12 Insta Easy Instagram Library & Literacy Promotion Ideas

What’s the point of Instagram and why should you spend your precious time and money on it?  Well, don’t worry about the cost, because it’s FREE! So, all you really need is creativity and a few minutes a day to make meaningful, fun, and lasting connections with your community.  And with Instagram you get a twofer! Even maybe a threefer, fourfer?! That’s right, for the amazing low price of FREE, each Instagram post can cross pollinate to your Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, and that thing called Swarm that kinda took the place of the annoying Foursquare? That’s pretty powerful!

But to be truly effective with those connections using social media, your graphics, caption copy-writing, conversation, and photography skills should strive to be, positive, professional, and on point. Realize, however, that those skills will be mostly self-taught.  But that’s ok, that’s where I come in. We’ve got this! I’ve gathered ten really easy Instagram ideas you can implement tomorrow.  You know, librarians can do anything when they set their minds to it! Using social media for library, literacy, book, and program promotion is all about storytelling. And we are born storytellers!  The idea is that you’re curating your feed to include online what you would do in person -be influential, personal, relevant, humorous, and educational.

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Interpreting the Teen Read Week 2016 Survey Findings

When analyzing the success and challenges of the recent Teen Read Week, we look to the survey results to offer insight. It may come as no surprise that the “Read for the Fun of It” theme remains relevant to the needs of teens, seen in the 78.61% of respondents who utilized the multicultural theme and the 82.08% who participated in the initiative in order for teens to “develop an appreciation for reading.” Other respondents shared anecdotes of their libraries utilizing an alternative theme selected by teen patrons, which highlights the importance of reading and of creating flexible participation in teen interest driven environments.

Additionally, the survey helps the committee prioritize their work for the following year and to address resource gaps voiced by survey respondents. The TRW committee creates both free and inexpensive resources and it can be difficult to assess their importance, such as the TRW Pinterest board – a board with 1.1k followers geared towards programming and display ideas and related infographics. Some of these pins receive a high engagement rate of repinning and implementation (Pinterest’s “tried it” option). However, it is not known if the board is useful to libraries or the vast Pinterest audience. When asked to select their top three YALSA TRW resources, 23.70% survey respondents selected Pinterest as the fourth most useful resource, placing its importance behind the downloadable logo (63.58%), TRW website (61.27%) and themed products (27.17%). This response supports the significance and continued existence of a yearly TRW related Pinterest board.

Often the loudest and more numerous thread found throughout several different comment sections of the survey was the need for more programming resources: more diverse, passive and school focused programming. Yet other respondents shared their successfully themed TRW programs, such as daily trivia contests in both English and Spanish, students writing TRW articles for the school’s online newspaper and school librarians involving coaches and other educators to lead discussions about reading. In addition to offering programming ideas on the TRW Pinterest board, the TRW committee also submits vetted and tried programs to the YALSAblog and the yearly updated Teen Read Week manual. Despite these efforts, there remains a disconnect between the individuals who have great programs, like the ones previously mentioned, and those who need to hear and be inspired by them.

Interestingly, only 45.66% of TRW survey respondents were YALSA members, which further supports the need for you to share your successful, rich and Futures aligned programs through YALSA’s Teen Programming HQ site. We also need to demonstrate on the HQ site how easy program evaluation can be to implement and showcase its importance. The TRW survey revealed that the majority 62.43% did not use any form of evaluation. Sharing our experiences in measuring success may be as simple as describing the 80 teen students who downloaded the Overdrive app as one such respondent described. Furthermore, as 1.16% of survey participants heard about TRW through the YALSA blog, it is now your responsibility, if you’ve read this far, to reach out to your peers and support these findings.
Amanda Barnhart is a Teen Librarian for the Kansas City Public Library Trails West branch and the current YALSA Teen Read Week chair.

Middle School Monday: Building a Middle School Public Library Collection, Part 2

Last Monday, I talked about the benefits of a middle school collection in a public library, and how we chose a name, chose a collection size, and gathered feedback for my Library’s new Middle Ground.  Our next steps were to get into the specifics of what exactly belonged in the Middle Ground versus the Juvenile and Young Adult Collections.

