What do accountability, excellence, innovation, and social responsibility have to do with the teen services profession? The quick and easy answer is a lot. However, a more specific answer is that these 4 ideas are a few of the Core Values listed in YALSA’s new Core Professional Values for the Teen Services Profession. This Professional Values document was published by YALSA last month after a year-long development process by the association’s Professional Values Task Force. The Task Force began their work after discussions by the YALSA Board of Directors during their 2013 Annual Conference meetings The Board wanted to develop and support the professional development of library staff serving teens and to help others in the library profession understand the value of what library staff working with and for teens work towards every single day of the year.
The document, a one of its kind in the area of library teen services, is an excellent framework for the values that all those working with teens in libraries should embrace. Not only does it list the Core Values but it includes ways of demonstrating those values. For example, if you demonstrate Innovation, which is defined in the document as:
Approaches projects and challenges with a creative, innovative mindset
Then you demonstrate that by:
- Recognizes that learning comes from failure and experimentation
- Demonstrates a willingness to take calculated risks to improve teen services
It is important for all staff working with and for teens in libraries to go through the Core Values and assess strengths and weaknesses in demonstrating each value. Weaknesses aren’t a bad thing as knowing where you are weak gives you the chance to find out what to improve on in order to serve teens even more successfully. Actually, the Excellence Core Value includes continuous learning as an area to focus on:
“Engages in acquisition of new knowledge throughout one’s career” as a demonstration of that value.
Along with assessing your own personal strengths and weaknesses related to the YALSA Core Professional Values, it can also be really useful to use the document as a way to help colleagues, administrators, trustees, principals, superintendents, community members, funders, and more understand what you do and why you do it. You can go over the document with them or make it a point to highlight different sections of the document for them over several months. You can talk with them about how you already achieve the values and what you are working on in order to do an even better job to support the needs of teens in the community. You can give those you talk with ideas about how they can support the Core Values by demonstrating at least some of the practices outlined in their own interactions with and for teens.
The Core Values are a core tool for you to use as you continue to work with and for teens in your community. Use it professionally as a way to make sure you are doing what you need to do and as a way to inform and advocate for the value of teen services in the library and the community at-large.