President-Elect Orientation

Part of my preparation for serving members as the 2017 – 2018 YALSA President is to participate in an orientation with all Division President-Elects and certain ALA leaders.   As YALSA’s representative at this event, I wanted to share with the YALSA membership what I learned about ALA, Divisions and association governance.

Last week the President-Elects of all the ALA divisions including me, Chris LeBeau (RUSA), Cheryl Middleton (ACRL), Pamela Smith (PLA), Steve Laird (United for Libraries), Nina Lindsay (ALSC), Pixey Mosely (LLAMA), Jeanette Smithee (ASCLA), Mary Beth Thomson (ALCTS), Andromeda Yelton (LITA), and Steven Yates (AASL) met in Chicago for orientation.  The executive directors for each division also attended the orientation.

The meeting agenda included a welcome by Keith Fiels (ALA Executive Director), an overview of ALA as an organization by Mary Ghikas (ALA Senior Associate Executive Director), a discussion of legal and ethical issues (Paula Goedert, ALA attorney), an overview of ALA finances (Susan Hildreth, ALA Treasurer, and Ann Martin, Chair of BARC), and media training (ALA Public Awareness Staff and Jeff Leshay, consultant).  Here are a few things that stood out to me from each presenter.

Welcome (Keith Fiels)

ALA is retooling how it, as the parent or umbrella organization, can work better with the 11 divisions to create a more harmonious, mutually supporting culture. This presents a great opportunity for YALSA to build capacity and advance its mission through collaboration with other divisions.

Overview ALA (Mary Ghikas)

Think “advocacy math!” Did you know there are:

  • 51,171 individual/personal members
  • 5,627 organizational members
  • 178 corporate members
  • 11 Divisions
  • 20 Round Tables
  • Approximately 5,000 ALA members actively involved with the Association
  • 57 ALA chapters
  • 26 ALA-affiliated organizations – plus more ALA Division affiliates

Legal/Ethical Issues (Paula Goedert)

WOW! Lots of new information in her presentation. One of the most important take aways…as Board members and division leaders our badge is ALWAYS on (even if we aren’t wearing it!).

ALA Finances (Susan Hildreth & Ann Martin)

For the FY17, the ALA approved a $64.4M budget. Did you know that all Divisions pay ALA overhead (i.e. business expenses) in exchange for services like HR, legal counsel and IT?  For FY 17 and FY 18 the overhead rate is set at 26.4%. Overhead is calculated on some, but not all products and services.   So, for example, divisions are not charged overhead on dues, but divisions are charged the full rate for event registrations, like YALSA’s YA Services Symposium.  That means that if YALSA brings in $100,000 in gross registration revenue for the symposium, $26,400 of that goes to ALA.  Now you know why Friends of YALSA, planned giving, and sponsorships are so important to the financial health of YALSA and our ability to support members.

Want to learn more about your “ALA dollar”- where it comes from and how it is spent? Check out this website:

Media Training (ALA Public Awareness Staff and Jeff Leshay, consultant)

These presentations were so informative (and a little scary!). Jeff provided key tips and techniques for successful interviews and for managing the media. I plan to put them on my office wall so when the media calls, I can review them!

One final note, before the orientation on Thursday, the division Presidents Elect had dinner with Jim Neal, ALA President Elect.  Jim shared his prospective priorities and actions during his 2017-2018 presidential year.  You can read them in his report to the ALA Executive Board. So many of his priorities align with YALSA priorities – it is going to be an exciting year! I am looking forward to working with Jim and with each of the Division President Elects to build capacity and advance YALSA’s mission and organizational plan.

If you want to know more, be sure to get in touch. or @bridge2lit

As always, thanks for all you do for YALSA and for putting teens first!

Sandra Hughes-Hassell
YALSA President-Elect



Getting inspired at DML 2016

img_4174Recently, I attended the Digital Media and Learning Conference (DML) in Irvine, California hoping to learn a bit more about this education focused world I’ve jumped into after finishing up a PhD in Information Science. I was not disappointed. The DML Research Hub is composed of a group of researchers who are interested in all things digital media and learning (not surprisingly). They have several initiatives including connected learning, make-to-learn, and youth and participatory politics. You can find out more about their work here.

The conference included a mix of educators, researchers, academics, and even librarians. The wide range of presentations held during the conference is what impressed me most. Everything from game design and maker programs to Scratch and digital citizenship. There seemed to be a space for anyone interested in how digital media impacts youth learning. For someone interested in the everyday lives of young adults (like me), the conference demonstrated how commonly used digital media such as gaming and Makerspaces can play a role in the education of youth. Education no longer seems static, fixed in the traditional classroom, but instead learning can occur in many forms and engage the learner rather than bore them.

Three sessions that I attended stick out in my mind: The first, Get Creative with Coding: Dance, Sports, and Other Interests, asked that all participants to take part in some hands on playing through Scratch, a free coding program available from MIT. By taking time to play with Scratch and a smaller version of Scratch called Scratch “Microworld”, we learned how to encourage youth to develop their own online projects on whatever they find interesting – music, sports, fashion. The tie into libraries is that as an informal space for learning, libraries can motivate youth to use the library resources to access this freely available online coding program and become more involved in making within their communities.