As I said in my last post, the way you structure and build your collection is going to depend on your community.  I’m providing an account of how I did it as an example, to give you some things to think about while creating your own collection.  For more guidance, check out YALSA’s Collections and Content Curation wiki page.


We learned through surveying that many of our middle school patrons were interested in nonfiction and graphic novels.  Nonfiction and graphic titles tend to appeal to a wider age range of readers than fiction.  In Middle Ground Fiction we were collecting books that spoke directly to middle schoolers, but such books are few in nonfiction and graphic novels.  We wanted to include these collections in the Middle Ground, but chose to tweak the rules a bit for them.

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ALA Annual Visit: Chicago Museums

Are you visiting Chicago for ALA Annual? Make some time to visit at least one of our historic, world-class museums.  If you’re going to multiple museums and attractions, consider purchasing a CityPass for a discount and the chance to skip lines at some locations.

The conference venue, McCormick Place, is conveniently located right next to the Museum Campus.  This patch of the lake shore is home to the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and Adler Planetarium.

If you’re strapped for time and can only make it to one museum, I recommend the Field Museum, both for its high quality and its convenient location.  The star of this world-class natural history museum is Sue, the best-preserved, largest, and most complete T-rex fossil ever discovered.  You’ll also find mummies, rare gems, artifacts from the ancient Americas, and a pioneering collection of taxidermy. (That last one is, frankly, not my favorite.)

Field Museum of Natural History by Joe Ravi is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and with that the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV) and VAWnet have made a special collection of resources with information about preventing and responding to teen dating violence. VAWnet, is run by the NRCDV and is an “online network that focuses on violence against women and other forms of gender-based violence.”

In 2014, Mary Kay released a study with LOVEISRESPECT that shows teens stay in abusive relationships far longer than they should. The study surveyed 500 teens and it showed that “57% percent waited six months or more before seeking any help while 40% hadn’t talked to anyone about abusive behavior in their relationship.” A study in 2011, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control found that “1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 7 men who have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner first experienced some form of intimate partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age.” These two statistics alone are staggering, and the special collection by the NRCDV and VAWnet is a great resource for librarians, and all educators to utilize all year.

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YALSA Councilor Midwinter Report

Dear YALSA members,

Here is a report of ALA Council happenings from the Midwinter conference in Atlanta. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at todd.yalsa@gmail.com.

(Thanks to Martin Garnar, IFRT Councilor, for much of the reporting contained below.)

Youth Council Caucus:

  • The YALSA, ALSC and AASL Councilors met with a small group of interested members to discuss any pertinent youth issues that could be brought before the ALA Council as a whole. The most important item to come out of the meeting was a decision to try a different meeting time for the Youth Council Caucus. We will pilot this at ALA Annual in Chicago this summer, using the Council Suite for a drop-in opportunity for interested members in the late afternoon – more details forthcoming.

Council I:

  • We received a report on the implementation of Council actions since the 2016 Annual Conference (http://connect.ala.org/node/262222) and a report of Executive Board actions during the same timeframe (http://connect.ala.org/node/262543).
  • We heard from the chair of the search committee for the new ALA Executive Director and reviewed the candidates for the two elected spots from Council on the committee.  The rest of the committee’s membership was announced (http://connect.ala.org/node/262655). After Council I, voting opened to elect the two remaining committee members.
  • We approved Honorary Membership for Ann Symons, former ALA president and current GLBTRT Councilor.
  • The Council time was abridged so that there could be a Town Hall meeting on the recent concerns about ALA’s press releases shortly after the November election.  The Town Hall was live streamed on Facebook and archived for future viewing (https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blogs/the-scoop/58387/).

