Wednesday, September 28, 2016

2015 Youth Services Institute Graduates--Reflections One Year Later

One year ago, I published the names of the 25 graduates of the 2015 Youth Services Institute in a blog post. At that time, the graduates had just completed an intense multi-day training and were about to begin work on a year-long goal (or two!) back at their libraries. Recently, I asked the graduates to provide me with a report reflecting on their progress and how their professional lives have changed since the Institute. 

What follows are a few snippets from their reflections: 
  • I maintain that the time spent at Green Lake was one of the top five transformative events of my adult life.  It is difficult to put into words exactly how this has manifested itself.  I think it is more of a feeling or an attitude.  I feel more empowered, so I act more empowered.  I feel worthy, so I act worthy.   I know I am capable of promoting librarianship, so I do.  It has made me a stronger advocate for youth services in and out of my library. 
  • The institute was very inspirational. In my first report, I mentioned that there was a lot of discovery and self-realization. I will never forget the feeling that came with having to leave. I felt confident with holding a title, that before the institute, I didn’t feel I deserved. I had new ideas, and such helpful tools to take back with me – tools, that I use every day. And when I need inspiration, I know that I have a lot of people to help me or that I can turn to. I have so much more to learn, and I look forward to that challenge. In fact, the idea of going back to school for my degree in Library Science is no longer a thought, but a goal. I truly love my job, which isn’t a job at all, because it doesn’t feel like work. I have a passion for what I do. I am very blessed in the career that found me.
  • [I] was inspired to try more passive programming to both give me some breaks throughout the year and to create programs that were more convenient for patrons to come to at any time.  The passive programs have been a hit and really boosted our numbers!  Most months we have over 100 kids participating which is awesome for us.  It took a little convincing to get the rest of the staff on board but now that they see how easy it is and how many families we get, they are on board.  I don’t think I would have pushed so hard for this if I hadn’t been at the Institute and heard how important it is to take care of myself to be able to take care of the patrons. 
  • I believe I have been successful in reaching the goal I set at the Institute last year. While I had hoped to be able to reach out to an older group of kids, the school district has shown more interest in targeting younger children for our joint literacy efforts. I believe this is because they are seeing an increase in the number of kids who are struggling with literacy skills, due in part to a lack of reading in the home. I agree with their concerns and I cannot say enough good things about how beneficial this collaboration has been, for both our library and the school district.
  • I’ve learned that the challenges, while sometimes daunting, are well worth the reward. I also know that by working off the enthusiasm and dedication of the kids participating now, we can recruit and sustain a vibrant Teen Advisory Board into the future!
  • Not only did I meet the goals I set for myself, but I intend to continue on this trajectory to improve programming for my community.  
I hope these sentiments are inspiring to you and make you think of someone who might benefit from the 2017 Youth Services Institute. Watch for more updates early next year!

Written by:
Tessa Michaelson Schmidt, Public Library Development