Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Apply NOW for the Youth Services Institute

Eagle Lodge
Heartwood Conference Center,
site of the 2013 and 2017 Institutes. 
Applications are currently being accepted for the 2017 Wisconsin Youth Services Development Institute, to be held Sunday, August 27 - Wednesday, August 30, 2017 at the Heartwood Conference Center in Trego, WI. 

The Wisconsin Youth Services Development Institute provides professional development and networking for Wisconsin public library staff who serve babies, children, and teens in smaller public libraries. The Institute targets library staff who have no graduate degree in librarianship and/or work in rural/isolated library communities. For these individuals, there is a need to improve skill and knowledge base, foster a supportive network, and develop stronger peer-to-peer and professional community connections within the Wisconsin public libraries infrastructure.

Group photo outside
The 2015 Institute Cohort
Details about the Institute as well as the application text are available online. The application is due on Friday, April 28, 2017.

Youth library staff from all corners of the state are encouraged to apply. The best testament to what the Institute is all about comes from past graduates. The statement below was originally posted on the IFLS youth services listserv.

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From Jenna Gilles-Turner, Chippewa Public Library

By now I hope you have heard the powers that be have posted information about the next Youth Services Institute. Former participants have been asked to share with others their own experiences in order to encourage others to apply.

I don't need to be asked twice.

The Youth Services Institute has been by far the most influential positive experience in my professional life. It was almost like therapy for the fears, doubts, and self-esteem in my professional life...and some of those very same issues also fall into the personal life category. So yeah, it was intense and emotional at times. But also intensely inspiring and engaging.

You know all those times you're sitting around a table or in an audience with all those amazing librarians and you lament the inability to have a decently lengthy conversation or gripe session with those amazing librarians who have amazing ideas and have had amazing experiences and ask amazing questions? You can do that at the Institute! You're together for more than just a meeting or conference or webinar! It's amazing! You have time to digest stuff (not just the amazing food) and then go back the next few days to continue conversing with and learning from one another! You meet librarians from outside our system and form fast friendships with people who will cheer you, lift you, and inspire you. Again: It's amazing! And they FEED you!

The biggest thing for me personally and professionally was going away from the Insitute feeling validated and seeing that I had been on the right track all along. I don't have a degree in library science and that's always weighed heavily on me. I didn't always feel like I was up to snuff or that I deserved a seat at the table. I wasn't sure I was doing the right things or if I was way out in left field. Every once in awhile I would have inklings like, "But I *know* this" or "Hey, I'm actually onto something good here," but for the most part the self-doubts were in control. Being with the other participants for that amount of time in a very judgement-free environment helped me realize what I really did know all along but was too afraid to let myself believe: I DO know my stuff and if I don't have an answer or solution, I know what to do about it. My experiences and schooling, while not a degree, do make me worthy of feeling proud for my accomplishments, passion, and ideas. I'm not saying I am free from suffering those fears and doubts, but I do suffer much less. And now I even have a wonderful cheering squad to help me through them when they do become too burdensome.

If you have any doubts or fears about going: drop them. Apply. 

Apply now. You can thank me later...

And feel free to share with colleagues and co-workers. Because they should apply, too. I wish everyone could have this experience. I really, really do.

Now go and don't worry about who will watch the desk while you're gone or about childcare or who will feed your partner or who will clean the litter box or who will do storytime or whatever. Because in the grand scheme of things: this Institute is so worth it. So thank me later but thank IMLS now by contacting your reps and telling them how important these funds are for experiences like this one and more.

Why are you still reading this? Go apply.

Jenna Gilles-Turner
Chippewa Falls Public Library

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Post compiled by:
Tessa Michaelson Schmidt, Public Library Development Team