Posts tagged ‘teen services’

PLA Blog: serving pregnant or parenting teens

My first session today was on promoting library service to pregnant and parenting teens. Read about it at the PLA Blog: “Serving pregnant or parenting teens”.

[Full text will appear here in a month.]

March 26, 2010 at 5:33 PM Leave a comment

PLA Blog: queering the library

I wrote about the best session I attended today, Spanning the Generations: Serving the GLBTIQ Community of ALL Ages. Read about it on the PLA Blog: “Queering the Library”.

[Full text will appear here in a month.]

March 25, 2010 at 10:29 PM Leave a comment

A visit to Carmel Clay Public Library

On Monday my Youth Services class took a field trip to Carmel Clay Public Library in Carmel, Indiana. We met with the Young Adult Services Department Manager, Hope Baugh, who–in addition to being a stellar librarian at CCPL–has been on the Alex Awards committee for the last three years. She told us about her department; did some storytelling (she told us a story about a man who marries a woman with a golden arm and the story of the little girl and the Gunniwolf and we were all utterly transfixed); gave us a tour of the library; and then answered our questions about her job, her library, and the profession.

CCPL’s YA department is–relative to other libraries I’ve gotten to know–huge. They have a full-time manager and a full-time librarian, both with their MLS degrees, and three part-time library assistants who don’t have MLS degrees. What a far cry from the “lone librarian” position in which most people working in YA find themselves! CCPL’s also noteworthy in that the reference desk handles all homework and research questions, leaving the YA desk to attend exclusively to teen patrons’ readers’ advisory needs. (The library also has an adult readers’ advisory desk that helps patrons with their recreational reading and even provides custom reading lists upon request.)

CCPL’s computing set-up is also unusual: they have computers scattered around the library, but their Internet access is restricted to the library catalog and the databases to which the library has access. It’s at the Tech Center that patrons can sign into a computer using their library card to get access to Microsoft Office and have unrestricted access to the Internet. CCPL has chosen to forego federal E-Rate funding to provide unfiltered Internet access to their patrons. I didn’t get this exactly right; please see Hope’s comment below for a correct (and detailed) description of their computer use policy and set-up. While there are more graduated levels of computer access than I described, the choice to have unfiltered computer access anywhere in the library still means CCPL has to give up federal E-Rate funding for their Internet and computer access.

We go to take a peek at some of the staff work areas and storage areas in the Youth Services department. Every staff member, even part-time library assistants, have their own workstations and work areas. And oh man, the materials they have for programs and storytimes! The back storage areas were full of plastic containers marked “FROGS” or “FEELINGS” or with different books, and inside were finger puppets and toys and craft ideas related to those themes and those books. And the room they use for storytime has wooden doors with little preschool people-sized doors in them for late arrivals!

Since our trip to Greenwood focused mostly on services for younger children, this visit focused on young adult services. Hope told us about her Teen Library Council, which was originally limited to 25 teens but has, under her guidance, expanded to 50 teens divided into two groups who meet separately on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. The two different groups mostly work on their own projects, but they do a lock-in once a year as one big group and plan a big program for school-age children together once a year.

One of the other neat things that the TLC does is designate Choice Picks. At each TLC meeting, a notebook is passed around and teens write down a book they’ve read recently that they enjoyed and would recommend to other teens; once a book gets three votes, it’s designated a TLC Choice Pick, gets a special spine label, and is moved to a special shelving area.

Teens also have the chance to get involved with the library by leading a How-To Wednesday. Once a month, a teen volunteers to design a demonstration of a particular skill or craft (like origami, magic tricks, or juggling) and teach other teens to do it. They receive three hours of volunteer credit and get experience with planning an event. CCPL also has a recurring DIY Monday’ and Book Discussion Thursday in the teen lounge (a corner of the YA department with comfortable seating, tables, board games, magnetic poetry, and plenty of electrical outlets for laptops) that are fairly casual programming; the book discussions in particular require no reading ahead of time but provide teens with an opportunity to talk about books they’ve read and enjoyed recently or about certain topics like books that should be made into movies. Of course, food is always provided at these programs!