Council II:

  • We approved a proposal to add a 4thstrategic direction for the Association.  Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) now joins Advocacy, Information Policy, and Professional and Leadership Development.  This will boost the profile of EDI activities within the Association and serve as a rationale for increasing funding and resources for related projects (http://connect.ala.org/node/262626http://connect.ala.org/node/262628).
  • We approved the request for Latino Literacy Now to become an ALA Affiliate (http://connect.ala.org/node/262155).
  • The results of the election for the Executive Director search committee were announced.  Mario Gonzalez (at large) was elected from the 10 nominees representing divisions, round tables, and at-large Councilors and Amy Lappin (New Hampshire) was elected from the 4 nominees representing chapters.
  • The Freedom to Read Foundation president gave his report (http://connect.ala.org/node/262699).
  • After a strenuous debate, the Council narrowly voted (78-75) to retain the requirement for the ALA Executive Director to have an MLS.  One Councilor later resigned in protest over this issue.  The YALSA board had voted to support changing the requirement, and I shared that information as part of the debate.
  • Resolution Establishing Family/Caregiver Status as a Protected Class in ALA Volunteer Work was adopted after some discussion.
  • The Annual Conference Remodel was briefly discussed, but the conversation was cut short due to time constraints.  This was a major topic of discussion during the conference, particularly at Council Forum. The Conference Committee is still accepting feedback, so please read the proposal, FAQ, and other comments on their Connect page, then add your voice to the conversation (http://connect.ala.org/node/261211).
  • Executive Board candidates gave presentations after Council II, then voting opened for this election.

Council III:

  • The results of the Executive Board election were announced.  Patty Wong, Trevor Dawes, and Lessa Pelayo-Lozada were elected.
  • The Committee on Legislation/Intellectual Freedom Committee joint working group presented a revised Resolution on Gun Violence Affecting Libraries, Library Workers, and Library Patrons(http://connect.ala.org/node/262738). It was adopted after some discussion.
  • The Committee on Legislation and the Intellectual Freedom Committee presented their reports (COL – no action items http://connect.ala.org/node/262739; IFC – one action itemhttp://connect.ala.org/node/262740). The IFC report included a number of updated documents and a Resolution on Access to Accurate Information.  After some wordsmithing on the Council floor, the resolution was adopted.

Respectfully submitted,

Todd Krueger

YALSA Division Councilor

Breaking the Silence about Teen Dating Violence @ Your Library

On Monday, February 13, 2017, teens are invited to join a national conversation about teen dating violence. According to a 2016 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “[a]mong high school students who dated, 21% of females and 10% of males experienced physical and/ or sexual dating violence.” The same study also concluded that “[a]mong adult victims of rape, physical violence, and/ or stalking by an intimate partner, 22% of women and 15% of men first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age.” As teen library staff, have an opportunity to raise awareness about teen dating violence by helping teens advocate for their loved ones, friends, and themselves.

Given the amazing selection of books and resources that have been published for teens about dating violence (DV), we can bring awareness in many different ways. One method is to create a display that is going to invoke a powerful statement that needs to be said. For the month of February, my library posted this in our outside display case:

With these displays, we cab develop programming that can initiate a dialogue with teens about DV. If we have yet to connect with community groups and resources that can help us deliver our services, Teen DV month is a great place to start.

During Teen Dating Violence Awareness month, the teens at my library will discuss Jennifer Shaw Wolf’s Breaking Beautiful and a representative from Peace Over Violence will be there to answer any questions about teen DV. What I want to stress about these kinds of programs as that we need to declare that whatever happens at this event stays at this event. Victims of abuse need to know that the Library is a safe place so, by creating a circle of trust, we are actually stating we are here to help them. By opening up this conversation with our communities, it is incredibly helpful to invite an expert to answer the questions we don’t know or are qualified to answer.

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Middle School Monday: Building a Middle School Public Library Collection, Part 1

A year and a half ago, I was tasked with creating a collection of reading materials aimed at middle schoolers for my public library.  These types of collections—sometimes called junior high or tween collections—are becoming more popular in response to growing demand from patrons, but creating them poses some unique challenges.  In my next two blog posts, I’ll share some information on my Library’s process: we did, why we did it, what we learned, what, and how you might begin your own process of creating such a collection.  This can only serve as a guideline.  You will need to develop your own methods to build a collection that meets the specific needs of your community.

