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1. 10 QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT YOUR TEEN SERVICES

Are you struggling trying to find ways to engage teens at your library? Look no further! As part of our ongoing research relating to teen library services, we talked with teens across the country and have answers for you in “10 Questions to Ask about Your Teen Services.” (For details about the research, see our recent YALS article: Denise Agosto, Rachel Magee, Andrea Forte, and Michael Dickard, 2015, "The Teens Speak Out: What Teens in a Tech High School Really Think about Libraries...and What You can do to Improve their Perceptions." Young Adult Library Services 13 (3): 7-12.)

10 Questions to Ask about Your Teen Services

  1. Can teens find quiet spaces for reading and studying in your library and vibrant spaces for hanging out, socializing, and creative activities?

It’s important to remember that teens use libraries for all sorts of activities - social interaction, quiet reading, collaborative school work, and hanging out with friends. Your library space needs to support all of these diverse activities. When asked why they use libraries, some of the teens we’ve worked with talked about schoolwork. For example, Kacie* (age 18), told us that she hadn’t visited her public library in years. Then she stopped in one day and realized that it was a great place to do her homework. She realized that: "'Hey! The library is quiet. There's everything I need [for studying].'… It was like: 'Hey! The library's kind of awesome!'" On the other hand, other teens told us about using libraries as spaces to connect with their friends or to engage in creative pursuits. As Jamie (age 18) explained: "People usually just go to the library to play music or just chill out, eat lunch, or read a game magazine. I have used it for that. They have cool magazines there." Your library should provide clearly marked spaces to support each of these different activities.

  1. Do you avoid charging fines and other penalties that can keep teens away from the library?

Our work with teens has taught us that worries about possible fines and fees even as small as thirty cents can keep teens from using their public and school libraries. As Jenny (age 16) told us: "I used to [use the public library]. What ended up happening was a thirty dollar fine for a video that I didn't even check out, so I never ended up going back and finding out how to solve the problem.” Patrick (age 18) explained that: "Personally, I know that I'm really bad at remembering due dates, or I'll just be really lazy one day and be like, 'I don't want to return this book right now.' So to save myself money and know I don't have to worry about that, I don't bother using real libraries."

What's more important: attracting teens to libraries, or collecting fines? We think you’ll agree that encouraging teens to use libraries is far more important. It’s time we work toward finding creative non-monetary alternatives to fines and fees. Possible solutions include providing volunteering options for working off fines and scheduling periodic amnesty days instead of insisting that teens pay up.

  1. Do teens help you decide what you stock in the library?

Some teens told us that the materials their libraries stock are irrelevant or uninteresting to them. For instance, Amani (age 16) said that libraries "don't necessarily have the books you might be looking for," so she prefers going to bookstores or looking for reading materials online. Public and school libraries should set up a communication channels to encourage teens to ask for the materials they would most like to use—not just books, but magazines, music, gaming equipment, and any other types of materials you consider purchasing.

  1. Are you fighting against the stereotype of libraries as just book providers?

Many teens we talked to expressed the idea that "library" equals "books"and nothing else. This limited perception meant they would mainly think to use a library when looking for a paper book, not for socializing, for entertainment opportunities, for homework help, or to take advantage of the many other services that libraries offer. As Hannah (age 15) stated, she goes "to a school that doesn't use books as much [for class assignments], so that's another reason why I've never used [the library]." As librarians and other library staff know, libraries offer much, much more than just books, but this message doesn’t seem to be getting through to teens. As a field we must work to fight against the outdated image of libraries just as book providers and help teens learn the full range of services that today’s libraries offer.

  1. Are you going to where the teens are (outside of the library) to market your services?

Most library research takes place in libraries and uses library users as study participants. Our research took place in high schools with random groups of students who did not self-identify as library users. Sadly, the teens in our studies were largely unfamiliar with their libraries and were mostly infrequent public and school library users. Jamie (age 18) even suggested that "today's youth have quit libraries," in part because "usually everything is done online." This finding highlights the importance of moving library marketing outside the physical library boundaries. After all, why focus your marketing efforts on teens who are already using libraries? Moving outside the library to other places where teens go, such as shopping malls, churches, community centers, sports fields, and online to social media and any other popular online teen hangouts makes for much more effective marketing by spreading the message of how great your library is to teens who don’t already know it.

  1. Are you working to ensure that all library staff exhibit positive, welcoming attitudes toward teens?

We learned that some teens perceive libraries as having unpleasant, unwelcoming staff members—people who don’t seem to like teens all that much. For example, Meghan (age 17) noted that the previously pleasant atmosphere of her school library was ruined by a new "librarian that was like, 'No food! No drinks! No talking!' [After she was hired] people were no longer interested in going there." Once the library gets the reputation of being unwelcoming to teens, it can spread quickly throughout the teen community and keep teens away.

  1. Are your policies framed in positive language?

We also learned that negative language in library policies can send the message that the library views teens as potential troublemakers. A sign that says, “No cell phone use in the library!” sends an angry, distrustful message. A sign that says, “Please take all phone calls to the lobby to avoid disrupting others who are working” means the same thing but sends a message of trust and mutual respect. Library staff members’ actions when enforcing policies can also have a major effect on teens’ perceptions of the library. Kacie (age 18) described returning to the library after having a positive experience with library staff waiving a fine: "Yeah, the one time I had sixty cents [in fines]. One book was late, but they forgave that. That was very nice. That's why I keep going. I've been at least five times in the last two months." Framing library policies in positive language can go a long way toward promoting the image of the library as welcoming to teens.

