Tag Archives: teens

Youth Services in Public Libraries (some thoughts that I’m having circa September 2014)

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 9.49.39 AM

I think about Youth Services in Public Libraries more than the average human being. That is ok as it is my job and I make a living to provide for my family with these thoughts, ideas, and actions.

My mantra with library services in general is to keep pushing ahead and try new things. To be in a constant state of change is to always be on the top of your game. When you are on the top of your game, I believe that you are better able to provide for the needs of your community. Flexibility enables you to have a quick reaction. Too many times in libraries we are bogged down by the planning and talking about it process. Once that’s over, it is sometimes too late to give the community what it seeks. OK, back to the subject of this post.

Here are some ideas that I have been having over the past few months. Enjoy them, borrow them, modify them, etc. If you don’t agree with them you can just close out your internet web browser and forget about everything I just said.

SIMPLIFY
Youth Services librarians always think big. We plan big. We want our community to have the greatest possible experience in the library and at our programs. Never lose that. That’s what makes you special and that’s why youth services librarians are often looked upon as some of the best people in the community. We give a HUGE crap about our community.

But simplification is, in my experience, not a quality that most youth services librarians have. I know I am in that category.  I see others that I work with in that category. Simplification in this case is a good thing. Think about the resources you have around you. Can you take those resources that you’re using everyday (volunteers, 3D printing, Legos, community members) and copy/paste them into your library and programs? I suggest you give it a try if you are not doing this already. You will be using things that you are already comfortable with and in some cases already prepared. Simplification will give you less stress to knock everything out of the park. Less stress allows you to be a better librarian for your community.

WORK TO YOUR STRENGTHS
What are you most comfortable with in the library? What does your work schedule allow you to accomplish? What are the skills that you have now and wish to develop in the future?

Mindfulness of those particular things allows you to work to your strengths. At my current stage of my professional life, I am most comfortable with the behind the scenes stuff, laying out the big picture, and making sure it connects. For someone that came through libraries working directly with the public for 6 years, this shift was difficult. I initially fought it very much. What that led to was stress and depression. None of that is helpful.

When you work to your strengths, you will approach your day to day work in libraries with a clear set of eyes. This clear set of eyes allows you to focus better on the job in front of you.

FUN
I am a big believer that having fun leads to more learning than we can understand at this point. My son Finn and I were recently interviewed for the Chattanooga Times Free Press about video games. I also point out this great post by Megan Emery (who I work with at the Chattanooga Public Library) titled Learning Through Fun.

The basic idea behind all of this is that fun leads to a lot of amazing discoveries and life moments. I think this approach works really well in libraries. We are in this very unique position of not being a school but also having a mission to encourage lifelong learning in our communities. We can try new things. We can experiment! Yes! I just said that! We are free to be unique.

Fun is a great approach to take. When you have fun at something you create a positive memory. You look back on that experience fondly. It gives you warm fuzzies.  There’s probably some kind of chemical brain thing happening that makes the warm fuzzies and fun so memorable…I don’t know. I’m not a brain doctor smart person type. All that I know is that my head is full of amazingly fun memories and I keep going back to those things.

IN closing….when I re-read this post one thought comes to mind: it is all about simplicity and getting back to the basics. Make things easy, for yourself and your community. Have fun. Don’t stress yourself out. I really believe this to be a great path forward for youth services in libraries.

Badges

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 3.23.52 PM

I earned all these badges, dagnabit.

Up until a few months ago, I was very bored by the whole idea of issuing badges for completing certain tasks, obtaining new skills, or just doing something in general. Foursquare was the first badge system that I had participated in and, quite frankly, I could’ve cared less about earning new badges.

Enter Mozilla.

14624320557_ef51ff001c_z

This summer, I worked on some projects with Mozilla, specifically HIVE Chattanooga and the Mozilla Community Gigabit Fund. We helped out with the HIVE NYC Maker Party in the Bronx, NYC, threw our own Maker Party in Chattanooga, TN, and even dabbled around with Webmaker a bit for our Summer Program at the Chattanooga Public Library. All in all, it was an exciting summer filled with great collaboration and great work.

And every once in awhile when some work was completed, I would get an email from Mozilla saying “you earned this badge”. The image you see above shows the badges that I earned over the past few months, and dagnabit, I’m proud of those badges. They look awesome and they share that I’ve been a part of something pretty cool.

Now my outlook on badges has changed. I’m most curious about exploring Mozilla’s Open Badges and how we can use them at the Chattanooga Public Library for not only programs but also volunteers.  Just imagine the kids, tweens, and teens earning badges for being part of their local library. Take that to the next level and you can issue badges for your teen volunteers when they complete certain tasks around the library. When they’re applying for colleges or jobs, they can share those badges to show off the skills they have. Here at the 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library our teen volunteers have become our unofficial “3D Printing Gurus”. They walk the patrons that are curious about 3D printing through the process from beginning to end.

Now just imagine if we gave them a badge to show how they’ve learned this particular skill. That’s some next level awesome library stuff we’re talking about here!

 

 

Hello Chattanooga Part Deux!

2014-08-09 16.13.01

Exactly 1.5 years ago, I made the announcement here that my family and I were packing it up and moving to Chattanooga to join the awesome team at the Chattanooga Public Library.  Now I’m back with some more news….I’m happy to announce that I’ve accepted the position of Coordinator of Teen Services at the Chattanooga Public Library (I’ll also be working with Kid’s Coordinator Lee Hope on all things Tween).

