Tag Archives: young people

On a Shoestring: Teen Volunteers and Your Library

19 Apr

A volunteer programme can bolster your teen offer, but the process of establishing volunteering hours. Here are some tips that will help you set up a volunteer service for young people and decide what type of volunteering is appropriate, and how to manage it.

What type of volunteer work should my library offer to young people?

Teens may receive volunteer hours a wide variety of activities. You could also establish a programme in which teens work with children (mentoring, reading, etc.) or the elderly. Young people may also receive volunteer hours from participating in a reading group, Teen Advisory Group, or other youth-related library project. Contact your local youth volunteering representative (probably someone from vinvolved) to find out more.

Some activities you could do with pre-existing teen groups: a reading group could write reviews and post online, and/or help come up with new ideas for displays, and/or plan reading-related events for children. A teen writing group could publish their work, or write stories for local children; an art group could illustrate library materials.

What are the benefits of teen volunteering?

Benefits to the library may include input and help with teen and other events, teen leadership (which means supporting projects rather than always leading them), building a positive profile with local young people, greater role in the local community, building a better offer for young people and, importantly, creating positive associations with the library, reading, and information.

Benefits to teens include a voice and greater investment in their local community and library, new experience/skills to add to their CV and university applications, positive adult mentors (librarians!), and positive attention and encouragement for skills and input.

How do I make a volunteer programme official?

Coordinate with a local volunteer group like vinspired who can give teens certificates and other vetted rewards for their hours. Contact a local representative and request information on their volunteering requirements, such as the minimum age to volunteer, and what types of roles are suitable or unsuitable for young people.

Once you have established the rules of the volunteer programme, collaborate with colleagues and local teens to come up with list of duties, responsibilities, rules. It’s especially useful to consider specific skills that your library’s volunteer programme can offer to young people. Will they improve their writing or speaking skills? Perhaps they will learn to lead projects and make important decisions. Or they will make use of communication or teaching skills.

How do I register teen volunteers and keep track of logged hours?

The teens will usually need to fill in a registration sheet. Once they have filled this out, you should create a sheet with their name that goes into a binder in which you record individual teen volunteer hours (and a brief list of activities done – two or three words should usually cover it). When teens reach certain landmarks (20 hours, 50 hours – these depend your local volunteer organisation), send a copy the teens’ volunteer hours sheet and obtain a certificate to award to teens for their service.

Remind teens that skills they’ve learned can go on their CVs and possibly in applications for uni (have a list ready is they’re not sure how to phrase them). For example, helping to plan a local event or applying for a grant for a teen-led projects both yield desirable skills.

How do I interest young people in volunteering?

I don’t have a magic bullet to recommend. The best way to get teens involved is to appeal to a few who are interested in the activity and then make the volunteer experience rewarding enough to keep the young people coming back.

Speak to young people who already use your library service and/or attend teen library groups about volunteering. They are a built in “user group” and some of them are likely to be keen.

Make local volunteer coordinators aware of your most interesting/enriching programmes. When they council young people on finding volunteer work, they will also recommend yours.

Put up posters in the library, in schools and at youth centers. List your volunteer opportunity on local websites and, if appropriate, in local magazines or papers.

Whenever engaging in outreach (at schools, youth clubs, etc.) be certain to give a good “elevator talk” about the library’s volunteer opportunities.

How do I keep volunteers coming back?

If you can, hold “thank you” parties once or twice yearly. Rewards like this make teens feel special and appreciated and keep them invested. They ARE doing a great service for your library. Say thanks.

Consider other rewards that be appropriate to the volunteer activity. At the library where I used to work (I miss you, Southend!) the teen reading group used to go on yearly “book buys” to London. It was a fun day, and the books they selected were allocated a special space in the library. (Aside: this collection always circulated brilliantly.)

As you get to know some of the young people involved, you will also build a positive relationship with them. You may feel comfortable offering to write job recommendations or helping them in similarly appropriate ways.

A few important notes:

Running a volunteer programme is not a quick fix to short staffing or other issues. Volunteer programmes require time and energy to establish and maintain!

Due to health and safety regulations, library staff members need to be present when volunteers are working. Libraries cannot hold events that are volunteer run.

Although it’s not necessary, I highly recommend that you a course about managing volunteering programmes.

