Guest Blog Post: Youth Activism Through Community Engagement—YALSA’s Presidential Task Force

I thought I should share this article I drafted up as a member the YALSA’s Presidential Task Force. Please let me know if you want to chat more or have any questions or concerns.


After the horrors of Charlottesville unfolded, we saw powerful and moving responses via social media, petitions, and public demonstrations. Recently, YALSA President Sandra Hughes-Hassell wrote a blog post about what library staff can do to help. The 2017-2018 YALSA Presidential Year theme of Youth Activism through Community Engagement is an appropriate call to action for library staff to support teens in developing the necessary skills and confidence to engage in their communities.

Advocacy and civic engagement are not activities solely for adults but have been taken up by youth across the world. Age is not a barrier for participation but an opportunity for teens to learn more about what they believe and how they can make an impact. More and more teens are organizing for social change and demonstrating a compassion for those in need. As library staff, we can encourage this excitement by sharing resources, offering a brave and welcoming space, providing opportunities for leadership, promoting thoughtful and #ownvoices reading, and facilitating teen engagement in their communities.

We—the Presidential Advisory Task Force—have collected a sampling of resources to help further support youth activism in your library, in addition to including resources that can help foster conversations with teens about Charlottesville,  race, institutionalized racism, and systemic oppression.

Teen Activism

Youth Activism Project

Teen Vogue: 20 Small Acts of Resistance to Make Your Voice Heard Over the Next 4 Years

10 Trans and Gender-Nonconforming Youth Activists of Color Making a Huge Difference

The Forefront of Resistance

Medium: A Nervous Wreck’s Disabled Guide to Stepping Up

Life Hacker: 30 Young Adult Books for Activists in Training

Resources and Book Lists

Book Riot: How I’ll Teach Reading after Charlottesville

My #GoodReads Series on Racial Equity

Fortune: raceAhead Summer Reading List

Rookie: A Reading List on Charlottesville and White Supremacy

Teen Librarian Toolbox: Talking with Teens about Charlottesville

We are excited about the work that YALSA members can do this year—and beyond—along this crucial theme of Youth Activism through Community Engagement and we look forward to working with you across various YALSA platforms. If you have questions, suggestions, or comments, please reach out to us!

Presidential Advisory Task Force Contact Information:

Izabel Gronski, YA Librarian at Oak Lawn Public Library: igronski@olpl.org or @izag

Elise Martinez, Teen Services Specialist at Zion-Benton Public Library: elisem@zblibrary.org or @elisereneem

Trent McLees, Library Media Specialist at Cedar Bluff Middle School: tmclees112@gmail.com

Abigail Phillips, Postdoctoral Fellow at USU ITLS: abigail.leighphillips@gmail.com or @abigailleigh

Casey Rawson, Postdoc & Adjunct Instructor at UNC Chapel Hill SILS: crheld@gmail.com or @CaseyHRawson

Julie Stivers (Chair), Librarian at Mount Vernon Middle School: jstivers@wcpss.net or @BespokeLib

Regina Townsend, Teen Services Librarian at Forest Park Public Library: rtownsend@fppl.org

“I’m Not Sure Why I”m Here: A Panicked Story, Part 2″

I want to thank you all for your outpouring of love and support. I had no idea what to expect when I pressed “publish” on Part 1. Right now I feel both very exposed and empowered. A contradictory feeling but a good one. Thank you to those who shared stories of personal struggles via social media, blog comments, and e-mails. I know that couldn’t have been easy. I admire your strength and perseverance.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m going to dig a bit deeper and answer some questions from my draft-reading librarian friend (you’re the best!) and a few of my own questions in this last post. Hopefully, my writing flows along somewhat smoothly. Here we go.

The New Member’s Round Table (NMRT) panel at ALA Annual hasn’t been my only panic attack during a presentation, but it has been my worst. My other panic attack happened during the last semester of my Master’s in Library and Information Studies (MLIS) program at Florida State University (FSU). As part of my coursework, I had an assignment to develop and carry out a training session about some aspect of library work. I decided to create a basic research workshop about databases, online tools, and helpful websites for our library staff. There were (maybe?) seven people at the workshop, but I still felt the intensity of pressure and anxiety. The morning of the workshop, I went to the gym very early because I thought working out would help. As I got ready for work, I went through my index cards of notes obsessively. While backing up the driveway to get to the library, I reversed into my mom’s car. Freaked out. My dad calmed me down as well as he could. I got to work, set everything up in the meeting room, and began my workshop. After the first 15 minutes, I relaxed a bit. I knew these people, had worked with them for a while, and they appeared to be engaged. Before the panel, that was my only other panic attack during a presentation. My panic level was seriously uncomfortable but manageable-ish.

