YALS Takes on Community Engagement

winter 16 YALS coverYALSA friends, I have just finished reading the winter 2016 issue and I am excited. New features, new directions for YALSA, inspiration, and plenty of practical information abound.  The theme of the issue is Community Engagement and I love what President Candice Mack says about that-it might be quicker to do something on our own, but it’s short-sighted. Community engagement leads to collaboration, long term relationships, and ultimately an increased capacity to reach more teens. (Thanks, Candice for sharing a site where we can input our zipcodes to find out other youth serving organizations!)  The interview with Karen Pittman, a co-founder of the Forum for Youth Investment, is an in-depth look at what collective impact is and how libraries can be a part of it.  While I read that feature as a “big picture” look at community engagement, I read Community Experts Mentor Teens and New Adults by Laurie Bartz and saw some concrete things many of us could implement. She describes a program that is teen driven, part of the community, and supporting 21st century skills, including leadership and technology. Basically, it’s got it all!

How exciting is this? There’s a new column by Crystle Martin called Resource Roundup where new and relevant youth research is highlighted.  There’s a brief overview and then suggestions on how to integrate the findings. I recognize that keeping up with new research is important to my work with youth and libraries, but to be honest, it’s not always that easy to do. This new column is going to be a valuable reference and a real member benefit.

If you’ve been wondering about YALSA’s new Strategic Plan (and planning process) please be sure to read Candice Mack’s feature, YALSA’s Exciting Future with a Teens First Mindset. She explains the new process, how it came about, and what it means for members.

And speaking of exciting things for members, Jessi Snow explains a wonderful new resource for members called Teen Programming HQ. So what is the HQ? Your new go-to for programming information and ideas. The ideas come from members and are reviewed by experts, making sure that they are aligned with the Futures Report. One of the things I’ve always loved about YALSA was the opportunity to connect with other librarians and be part of a network, and the HQ will facilitate that.

And finally, Karin Perry and Holly Weiman have put together a piece that offers analog, digital, and online tools libraries can use to support teens in acquiring a variety of skills. Encompassing everything from moleskin books to Build with Chrome, I know this is a list I’ll be turning to and using, and I bet you’ll find it practical and inspiring too.

Of course, these are just some of the highlights of the new issue.  There’s also more information about YALSA news and a terrific interview with the co-founders of the Public Libraries and STEM conference.  Whether you’re already firmly established in community engagement, or looking for ways to get started, this issue is bound to have something for you.

About Sarah Debraski

YALSA President, 2008-2009
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