Many libraries have experienced shifting transitions over the past few years in an effort to maintain transcending services in response to changing community demographics. With the extension of the common core in schools across different states, as well as a wider emphasis on science, math, technology, engineering and arts, some such libraries have begun a shift in the ways they think about programs and staffing models. It has been a longstanding idea that the library is everything to everyone, but is it time for libraries to start thinking in other directions in regards to staffing models? This lends to consideration of staffing models like the one that has been taking shape in The Free Library of Philadelphia via a program called Maker Jawn.
In an interview, K-Fai Steele, who previously managed the Maker Jawn Initiative at The Free Library of Philadelphia, shared advantages and challenges of the Maker Jawn approach, including information about the staffing model.
The Maker Jawn staffing model employs experts of various fields to provide valuable STEAM based programs and resources in libraries where community residents wouldn’t otherwise have access to such resources. Currently in its second year, the Maker Jawn Program was initiated through a grant fund and has played a role in bridging the gap to under-privileged neighborhoods in Philadelphia where schools have less funding and therefore less programs and resources of such nature. STEAM related contents offered through the Maker Jawn enables participants to think outside of the box and develop critical and creative skills while developing knowledge of job fields that most times are far removed from the daily experiences of these community teens.
In this interview YALS Editorial Advisory Board member, Nicola L. McDonald, talks with Hennepin County Library’ Youth Services Coordinator and YALSA Board member, Maureen Hartman. The two talk about why partnerships are important, how to make them happen, and some successful examples.
NM – How would you define partnership and how can library services, particularly teen services, benefit from partnerships?
MH – I’ve heard a lot of talk about “collaboration” vs “partnership.” In my head, a partnership is something more formal than a collaboration, but I often use them interchangeably, which is probably incorrect. I define them both as an opportunity for the library and another organization to mutually benefit from a joint undertaking ‘ working together to maximize the resources of both organizations and reach a goal they wouldn’t be able to reach on their own. Libraries in general, but especially teen services, benefit from these partnerships because the library can’t do everything well ‘ we need to cultivate, nurture and rely on partners to reach audiences we wouldn’t already serve, to create services that patrons see a need for but that we don’t have experience with, and to share resources in the community with our patrons.
NM – What are two of the most innovative partnerships you’ve been a part of, how did they develop, and what made each successful?
Many teens find that they are categorized by their peers, friends, teachers, and even family members. They might find they are thought of as goth or jock or overachieving or underserved.
Being professionals serving teens means making sure to serve all teens no matter what category they place themselves in, or are placed in by others.
The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action, published by YALSA, offers a look into information focusing on how we need to serve all teens today and tomorrow. Some of the quotes that jumped out at me as highlighting this need to actively work towards serving as many teens as possible include:
“There are currently 74.2 million children under the age of eighteen in the united States; 46% of them are children of color.” p. 2
- “Today more than one-fifth of America’s children are immigrants or children of immigrants.” p. 2
- “The number of unemployed youth ages 16-24 is currently 22.7%, an all-time high.” p.2
- “More than 1.3 million children and teens experience homelessness each year.” Family alcohol /drug abuse, physical/sexual abuse, teen pregnancy, and homosexuality are reasons for them leaving. p.2
- “Issues like poverty, homelessness, failing schools, and bullying have physical and psychological ramifications for teens.” p. 4 Continue reading
Have you been looking to boost your leadership skills? Perhaps you aim to become a library leader someday. The American Library Association (ALA) Leadership Institute may be just the right thing for you. Led by ALA President Maureen Sullivan and ACRL Content Strategist Kathryn Deiss, this four-day immersion program is meant to improve participants’ leadership skills, and will cover topics like:
- Power and influence
- Leading in turbulent times
- Creating a culture of inclusion, innovation, and transformation
Developed by leading members of Collaborative for Building After-School Systems (CBASS), Toolkit for Expanded Learning is, as the website says, “intended to provide resources for city agencies, school districts, intermediaries and other organizations interested in implementing or strengthening city-wide expanded learning opportunities….”
The Toolkit site is broken down into three different categories and a set of sub-categories. In each section there are downloadable resources aimed at giving users the skills and information needed in order to succeed in expanding learning in out-of-school-time settings. Categories covered include:
For the past couple of years STEM has been more and more the focus of conversation in the United States. One thing that you might not hear talked about that much is the importance of making sure that those going into STEM fields come from diverse backgrounds, In an effort to ensure that diversity exists in the STEM workforce, some organizations have chosen to focus on this area. This includes The Center for STEM Diversity and the STEM Diversity Institute (SDI) at the University of Massachusetts African-American, Latino/Chicano, first-generation populations and low-income students are just a few of the groups that these institutions serve.
You can learn more about diversity in STEM in the Fall 2013 issue of YALS, in Tiffany Williams’ article Being Diverse in Our Support for STEM. One of the areas Williams’ covers is access to STEM related courses and content that might not be available in a local community. Williams’ suggests using educational opportunities such as:
The fall issue of YALS is all about the future of libraries and teens. This post highlights one of the articles in the issue on managing youth services in a public library.
The easiest way to create a chaotic working environment and discredit yourself as a manager is to be exclusive and detached.
A year ago while preparing for a presentation about motivating staff, especially during tough times, I conducted surveys geared towards managers and employees. The results showed that both managers and staff appreciate being included in organizational decision making as well as being updated with potential changes that could reflect the way they work. Furthermore, even when final decision didn’t occur in employees’ favor, they still felt included if asked their opinions and were given genuine consideration.
Students went back to school a few weeks ago, and library staff are gearing up to begin fall outreach endeavors, if they haven’t begun already. Outreach is often tied to marketing so this is a great time to start thinking about marketing strategies to reach teens inside and outside of the library. YALS is here to help. In her article Top Ten Tips for Marketing to Teens (coming in the Fall issue of YALS which will be in mailboxes in mid-October), Connie Urquhart shares some ideas to help library staff working with teens think outside the box when trying to market to teen audiences.