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I’m Not Sure Why I’m Here: A Panicked Story, Part 1

It’s about a week out from my marathon, back-to-back, cross-country June conference tour of CSCL, ALA Annual 2017, and IDC. I’ve had some time to get sick, rest, run a lot, catch up on e-mail, and talk out my conference experiences with those close to me and an amazing therapist. Conferencing is always challenging; sometimes fun, sometime frustrating, sometimes confusing, sometimes rewarding, etc. But, for me, this two-week conferencing period has been my hardest yet. I’ve attended back-to-back conferences several times before but only two in a row within the same city. Over my two weeks of conferences, I presented four times (two of which were to unfamiliar (non-LIS) audiences), attended multiple committee meetings, tried to finish some deadline-driven writing, attempted data collection, and talked about myself more than I like. Going to conferences to discuss your research, learn about the work of your colleagues, and expand your knowledge of a new or familiar field is exciting. I’m very thankful that I have so many opportunities to travel, meet new people, learn, and share.

But what I really want to focus on is a conference experience where I had an almost paralyzing panic attack that I’m still trying to understand. This happened during the New Members Round Table (NMRT) Orientation Session panel at Annual. A few months before the conference, I received a lovely e-mail asking if I would participate on the panel. Immediately I wondered why would anyone would ask me? Seriously? What did I have to offer? (What you see here is the lingering low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence, and diminished self-worth heightened by my experiences in a doctoral program. But that’s for another post.). Finally, I replied “Yes!” because it sounded fun and a good experience for a panel newbie like me.

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Guest Blogging: “Transforming Teen Services: Making in the Library While Learning to Fail”

More guest blogging for YALSA!

“Makerspaces, making, and the maker movement have become frequent conversation topics among librarians. We’ve encouraged making in the library through programming focused on writing, drawing, designing, building, coding, and more. As informal learning and gathering spaces, libraries are by nature situated to invite collaboration and discovery. In many cases, making has been associated with makerspaces — independent spaces that provide tools, materials, and support to youth and adults with an interest in creating (Educause, 2013). Sometimes makerspaces are flexible, subscription-based environments, sometimes they are hosts to structured programs and classes with an attached fee. Some have a technology prominence with 3D printers and laser cutters, while others lend an artistic attention  by supplying sewing machines and design software (Moorefield-Lang, 2015). No two makerspaces are the same, just as no two makers are the same.

MakerSpaceLogo

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Guest Blogging: “Transforming Teen Services: Getting Teens Passionate About Civics (It can happen!)”

My monthly YALSA blog post is up! This time about it’s about something that is particularly relevant to what’s going on in the world around us. Check it out on the YALSA blog or read it below! Don’t worry. I’m … Continue reading

Guest Blogging: “Transforming Teen Services: The Empathetic Librarian”

On Monday, March 24, my post for the YALSA blog appeared.  It’s my first blog post in a monthly series of posts on Transforming Teen Services. You can read the post on the YALSA blog here. Or you can read … Continue reading

Learning about work-life balance

During April and May I had a mad rush of graduating, then turning right around and teaching a six weeks undergraduate course about social media management. But for the past two months I’ve been trying to do some self-care. In case you … Continue reading

Not Sure Where to Go From Here…

On April 30, 2016, I graduated with my Ph.D. in Information Studies from the School of Information at Florida State University. What a confusing series of emotions I went through on that day – from anger, sadness, happiness, and dread. It … Continue reading

The Impact of Our Work on Ourselves

While interviewing rural librarians and young adults for my dissertation over last summer, I had the most surprising conversation with one high school librarian. We’ll call her Mary to maintain confidentiality. Our interview turned to the topic of how our work with patrons … Continue reading

Defending My Dissertation and Other Things I’ve Experienced Recently

On Monday, February 8, I successfully defended my dissertation. I stood up in front of a room of people and presented my dissertation research, opening myself up to questions and critiques (constructive). I’ve talked about my fear of public speaking … Continue reading