What I Learned from YALSA

 

I started a new job as a teen services librarian one month before I graduated with my MLS. I was thrilled to get a full-time position serving my ideal population – at a dream location, to boot! My MLS program was amazing, and I learned more than I expected to. I felt confident with my library skills as I started the job. But any librarian can tell you, everything isn’t book-smarts! (No library pun intended.)

The skills that have really helped me roll with the punches as I get comfortable in my new position were learned from YALSA. Blog posts about passive programming have helped inspire me to bring some easy-to-implement ideas to my library’s teen section, which are looked at favorably since I’m new and not asking for lots of programming money right away. And countless other posts, along with the wiki, have good ideas for programming that I’m adding to my list for when I do feel comfortable asking for money.

It’s also nice to know you’re not alone, that other librarians and library workers have the same problems you might face: “Finally the big day arrives, it’s program time and…not one teenager shows up. Now you’re standing in the middle of the room, surrounded by supplies, and alone with your formerly fabulous program idea.” [from Pop-Up Programming 2 by Becky Fyolek]. And I say “you might face” already knowing, just two months in, that you are going to be alone in that programming room, and it’s going to make you feel pretty pathetic.

As far as really not feeling alone, YALSA resources like Teen Programming HQ, Badges for Learning, and assorted electronic discussion lists have been amazing. Any time I feel stumped, I turn to one resource or another and find a solution – or at least a welcoming community I can ask.

I’ve also gotten a lot of mileage just saying I’m a member of YALSA. It shows managers and administration that I’m a professional, serious about my position in the field – especially since I was a member before I was an employee! It shows parents and teens that you’re committed to providing the best possible service to them. Plus you get to explain what YALSA actually is, and teens feel pretty important after learning there’s a whole branch of the American Library Association just for them!

I’m two months in, and I’m excited about everything I’ve already learned (thank you, YALSA community!), and everything that I hope to implement in the future. I can only hope that my YALSAblog posts will help someone else when they start a new job.

About Allison Renner

Allison recently graduated with her MLS and is a new teen services librarian in Memphis, Tennessee.
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