Written by Heidi Andres a Teen Services Librarian with Cuyahoga County Public Library in Northeast Ohio. She received outcome measurement training as a fellow in the Treu-Mart Youth Development Fellowship Program of the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University.
As a librarian involved in the implementation of youth program outcome measures, I was extremely interested in Johannah Genett’s article, “Measuring Outcomes for Teen Technology Programs,” in the Fall 2014 issue of YALS. Reading this article, I was eager to see how another library system (Hennepin County Library) collects outcome measures for youth programs in comparison to my organization, Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL).
In the fall of 2012, Cuyahoga County Public Library formed a youth planning team with the mission of creating outcome measures for youth programming across our 27 branches. This team was comprised of CCPL administrative youth staff, three Teen Services librarians, including myself, one Children’s Services librarian, and representatives from an outside youth development organization. Although the three teen staff members had received outcome measurement instruction, learning outcome measurement theory and actually creating and applying the tools proved to be two very different sides of the same coin. Constructing outcomes, indicators, and measurement tools was an eye-opening experience, one which enabled the team to closely examine the library system’s youth programming priorities and goals. The process focused on answering some vital questions: Why do we do what we do? What are our programming strengths, and where can we improve? What kind of impact do we want to have on the young people we serve, and how do we achieve this through the programs we offer? It was our hope that measuring outcomes would not only give us answers to these queries, but also provide staff with insight they could use to develop future youth programs with outcomes in mind.
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.
The fall 2014 issue of YALS highlights the many exciting ways that libraries around the country are integrating the ideas of YALSA’s Future of Library for and With Teens: A Call to Action report. The report focuses on why and how libraries need to move forward in order to support the current needs of teens. It looks at teen demographics, societal trends, workforce and digital literacy needs of young adults, and more in order to provide library staff with what they need in order to be successful working with teens today and tomorrow. In the year since the report was released, school and public libraries have developed, re-vamped, and re-envisioned programs and services for and with teens in order to serve the age group in the ways the YALSA report recommends.
Now is your chance to let us know how you are using the ideas of the “Futures” report in your library work. Fill out and submit the How I #act4teens form. (#act4teens is the hashtag YALSA created to highlight the great things library staff are doing for and with teens that demonstrate moving into the future of library service for the age group.)
The submissions will be reviewed and some of the information collected will be featured in future issues of YALS. And/or included in posts on this YALS site.
Reading through the articles in the fall 2014 issue of YALS I’m once again struck about the new role that libraries and library staff play in serving the community. That role is one that takes library staff out of their buildings into schools AND a wide-array of community partner locations from homeless shelters to parks to community centers to meals sites to….. Thinking about that external focus and external connections that libraries have with their communities I more and more see that the library is an idea and not a physical space.
I think about the need to focus on the library as more than a physical space every time I hear someone say, “Let’s go talk to teens at the community center so that then they will come into the library to see us.” Or when I see that what library staff bring to outreach events, are materials that require teens, and others, to come into the library. To be honest I cringe a little bit when I hear those statements and see those focus points at outreach events. Why do we have to be so place focused?
After recently reading Dr. Jama Shelton and Dr. Julie Winkelstein’s YALS article (Fall, 2014), Librarians and Social Workers: Working Together for Homeless LGBTQ Youth, I was stunned by the appalling statistic cited in the first line of the article. Although LGBTQ youth make up only 5-7 % of the general youth population, up to 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ. Many of these homeless youth spend long hours in public libraries. Libraries provide a relatively safe haven and allow them access to much-needed information about social services. But libraries have long struggled with how to handle homeless patrons and these teens fear that they will be stigmatized if they spend an inordinate amount of time in the library. Many of them are over 18 years old, which means, in many libraries, they are no longer eligible for young adult services.
So what can librarians do to address this powerful need? The article by Shelton and Winkelstein cites 11 strategies to help homeless LGBTQ youth. One of the most powerful strategies is to be a visible advocate within our communities for LGBTQ youth. Last year, I volunteered to be part of an initiative in my library to reach out to LGBTQ youth in my community. My first step was to contact the high school GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) to make a connection and offer them the library’s support. Through that first connection, I met Logan Sherman, a high school senior and transgender person. I contacted Logan recently to ask if he could share his experience with homeless LGBTQ youth. Here’s what Logan said:
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?
The digital version of the Fall 2014 issue of YALS is now available 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.
In January 2013 YALSA published their report, The Future of Teens and Libraries: A Call to Action. The publication of that report launched a variety of YALSA activities as well as gave those serving teens in libraries an opportunity to try new things, re-envision their work, advocate for high-quality sustainable teen services and more. The fall 2014 issue of YALS covers success stories that resulted from the ideas published in YALSA’s report.
The Fall 2014 issue of YALS includes an article by members of the Future of Libraries for and with Teens YALSA Task Force. The group was initiated as a way to help library staff working with teens implement many of the ideas in the “Futures” report. Continue reading
YALS subscribers will now be able to access a digital version of each future YALS issue via the “Members Only” section of the YALSA website. Please note that you will need to be logged into your ALA account in order to view the page.
Currently, the Summer 2014 issue is available for access. As each digital issue becomes available, announcements will be made via this site so please stay tuned for updates!