After our tour, Hope talked to us about some more “behind the scenes” sort of things. She went over the library’s book challenge process and talked about encounters she’s had with patrons who have been unhappy with a book in the library. She also told us about this great in-house database the YA department has been building over time with book summaries and “flags” that denote sexual activity, bad language, death, and other sensitive topics. I think that as librarians we’re always reading with an eye for that kind of thing (and for more general characteristics like appeal or certain kinds of characters or settings), and the database allows CCPL’s YA staff to easily know the content of books beyond what they’ve read.

I was impressed with the work that’s gone into CCPL’s YA department from having a surprisingly large staff that really enjoy working with teens to giving teens opportunities to shape the library for themselves and their peers. And I’m not sure it’s come out in this post, but I was also really impressed with the wisdom and professionalism that Hope has cultured over her years as a YA librarian. In her local work and her work with ALA and YALSA, she’s absolutely an asset to our profession.

March 10, 2010 at 11:01 AM 3 comments

A visit to Eckhart Public Library

I’ve written a little bit about my directed readings course this semester that I’m doing with Andrea Japzon and four other students in the program. On Saturday we took a trip up to the Eckhart Public Library in Auburn, Indiana to see their collections, work out some details of the project, and share our best practices research.

The William H. Willennar Genealogy Center
We started at the William H. Willennar Genealogy Center where we met Gregg Williamson, the Manager of Genealogical Services (and a SLIS-Indy grad!), who gave us a tour of their building. We started off with the print collection, which has the largest collection of genealogy materials dealing with DeKalb County, and includes yearbooks for local schools dating back to 1905, family histories for local families, phone books, and individual files of research people have done on their own families. They also have a large microfilm collection of local newspapers, microfilm readers and scanners, and computer stations where patrons can use online resources to do genealogy research.

The seating space in the main room of the Genealogy Center. Photo by Erin Milanese.

Part of the print collection. Photo by Erin Milanese.

Gregg then took us through the staff workspace and talked about the people who work at the Genealogy Center (they’re mostly part-time employees and volunteers) and showed us the basement archive and the permanent archive upstairs. The basement archive is mostly local newspapers; some date back to the 1800s, but the collection also includes recent issues as well. As Gregg explained it, we’re very fortunate to have those two hundred-year-old papers, and people two hundred years from now are only going to have resources like that if we save current newspapers now.

Archival boxes in the basement archive. Photo by Erin Milanese.

The Genealogy Center has a lot of really cool technology and tools; one of the ones I found the most interesting was the microfilm camera. EPL still sends some of its things out to be microfilmed since it’s such a labor-intensive process and they do depend so heavily on volunteer work, but there are some items that they scan themselves. I can’t remember what the exact claim to fame was, but this may be one of the only microfilm scanners in a public library in Indiana. It was something really impressive like that.

EPL's microfilm camera. Photo by Erin Milanese.

The upstairs archive is the permanent archive and contains records that are available upon request but aren’t immediately available to the public (e.g., old gradebooks from local schools). We had a short but interesting conversation about balancing privacy and access; Gregg said that rather than siding with archivists who’d be more interested in privacy and protection of the physical materials, he tends to err on the side of making things open to people, reasoning that it’s a public library, so their holdings should be open to the public. He did say that there are some things that aren’t available to the public at all because of privacy concerns, like old library card registrations from earlier decades that include people’s names and addresses.

We also got to check out the digitization lab. Alaina Ring is in charge of the metadata for the library’s photo archive and database and she walked us through the creation of a database record. The digitalization lab has some neat technology, too, including a 35mm slide scanner, and what’s really cool about it is that it’s open to the public. They’ve done a lot of grant writing to build their collection and the tools they have available to them. It’s really impressive.

Two of the computer workstations (and the slide scanner) in the digitization lab. Photo by Erin Milanese.

Our Project, People of Auburn
This trip also gave us all a chance to better understand the specifics of and our own roles in this project. The Genealogy Center already has an extensive collection of photographs and documents, but most of it is of historical materials–which makes sense, since the people who use the Genealogy Center are doing research into their family’s history or into local history in general. But in the same way that Gregg is saving local newspapers now for the researchers of the future, Andrea wants to start saving the digital content of today for the researchers of tomorrow.