  1. Are you matching your services to your teen community’s unique needs?

We all know that community needs and interests should drive collection development and programming, but it’s a rule that bears repeating. For example, there has been strong push in the library literature to think of public and school libraries as technology providers, but in economically-advantaged or technology-saturated communities, teens are likely to have reduced needs for technology access. As Maisha (age 15), a student in a technology magnet school, told us: "I really don't need to go to the library because I have everything at home," including several digital devices and full access to a range of online tools and resources at home and at school. In these types of communities, the more effective approach to teen library services might be to focus on providing community engagement opportunities, civic participation outlets, social activities, recreation, information literacy education, etc., instead of focusing on information resource provision and on technology access. For more disadvantaged communities, however, public and school libraries might better serve teens by focusing resources and energy on providing technology access, infrastructure, and education, and by providing information resources teens can't get elsewhere.

  1. Do you provide opportunities for teens to demonstrate their knowledge and accomplishments, such as avenues for displaying teen fiction, teen photography, teen computer game designs, teen music compositions and performances, etc.?

Libraries are perfect places for celebrating and encouraging teens' creativity and their creations. Teens in our studies described deep levels of engagement with creative endeavors like writing, photography, and music. Taahira (age 14) explained that, "I just take pictures, because I want to be a photographer when I grow up." She went on to detail her photography and to describe her efforts to find good outlets for sharing her work others. Isaac (age 16) explained that he plays "drums, guitar, and bass…. We started a [music] club, too." Libraries have the opportunity to provide community spaces where teens can share their creativity and knowledge with other teens and with their community at large, both in the physical library and online via the library’s website or social media accounts.

  1. Do you work hard to bring the teens in your community together at your library, either face-to-face or online?

The teens in our studies told us that the social support aspects of libraries are key to engaging their interest, especially for those with limited transportation options or limited access to places where they can safely or easily hang out and socialize. Public and school libraries interested in increasing teen participation should look toward providing services that facilitate social interaction and focus on promoting libraries as social organizations. Victoria (age 16) described a successful program at her local public library: "They have these things every Tuesday, these teen programs that they have. And all these teens from different places come and meet, and they play all these games, and eat, and just hang out. We actually started going on Tuesdays, because it was really fun." That’s what teen librarianship should be about at its core: bringing teens together and providing them with a wide variety of opportunities for positive social, intellectual, and personal development.

Were you able to answer yes to all 10 questions? We hope so!

Please tell us if you found this information useful by completing a short, three-question survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GRN5PMQ. For more information about our research with teens, visit our homepage: Drexel University’s Youth Online Research Group.

Thank you!

 

By Michelle Purcell, Rachel Magee, Denise Agosto, and Andrea Forte

-----

*Note: All teens’ names are pseudonyms. Quotes come from our interviews and focus groups with high school students, conducted between 2013 and 2015 in U.S. public high schools.

10 Questions to Ask about Your Teen Services” is based on research conducted by Drexel University’s Youth Online Research Group, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [IMLS], Award #LG-06-11-0261-11, and the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant No. 2011121873.

 

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2. 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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3. 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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4. 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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5. 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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6. 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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7. 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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8. 30 Days of Teen Programming: Develop Your Evaluation Skills

In the Fall 2014 YALSA journal (vol 13, number 1), I published an article about creating outcome measurement tools collaboratively with staff and participants for a teen program (Measuring Outcomes for Teen Technology Program, p. 25). The program I discussed is the Teen Tech Squad, tech workshops for teens led by teens at Hennepin County Library.

When I began working with the teen librarians to identify outcomes and measurement tools, an important step was relying on the expertise of the teen librarians. I did not assume that I knew what teens were doing in the workshops or what skills they were gaining. I relied on the expertise of the teen librarians to identify these things. I worked with them to make sure that they understood what outcomes are and we collaboratively created the outcomes and survey questions. We also took the time to get teens opinions on the questions we asked so we knew our questions would be understandable and effective. I empowered staff to take the lead on implementing the evaluation and continue to offer my assistance as they discover what is working and what isn’t.

This approach to evaluation is called “developmental evaluation,” a concept developed by program evaluation consultant Michael Quinn Patton. Developmental evaluation differs from traditional evaluation in many ways. For example, one way is the role of the evaluator. Traditional evaluation positions the evaluator as an outsider from the program they are evaluating while developmental evaluation positions evaluation as a job duty of the program deliverers. Developmental evaluation is most suited to programs that are innovative and adaptable; that is, not static.

Why this is important is that I see a need for libraries to have an in-house evaluation expert. It may seem easier (although more expensive) to hire an outside firm to evaluate. What library staff miss out when they do this is learning how to evaluate on their own. Knowing how to evaluate means that you can work evaluation into the biggest and smallest projects at your library. It can help you design projects intentionally, evaluate them, and decide what should continue, what should change and what can come to an end.

YALSA’s tenth teen programming guideline directs library staff to, “Engage in youth-driven, evidence-based evaluation and outcome measurement.” Now that we have measurement tools in place and used teen feedback to develop the tools, our teen workers are charged with using them and evaluating their results to improve workshops. Our library staff also use measurement tools to evaluate our teen workers’ experiences and improve the project.