In this post, I will discuss reasons for having a middle school collection in the public library and first steps to creating one.  The next post will be about selection guidelines for the collection, and how to use those selection guidelines.

I will use the term “middle school collection” to refer to any collection designed to serve readers in the range of ages 10-14.

This is my library’s Middle Ground collection as it currently appears. We are working on expanding it to some additional shelving.

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Board Document #24: Award Committee Term Length

At the recent Midwinter meeting, the Board moved to standardize appointment term length for YALSA awards committees as described in Document #24.  This change will prevent overly-extended committee service breaks for members and will streamline the appointment and candidate-seeking process for YALSA staff and leaders.

In 2015, the YALSA Board approved the Selection and Award Committee Participation Policy. This policy requires a two-year break period between selection and award committee service.  The break period allows for greater member volunteer participation on selection and awards committees and encourages members to volunteer for process committee and task forces.  The policy is working successfully, with the exception of issues arising from inconsistent term lengths on YALSA’s six awards committees.

Current term periods on these six committees range from twelve months, ending on January 31 for Edwards, Morris, and Nonfiction to eighteen months, ending on June 30 for Alex, Odyssey, and Printz. The eighteen month term originally intended to accommodate ceremonies and other events associated with the awards, with the bulk of committee work completed during the first twelve months of work.  These staggered term lengths result in a complicated and time-consuming appointment process for YALSA leaders and staff.  They also create significant frustration for eager member volunteers rolling off an eighteen month committee. These members are forced to wait at least 2.5 years, instead of the standard two years, before serving on another awards or selection committee because of appointment and election timing.

Changing appointment terms to a uniform period will eliminate these inefficiencies and concerns.  Beginning with the 2018-19 awards committees, all awards committee terms will end on January 31.

YALSA leaders do realize that attending the ALA Annual awards ceremonies for the Alex, Odyssey, and Printz awards are important to the committee members who spent their time and energy selecting the winners. So, while the official term to these committee members will end on January 30, members of these committees will be strongly encouraged to still attend the ALA Annual awards ceremonies. YALSA will provide letters or statements regarding this to encourage institutional support of this travel.

If you are a former awards committee member on your two-year break or are new to committee work, be sure to check out these other opportunities to stay involved!  And, if you’re interested in getting involved with selection committee, check out this opportunity on The Hub.

Jennifer Korn

YALSA Board Member, 2014-2017

Broadening the Board’s Composition

At ALA Midwinter, the YALSA Board accepted a proposal to broaden the makeup of the Board.

During the 2015-2016 strategic planning process, the Board considered this idea and affirmed the benefits to the Board and organization. By targeting advocates with backgrounds in key areas such as business, corporate partnerships, and fundraising, YALSA’s work can be better supported by leveraging expertise. Including advocates outside of the immediate library teen services community can provide a unique perspective, strengthening the organization and broadening its vision. With this approach to Board recruitment, YALSA can better understand and serve teen needs by adding different voices, skills, and knowledge.

The Board standing committee focusing on Leading the Transformation for Teen Services was tasked with exploring the possibility of changing or expanding the Board’s composition as outlined in the Year 1 Implementation Plan. Taking into consideration industry best practices and examining boards from similar organizations, a two-year pilot was proposed.

The 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 Board Development Committees will identify, vet, and recruit nonmember advocates passionate about serving youth and YALSA’s mission. One advocate will be included on the ballots for the 2019 and 2020 election cycles. In 2020, a team will be assembled to evaluate the impact of adding diverse viewpoints and expertise from beyond the immediate library teen services community. Based on the evaluation, the team will make recommendations on whether or how to continue this Board recruitment process.

View the full proposal board document #27 and learn more about what was discussed in Atlanta by reviewing the 2017 Midwinter Meeting Agenda.

Trixie Dantis

Board Fellow 2016-2017