What we’re hoping to do with this project is to target some people whose stories reflect what’s going on in the community now: the woman who owns a local cafe, a teenager growing up in Auburn, a prominent politician, the factory worker who recently got laid off because of the economic downturn. We’ll solicit from them real and digital objects that represent their lives in the community and then figure out how to ingest that content into the library’s digital collection (or find a home for it at the DeKalb History Center or return it to its owner after scanning or photographing it). We’d also like to collect oral histories (maybe even on video) and find a way to include those in the library’s database. After an initial pilot program this year, we’re hoping to expand the project to include more community members in future years, and to promote the collection during Auburn Pride Week.

Andrea’s big on co-created community resources and on knowledge exchanges, so since we (both we students and the public library) are learning from community members with this project, we’ll also be doing workshops this summer to give some knowledge back to the community. The library’s done programs before on creating scrapbooks and preserving photographs and they’ve brought in outside speakers to talk about preserving digital information, but we’re hoping to build on what they’ve done before to help teach people about collecting, organizing, and preserving their digital content. We’ll also do workshops on privacy and copyright issues when dealing with digital content.

During our discussions, I was thinking about the different people we’re going to recruit for the pilot program and it really struck me how people of different ages understand digital content in completely different ways. Most teenagers are very at home in a digital world and are very nearly swimming in digital content. But maybe there’s also an older person in the community who doesn’t have his own computer and comes to the library to check his email where his granddaughter has sent photos from her latest birthday party. He understands those digital photographs that just live in his inbox in a totally different way than the teen understands the photos he texts to his friends. I think I’d like to learn more about that.

Now that I’ve got a more detailed idea of how the People of Auburn project is going to go and I’ve actually seen the physical facilities and gotten to know the library a little bit, I’m even more excited about this project. I have to admit that normally I find genealogy and archives only mildly interesting, but the more Gregg showed us on Saturday, the more interested I got. They’ve got so many unusual and unique resources and technology. I’m also very excited about the team we have assembled for this project!

Back row: Andrea Japzon, Erin Milanese, Gretchen Kolderup, Alaina Ring, Gregg Williamson. Front row: Katie Nakanishi, Eve Grant. Not pictured: Angela Slocum. Photo by EPL's Gretel.

The Rest of the Library Campus
Eckhart Public Library is unusual in that it actually comprises three separate buildings all on the same street. We conducted most of our business on Saturday at the Genealogy Center, but we also visited the main library building and the teen library. Oh yes, EPL has a completely separate building for its teens–and it’s totally awesome. It’s open after school and on the weekends and it’s got comfortable furnishings, really striking light fixtures, computers, and a space for programming and games. Adults are only allowed in for fifteen minutes at a time if they’re not accompanied by a teen. When we walked into the building, the teens sitting at the computers turned around to stare at us; Darcy, the librarian I talked to, said that’s one of the things the teens like best about having their own space, feeling like they belonged and anyone else was an outsider. She did acknowledge that sometimes the people in adult services were too quick to send teens away from the main library building but said that overall, having their own space was great. I was impressed with how current their fiction collection was and how large their non-fiction collection (homework resources and teen-interest stuff like gaming guides and yoga books and things like that) was. I think it’s really important for teens to have their own space in the library–and it’s even better when they can have a space where they aren’t constantly being told to keep their voices down.

The outside of the Third Place, EPL's teen library. Photo by Erin Milanese.

We also visited the main library building, which was built in 1911 and is on the National Register of Historic Places and has a lot of interesting touches. It was originally going to be a Carnegie building, but Charles Eckhart, a local businessman, said he’d build the library on the condition that the contract with Carnegie be severed. The library has a fountain in the yard outside, stained glass windows, and a fireplace. It’s very comfortable and it really feels like a homey place the community can gather.

The fountain outside the main library. Photo by Erin Milanese.

Stained glass and bookshelves in the main library building. Photo by Erin Milanese.

I also took a trip downstairs to check out the children’s area. They have puppets and toys available for checkout and their storytime room is decorated with a Secret Garden theme and has an adjacent room with kid-sized tables for craft time. I was so impressed with the creative touches throughout the whole library. It seems like a really fun place to be able to go!

A tree in the storytime room in the children's department. Photo by Erin Milanese.

A Note to Current SLIS Students
EPL has internship opportunities available for SLIS-Indy students. If you’re interested in working in the Genealogy Center processing materials for the digital collection, in the teen library, for information services, or in technical services, email Gregg Williamson. Don’t forget that internship applications are due to Marilyn Irwin in the SLIS office by 15 March for the summer semester and 15 July for the fall semester.