I tend to think about life as one big video game and for me this is a level up. I’ve been a Teen Librarian since 2008 and every moment has been awesome. I’ve loved dreaming up new programs, working directly with the community, and just being the front line in all things Teen at the public libraries I have worked at. As I’ve gotten older (I’m 34!) I’ve noticed some things changing in my brain; I’ve really started to enjoy the management and big picture part of public libraries. So for me, this was the next step and I’m so happy to be taking here in Chattanooga. I really dig this community and all of the change that is happening all around. And the Chattanooga Public Library, well, I can’t say enough good stuff about the team here. This is a magical place.

To end, I’d like to recommend that you give the Chattanooga Public Library Flickr page a quick look to see all of the great stuff the library has done for the community over the last few years.  I feel like we’ve really got something special here: a great community, a great library staff, and a wonderful city.

Here’s to so many more years of curiosity, growth, and fun.

DEV DEV 2014: at the Chattanooga Public Library DAYS 10-14

10593151_749998888397014_4940768628059435400_n
DAYS TEN through FOURTEEN of DEV DEV: summer of code 2014 is in the history books. For a quick recap, click on the image above to follow along with our Storify.

And with that, DEV DEV 2014 comes to an end! Thanks to all of the students, parents, and partners that helped make this year a HUGE success!

DEV DEV 2014: at the Chattanooga Public Library DAYS 4-9

BshB8qhCQAAdaMe

DAYS FOUR THROUGH NINE of DEV DEV: summer of code 2014 is in the history books. For a quick recap, click on the image above to follow along with our Storify.

Library Management Stuff from an Up And Coming Library Manager Type Person

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 11.14.40 AM

About a week ago I saw this tweet from the great Cate Levinson @storytiming. We talked about management and supervision in libraries over email and it was a great conversation…so great that it got me thinking that I really needed to share my most recent library management and supervision stories and lessons learned here on the blog.

Folks, let me tell you: my transition towards a lot more library management hasn’t been easy. I’ve messed up a lot. But on the other hand I’ve been a part of some pretty rad things. It has a lot been stressful. I think about all of the little intricacies in libraries and how to make the 2nd Floor even more awesome a lot more than I used to. For example: I woke up from a small nap this past Saturday and my first thought was “OMG. I NEED TO SUBMIT THE PAYROLLL…TODAY!” when in reality payroll was due on Monday (and it got in on time!).

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 11.28.53 AM

Here are the lessons that I have learned:

  1. Always get payroll and scheduling and all that important behind the scenes stuff in on time. There are other employees whose work depends on you completing a task. If your part is not done, their part cannot be done and that just rocks the whole boat. Speaking of which…
  2. Think of the library as one big giant organism. This was hard for me coming from a youth services background. It’s not all about the kids, tweens, and teens. In order for the library to work, you have to think about how anything you do affects everything that everyone else does.  Sure, the 2nd Floor is a 14,000 square foot space for kids, tweens, and teens.  But what happens on the 2nd Floor may affect everyone else in the library. How do I be respectful to others while still giving the age group I primarily focus on the best possible service? That’s a tricky one, but if you give it enough thought and care you will get there.
  3. Your mood as the manager/supervisor sets the tone. Are you stressed out? Are you being negative?  If you are, get ready for that to come back to you from the library staff.  Set a positive tone in the work environment.  Keep your employees shielded from the stuff that may cause them stress that doesn’t directly involve their work.
  4. Piggybacking on that last one: keep your employees well informed about what is happening but also remember…not everyone needs to know everything…AND THIS IS OK! You as a manager and supervisor are not hiding away information from the people you work with.  You are giving them what they need to know and keeping the rest where it needs to be.  Yes, information overload is a real thing and it can have a harmful effect on the work environment.
  5. Work well with others: you will be working with everyone in the library. Everyone has their jobs and they are all trying to do them to the best of their ability. Thank everyone for what they do. Be patient with everyone that you work with. Remember that we are all in this together.
  6. Finally, and I think this is super important: HAVE FUN. Work does not need to be super stressful. Work should be fun. It should not just be a place that pays the bills. It should be a place that encourages your heart and your mind to grow. It should make you smile.

 

PS: Sometimes I like to refer to myself as Mister Manager just because of this

 

End of the Fiscal Year and All That Jazz

I’m going to take a moment and share something that I am very proud of: statistics for the 2013-2014 Fiscal Year for Youth Services at the Chattanooga Public Library. Now I’m most affiliated with all things on The 2nd Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library, but as we all know it takes the whole picture and the team to make something truly magical happen.  These stats will show you that it is the TEAM at the Chattanooga Public Library that makes things happen.  Some of us have been called Rock Star Librarians but in the great grand scheme of things that isn’t what matters. It’s how the team comes together to do amazing things.  These statistics are proof that amazing things are happening in Chattanooga:

2nd Floor Kids Programs: 676 programs, 11,073 attendees
2nd Floor Tween and Teen Programs: 522 programs, 9233 attendees
Branch Library Kid Programs: 903 programs, 19,811 attendees
Branch Library Tween and Teen Programs: 95 programs, 1,326 attendees

Overall, the Chattanooga Public Library improved all programming and outreach from 51525 attendees 2012-2013 to 82849 attendees in 2013-2014. That’s a 37.8% increase.

Our circulation statistics were also pretty awesome:
2012-2013 Kids Circulation: 233,042
2013-2014 Kids Circulation: 318,485
That’s a 37% increase!

2012-2013 Tween/Teen Circulation: 31,974
2013-2014 Tween/Teen Circulation: 42,598
That’s a 33% increase!

Yes.  These are just numbers. And numbers only tell a part of the story. But they are a very important part of the story. And it is good to have all sides of the story.

2013-11-14 17.45.16

To end, here’s one of my favorite photos from 2013-2014 at the Chattanooga Public Library. It’s Megan Emery and one of our tweens cracking a smile. It took SO much for us to get this guy to smile, but we got there.  And once we did, it was all awesome from then on out.