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Friday, June 15, 2018

Youth Risk Behavior Survey and Trends from the CDC

legs in jeans from lower thigh down, wearing pink shoes and in front of a rusty wall
Image credit:  Pixabay
The Center for Disease Control is out with statistics about youth and risk, based on a survey of 13-17-year olds.  Some interesting trends:

Sexual activity is down, but among teens having sex, condom use is also down.

In most other measures, the general trend for teens and risk is either about the same or going towards less risky, except in the areas of mental health.  The percentage of students who feel persistently sad and hopeless; those who have considered suicide attempts; and those who were injured in suicide attempts has all risen.

And similar to the study done a decade ago, teens who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual have significantly more difficulty.  They are:

  • More than twice as likely to experience electronic bullying
  • About twice as likely to be bullied on school grounds
  • Nearly three times as likely to have been forced to have sex
  • About 2.5 times more likely to be feeling persistently sad and hopeless
  • More than three times as likely to have attempted suicide, and more than four times as likely to have been seriously injured as a result of an attempt.
So, it looks like there is some work to do!  What can libraries do to help improve prospects for teen mental health?  How can we provide safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ kids (note that the study only discusses teens who identify as LGB)?  What can we do through our collections, displays, programs, outreach/engagement efforts, and, most importantly, relationships with individual teens?  I know many of you are doing awesome things already!  

Hopefully you will be reading in this blog in August or September about cool programs in Ladysmith and Balsam Lake about empowering programs for teens (the programs are happening, I am hoping to get a blog post about them!).  And also about a teen diversity club (specifically aimed at LGBTQIA+ teens) in Polk County.  Wow!  I can't wait to hear more.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Pop-Up Libraries: All of the Services, None of the Walls (Literally)

picnic table under a shelter in a park surrounded by green grass and trees

I got to attend the Lake Superior Library Symposium this year for the first time.  This small conference puts together librarians from academic and public (and a few special) libraries from 2-3 states, mixes, and creates an amazing blend of inspiration, networking, and ideas.  The timing is kind of rough for youth services librarians--early June is not usually an easy time to get away.  BUT, it is also rejuvenating and exciting and it is only one day.  I highly recommend it for next year (plus, Duluth is a pretty awesome place to visit in the summer).

One session I attended was by the people behind the amazing Ridgedale Branch of the Hennepin County Library.  Those of you who have been here a while probably have heard me ranting and raving about their beautiful Together campaign, inviting caregivers to interact and play with their kids. 

Their library was closing for a long stretch of time, starting last summer.  The librarians carefully researched some locations where they were expecting groups of kids and families to congregate during the summer (parks where the school lunch truck was dropping off lunch, farmer's markets, summer school sessions, Parks and Recreation day camps).  Then they made arrangements to bring a pop-up library to the site, where they were able to provide a place to look at and check out books, but also a place to interact with toys, puppets, and science materials--and with each other and the librarians and volunteers!

They saw many families they hadn't seen before, and learned a lot about how to create an inviting space in a variety of locations, along with how to actively invite people into the pop-up library.  Hopefully there are no big library closures in the future for any of you, but even without a closure, this is a great way to consider increasing the library's reach to families who, for a variety of reasons, may have a hard time making it into the library building.