March 2, 2010 at 8:36 PM 8 comments

John McDonald on youth prison librarianship

We had our first ALISS (Association of Library and Information Science Students) luncheon lecture today and it was really well-attended! John McDonald spoke to us about his job as the librarian at the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility. We invited him to speak since our program and classes focus mainly on public, school, and academic librarianship, but the survey we did last semester indicated that people were interested in non-traditional careers they could pursue with their MLS degree.

John was a really engaging speaker and told a lot of great stories. He walked us through a day at his job, beginning with having to leave his cell phone in his car and the intense security routine he has to go through to get into the building or even to go to the bathroom and continuing through his morning routine, the basic services his library provides, and some of the crazier things that have happened to him.

I guess I hadn’t really thought about it before, but there’s a huge difference in library service to incarcerated kids and incarcerated adults. Adult prison libraries are mostly about providing legal information and resources and might also have a paperback book collection for recreational reading, but the library at PJCF is more like a school library. The kids that John works with have indeterminate sentences, too (their release is contingent on their completion of a program, though you’re also released the day you turn 23), so there’s less of a focus on getting a degree and more on what John can do for them while they’re there. But they go to classes and John provides teachers with materials for those classes and he works on technology instruction and research instruction with the kids, too.

I was really impressed with how motivated, positive, and proactive he was about his job. He’s increased their collection by thousands of volumes by soliciting donations and they have access to computer animation software and video cameras. He’s also introduced a TA program where a few teens will be assigned to work with him in the library during their sentence, and this is where he feels like he’s making the most difference. The recidivism rate among his TAs is much lower than for the general population, and 15 of his 23 TAs have gone on to college–and a few of them are even working as librarians. He talked a lot about how a lot of the boys with whom he works are incredibly bright and motivated and that you just have to find something that will interest them and provide them with a little guidance and they come up with these awesome projects on their own. He also told us that when he started a few years ago, there were five other licensed librarians in the juvenile detention facilities around the state, but that now he’s the only one–and he thinks his continued employment is solely based on the programs he’s introduced and the high profile his library has at the state level. He also said that his facility is the only one in the state in which kids do actual research projects.

He did talk about some of the struggles that he has: he has absolutely no budget and relies entirely on donations; gang affiliations among inmates complicates his schedule and it breaks his heart when he goes out into the “real world” and sees gang signs among kids there; there are some kids he just can’t reach and then they go back out into the world; and some of the kids are incredibly destructive and ruin library materials and there’s not a lot he can do about it. But overall he seems really energetic and really positive about his job, and he talked about how the entire system in the facility is oriented toward rehabilitation and that he feels the library can be a huge part of that. He also serves on committees that determine whether or not kids have completed the requirements to leave the program, so he acts as a mentor to some of the offenders.

I don’t want to go straight into prison librarianship (and I feel like my gender could complicate things in ways I’m not prepared to handle right now), but after hearing John speak, it’s definitely something I’ll continue to consider in the years ahead after I get more experience in the field. It sounds like a job that is sometimes difficult–and maybe even lonely–but that it’s one in which you could make a real difference in the lives of your patrons in a very big way, and that’s exactly what I find so exciting about this profession.

February 5, 2010 at 5:11 PM 3 comments

From the classroom: Teen Advisory Boards

My Youth Services class met for the second time tonight (we missed a week for Martin Luther King Jr. Day and last week because our instructor was sick). I gave a short presentation on Teen Advisory Boards to fulfill our assignment on current trends in youth services.

I’d first been introduced to TABs during my internship at the Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library in Zionsville this summer, but I really had my mind blown by what they could be at ALA in July. One librarian on the panel discussion on TABs has transformed her teen council from just an advisory board to the real heart of teen services: they plan the activities, work within a budget, arrange for speakers to visit, and run activities for younger children. Rather than implementing teens’ ideas, the librarian’s job is to help teens develop as leaders and to provide them with teambuilding and leadership training. Imagine how much better equipped for the real world her TAB members are! And imagine how capable they must feel!

Anyway, the presentation is short, but it’s a decent introduction and it concludes with a list of resources for further information.

February 1, 2010 at 9:17 PM Leave a comment