I’m very lucky to be sharing my experience in developing the teen tech evaluation tools at this year’s Libraries Leaders Summit at the 2015 Computers in Libraries conference in Washington, D.C.  (April 27-29). If you’ll be there, I’d love to talk to you about evaluations. If you can’t make it, there are many resources you and your colleagues can access to learn more about creating evaluations. The Research and Institute for Public Libraries summer conference is focusing on outcomes and how to measure library impact. There are also a few books I’ve listed below. Finally, reach out to nearby universities to find out if they offer trainings for measuring outcomes -- I caught the evaluation bug after attending a one-day training at the nearby University of St. Thomas. It’s great to be able to talk to expert evaluators about your library’s work and get their feedback. Remember YALSA’s seventh teen programming guideline, “Participate in targeted and ongoing training to build skills and knowledge relating to programming.” You may intuitively know what works and doesn’t work about your teen programs. It’s also important to evaluate in a more formal manner to get new insights.

 

Dynamic Youth Services through Outcome-Based Planning and Evaluation, by E Dresang, M. Gross, L Edmonds, Holt. ALA Editions, 2006.

Evaluating Teen Services and Programs, by S. Flowers. ALA Editions, 2012.

Getting Started with Evaluation, by P. Hernon, R. Dugan and J. Matthews. ALA Editions, 2014.

Johannah Genett is the resource services division manager for Hennepin County Library. She can be reached at jrgenett@hclib.org.

 

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9. 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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10. 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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11. YALSABLOG TWEETS OF THE WEEK - MAY 1, 2015

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between May 1 and 7 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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12. Level Up Your Leadership Skills: When You Don't Know What You're Doing

A friend of mine just accepted a promotion. When I asked her why she accepted it and what she was looking forward to, she said, “I’m really looking forward to working for my new boss; I really respect him and he’s indicated he trusts me. But what he doesn’t know is that lots of time I don’t know what I’m doing.”

She said this jokingly, but it struck a chord with me as I’ve been in a new role in my library since January. On my first day, another colleague advised, “Fake it ‘till you make it!” Each day, I never really know exactly what to do or how to respond to dilemmas - but I have a plan, some strategies, some good instinct and I ask good questions. So far it’s working.

People have three psychological needs: autonomy -- a perception that we have some choices that are ours to make; relatedness - a connection to something or someone - beyond ourselves; and competence -- a feeling of effectiveness and success. We need these in our personal lives, and also in our workplaces.

One of the hardest things I’ve seen library staff (including myself) struggle with is when our own personal levels of competence are not where we want them to be--it’s true for everyone, but feels especially relevant in libraries, where we highly value our expertise and knowledge--and get to demonstrate it almost every day if we work directly with the public.

When we’re in a new role at our library--a promotion, a change in responsibilities or location--especially one in which we’re not regularly called on to demonstrate our excellent information-seeking and finding skills, this change from “I know how to answer your question” to “I don’t know what to do next” can feel especially unsettling.

I’ve been in a new role since January -- and it’s a stretch. For the first time in my library career, my work is not directly connected to youth services or to staff delivering services to children, youth and families. I’m leading staff working in areas critical to the library’s success, but know very little about those areas.

Despite feeling like I’m not always competent, I like my new role because of the talented staff I’m working with -- who ARE subject matter experts in their areas and who need a leader, not another expert in their area of work. These staff, too, made the leap from the comfort of direct service to patrons, to areas that were very new to them.

Some of the most intensive learning we can do as individuals is through stretch assignments -- projects or assignments or tasks that sometimes feel physically painful to us as we’re going through them -- we might not automatically know what to do, we may need to try something that doesn’t work, reach out to others for support, or delegate the work completely.

As I’ve worked with individual staff members on stretch assignments or development opportunities, many will say, “I have no idea what I’m doing” or “I don’t think I can do this work.” I have felt like that many times, myself -- and feel it regularly in my new work.

These new roles of project manager, supervisor, community organizer, advocate, and facilitator are ones we must step into. It may mean moving out of our comfort zone and taking on new new roles in our organization. Stretch assignments test our feelings of competence, but they are necessary to further and advance service to teen patrons in our libraries.

It’s amazing to me that we’re often so impatient with our own learning, but so supportive of teens as they learn new skills -- supporting them in leading a planning meeting, encouraging them to share their crazy idea with the group, and leading the group in reflective conversations when there is conflict. Stretch into a new role or assignment - and be patient with our own learning and development.

Some ideas for YALSA resources to support your next opportunity to stretch:

Apply to be the next member manager of the Hub

Read YALSA’s Future of Library Services for and with Teens: a Call to Action report again - this time for an eye on areas where your current role might evolve.

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13. YALSA Seeks Member Manager for Upcoming Teen Programming HQ

YALSA is seeking a Member Manager for its upcoming web resource, Teen Programming HQ, The mission of the new site is to provide a one-stop-shop for finding and sharing information about library programs of all kinds for and with teens. The site will promote best practices in programming by featuring user-submitted programs that align with YALSA’s Teen Programming Guidelines and Futures Report. The site will also enable dissemination of timely information about emerging and new practices for teen programming; raise awareness about appropriate YALSA tools to facilitate innovation in teen programming; and provide a means for members and the library community to connect with one another to support and display their efforts to continuously improve their teen programs. The site is expected to have a soft launch in July and a full launch in September. Please note that web developers have been contracted with to build the site. The Member Manager is not expected to have any web site design or development responsibilities.

