What Can Libraries Provide To Support Making (Winter 2015)

robot photo by Sebastian LundMakerspaces might have now become a household term, but what tools are necessary to develop a makerspace? And what kind of resources can libraries offer?

Tools can encompass a wide range of resources depending on the types of projects /programs a library wants to deliver. From special scissors and jewelry pliers for making jewelry to motors, gears and cables for use in building a robot, to python and other programming languages for learning to direct robots. This wide range of tools and approaches helps guarantee a broad variety of maker projects and even enables different levels of makers to be engaged.

Jaina Shaw, in her article Libraries are for Making: Robots, describes experiences where the Westport Library, in CT invested in two humanoid robots and teens got the opportunity to program the robots. In addition to that great experience, you can learn other things the library committed to do to engage their community through making by reading the full article in the Winter edition of YALS.

Winter 2015 Issue of YALS Now Available Online!

Have you checked out the digital version of the Winter 2015 issue of YALS? Access it  under the “Members Only” section of the YALSA website. Please note that you will have to sign into your ALA account to access the issue. The latest digital issues of YALS are available exclusively to subscribers and YALSA members.


Robots @ the Library (Winter 2015)

JD Hancock Robot photoIn the latest film iteration of the classic H.G. Wells story, The Time Machine, the main character travels into the future and enters a library staffed by a “reference robot.” That and all the other popular images of robots from films and literature were in the back of my mind when I read Jaina Shaw’s intriguing article in the Winter 2015 issue of YALS, titled, “Libraries are for Making: Robots.”

In the article, we learn about Westport Library’s innovative use of robots, which are not being used to replace human staff, but instead are a creative new tool to attract customers to the library, teach teens programming and provide informal learning experiences.

What I found especially interesting was Shaw’s account of the interactions between the teens who volunteer and the robots they work with. She relates that her teen volunteers, when introduced to Nancy the robot, became frustrated when the robot failed to “jump to it” when commands were given. All those preconceived notions about what a robot can do were challenged by the reality. The teens now have a wonderful opportunity to learn the programming code that commands the robot’s actions. Even more fascinating, to my mind, is the psychology of human interaction with artificial intelligence. Expectations are challenged and learning includes programming, team building, critical thinking, and troubleshooting.

Kudos to the staff of Westport Library for their groundbreaking work in introducing robots to libraries!

YALSA Tune-Up (Winter 2015)

photo of bike mechanics by Creative Commons Flickr user RogerHave you ever wondered how to access a webinar that’s been hosted by YALSA? Or maybe you’ve got a deep burning desire to be involved in YALSA in your hometown or state? The Winter 2015 issue of YALS helps answer these and other questions most members have by challenging you to check your knowledge of what YALSA has to offer and ways for you to get involved by asking you to take a brief survey and get a YALSA Tune-Up.

As a member of YALSA’s Board of Directors for the last two years, I can tell you that the number one question I heard from our members was – how can I get involved. Secondly, most other questions revolved around how/where to find information about… (fill in the blank!) To be sure, YALSA is a big organization with over 5100 members and 73 committees, juries, advisory boards and task forces charged with doing the work of YALSA. It’s hard for all of us to keep track of where things are and how to go about getting it done.

Be sure to check out the current issue of YALS to check in and get a YALSA Tune-Up!

Serving Youth Across the Spectrum (Winter 2015)

Kris Hickey’s interview with author Jonathan Friesen in the Winter 2015 YALS really resonated with me. Friesen’ groundbreaking novels have introduced us to characters with multiple personalities, autism, and Tourette Syndrome. As a teen librarian in a public library, I have worked with teens on the spectrum and it can be challenging to engage them in library activities. One young man I met several months ago, who is considered to be on the autism spectrum, joined my teen volunteer group. At first, he was quite reserved and rarely interacted with the other teens. I was worried that he might not feel welcome.

I was pleasantly surprised to watch the other teens chat with him and make him feel part of the group. He enjoyed the activities, even if they presented difficulties for him, and he is now an active member. As I began to get to know this young man, I discovered that he has a keen sense of humor, loves Minecraft, sometimes gets mad at his teacher, and hates being pressured—in other words, your average teen boy. I have learned to just let him be part of the group and not worry about whether he is participating or having difficulties with what we are doing. His mother took me aside one day, and, with tears in her eyes, described how she had looked everywhere for some social activities in the community that would welcome her son. Yes, our group was welcoming, and for that I am very grateful. But even more importantly, both the group and I have been enriched by his presence.

Not As Crazy As It Seems (Winter 2015)

cover for wintergirlsIn the winter 2015 issue of YALS, Diane Scrofano’s article on the portrayal of mental illness in YA literature provides an excellent overview of what exists, where there are gaps, and what the future holds. Below are the titles that Diane includes in her article, along with the mental illness focal point of the novel, and a link to information about each title on Amazon.

Teens & Tech (Winter 2015)

winter 2015 YALS coverIf it hasn’t arrived already, the winter 2015 issue of YALS should be in YALSA member and YALS subscriber’s mailboxes any day now. The theme of the issue is Teens and Tech and covers a variety of topics related to this year’s Teen Tech Week. The issue also launches a new section of the journal titled #act4teens. The section focuses on the ways in which libraries, community partners, library schools and others are supporting the ideas of YALSA’s Future of Libraries for and with Teens: A Call to Action. Here’s a bit more about what’s inside the winter 2015 issue:

  • In the YALSA Perspectives section of the issue Katherine Trouern-Trend discusses the work of YALSA’s National Guidelines Oversight Committee and how the group is working to support members in putting the Guidelines into practice. Guidelines the Committee is working with include YALSA’s Space Planning Guidelines and the Public Library Evaluation Tool. Read the article to learn more about how you can use these to improve and/or enhance library service to teens in the community. Continue reading