Guest Blogging: Transforming Youth Services: Supporting Youth Through “Adulting”

I wrote a guest post for YALSA’s blog in November as part of a “Transforming Youth Services” series that I’ve been contributing to since last summer. If you would like to check out the blog itself, take a look here! 

Adulting programs are generally geared towards older teens (16 -18) and emerging/new adults (19 – early 20s) and support these young patrons in developing life and college ready skills. News articles and similar commentary about library adulting programs appeared somewhat flippant and even disrespectful or disparaging of young adult attendees. Yet through such programming, libraries are providing a unique service which appeals to two underserved age groups and impacts their lasting success, health, and wellbeing.

Often times neglected in K-12 education and the home, teaching these critical skills not only benefits young adult patrons, but also parents, employers, and communities. YALSAThe Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action highlights a recent concern that young adults are lacking an expanded set of skills that goes beyond traditional academic skills (2014, p. 3). Alongside growing demands for problem solving, critical thinking, and media and digital literacies, youth need financial literacy, civil and social literacy, and task-based literacy (PA Forward, n.d.; White & McCloskey, 2004). Just to name a few. 

via: North Bend Public Library 

A new but related find for me is partnerships developing between public and university libraries to sponsor adult life skills programming. The Emporia Public Library and the ESU William Allen White Library hosted a series of workshops that brought in presentations and meet and greets with community leaders, and engaging activities on finances, managing stress, and experiencing living away from home for the first time. As public and university libraries combine strengths and resources, they reach and embolden even more youth who come from diverse backgrounds and with diverse needs.   

Older teens and new adults are using their local libraries especially online but are often unaware of other library services available to them (Pew Research Center, 2014). Creating relevant and helpful programming is one step towards getting the 18-20 year olds into public libraries and encouraging lifelong library supporters. There are so many other terrific examples, a few of which Ive included in the references and resources section below. I would encourage curious teen librarians and library staff to contact those who have run these programs and found success (or even missteps). While adulting” may not sound as valuable as SAT studying or traditional college prep, these are the vital skills that promote teen development into healthy, thriving, and thoughtful adults.

References and Resources

Braun, L., Hartman, M. L., Hughes-Hassell, S., Kumasi, K., & Yoke, B. (2014). The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action. Chicago, IL: Young Adults Library Services Association.

Emporia University Libraries & Archives. (2017). Basic adulting 101: Welcome to adulthood program series. Retrieved from https://www.emporia.edu/libsv/adulting101

Lucas, T. (2017, March 22). Adulting 101. Programming Librarian. Retrieved from http://www.programminglibrarian.org/programs/adulting-101

PA Forward: Pennsylvania Libraries. (n.d.). What Are the Five Literacies? Mechanicsburg, PA: Pennsylvania Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.paforward.org/Portals/0/Docs/The%20Five%20Literacies.pdf

Pew Research Center. (2014, September 10). Younger Americans and public libraries. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/09/10/younger-americans-and-public-libraries/

Redmond, K. (2017, July 14). Rockland millennials, grow up! Take Adulting 101.” Lohud. Retrieved from http://www.lohud.com/story/news/2017/07/14/rockland-adulting-101/465260001/

Urban Dictionary. (2016 June 12). Adulting. Retrieved from https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Adulting

White, S., & McCloskey, M. (n.d.). Framework: Literacy tasks. National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL).Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/naal/fr_tasks.asp

“Girl” Books and “Boy” Books: Reading Without Labeling

A few nights ago I read an article where the author ended with a recommendation list for “girl-friendly” science fiction books. I understand seeking out books that may get boys/girls more interested in reading particularly reluctant readers. There is research that … Continue reading

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

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

Guest Blogging for YALSA

So long ago (January 13), I wrote a guest post for the YALSA blog about my experience at ALISE 2016 Annual Conference and its theme of Radical Change, inspired by Dr. Eliza Dresang and her work with youth services. You … Continue reading

Top 5 YA and Libraries Research in 2015 (But Mostly from Pew Research Center)