The Member Manager will work with YALSA's Communications Specialist to ensure the site is relevant, interactive, engaging and meeting member needs for information about innovation in teen programming, as well as participates in the maintenance of the site and work within the guidelines for the site as set by the YALSA Board of Directors. The Member Manager assists with the recruitment of experts and the collection of content for the site; generates ideas for direction and content; helps obtain, analyze and use member and library community feedback about the site; assists with marketing; and assists with ensuring programming related activities, news and resources from YALSA are integrated in the site, and vice versa.

List of Qualifications for the Member Manager:

  1. Strong project management and organizational skills
  2. Ability to delegate work and to manage a variety of contributors and volunteers
  3. Dynamic, self-motivated individual
  4. Excellent verbal and written communications skills
  5. Experience in web site maintenance
  6. Ability to set and meet deadlines
  7. Knowledge of best practices in teen programming, as outlined in YALSA’s Teen Programming Guidelines and Futures Report
  8. Ability to work well in a team environment
  9. Ability to work well in a mostly virtual setting, including using tools such as Google Drive, Google Calendar, Skype, etc. to coordinate work and communicate with others
  10. Membership in YALSA and a passion for YALSA’s mission
  11. High ethical standards and no real or perceived conflict of interest with YALSA or its portfolio of print and web publications

General Member Manager Responsibilities:

Oversight & Coordination

  • For the inaugural year of the site, work with the Communications Specialist to create and implement systems and processes to ensure efficient oversight, promotion and integration of the site and database. Make adjustments as needed
  • For the inaugural year of the site, work with the expert panel to formalize the vetting process and create and utilize guidelines, standard messaging, etc. to create consistency with the vetting process. Make adjustments as needed
  • Work with the Communications Specialist to recruit and vet experts to vet the program proposals, and submit recommendations to the President
  • Communicate with the Communications Specialist on a regular basis in order to assign tasks, discuss marketing strategies, discuss site management, etc.
  • Work with the blog managers and YALS and JRLYA editors as appropriate to coordinate dissemination of information to members and the library community.
  • Maintain communication with YALSA member groups whose work relates to teen programming
  • Follow all established policies and guidelines, enforce them as necessary and periodically conduct a review of them to ensure currency
  • Direct questions about sponsorships, advertising, etc. to YALSA’s Executive Director
  • Write reports prior to the Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting for submission to the YALSA Board

Seek Out & Manage Content & Contributors

  • Provide oversight to the panel of experts to make sure the quality of program submissions is acceptable complies with YALSA’s Teen Programming Guidelines and Futures Report
  • With the Communications Specialist recruit contributors on a regular basis
  • Effectively motivate, support and manage a group of volunteers
  • Manage a strategy to deal with comments and spam daily in order to guarantee that the site content is appropriate

Promotion

  • Seek out opportunities to recruit contributors and inform the library community about the site
  • Answer questions and inquiries about the site in a timely fashion
  • Work with the YALSA Website Advisory Board and the Communications Specialist to create cross-promotion of all YALSA's web presences
  • Utilize social media to increase awareness of the site and its content

Technical Maintenance

  • Work with YALSA’s Communications Specialist as appropriate to update and manage software
  • Monitor new technologies and their potential to impact the site, and make recommendations to the Communications Specialist, as appropriate

YALSA Communications Specialist Responsibilities:

  • Communicates regularly with Member Manager to provide support and facilitate work
  • Works with the site developer and the ALA IT Dept. as needed on technical issues
  • Handles all financial transactions for the site
  • Promotes the site through appropriate venues
  • Coordinates efforts and facilitates communication among all YALSA publications, including the blogs and journals
  • Manages the site software, including liaising with the developer and ALA’s IT Dept. to troubleshoot technical issues
  • Ensure site guidelines and policies are complied with
  • Oversee the recruitment process for Member Managers, as needed

The Member Manager will be selected by the YALSA Executive Committee by August 1, 2015. The term of the appointment is one year beginning in August 2015, with an option to renew for a second year, based on performance. The Member Manager will receive an honorarium of $500 per year plus $500 towards travel to each Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting while serving as Member Manager. Candidates must send a cover letter and resume, which includes project management, teen programming, marketing and website maintenance experiences to alam@ala.org. All resumes, etc. must be submitted via email. The deadline for submission is July 1, 2015. Please note that this is not a salaried staff position, but a member volunteer opportunity. Please direct questions to Anna Lam at alam@ala.org

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14. When Tragedy Strikes

On June 17, 2015, in Charleston, Virginia, Cynthia Hurd, a veteran Librarian for the Charleston County Library, was killed when a 21-year old man massacred worshipers at the Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, Virginia. This is a great tragedy that doesn’t just affect everyone who works in public libraries, but also the community she served. After reflecting on the senselessness of this massacre, I started thinking about the teens in Charleston. Not only did these teens lose an advocate, but they lost a mentor and a friend. As librarians, we forge amazing bonds with our teen patrons so, when tragedy strikes, how do we comfort those who are grieving? Although we cannot take on the role of grief counselors, we can provide grieving teens with a safe environment and resources that can help calm and comfort them through these dark days.