Links Round-Up: Two Months’ Worth of News, Activities, Conferences, Contests, and Giveaways

29 Mar

Regular posts resume on Monday, after a six week hiatus. In the meantime, catch up on some teen librarian news.

News and Relevant Reading

CILIP has revealed the full scale of the library cuts.

The Booked Up scheme has been withdrawn and replaced with a scheme that requires schools to pay.

The EDGE has taken over the March edition of Teen Librarian Monthly and provided the world with lovely gems like “Story Time for Teens,” “You Should Read This! It’s Great!: Be Wary of Telling Teens to Read,” and “Guardians of Innocence
How One Writer Feels About the Taboos of YA Fiction.”

Anne Harding makes some good points related to Ofsted’s “Moving English Forward” report and pleasure reading for secondary school pupils.

Activity Guides

April is Script Frenzy month, during which young people (and adults) can dedicate the month to writing 50 pages of a script. Click on the link above to find more information and teaching resources.

World Poetry Day (21 March) has passed, but the Guardian’s guide to teaching poetry has good ideas for any day of the year.

My Fake Wall and Fakebook allow you to design fictional Facebook pages “for study purposes.” So you could, for example, design a “Facebook” page for a fictional character, an author, a historical figure, et cetera. Check out the Fakebook pages of Hermes and Martin Luther. I can imagine a ton of fun uses for this, especially in a school library!

Conferences and Training

YLF Scotland Spring Conference running four sessions for working with teens: http://teenlibrarian.co.uk/2012/03/22/youth-libraries-group-scotland-spring-conference/ £35 +VAT, Friday April 27th. Be there!

Lighting the Future – the joint Youth Libraries Group, School Libraries Association and School Libraries Group conference – will take place in 8-10 June. There are some panels and workshops useful for those working with young people. For those who need assistance there are several bursaries available. See the Lighting the Future website and Youth Libraries Group regional pages for more information on financial assistance.

Anne Harding is offering a one day course for secondary school librarians on cost-effective methods of promoting reading and library use to pupils. The course will take place in Sutton on 17 May and cost £89/120 (early bird/standard).

Awards and Booklists

Winners of the Carnegie Award will be announced in June. For now you can have a look at the shortlist.

Several YA novels have been nominated for the LGBT Children’s/Young Adult category of the Lamba Award.

Bali Rai writes about his favourite YA novels.

Action Librarian has compiled a useful list of YA books with Muslim protagonists.

Contests for Teens

Young people ages 11-19 can enter the International Young Person’s Short Story Award from now until 24 July. The prize is £2500 plus publication! (Info via the wonderful Chicklish.)

Contests for Teen Librarians

Tell the Siobhan Dowd Trust how you spread a joy of reading in your school and win £1000 worth of books!

Win a Set of Eight Signed Novels from EDGE Authors! Contest ends 31 March.

And of course the YA Library UK Teen Book Giveaway is open until 2 April.

If you have a piece of news you think should be included in the Links Round-Up, email me at yalibraryuk@gmail.com or Tweet @yalibraryuk.

Links Round-Up: Cuts and Youth, DIY Your Education, and More

27 Jan

National Libraries Day poster - 4 February 2012What will you be doing for National Libraries Day on February 4th? Here are some suggestions. Does anyone have plans to get local teens involved?

Update on cuts to youth services:

Children’s services bear the brunt of grant cuts, says a new research paper put out by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. (Thanks Anne Harding for the link – and co-authoring the research.)

Related: cost of illiteracy to UK ‘tops £81bn each year’.

DIY your brain:

Nerdfighters/vlogbrothers John and Hank Green have released Crash Course onto the world. Crash course provides introductions to world history and biology. If you’re not already familiar with him, John Green is also a very popular YA author, and the series will no doubt be popular with teens. Check out the introductory Crash Course video

Speaking of John Green: I Hacked John Green’s Wesbite introduces librarians to (positive) hacking and provides some free tools to use with teens.

Since we’re on the topic of hacking and computers, I recommend Codeyear, a free coding course. It’s offered via the (also free) Codecademy. Why should teens (or librarians) care? Read Douglas Rushkoff on how he’s learning to code – and why you should too. I also recommend Rushkoff’s book Program or be Programmed.

Book and writing competitions:

Secondary school students can enter the Read This! competition to win vouchers for themselves, and an amazing book voucher and author visit for their school! Deadline: 16 March 2012.

