At the YALSA Board's Midwinter Meetings, the Board discussed the YA Literature Symposium and voted to make some changes, on a trial basis. After the next Symposium (Fall 2014), it will become an annual event. Then, after three consecutive years, it will be re-evaluated. In addition to being held yearly, the Symposium will expand its offerings beyond a strict focus on literature to include programming and other teen-focused topics.
There were several considerations for changing the Symposium to an annual event. The Symposium tends to draw people who are not able to attend ALA Annual and Midwinter. Many YA professionals have the opportunity only to attend one conference per year, and in that case, they prefer to attend something that is specifically YA-focused. In addition, statistics have shown that by having the Symposium in smaller venues, and moving it around the country, different people have the opportunity to attend. In St. Louis, 50% of attendees drove to the Symposium. Many of these were first-time attendees who don't normally go to major national conferences. Holding the Symposium annually is one way to meet a need expressed by members to have more regional face-to-face opportunities to meet and engage with other YA professionals.
St. Louis is 2012 was the third biannual YA Lit Symposium, and post-symposium comments have consistently called for an expansion in the focus beyond YA literature. While attendees value the opportunity to hear authors and others talk about literature, they would also like to have some other types of sessions, on programming and on other topics related to serving teens. In addition, some members stated that expanding the focus of the Symposium would allow them to get greater buy-in from their supervisors.
Another suggestion that came from members that may be implemented is to have the option of purchasing one-, two-, or three-day attendance to the Symposium. This could be tied in with the desire to have different types of sessions by scheduling, for example, Friday for programming and other topics, and Saturday and Sunday for literature-focused topics.
The next YALSA Symposium will be in Austin, TX, from October 31-November 2, 2014. Locations for 2015 and 2016 have yet to be decided. If you would like to receive updates about the 2014 Symposium, including the call for proposals, go here' to leave your email address.
YALSA Immediate Past-President