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Messiness as Progress: Reflections from the 2016 DML Conference.

Knock on wood, but I’m pretty sure that the universe won’t be able to top the craziness that was my 2012.  In the same month I:  became my library system’s first Youth Services Manager, was voted to serve as YALSA President, and had a baby.

Why do I mention that personal trifecta? Because quite soon thereafter, the year that I was President, The Future of Library Services for and with Teens report came out and challenged me profoundly. As we all now well know, it called for a “paradigm shift” in the way that we approach and implement teen services in libraries and I happened to have been in the unique position to think through those shifts on both a local and a national scale… while at the same time managing significant personal and professional capacity issues (as so many of us often do).

I mention all of this in a post intended to focus on this year’s Digital Media and Learning Conference because as I’ve worked to support future focused outcomes related to youth and libraries, I’ve spent a lot of time:

  • Trying to achieve perfect solutions for complex problems
  • Feeling like a weirdo for piecing together concepts, research, and tools from disparate sources
  • Worrying about the general mess that comes with change

As it turns out, I need to get over myself. It’s not just me, or even just libraries for that matter, that are struggling with these issues. At DML, I had conversations with or heard from computer scientists and afterschool club organizers, intermediaries and funders, researchers and teachers who are all feeling as messy as I have been. But as we talked and connected, that messiness felt good, exciting, and full of possibility. That messiness felt like we were all moving forward to help this country’s most diverse demographic of teens be successful in an ever evolving tech, career, and cultural landscape.  That messiness felt like progress.

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Apply for Our 2017 Summer Learning Resources and Teen Summer Intern Grants

Planning your summer learning program?

Consider applying for our 2017 Summer Learning Resources and Teen Summer Intern Grants.

Through generous funding from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, two grants are available: the Summer Learning Resources Grant and the Teen Summer Intern Program Grant. The purpose of the grants is to help libraries combat the summer slide, as described in YALSA’s position paper, “Adopting a Summer Learning Approach to Increase Impact.”

Twenty summer learning resources grants, worth $1,000 each, will be awarded to libraries in need and will allow them to provide resources and services to teens who are English language learners, struggling in school and/or who are from socio-economically challenged communities. Twenty teen summer intern program grants, also worth $1,000 each, will be awarded to libraries to support the implementation of summer learning programs while also providing teens a chance to build hands-on job skills.

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Make Do Share: STEM Program Design and Partnerships

In 2015, Kitsap Regional Library received a three year National Leadership grant from the Institute of Museum and Libraries to design and implement a sustainable STEM programming model for public libraries. The project, entitled Make Do Share, collects tools and resources to support staff in planning, facilitating and improving STEM programs for and with youth.

For more information on the project, read the full grant proposal. You can also access various project resources via YALSA and WebJunction.

Downloadable resources

Kitsap Regional Library created a downloadable guide to serve as a primary resource for those interested in STEM programming for and with youth.  The Road Map portion of the guide provides an introduction to concepts and activities which support staff learning and planning. The Playbook portion outlines potential program types, provides examples of sample programs, and describes strategies to support successful facilitation.

Call for partnering libraries

As part of their dissemination plan, Kitsap Regional Library has committed to partnering with two small and/or rural public libraries to regularly support the planning and implementation of sustainable STEM programming in those communities.

What to expect as a partnering library

Partner libraries will walk through the Make Do Share resource guide with the support and guidance of Kitsap Regional Library staff during weekly virtual meetings and through scheduled assignments.  Content areas include:

  • Community Discovery and Engagement
  • Facilitation
  • Outcomes Based Planning and Reflection
  • Continuous Learning
  • STEM Program Design and Implementation
  • Youth Voice

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YALS Fall 2016: Lessons Learned from a New Teen Space

fall 2016 YALSA coverTeen Services Coordinator, Jennifer Velasquez, took a different approach when the San Antonio Public Library Teen Library @ Central wanted to redesigning the library. By talking about what teens wanted to do in the library, versus furniture and colors, staff was able to truly understand what teens need and want in their library. Velasquez mentions that it is not only important to understand what needs want and need in a library, but why the use the library.

Based on focus groups with teen participants, teens expressed that they wanted quiet spaces, active spaces, and social places. Today’s libraries are now incorporating much of these aspects, and are important to remember when designing a new teen library or space. Velasquez’ model for the perfect teen library includes three spaces: participation, contemplation, and engagement. A participation space allows for “group work and activities.” A contemplation space allows for independent work, which would include, homework, studying, reading, etc. Lastly, an engagement space allows for comfortable seating for socializing, displays, technology–a fun, and safe place for teens to socialize. Although space can be limited in some libraries, and not all these spaces can be coordinated, many of these spaces can be made into programs.
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What is the Board up to?

