth and how we might reshape that in the lens of participatory design.  I came away from the session with a whole new idea of how to work with my TAB as we plan future events.

On Sunday afternoon YALSA members gathered for the Moving YALSA Forward session.  This program was planned in conjunction with the YALSA Board’s strategic planning process which was also taking place during the midwinter conference.  The board’s strategic planning facilitator, Alan Brickman, also facilitated this member session.  Instead of tacking the full strategic plan, Sunday’s discussion focused on the area of advocacy.  While advocacy can mean many things, Brickman framed it for this purpose as “a direct effort to impact policy, impact public awareness, and build libraries’ capacity to further both these impacts.”

Attendees were divided into four groups, each with an advocacy area of either awareness or capacity building.  The groups brainstormed what the optimal outcomes would be and what direct actions would lead to those outcomes.  As we worked our way through the still relatively new idea of planning with outcomes as opposed to activities, several great ideas rose to the surface.  After working together, each group posted their ideas on the wall and with sticky dots in hand attendees chose their five priorities.  Brickman will be consolidating the results of this session and sharing with the YALSA Board as they continue their strategic planning process.

Both of these programs felt very much in line with YALSA’s current work of assisting members to redefine their teen programs and also be advocates for the valuable services we offer our communities.  Check out YALSA’s page on advocacy to find useful resources, and the Future of Library Services for and with Teens report to see how connected learning can fit into your teen services.

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