The first resource we can always rely on are books. There are many, many books that can help teens cope with their pain and suffering. In fact, after researching resources to help grieving teens, I found that libraries all over the country have amazing book lists that contain numerous titles cover all kinds of loss. If you haven’t had the chance to read Can Reading Make Your Happier1 by Cerwiden Dovey, it talks about the power of bibliotherapy and how books can not only stimulate our brains, but help delay the damage that debilitating diseases such as Dementia can cause. Furthermore, what makes books so powerful is that readers become so enveloped with the story that it literally has the power to change their perspective and decision-making processes. With grief, teens have a very different way of processing their feelings, which is why they act out; therefore, let’s empower our teens by giving them something to help them cope with their feelings. Lastly, as librarians, it is our job to provide teens with information and materials to help them learn, but let’s also show our teens we are also human beings who care and give them something a lot more valuable, which is our time and ears.

Again, we are not clinically-trained to help teens manage their sadness, pain, and/or anger, but we can take the time to listen to our teens. When teens confide in us, they are literally bearing their souls, which is difficult because they are already incredibly vulnerable. In other words, they are placing a huge amount of trust in us when they reveal their problems. By letting our teens vent, they are inadvertently seeking advice that can help them process their problems. Depending on the severity of these problems, we can usually provide a few words or sentences that will help them solve their issues. Obviously, if it’s something completely out of our control, we can provide them with resources that they can investigate, but there is a line we cannot cross. Most of the time, teens just need someone to listen without providing any judgment so let’s take the time to help them find the right tools whether it be a book, magazine, website, phone number, or age old wisdom. Along with connecting teens to resources, we can use our next greatest asset, which is programming.

Programming has immense power to heal. Whether it’s about bringing out our gaming systems or providing assorted crafts, teens can channel their energy into these projects. If tragedy does indeed strike, we can easily provide our teens with a safe space, such as a meeting room, and allow them to just mellow out and process the events that have occurred. Also, if we have strong connections with our local schools, we can contact school counselors to stop by the library to provide counseling or, if we have connections within our community, we can contact counselors who would be willing to donate their time to help our community heal. With this particular incident, I really think it might be worth creating a plan for when awful things happen in the community just in case.

Public libraries have a huge presence in the lives of teens and, just like Ferguson Public Library, we have the power to provide a safe haven for our community. As much as we want to protect our teens from the evil in this world, we can’t. However, we do have the ability to help them get through these moments and I have absolute faith that the Charleston County Public Library will continue to honor the memory of their fallen colleague by providing their community with the tools and resources to thrive and survive anything that life may throw at them.

To learn more about Cynthia Hurd, please click on the following link: http://www.ccpl.org/content.asp?id=147022&action=detail&catID=5367&parentID=5368

Resources:

1 http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/can-reading-make-you-happier

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15. Hour of Code

In celebration of Computer Science Education Week Dec 8-14, students, parents, teachers and professionals will all engage in coding.

Dozens of websites will highlight free one hour tutorials to inspire and teach computer programing skills.

Curriculum has been created for use in classrooms all around the world, even if students don’t have internet.

57,000 events are scheduled to happen next week.

Here are some ideas for what you can do to celebrate!

  1. Complete an hour of code yourself using one of the many resources available on Code.org:
  2. Sign up as a teacher and get access to offline lessons you can do with kids in a library program. Like Graph Paper Programing
  3. Set up one of Thinksmith’s Unplugged Activities in the library for families to complete together
  4. Display Computer Science books with Hour of Code Posters found online
  5. Display Science Fiction books with Posters about hour of code
  6. Invite Teens to add pages to Feminist Hacker Barbie
  7. Install Scratch on library computers,and encourage to use them to make something (now is a great time to make a digital Christmas card)
  8. If you can’t host an event, volunteer at a CoderDojo or other coding club near you.
  9. Work with a colleague to plan at least one event in 2015 using one of the many tools available through hour of code.
  10. Encourage everyone in your life to complete one hour of code.

Hour of Code is less than a week away! What will you do for the hour of code?

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16. Teens as Information-Mediaries: An Investigation of Teens, Technology, and Design

Today, we often take for granted how teens use technology. It seems to be embedded into their every day lives and something they pick up easily. But have we ever wondered how teens use technology to help others every day, especially others who do not understand technology as well? A group of researchers at the University of Washington’s iSchool are investigating these teens, whom they refer to as “info-mediaries” (InfoMes). Karen Fisher, Philip Fawcett, Ann Bishop, and Lassana Magassa are working with mainly groups of ethnic minority teens in the Seattle area to gain a better understanding of how teens, as information mediaries are using information and technology to help others.

IMG_1171

My group working on our app. We are in the visual stages where we are drawing out what our problem is.

To gain this insight, the research team created Teen Design Days (see video link for a longer explanation). This is a three-day workshop where the teens gathered to discuss, learn, and explore how they help people in their social networks with information and technology. The teens are paid for their time and by the end of the workshop, will have created a design project that would help them. The design days are structured around the developmental needs for teens, identified by J. Davidson and D. Koppenhaver in their 1992 publication, Adolescent Literacy as “physical activity, competence and achievement, self-definition, creative expression, positive social interaction, structure, and clear limits.” This means that along with the learning, the teens take an active role in shaping the outcome of the workshop. From designing the rules and expectations, to participating in “light-and-lively” activities (physical activity component), the teens are truly front and center. As they begin to move from discussing their role as information mediaries to more fully fleshing out designs and solutions to improve their InfoMe work, the teens talk with each other, share ideas, and revise their design.

IMG_1198

Our prototype app, Don't Think Twice, It's Alright.