Every month the Board meets for an informal chat to check in with on-going projects, get to know each other a little better, and get updates from the executive committee. At the Annual meeting in Orlando, the Board began the process toward aligning YALSA’s work with the new organizational plan, so there were a lot of updates to share from the three standing board committees: Leading the Transformation, Advocacy, and Funder and Partner Development.

The committee on Leading the Transformation is currently working on several board proposals to meet the needs of members by providing leadership development and cultural competency training. They are currently in the information gathering mode both from YALSA staff, members, committees and looking at national standards in these areas. They were also pleased to announce that YALSA has been represented at 13 regional or state conferences thus far in 2016  (with more to come!).

The Advocacy standing committee has been thinking about the best ways to accomplish the goals laid out in the organizational plan. They are looking closely at National Library Legislative Day and how YALSA can support that ALA effort. They also explored Governor’s Boards to see how YALSA members can influence state legislative action.

The Board members serving on the Funder and Partner Development committee have been working on a roadmap to increase planned giving, that was discussed at the annual meeting in Orlando. They have also begun prioritizing and building a strategy around YALSA’s needs and is looking for potential donors and partners who can fill those gaps.

President Sarah Hill updated the Board on the work of the Executive Committee which will meet at the YALSA Symposium in Pittsburgh. In Orlando, the Executive Committee was assigned new duties and roles within the board, and has been working to become deeply versed in YALSA’s financial matters. 

The Board has been working hard on projects that kicked off in Orlando to align the association’s work with the new Organizational Plan, so expect more updates from the Board as we move forward! We hope to see you in Pittsburgh and Atlanta!

Reaching Teens through Passive Programs

Do you have trouble getting teens into your interactive programs for your teens during Teen Read Week? Are you still trying to understand your teen demographic? Teens are busy students, especially during their final high school years, but they can certainly still participate in other planned activities on their own time whenever they visit your library.  Here are a few suggestions for easy and simple passive activities that you can use during Teen Read Week to encourage teens to “Read for the Fun of It”:

  1. Post a sign encouraging teens to add their favorite book to your library book display.
  2. Offer 24 hour reading suggestions by creating an accessible jar of book titles that contain short excerpts. Teens can pick out a book to read by chance.
  3. Decorate a bulletin board with magnets of famous lines and phrases from books. Allow teens to make up a poem or story using those famous lines/words.
  4. Place a blank bookmark inside popular titles with a short message that encourages teens to write their own review of the book.  Place these books in a special area “Reviewed by teens” where teens can find them so that they can share their reviews.
  5. Create accessible polls (Jelly bean jar, or M & M jar, or use dots on a poster size paper with their favorite titles). Teens can vote for their favorite title.
  6. Have all the supplies for black out poetry and display examples and finished work.
  7. Design a new cover for your favorite book on a Post-It note or have teens completely redesign a book cover.

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YALSA Member Award Juries

Announcing a new volunteer opportunity!

I will be making appointments to YALSA’s seven member award juries soon, including:

BWI/YALSA Collection Development Grant Jury

Conference Travel Scholarships Jury

Frances Henne/VOYA/YALSA Research Grant Jury

Great Books Giveaway Jury

MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens

Volunteer of the Year Award

Writing Award Jury

Jury appointments run from Nov. 1, 2016 to Feb. 1, 2017. All of the work will be conducted virtually with the bulk of it occurring in December and January. Want more information about the juries? Click on the links above.

This is a new approach to appointing committee members to our member award juries and is in direct response to the summer members’ survey which indicated that YALSA members want more short-term, opt-in, and virtual volunteer opportunities.

Requirements to Volunteer

  • Be a current YALSA member with the available time
  • Be interested in volunteering with YALSA
  • Have relevant experience
  • Have a high comfort level using digital tools such as Google Drive, Skype, etc.
  • Be concurrently serving on three or fewer appointed groups

That’s it!

To Apply

Simply complete the quick 4 question form below by no later than Nov. 1st.

Please free to contact me with any questions at

Thanks for volunteering with YALSA!


Stuck in the Middle: Serving Tweens and Young Teens

It wasn’t all that long ago that adolescence was first recognized as a distinct stage of life. But anyone who works with teens can tell you that a twelve-year-old’s adolescence looks a lot different from an eighteen-year-old’s. Over the teen years, the brain undergoes dramatic growth and change. The Office of Head Start and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (part 1 and part 2) point out significant differences in the mental, physical, and emotional development of younger teens versus older ones. One way for libraries to meet this variety of needs, and perhaps to better serve our patrons, is to offer services for tweens and young teens that are separate from those for older teens.

Special services for pre-teens and young teens are a growing trend, and they come under many different names: tween services, middle school services, junior high services, in-betweens. School Library Journal recently created a monthly e-mail newsletter called Be Tween, for “those kids who are not little children anymore—but not quite young adults, either.” Members of a large library system in my state just started a tween services group for staff serving these patrons to network and share ideas. Continue reading