The Gentleman Press writing competition for ages 13-21 is open until 31 January 2012.

Young people can enter to become Amnesty International’s young human rights reporter of the year. Deadline: 20 February 2012.

Teen librarians/YA lit:

Poetry inspires YA novelists. This reminds me of a Sylvia Plath-themed session that went over surprisingly well with a group of older teens. I handed out various books of her poetry and The Bell Jar.

Don’t forget to read the January edition of Teen Librarian Monthly!

Young People and Media Use Symposium Follow-Up: Part Two

8 Feb

You can read Part One of the Young People and Media Use Symposium summary by clicking here.

Matthew Applegate, the first speaker of the afternoon, gave an excellent example of using unconventional methods to encourage creativity. In Applegate’s presentation, titled “Cultural perceptions, ownership and interaction with re-purposed musical instruments,” he described working with young people ages 8-12 in order to make music on converted Nintendo DS systems converted to function as basic instruments. The Nintendo DS did not intimidate young people in the same way a traditional instrument might, due to its familiar (and for some, beloved) form. Instead of inventing songs or learning to play notes, the interface was based on Guitar Hero. You couldn’t play a wrong note, you couldn’t only play a note at the wrong time. The music was also played in groups, which masked individual mistakes.

Although it might be a bit of a leap (and is something of a digression from my summary of the symposium), this made me think about the way that Role-Playing Games (RPGs) are a sneaky way of encouraging creativity. Characters are “guided” through the game (by the Game Master, who helps them navigate the world), but make their own individual decisions, or choose to explore unexpected aspects of the world (or take unexpected actions). Thus, gaming is both like having a story read out to and a group exercise in storytelling and invention. Just as using the Nintendo DS in a somewhat predictive format made young people feel that playing music could be “safe,” so gaming can encourage teens (and children and adults as well) to explore creativity in a format that’s comfortable.

It should be noted that Matthew Applegate was provided free Nintendo DS systems after sending some of his research on using them as music instruments to Nintendo.

The next presentation dealt with a different age group–university undergraduate and graduate students–and addressed their need for increased connectivity. Jo Morrison (a former member of Future Lab gave a presentation on the way that Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design used Ning to provide their students with additional resources and support. The frequent communication provided opportunities for busy students to communicate with practitioners in other areas (for example, fashion students and design students sharing different perspectives). While the sheer amount of work was too overwhelming for many undergraduates, the graduate students flourished. Perhaps a less intensive version of this could be used in public and secondary school libraries to allow young people to connect and share opinions on library services, reviews of books, and information about upcoming events.

The final presentation, titled “Global, national and local: Participatory culture in young people’s creative media production,” was presented by Reijo Kupianinen. Kupianinen studied media literacy practices in Finnish secondary school students ages 13-16. As in previous studies reported on during the symposium, Kupianinen found that students most frequently used TV, computers (particularly the Internet), and mobile phones. Mobile phone use was especially high, not least because it was used during school lessons.

Kupianinen examined the types of media teenagers publish on the Internet. Of those who publish some sort of content, about 50% upload photos (no surprise given the photo uploading capabilities of social networking sites), 20%* publish blogs or other writing/opinions, 25%* publish images of their artwork (drawings or paintings), 10% publish fanfiction, and somewhere between 15-20%* publish video. Although they did not note how many students took part in this, some also took place in text-based RPGs that they participated in by writing content.

Many students who made videos captured school on their vlogs, blurring the boundary between school (a private realm shared only by the students and staff who set foot on the premises), and the public realm (the Internet). This also suggests that even “public” areas like libraries can become public in ways that we don’t consider, i.e. broadcast to a much larger group than the constituency of the local area.

The day concluded with a rousing discussion. My main questions were on some of the things the studies avoided: what percentage of young people’s downloading or Internet time is devoted to accessing media (e.g. books, Wikipedia, videos)? How much piracy occurs and how that does inform young people’s media intake? What is likely to supplant current (and rather clunky) forms of social networking such as Facebook?

Overall, the symposium contained a great deal of information relevant to both to overall library services and to our understanding of how often, through what means, and with what type of perception young people are accessing media.

*The starred percentages are approximations, as I wasn’t able to transcribe the exact numbers mentioned.

You can read Part One of the Young People and Media Use Symposium summary by clicking here.