From a research point of view, these design days allow the group to collect large amounts of data in a short time, create friendships with the youth they work with and the larger community as a whole, and get an insight into what the teens are facing on a daily basis and what ideas they have to solve these problems.

One of the researchers, Ann Bishop, made a visit to University of Illinois in early October to share InfoMe. I attended one of her presentations in which she gave an outline of their research. At the end of the session, the group expressed interest in participating in the “train-the-trainer” workshop model. We hoped that a session like that would give us ideas on how to design similar programs for the teens we currently serve.

IMG_1172

Telling the story of our problem (the stress of going home and visiting family and friends).

Our train-the-trainer workshop took place over a three-and-a-half hour time block at the Champaign Public Library. Bishop led us through a condensed design workshop, which included brainstorming problems we encounter daily and then splitting us into three groups based on the type of problems we identified. My group looked at the problem of visiting family and the hassles and stress that we confront. Through critical thinking, some storytelling, and using our limited drawing abilities (see photo, complete with stick figures), we more clearly defined our problem and then moved into thinking about what could help us out. My group created the beginnings of an app; one that would allow for family and friends to see your schedule when you’re visiting, for you to track your flight or train, and also a spot for stress relieving activities such as calming music or cat photos (whatever floats your boat). We created a prototype and if we had more time, would have continued to refine the app based on feedback from the rest of the group. When I left the workshop, I was energized and excited about the possibility of this for the future.

I believe the ideas behind InfoMe can be applied in our libraries. Not only is there potential for new designs to be brought forth, but also for teens to collaborate, and for librarians to gain insight into the teens they serve. I’m looking forward to following InfoMe and seeing what other insights they uncover with future Teen Design Days. For more information, make sure to visit their website, and read their various publications.

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17. 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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18. Instagram of the Week - February 2

A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform. Thursday, January 29 was New York Public Library's #libraryshelfie day during which book lovers worldwide snapped photos of their bookshelves and shared them on Instagram. From library shelves and to-be-read bedside stacks to pets with books and color coded shelving, shelfies of all sorts were spotlighted. This week we've collected the posts of several libraries that shared photos of their YA collections. Did you or your library participate this year?

It's hard to believe that February is already here! Will you be doing any special displays for Valentine's Day?  Blind Date with a Book displays are always popular, but we found a few red-themed ideas as well (one of which provides an awesome use for those leftover bookmarks).

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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19. YALSABLOG TWEETS OF THE WEEK - FEBRUARY 6, 2015

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between February 6 and February 12 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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20. YALSA wants YOU for our virtual strategic committees!

Happy Monday, amazing YALSA members!

Can you believe it's already near the end of February?

For those who've made New Year's resolutions to be more involved in the profession, it's not too late!

The deadline to apply to join a YALSA strategic committee, jury, or taskforce is this Sunday, March 1st!

You can see the full list of committees and juries here.

Strategic committees are a great way to get involved with YALSA, as they are virtual committees. Or, if you are a new member and looking to try committee work for the first time, the strategic committees are a great way to learn about YALSA, connect with teen service professionals from around the country, and help you develop your virtual work skills and teen expertise. So, if travel and conference attendance aren't an option for you this year, please take a minute to fill out the volunteer form here and send it in before March 1st!

My Appointments Taskforce and I will begin the process to fill the over 200 open positions that help YALSA accomplish the work of the strategic plan and the work that moves the association and members forward immediately after March 1st, so please be sure to get your application in before then.

I strongly encourage all YALSA members to apply - it is an easy and great way to get more involved in this amazing association, especially if you are interested in joining a YALSA selection or award committee in the future.

Please feel free to contact me at candice.yalsa (at) gmail.com if you have any questions!

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21. #act4teens: The Inclusive Library: More than a Diverse Collection: Part 2

In this second blog post on creating inclusive libraries, we examine the need to identify and remove barriers, and have an expanded definition of ‘the library as a safe space’.

Identifying and Removing Barriers

Paramount to our goal of creating inclusive libraries is removing barriers that prevent diverse youth from feeling welcome. In her research, Kafi Kumasi (2012) found that many youth of color feel like outsiders in library spaces, describing the school library as the sole “property” of the librarian. Kumasi argues that “these feelings of disconnect and exclusion should be attended to by school librarians, if they want to make all of their students feel welcome.”

Physical barriers can be easy to spot and can include, for example, detectors and late fees. Consider the unwelcoming message that detectors—particularly those with a ‘push’ gate—can send about libraries, especially for teens who may regularly be followed in department stores. We must recognize that these kinds of microaggressions are daily experiences for many youth, especially male youth of color, and must be mindful not to replicate them in our libraries. We must also realize that late fees represent a financial burden for some teens and their families causing teens to forego visiting the library, and ask ourselves, what other strategies might we use? Finally, our libraries must be physically and intellectually accessible for teens with disabilities (and, of course, stocked with literature that reflects their lived experiences). Project ENABLE provides free training to help librarians create more inclusive libraries that address the needs of youth with disabilities.

Other barriers are more difficult to unpack, but include library policies or procedures that inhibit teens from visiting or participating. For public libraries, this could manifest as an address requirement for receiving a library card. Teens experiencing homelessness would be unable to fulfill this requirement and thus be denied access to essential public library resources including computer time and material checkouts. For school libraries, perhaps a strict atmosphere of ‘shhh-ing’ is excluding teens from joining in library activities. Janice Hale (2001) reminds us, for example, that African American youth “participate in a culture that is highly dynamic. They thrive in settings that use multimedia and multimodal teaching strategies. And they favor instruction that is variable, energetic, vigorous, and captivating.” Do our libraries support this?

