Badges: Working Hard for Professional Development (Winter 2014)

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YALSA's communications marketing outreach badgeIn the winter issue of YALS members and subscribers will have the chance to read about badges as a form of demonstrating knowledge and skills. As the author of the article, Sheryl Grant, states, “Badges for learning are digital
credentials that recognize a person’s skills and achievements” I think that this is something that people often miss when talking about badges and learning. The badge is the “proof” of learning it’s not the learning. What do I mean by that? Well, to earn a badge requires work of some kind, whether that work is comprised of reading a series of books or completing a series of lessons. When it comes to professional development badges aren’t just given out willy nilly. They take work to earn

As readers probably know, YALSA has been working on a badging project for just over a year and those working on the initiative have learned a lot about what it takes to build a successful badging system. This includes gaining understanding of what badge earners will have to complete in order to successfully earn a badge. In the next week or so YALSA is soft launching some of its badges to a group of fearless testers who have volunteered to try out what the association developed. These testers will discover that to complete the different badges they will have to go out into the community, talk to teens, talk to community members, talk to colleagues and staff. They will have to develop “artifacts” that demonstrate what they learned by going into the community and actively learning. These artifacts will range from presentations to Twitter accounts and posts. And, actually, earning a badge could take a few weeks, it’s not just an hour or two and you are done. (Learning takes time, we all know that.)
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Coming Soon the Winter 2014 Issue of YALS

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When YALSA members (and YALS subscriber) open up their mailboxes in mid-January they will find the winter issue of YALS. And, even though the issue won’t be in mailboxes for a few more weeks, it’s definitely time to let you know what’s going to be worth reading in the issue.

2014 Teen Tech Week logo - theme DIY @ your library

The winter 2014 YALS theme is Teens, Tech, and Learning (just in time to help you get ready for Teen Tech Week (TTW) 2014: March 9 – 15):

  • The theme for TTW 2014 is DIY @ your library and TTW Committee members Carla Avitabile and Christie Gilbrich write about a host of ways to celebrate the week with teens at your library. All of the ideas give those working with teens the chance to have teens participate in planning TTW programs. They also connect DIY ideas to learning. For example, building a makerspace and maker projects with and for teens gives everyone the opportunity to gain critical thinking skills, problem solving and troubleshooting skills, as well as skills related to STEAM topics.
  • Tiffany Williams, another TTW 2014 Committee member, writes about the value of integrating technology in library programs and services for teens. She discusses the digital divide that separates those who have tech skills from those that don’t, and the library’s key role in helping to bridge this divide so that teens are able to succeed in academic and career pursuits. Continue reading

Diversity in STEM (Fall 2013)

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image of girls working on a science project by creative commons flickr user rdecomFor 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:

YALSA Public Library Evaluation Tool – Just for You (Fall 2013)

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woman thinking photo by the italian voiceIn her fall 2013 article on using the YALSA Public Library Evaluation Tool, Sara Ryan (Teen Services Specialist at Multnomah County Library) provides a great set of tips and practical ideas on how to successfully evaluate teen library services AND how to use information from the evaluation in order to plan for the future. Her article covers how to:

  • Convince administration that evaluating teen services will benefit the library
  • Conduct the evaluation
  • Communicate the results
  • Create change based on what the evaluation reveals

Ryan makes it clear in her article, that the evaluation is not something that can be accomplished alone. It actually takes the whole library – from the administration who need to understand and support teen library services evaluation to colleagues who help to perform evaluation activities and analyze data collected.
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Backwards Design: A Goal Oriented Model for Teen Services (Fall 2013)

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riding a horse backwards by flickr creative commons user kennymaticIt may seem counterintuitive for a program to be designed “backwards,” but this model for programming focuses on setting goals, including learning objectives and assessments, and then moves to designing the activities that focus on reaching the goals.

Such an intentional programming model is becoming increasingly popular in public libraries, as the emphasis in programming shifts from random recreational programs to programs that promote learning and the goals of the library for young adult services. You may think this takes the fun out of programming. However, using this model, Cuyahoga County Public Library designed a Lego Mindstorms robotics program that was a huge hit with youth in their communities. Legos and robotics are definitely fun!

For more details about this programming model, take a look at “Intentionally Backwards, the Future of Learning in Libraries,” by Sarah Kepple in the Fall edition of YALS.

If you are a YALSA member YALS is a perk of your membership dues. If not a member learn how to join, or learn how to subscribe.

Learning Dreams at the Library (Fall 2013)

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In her article in the fall issue of YALS, Ali Turner discusses how the library’s partnership with Learning Dreams, a program at the University of Minnesota, helped to invigorate and expand homework help initiatives at the Hennepin County Library. This library project provides good ideas for thinking about the future of homework help and in turn the future of library services to teens – the theme of the fall 2013 issue of YALS.

The Learning Dreams website is filled with information on how the program works and includes several videos of learners and partners. The one below provides a good sense of what the program is all about.

A key aspect of Learning Dreams is to connect learners with experts on topics learners are interested in. That is also a key aspect of Connected Learning – another topic covered in the fall issue of YALS.

If you are a YALSA member YALS is a perk of your membership dues. If not a member learn how to join, or learn how to subscribe.

The Ins and Outs of Managing Youth Services (Fall 2013)

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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.

creative commons image of meeting by Kifo 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.
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The Future of Libraries & Teens – White Paper Open for Comments

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national forum on libraries and teens logoThe fall 2013 issue of YALS compliments the work YALSA has been doing over the past year as a part of the IMLS-funded National Forum on Libraries and Teens. The outcome of the project is a white paper that outlines findings from the year-long project and helps libraries, stakeholders, teens, community members, and others to think about and envision the future of library service to adolescents.

For the next two weeks YALSA is making it possible for anyone, yes anyone, to comment on the draft of the white paper. That means you, and those you work with – both inside and outside of the library. The association wants to make sure that the paper resonates with those working in the field and sets out a view of the future that is clear and well-articulated. The authors are also looking for your, yes your, examples that can help to expand and support what’s included in the document.
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The Future of Libraries at 30,000 Feet (Fall 2013 Preview)

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In just about a week subscribers will receive their copy of YALS in the mail. The theme of the issue is the Future of Libraries and Teens and connects to YALSA’s year-long IMLS funded research project. The issue includes a wide-range of articles on the theme including one by Alan Inouye the Director of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP). In his article Inouye takes a big picture approach and highlights four areas that must be considered as the future becomes today. He includes a very useful set of resources for those who want to delve into the topic more. Here are those resources:

Learn More About Connected Learning and Libraries (Fall 2013 Preview)

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learning about nature together photo by USFWS PacificThe fall issue of YALS, in mailboxes mid-October, is all about the future of libraries and teens. The future includes supporting teen passions, interests, and desires. The ideas of connected learning can help library staff succeed in doing that. In their article on connected learning and the future of libraries, Mimi Ito and Crystle Martin provide an overview of connected learning and ideas on how to connect the framework to library services for teens. Ito and Martin also provided a list of resources available for you to check-out to learn more about the topic.

  • Austin, Kimberly, Stacy B. Ehrlich, Cassidy Puckett, and Judi Singleton. YOUMedia Chicago: Reimagining Learning, Literacies, and Libraries: A Snapshot of Year 1. Chicago, IL: Consortium on Chicago School Research, 2011.
  • boyd, danah. “Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life.” In Youth, Identity, and Digital Media edited by David Buckingham. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008.
  • boyd, danah m., and Ellison, Nicole. “Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13, no. 1 (2007): article 11, accessed July 22, 2013. Continue reading