“Working in Partnership: libraries and youth agencies”: A New Post on Teen Librarian

3 Feb

Emma Sherriff authored a guest blog post about libraries working in partnership with other organisations. The post was featured on Teen Librarian. Here’s an excerpt:

Librarians can learn a huge amount from observing the worker’s methods of talking to young people and addressing issues. The service has provided informal training opportunities which enable you to deliver at a level that suits the young person and that the young person can relate to.

Youth agencies shouldn’t be scared to give a librarian access to the young people at risk in their community. As long as the librarian is prepared, which means having a full understanding of what the young people are experiencing. An opportunity to represent the library at community events is also useful, as you can be considered to be giving them something, even if it is just your time.

Click here to read the rest of Emma’s article (and to learn more about how her library teamed up with the Youth Offending Prevention Service)!

Learning on the Job: From Zero to Teen Librarian

10 Dec

Many library staff who end up working with teens don’t have much experience leading groups of young people. When I assumed the role of teen book group leader two years ago, I was scared stiff. Working with teens wasn’t part of my job description, and the only experience I’d had with young people was a few months teaching experience (ages 8-11!) and misty memories of having been an adolescent myself. Although I’d asked managers at my library for the responsibility of helping out with teen programmes, I felt completely out of my depth.

I was daunted by the lack of current information on teen services (at the time I wasn’t aware of Teen Librarian‘s existence, nor was I yet a member of YALSA). So I scoured the Internet for relevant websites, hunted for books about teen library services, and searched for relevant training courses in the United Kingdom. As I gained experience, I discovered gaps in the available information about UK teen library services, so I started this blog.

In the first year of working with teens, I floundered and was frequently discouraged. But I discovered that however inexperienced, I really enjoyed working with the teens themselves. I formed strong connections with teens who use our library service and discovered that they appreciated my attempts to advocate on their behalf. I kept reading, went on training courses, applied for grants, attended conferences, and proposed an expanded offer of teen programming in my library.

For anyone who’s starting out, or who feels lost or unsupported or just plain inexperienced: it’s normal to feel scared or frustrated. I still feel that way sometimes; I’m still learning how to be an effective teen librarian. If you’re connecting with teens and learning from your successes and mistakes, you’re contributing positively to teen services and teen literacy. It’s by making an effort to provide for teens, by accessing resources like this blog, and most of all by learning (as much from mistakes as from success), that we become great advocates for teens and for literacy. In this way, we can become not just a few scattered enthusiasts, but an organised body of experienced teen librarians.

Engaging Older Teens and Young Adults: A Success Story

8 Nov

Penny Johnson, Teen Specialist at Baraboo Public Library in Wisconsin, recently posted this inspiring message on the ya-yaac mailing list about her first ever meeting with a Teen and Young Adult Advisory Board of young people ages 17-25. I’m re-posting it here, with Penny’s permission. Thanks, Penny!

I wanted to share with all of you the results of my first advisory board meeting for 17-25 year olds. There were seven in attendance, and they were very excited about the prospect of having library events specifically for their age group.

I can barely find time to organize, publicize, and run regular teen programs. I had no idea how I was going to squeeze programs for older teens/twenty somethings into my schedule. But I feel we came up with a few solutions.

–We are now beginning my regular TAB [Teen Advisory Board] meeting a half hour earlier (6-7 PM), which gives us time to have TAB Plus (or TAB Sr. or YAAB, or whatever we are going to call it) on the same evening (7-8 PM)

–The older teens have organized a manga/anime group which meets twice a month, and a general book discussion group which meets once a month. They are doing all of the publicity and program prep, so it doesn’t take any of my time.

–They found a solution for something that has plagued me for years now. Our monthly teen game night is extremely popular. We regularly have 30-35 teens in attendance, and I am the only adult in the room. Yeah, it’s a big challenge for me. The older teens have become increasingly annoyed with the middle schoolers [ages 10-14], but because my hands are full I can do little to change the situation. So here is the new plan. The older teens and twenty somethings will help me run the game night. They will monitor each console, bake and serve the pizzas, keep the garbage under control, etc. In exchange, we will start the event a half hour earlier, end it an hour earlier, then give my OTYA assistants an hour of game time without the younger teens around.

I am discovering I can indeed find time to provide programming for older teens and twenty somethings. And they are so appreciative!