Recently, I did a guest blog post for YALSAblog – the official blog of Young Adult Library Services Association. Here what I said in the post, and here’s a link to the original post. Happy New Year! In the world of … Continue reading

Preliming: Before & After

This is what I wrote the night before my prelims began:

Tomorrow is the first day of my preliminary exam, an exam I have been stressing about (probably most PhD students do) since I began the doctoral program. In my program, this is a seven day exam during which I write a heck of a lot about four different areas: major, minor, theory, and research method. The prelim exam marks the completion of my coursework (go team!) when I’m expected to generally know what I want to do my dissertation on and sound reasonably confident when talking about it. If you would like to know exactly what my prelim exam is all about (why?), here’s an excerpt from my school’s doctoral guidelines:

Examination criteria generally relate to the following factors:
• mastery of specific knowledge in an area of specialization;
• familiarity with current trends in that area;
• knowledge of scholarly investigation in that area;
• knowledge of the interrelationships between the minor field and the area of specialization
(if the student has a minor area of specialization: see Section 5.3); and
• ability to relate the selected area of specialization to larger domains of knowledge and
scholarship

I didn’t sleep well last night and probably won’t tonight. But sometimes writing is helpful in moments of dread/panic/anticipation/nerves, so I’ve decided to give it a go. Being the overly organized person that I am, I’ve developed an exam schedule for myself which looks like this: Wake-Up, Gym, Coffee Shop, Write x 8, Home, Sleep. Food fits in this schedule somewhere, just not sure. Logically, I know I shouldn’t be as stressed out as much as I am. My committee would never have let me schedule my exam if I weren’t ready. This exam is nothing more than a way to demonstrate what I’ve learned during my first two years and my “mastery” of LIS (eh?).

However, the following irrational thoughts keep going through my mind. Irrational thought one: What if I completely blank? What if I forget everything or encounter the worst writer’s block of my life? Irrational thought two: What if I just can’t do it? What this is too much for me to accomplish? Irrational thought three: What if I become terribly sick (like a migraine)? What if everything horrible happens??

And this is what actually happened:

Well….it wasn’t the worst thing that I’ve ever experienced. Nothing terrible happened. I wrote a lot. Everyday. ALL DAY. I expected that. What I didn’t expect is my ability to focus so intensely on one task. Maybe I can do this dissertation thing after all. But probably not in a week.

Towards the end of the first day, I didn’t think I could finish the exam. I had stressed myself out to a degree that doesn’t make sense to me now. Seven days of this exam seemed too much. My poor brain felt so tired; and words seem confusing. During the evening, I watched/stared at the most terrible and mindless T.V. shows on Netflix (Deadly Women = the worst/greatest show, acting, and wigs I’ve ever seen). But after the second day, it all became routine. A tiring and coffee-fueled routine, but a do-able routine. One good realization that came out of my exam taking is I know a lot about a few very narrow areas.

Along with all this, I placed myself on a Facebook and Twitter (my sites of addiction) ban for the entire seven days of the exam. I KNEW social media would be a distraction for me. I couldn’t afford any sort of online interruptions. When I want to avoid writing, I goof around on….or research social media. But, surprisingly, staying off Facebook and Twitter isn’t that difficult (at least it wasn’t for me). I did feel out of the loop on friend news, current events, and random stuff, but otherwise, not so much. Occasionally during my social media exile a friend would ask if I had seen something on Facebook. I would respond in the nicest and most thoughtful way, “No. I HAVEN’T. UGH. PEOPLE.”

I’m planning to write more about this social media withdrawal experience soon, and maybe try it out again. Although, I bet my Klout score suffered….

P.S. I have so many wonderful people in my life who offered me so much encouragement during the exam. I greatly appreciate the kind words, high fives, cheerleading, and writing sessions.

P.S.S. Oddly enough, during those last two nights, I would dream about the exam and came up with new ideas for my writing. Of course, when I woke up I couldn’t remember anything except the sad realization that even in sleep I couldn’t be free from prelims.

