Moderator Dr. Shari Lee briefly introduced the six guest speakers of the Ingnite Session on Serving Youth before turning the session over for rapid-fire peeks into library youth services.
The session began with Linda Kropp, the Youth Services Coordinator for the Suffolk County Library System and DLIS Adjunct Instructor. She began, “if you are a librarian you love organizing and you love plans.” In terms of children services, Kropp implored that librarians let go of rules and embrace controlled chaos. Youth service coordination requires loose planning that can adapt to the dynamic environment the children will create. Let the parents parent, she said, and instead educate the parents about how these library services are teaching the children. Overall, youth librarians must just, “embrace the mess”, said Kropp.
Linda Kropp is also the author of First Steps, an early learning column for School Library Journal and is a member of the NYS Early Literacy Advisory Group, providing professional development on the topics of early learning, common core and public libraries, and customer service for libraries nationally.
Katrina Ortega spoke next, a DLIS Alumna and children’s librarian, on the importance of early literacy. She states that parents should truly understand their impact on their child’s development of early literacy skills. These skills include: reading, singing, writing, playing and talking. Most parents are unaware of the impact of the development of early literacy. Many wish it were something they were made aware of before their children begin to enter grade school. Ortega stressed the importance of librarians to help teach parents just why and how early literacy development is for children and how the library will provide free services to develop these skills for children and parents.
Besides working as a children’s librarians, Katrina Ortega has also been employed as an outreach librarian for the New York Public Library and as a cataloger for the Dahesh Museum since graduating from the ST. John’s DLIS program in 2013.
The third speaker was DLIS School Library Media Coordinator and Library Media Specialist of High School West, Linda Lennon. Lennon introduced the topic of teen services. “Teen services is a lot more than just the books,” Lennon said. She cites teen danger times, the time period after school and before dinner, 3-6 pm, when the juvenile crime rate skyrockets. To combat delinquent teen behaviors libraries have become a type of teen refuge, a place to “develop skills to succeed in life.” While many are skeptical on the volume of teenagers that take advantage of library programming, Lennon revealed the teen participation in library programs is increasing and surprisingly, at least a third of a surveyed teen population said they visited the library at least ten times a year.
Linda Lennon is a graduate of Fashion Institute of Technology, Adelphi University and Long Island University at C.W. Post. An advocate for school librarians, Lennon presented at AASL in Hartford earlier this year.
After Lennon came Leanna Ladouceur, a current DLIS student who presented her research on the positive effects of story time in early literacy development. More specifically, Ladouceur spoke about sensory story time, a library program that allows “students to actively engage with the story” utilizing the five senses. Ladouceur stressed the importance of sensory story time in the early development of comprehensive skills.
Leanna Ladouceur will graduate from the St. John’s DLIS program this spring. She plans to work with children and teens to promote the power of books.
Natalie Thompson spoke next as a Board of Trustees member for the Mott Hall Charter School in the Bronx. Thomspon took a slightly different approach to the session, indicating how her charter school aims to promote action learning and student collaboration. The Mott Hall Charter School plans to partner with local libraries for afterschool programs for continued student engagement. Overall, with incorporating the library into active learning, Thompson said the school seeks to RISE (Responsibility, Integrity, Scholarship and Excellence) amidst the current reputation of charter school programs.
Natalie Thompson is the former Vice President of Human Capital Management at Goldman Sachs. She also served as the Executive Director of the Institute for Public Service and Assistant Director of the New York City Urban Fellows, Government Scholar and Citywide Summer Internship Programs. Thompson graduated from Columbia University with a Masters of Public Administration, Advanced Management and Finance.
Lastly, Selina Sharmin, a DLIS graduate and Coping Skills Librarian and Coordinator of the New American Program at the Queens Public Library introduced us to library programs for an immigrant population. Sharmin reminded the audience that cultural programming is crucial to libraries as these programs help librarians learn about and understand the community demographics. In the case of Sharmin’s Queens library, she recognized a need for new literacy programs in Bengali. As such, Sharmin began a bilingual story time for early literacy and family literacy development. Part of the New Americans Program, Sharmin provides these bilingual services and also adult literacy classes to ease the transition of immigrants to the United States. Sharmin reminded the audience, “public libraries are the university for the immigrant population.”
Selina Sharmin graduated with an MLS from St. John’s University in 2009. Since then, Sharmin has served as children’s librarian at Queens Library for seven years while also coordinating lectures and workshops to help immigrants adjust to life in the United States as part of the New Americans Program.
A recording of this session can be accessed here. (Cisco WebEx add-on is required)