"Many libraries are learning that the more they create space for youth to take the lead and drive activities, the better the experience is for everyone. The old model of adults taking the lead and telling youth what to do needs to be replaced with something more youth-driven. We've learned that working in collaboration with youth yields better relationships and they'll stay engaged if they feel like they are appreciated."—Pennsylvania Humanities Council, 2019.
Empowerment of voice, sharing of story, and celebration of diversity drive the varied activities of the National Endowment for the Humanities and its nonprofit affiliates, state humanities councils. In preparing this issue, I've come to realize the resources and opportunities that these organizations provide, from fellowships to teaching resources to community partnership programs. This work serves the goals of "advancing knowledge and understanding of the humanities, and increasing public awareness of, access to, and support for the humanities in the United States"—a directive established by the federal government in the 1960s in response to concerns that an emphasis on science was threatening education in the humanities, the work of which was essential in guiding a people through a future shaped by science and technology (Pennsylvania Humanities Council; National Endowment for the Humanities).
There are fifty-six state and jurisdictional humanities councils. You can find yours here: https://www.neh.gov/about/state-humanities-councils. I live in Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania Humanities Council's executive director, Laurie Zierer, shared this perspective about opportunities for school libraries:
There are 56 humanities councils located in all U.S. states and jurisdictions that may be able provide a wealth of resources and learning opportunities for school librarians and their teacher colleagues. The Pennsylvania Humanities Council's Teen Reading Lounge program has expanded from primarily public libraries to public and independent school sites. Through this work we've worked closely with school staff, including ongoing training and consultations, to help them leverage the power of humanities to engage and inspire youth—particularly those who are often the hardest to reach. We're currently developing a learning brief based on an independent analysis of our work with young people so that we can share more broadly our successes and challenges. I strongly encourage school librarians to keep an eye out for that and also to reach out to their local humanities council and ask them about relevant resources and opportunities. (Email communication, July 8, 2019)
Here is a sampling of opportunities, events, and content provided by NEH and state humanities councils. Do you collaborate with your state humanities council or implement their resources? Share your experiences with us @SLC_Online.
Teen Reading Lounge (Pennsylvania):program development guide, booklists and themes, and project ideas for youth-driven, nontraditional book clubs https://pahumanities.org/initiatives/teen-reading-lounge/teen-reading-lounge-resources
Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards (Illinois):statewide poetry contest website featuring past winners' poems and video of awards ceremonies https://www.ilhumanities.org/program/gwendolyn-brooks-youth-poetry-awards/
Oregon Humanities Curriculum Guides:essential questions, lesson plans and other materials to go with articles such as "Good Hair: Exploring Identity and Questioning Expectations" and "Full Circle: The High Price of Free Speech" http://www.oregonhumanities.org/curriculum-guides/
Literary Map of Indiana: created by the Indiana Center for the Book in 2016 to celebrate the state bicentennial; many states maintain similar resources https://www.in.gov/library/files/1816-2016_Literary_Map_of_Indiana.pdf
California Documentary Project NEXTGEN Grants:grants to support short documentaries or podcasts on problems and youth-proposed solutions as part of CA 2020: Youth Perspective and the Future of California, with next cycle opening March 2020
Humanities Magazine:current and archived issues with rich topics to ignite inquiry projects, such as "The Forgotten Suffragists" and "Texting in Ancient Mayan Hieroglyphs" https://www.neh.gov/humanities
Summer Seminars and Institutes for K-12 Educators:Opportunities nationwide, bookmark for next summer https://www.neh.gov/divisions/education/summer-programs
National Endowment for the Humanities. "How NEH Got Its Start." https://www.neh.gov/about/history. Accessed June 30, 2019.
Pennsylvania Humanities Council. "A Brief History of PHC." https://pahumanities.org/about-us/a-brief-history. Accessed June 30, 2019.
Pennsylvania Humanities Council. "Positive Youth Development Is Another Reason To Love Libraries." https://pahumanities.org/conversations/2019/04/08/positive-youth-development-is-another-reason-to-love-libraries. Accessed June 30, 2019.