Teen Services Competencies for Staff: Continuous Learning

The tenth enumerated, last but certainly not least, of the key competencies YALSA has identified is that of embracing a culture of learning. But the definition of learning might be more expansive that you might expect.

A robust new statement on continuous learning envisions a mosaic of state library agencies, graduate programs at iSchools and LIS programs, and other library-focused organizations all working together to deliver professional development. This spectrum of support is critical to serve the evolving information needs and behaviors of young people, given the “ever-changing nature of teens and the materials and technologies we use to engage with and serve them.”



YALSA’s “whole library” vision for serving teens is evident in this statement, which punctuates the applicability of training on working with teens for all library staff, not just those who are dedicated youth librarians:

“YALSA firmly believes it is imperative that all library staff from all types of libraries, not just those with teen services in their job titles and job descriptions, must have the skills required to work successfully with and for teens. As teens make use of all areas of libraries – from circulation to reference and from readers’ advisory to computer labs and makerspaces-  all staff take part in critical interactions with the age group.”

To establish this cultural tone, YALSA advances some fundamental actions.

“As a part of a commitment to continuous learning, all library staff must

  • Read and embrace national guidelines and standards for serving teens through libraries and continuous learning
  • Advocate for access to high quality CE opportunities”

And YALSA has set ambitious goals for its own learning offerings.

“As part of a commitment to its members and to CE YALSA will

  • Commit substantial resources to support members’ continuous learning efforts
  • Set a strategy and vision for continuous learning that advances a 21st century vision of serving teens through libraries
  • Identify and use effective CE/PD models and share emerging and best practices
  • Build the capacity of YALSA and the library community to provide CE/PD
  • Promote a culture of learning
  • Advocate for the importance of continuous learning
  • Gather data for informed planning and decision making”

To move from serving teens in siloed spaces and programs to advancing the central role of young people in all aspects of library work, read more about YALSA’s commitment in this area, and also check out YALSA Past President and CE Consultant Linda Braun’s succinct takeaways from the IMLS-funded project.

What do YOU want to learn today?

Wendy Stephens is School Library Program Chair at Jacksonville State University and a member of the YALSA Research Committee.

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