Barriers can also exist in programming. Are we scheduling programs at times that allow teen participation? Are we taking into consideration the public transportation schedules? Are we offering programs at locations in the community, rather than expecting teens to always come to the library? Are we coordinating our teen programs with our programs for children so that teens who are responsible for taking care of siblings can attend? Breaking Barriers: Libraries and Socially Excluded Communities explores ideas related to this topic specific to public libraries.

School librarians must work to embed issues of social justice throughout the curriculum recognizing that building a more inclusive library helps to cultivate a more inclusive school. We must use care to schedule our clubs—book, coding, gaming, etc.—at times when all students have the opportunity to attend. When schools have an enrichment/remediation period, this may seem like a perfect time to schedule library activities, but then we will be precluding any teens slated for remediation time from participating in our clubs—and these are exactly the teens we should be striving to reach. We need to work to select more neutral times, such as lunch, or work with teachers to create a way for students selected for remediation to fully participate

To identify barriers, it is important to see the library through the eyes of our teens— “What do they see?”  Utilizing the ideas in the Culturally Responsive Library Walk, we can ask teens who frequent the library, but perhaps more importantly those who are not regular visitors, to provide their insight into the explicit and implicit messages our libraries are sending.

Library as Safe Space

Overwhelmingly, as librarians, we believe in the idea of library as sanctuary. Are we making our libraries safe for the quiet female teen who doesn’t fit in and likes to read? Undoubtedly. [Bets are many of us were that girl.] What about the male teenager who is loud and funny and needs a place where he feels smart? Is the library a place where it is perfectly okay for him to joke with his friends while doing his homework? What about the trans teen who wants to be in a community or school space where there is no gender sorting? Are we still using phrases like “ladies and gentlemen”? Do we have separate male and female restroom passes? How do we respond when we hear teens make homophobic or racist remarks? Do we pretend we didn’t hear them, or do we intervene?

Language is important. It can be used to communicate inclusiveness or to reinforce privilege. Implicit bias and microaggressions have no place in an inclusive library. Person-first language is a necessity. For example, we don’t have autistic students; we have students with autism. We also need to educate ourselves on examples of loaded words and coded meanings and recognize terms that should not be used to describe youth. For example, we need to remove the term “at-risk teen” from our vocabulary and watch how subtle word changes can alter meaning. “Youth in poverty” implies a changeable condition; “youth of poverty” implies an immutable state of being. Similarly, the term homeless youth oversimplifies these teens’ lives, whereas the phrase youth experiencing homelessness keeps our attention focused on the teens and respects the complexity of their lives.

The Inclusive Library

Committing ourselves to increasing our cultural competence, using our diverse collections, identifying and removing barriers, and expanding our definition of ‘the library as safe space’ can help to make our libraries more inclusive. In this blog series, we have in no way provided an exhaustive list of things to think about, but we hope we have demonstrated ways to embed tenets of inclusivity throughout every aspect of our work. We would love to hear how you act for teens by making your libraries inclusive!  Tell us in the comments, email us, or join the conversation by tweeting out your best practices using #libequity and #act4teens.

 

Julie Stivers (@BespokeLib) is a graduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Information and Library Science and works with teens at the Durham County Youth Home and at a local public school.

Sandra Hughes-Hassell (@bridge2lit)is a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science where her research focuses on social justice and libraries.

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22. Just Dance @ Your Library

Teens have an amazing variety of programs at their fingertips ranging from college prep, crafts, gaming, pop trivia, anime, and much more.  What if there was a way to combine many of these elements into one activity that is not only fun, but will have amazing health benefits as well? I bet you are thinking the same thing I am: dancing. Before I go any further, some of you may think I am crazy because there is no way teens would voluntarily dance in public, especially amongst their peers. Well, I am very excited to tell you that there is actually a way to get them to dance and have fun, but it requires us to lead by example. In other words, we got to shake our money makers so teens can see just how fun it really is.

Before I go any further, I would like to discuss some rather disturbing facts. According to the American Heart Association:

“About one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese. The prevalence of obesity in children more than tripled from 1971 to 2011. With good reason, childhood obesity is now the No. 1 health concern among parents in the United States, topping drug abuse and smoking.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also states:

“The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% over the same period.”

Clearly, obesity is on the rise and it is something that we should address in our programs and services. For example, are we sponsoring programs, or partnering with organizations, to prevent drug and alcohol abuse? If we are, are we addressing obesity as well? If not, it’s time that we do because teens are living in a world where body shaming and weight-related bullying is rampant. Furthermore, teens literally live in a digital age where video games are much more popular than physical exercise.  If we care encouraging teens to exercise their minds with books, why can’t we encourage them to exercise their bodies as well?

This is where we talk about dancing. Dancing is an amazing way to lose weight, feel great, and have fun. How can libraries provide teens with access to physical activity that will appeal to teens? It’s called Just Dance.

