Reel Time – Community Discussions About Difficult Topics

This post is part of the YALSA Presidential Theme: Youth Activism through Community Engagement

“We are wondering whether we can show documentary films and have discussions at the library.”  That’s how it all started in 2013.

Events at the national level and at school were having an emotional impact on the teens and stimulating them to start conversations among themselves.  Two of my Teen Advisory Board (TAB) members wanted to do more.  They wanted to educate their peers about issues affecting teens, the community, and the world.  They also wanted to bring the community into the conversations.  And so began Reel Time – Community Discussions About Difficult Topics.

Initially, the discussions were adult-led. The teens generated the topics. The library planned and hosted the documentary viewings, including inviting experts—people working with folks impacted by the issues addressed in the films—to provide information and answer questions. For example, for a discussion about hunger following a viewing of A Place at the Table, we invited representatives from Teen Feed, a local organization that supports homeless youth, to share their experiences. The community events, at this point, were a product of the teens’ ideas, but not really owned by them. However, as I learned to step back, the teens began to step up.

Over time, the teens began to not only generate the topics, but to create the context for the documentary viewings, including the format of the discussions. As a first step, the TAB members co-facilitated the discussions with another adult. Ultimately, the teens began to organize and facilitate discussions on their own.

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Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: Ready-to-Go Presentation

The Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff is a resource that can be used in teaching and learning. It also gives library staff the chance to reflect on their skills, knowledge, and practices. That’s why YALSA developed a Ready-to-Go slide deck that anyone can use when facilitating learning related to the new Competencies document. The slide deck includes:

  • Speaker notes that provide context for the Competencies. They can be used as is, paraphrased, and/or to fill in details about the competencies that facilitators might be be aware of. Continue reading

YALSA President’s Report – February 2018


February may have been only 28 days long, but it was a busy month. Here are some highlights.


  • Attended ALA Midwinter in Denver where I:
  • Worked with YALSA Board and ALA HR to begin process of hiring a new YALSA Executive Director. For an update click here.
  • Wrote thank you letters to outgoing chairs of committees, taskforces, and juries.
  • Prepared for the March Board chat where we discussed concerns brought forward by YALSA members re: appropriate volunteer behavior and the committee appointment process. Be on the lookout for Board actions in response to both of these topics.
  • Wrote President’s column for the spring issue of YALS focused on small, rural, and tribal libraries

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Run for YALSA Board in 2019!

Interested in Serving on YALSA’s Board of Directors?

The YALSA Board Development Committee is looking for candidates for next year’s slate for the following positions: President-Elect, Secretary, and Directors-at-Large.  Successful candidates will stand for election in the spring of 2019 and begin their term during at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.

For more information on the responsibilities of each role on the Board, please visit the Governance page which includes some handy links under the topic Get Involved in Governance & Leadership.

Are you ready to put your name forward? Please submit the online nomination form soon and a committee member will be in touch.

Not quite ready yet?  Please feel free to contact me, the Board Development Committee Chair, at with any questions or to request additional information.  

The Board Development Committee will also be hosting YALSA 301 at Annual 2018 in New Orleans on Saturday, June 23, from 9-10 am. Pencil it in and hope to see you there! If you can’t make it, we’ll have a virtual session this summer, too.

Thank you for considering if YALSA Board is right for you!

Apply to be YALSA’s Next Liaison to ALA!

Be our next Liaison to ALA! YALSA is seeking a member to serve as liaison to ALA groups for 2018 – 2019. This person’s role is to strengthen ties between YALSA and ALA by sharing information between groups and representing YALSA’s interests to ALA. This position would liaise with nine different ALA groups. If there’s financial need, up to $1,000 in funds total can be provided to the liaison to defray the cost of attending the 2019 Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference. The term of the Liaison’s appointment is July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019. For more information or to apply by April 1, visit YALSA’s web site.

Cast Your Vote in the YALSA/ALA Elections


It’s that time of the year again – YALSA/ALA Elections!

Before you vote, please check out the following resources YALSA has compiled:

You should have received an email from ALA with a link to your YALSA/ALA ballot.  If you can’t locate the email from ALA, please contact JoAnne Kempf at or 312.280.3212.

The elections are often decided by narrow margins – make sure your voice is heard and vote today! I did!


Sandra Hughes-Hassell
YALSA President 2017-2018

Transforming Teen Services Through CE Town Hall on Cultural Competency and Responsiveness

As a part of the YALSA and COSLA IMLS funded project, Transforming Teen Services Through CE, the association hosted a Town Hall on the topic of Cultural Competence and Responsiveness – with a particular focus on library staff professional learning needs in those areas. An audio recording of the session is available below:

The chat transcript – where much of the conversation took place – is also available.

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Contact Your Rep’s Office by 3/19 to Save Library Funding

We are coming up on the deadline for Congressional Representatives to sign this year’s letters in support of federal library funding.  As you probably know, the White House budget for the coming fiscal year removed all federal funds for libraries, so it’s up to us to tell Congress to put the funds back in.  Right now, one letter is circulating in support of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and one for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program.

As an update, we currently have 84 signatures on LSTA, and 49 for IAL. Last year, we were able to get over 140 signatures for both letters. We can do it again, but we need your help!

With the deadline coming up – March 19th! – I’d like to ask your help in getting the word out about this campaign. ALA is maintaining a list of Reps who have signed at Please take a moment today to find out if your Rep has signed, and email their office via this quick form if not.   You can also Tweet or call.  And then help us spread the word by encouraging others to do the same!   If they have signed, send them a quick thanks.

-Beth Yoke

P.S. Stay up to date on federal funds for libraries via ALA’s District Dispatch blog

Digging into the IMLS Strategic Plan

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has been an essential resource for libraries and library schools since its inception over two decades ago. According to its mission statement, this agency works “to advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grant-making, research, and policy development.” On the ground, the work supported by the IMLS takes the form of anything from STEAM programming to data-rich research projects. “Transforming Communities,” the recently published 2018-2022 IMLS Strategic Plan, reviews specific successes and focuses on broader strategies to lead us into the next few years. Certain aspects of the plan—approaches to learning and literacy, library engagement statistics, and serving the under-served—might be of particular interest to library staff who work with youth.

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Update YALSA Executive Director Search


As you know, Beth Yoke tendered her resignation as YALSA Executive Director in January. The search for the new Executive Director is currently underway.

The search committee includes three members of the YALSA Executive Committee and four ALA staff members:

  • Sandra Hughes-Hassell, YALSA President
  • Crystle Martin, YALSA President Elect
  • Todd Krueger, YALSA Division Councilor
  • Mary Ghikas, ALA Executive Director
  • Dan Hoppe, ALA AED of Human Resources
  • Aimee Strittmatter, ALSC Executive Director
  • Beatrice Calvin, ALA Manager of Professional Development.

The job was posted Friday, March 2, on the ALAJobList. It is also being posted to other sites, including sites that are frequented by individuals seeking association executive director positions.

The committee will review and rank applications as they are received – we have already received a number of applications. On April 17th, the committee will have a conference call to determine which 8-11 of the applicants will move on to the next step in the process.

Our goal is to have a new Executive Director in place by August 31, 2018. As the process moves forward, I will continue to keep you updated. If you have any questions about the process, please reach out to me, Crystle, or Todd.

Sandra Hughes-Hassell
YALSA President 2017-2018