I’m up to stuff at ALA Annual (a.k.a Researching #alaac14)

On Thursday, I’ll be among the thousands of librarians attending ALA Annual in Vegas! This is my second appearance at Annual and first in Vegas. Last year I won one of ALA’s Student-to-Staff program grants to attend Annual in Chicago. I’m not sure how well known this program is among students, but there are a surprising number of grants to go to all sorts of conferences for free or low cost. I would recommend MLIS, even PhD, students to apply to this program next year. It’s a great way to go behind the scenes at Annual and it looks look on a resumé/CV. My work placement was in the Networking Uncommons, helping with spontaneous programs and dealing with tech issues. Which is incredibly amusing if you know my level of tech skills.

But this time I will be at Annual mainly as a researcher. As part of a larger study, I’m interviewing librarians about how they use social media to engage with young adult patrons. I’m surprisingly nervous about conducting research interviews for the first-time. Maybe because I’m expecting to find most of my interviewees while at sessions and roaming the convention center. Approaching complete strangers is not one of my strengths. This will be especially difficult at a busy and chaotic conference like Annual. But a conference like this is a too-good-to-miss opportunity to chat with librarians. Learn a bit more about what I’m investigate here.

Some of the sessions I’m planning to attend: Annual Unconference, Data Driven Decision Making (LRRT), YA Author Coffee Klatch, Teaching Teens How to Fail, the Future of Library Services for and with Teens, Creativity and Innovation (LRRT), Deciding What’s Next for YALSA, Teen Space 201, LRRT Committee Meeting.

Please say hello to me! I’ll probably try to interview you…Fair warning.

If you are interested in being interviewed by me (and who wouldn’t??), please e-mail me at alp07@my.fsu.edu. These interview will be short and very informal (I promise!). Think of participating as one small step towards bridging the theory-practice divide. (Yes?)

 

Diving Into Real-Live Research Headfirst

Last semester I began my first official (at least that’s what I’m calling it) research project. It began with calls for participation via social media, list-servs, and blogs to librarians across the United States. Slowly but surely, people began respond to my little online survey. I’ve snuck a few peeks at the responses, but I’m looking forward to actually digging into them. There has been some surprises! But what I’m been most surprised (and pleased) by is how enthusiastically and positively librarians have been responding to my pleas for help. This is a good reminder of how motivated, thoughtful, and engaged our community can be. We librarians are helpful by nature, but this is a step beyond what I expected. Hopefully, those who participated in the survey believe that research like mine can add something to our field. These librarians have been very giving with their time and input, especially since they aren’t received any compensation for taking my survey. I have no money/stuff to give them. Maybe one day? I’m relatively sure that once/if you get a tenure track position, the money just flows in.

In this study, I’m investigating how librarians engage with young adult patrons through their library’s social media profiles; and what role(s) do librarians see social media as playing in marketing and promoting library services. Surprisingly (to me anyway), there hasn’t been much in the way of scholarly research into the perceptions and attitudes of librarians have towards social media. Especially public librarians. Although public libraries are well covered in the practitioner publications (American Libraries, Library Journal, etc.), there is a significant gap in the LIS literature about public librarianship. This study is my first step into doing my part to add to public library and librarian focused research.

Over the next two months, I will work on the second step in this project: conducting interviews with librarians. This is my main reason for attending ALA Annual this year. Besides the social events and general funness of Annual, it seems like a good place to find willing interviewees. Well, that’s my game plan anyway. This will also be my first experience conducting interviews. I’ve heard that it’s not an easy process, particularly for introverts. The intense focus that interviewing demands will be challenging for me. But I’ll survive! I’m not the first introverted, non-talkative person to conduct research interviews. And I probably won’t be the last. Expect a blog post during Annual about my experiences – good or bad.

Of course you can still help me out!

In case you would like to participate in the survey, there’s still time. Here’s the link: https://fsu.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_22YzFRW6XwThz8h

If you are planning to attend ALA Annual and would be kind enough to sit down for a brief interview, please e-mail me at alp07@my.fsu.edu or comment below!