Just Dance 2015 Wii UJust Dance 2014 XBOX 360Just Dance 4 PS3Just Dance 3 WiiJust Dance 2 Wii

 Just Dance a is video game (available for the Wii, Wii U, Playstation and XBOX) where teens can dance to their favorite songs and sweat the pounds away. Yes, we can actually use gaming as a way to get teens to move.  In regards to the game, itself, it is fairly intuitive where it requires users to take a minute to explore menu options. I will say that the Just Dance games vary in content where some offer warm-up segments, cool down segments, goal-setting, account settings, and the “Sweat” mode.   As an avid Just Dance user, the “Sweat” mode is AWESOME! Although it does not offer a multi-player option, one teen can lead a timed workout (20-40 minutes) and everyone will sweat. Otherwise, I highly recommend the dance crew and battle mode where teens can have a dance off or dance together.  There is a suggested calories counter, but, be honest with the teens, and explain it’s not accurate whatsoever; all that matters is they are meeting their daily exercise quotas.  The more teens dance, the more stars/points they get to open new modes and songs, which include workouts that include mash-ups and new battle modes. Some of the newer versions offer exclusive modes such as Party Master and an option to complete with other Just Dance players from the entire world called “World Party” providing you have an internet connection.  As I mentioned earlier, teens don’t need to be expert dancers because it’s all about moving, sweating, and having fun.

Now that we know there is a way to get teens to move, the next big question is: what if teens don’t engage in this program because they don’t want to be the only ones dancing?  My answer is: we have to be the ones to show them that’s it okay dance even if we can’t. I know that some of us aren’t the most coordinated, or just plain out of shape, but, if we want teens to have fun, we have to show them how. In fact, I have challenged a group of teens to beat me in a dance off and, so far, only one teen has. After hosting several Just Dance parties, I have seen so many teens come out of their shells because they recognize this program as a way to cut loose without having to be embarrassed by their lack of rhythm or being picked on. In fact, I have seen several teens show off their mad skills and it was so much fun! Bottom line:  Just Dance is all about having a good time  and getting into shape.

If you have a gaming system at home, or at your library, go to Gamestop and buy a used copy and give it a shot. In fact, host a Just Dance party with your colleagues and have a great time because once you try it, you will have a hard time stopping. Take it from me: I lost ten pounds from dancing in my living room a couple times a week so imagine hosting a Just Dance party every week?  Not only will you have happy and healthy teens, you will shed a pound or two as well! It’s a total win-win situation!

Sources:

1 http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/HealthierKids/ChildhoodObesity/Overweight-in-Children_UCM_304054_Article.jsp

2 http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm

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23. The “Activity Gap”: More thoughts on libraries and after-school programs

Back in October 2014, I wrote about a report entitled: “America After 3 PM.” The Afterschool Alliance was writing about how students spend their time after school. In it, I raised the point of libraries as hubs for after-school activities, a free spot for teens to come if they don’t have the resources or access to other after-school programs. At the end of January, Alia Wong from Atlantic wrote an article called “The Activity Gap,” which discusses the access issues students from various socio-economic classes face with participating in after-school and extracurricular programs.

Wong begins the article by comparing two different students, Ethan and Nicole, whose family backgrounds contribute to two different lifestyles and life paths. While their names have been changed, these two students do exist and were case studies in a study published in Voices of Urban Education. This national study was conducted by Brown University’s Annenberg Institute of School Reform.

Their results are nothing we didn’t already know. The article states the researchers were “alarmed” at the results, but we’ve been seeing and hearing about this growing income achievement gap for a while. I come back to the same question I raised in my October 2014 blog post: how can libraries help?

I can offer an example of a space happening in my community at the Urbana Free Library. Our library is able to offer a Teen Open Lab a couple days a week. The auditorium in the library is opened up and staff and teens set up essentially a mini-Fab Lab/makerspace/hangout area. It’s a spot where teens can come after school, hang out, or create anything from stickers on a Silhouette cutting machine, to using a 3D printer, video and audio production, or simply playing Minecraft or video games. The library has been able to provide another space for teens to go who might not have other after-school options.

Is this a great space? I think so. I visited there a few weeks back (my assistantship has a graduate student helping out at the Teen Open Lab so I went for a visit). The atmosphere was exciting. The teens seemed to be happy. They’ve reached a point in the Teen Open Lab where things are going well and they can keep thinking about where does this space go next. But, we can’t forget the process and time it took to get from point A (the teens had little space) to the idea of the lab, to the creation (and funding), and now the maintaining and sustaining. Perhaps what the Urbana Library Teen Open Lab teaches us is that we need to start having those conversations. If we look out at our community and see that our teens need a free space, we can start having those conversations about what a space for them might look like. I think it’s fine to say, “Look we have this income achievement gap and need to do something about it” but we need to do more than just say it. And maybe libraries aren’t the spot, maybe this conversation is meant for a broader audience, pulling in our education system and college admission process (which places value in extra-curricular activities and involvement outside of the classroom). What I’ve been thinking about in my community engagement class this semester is that libraries are the hub to have those frank conversations. We can open up a space to bring a community together to talk. We’ve been doing it since we first began as public institutions.

The Atlantic article does not offer many solutions and I am not sure I have many to offer either. I still think this is an important conversation to have, but we need to continue to think about the broader context and how we can help or at least provide resources to help. For additional resources on this topic, make sure to check out YALSA’s Professional Tool page on their website. Additionally, you can look at, Cool Teen Programs for Under $100, resources on YALSA’s Wiki page about Maker and DIY Programs, Making in the Library Toolkit, or A Librarian’s Guide to Makerspaces.

Do you have any ideas about how we can bridge this activity gap? I would love to hear your thoughts (or great articles to read and resources to use) in the comments below!

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24. 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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25. 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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