As a young librarian, it can be difficult to find your footing. After receiving my degree and being a teen services librarian for a little over a year, I was thrilled to embark on the journey to Louisville in early November for this year’s YALSA Symposium, made possible by YALSA’s travel stipend. I was expecting a weekend full of information and new ideas, but I wasn’t expecting to come home with a new outlook on teen services and a reinvigorated passion for my job, which is exactly what happened!
Teens often feel like no one understands or cares about them, and I hear
this often from the teens that frequent my library. At the Symposium I realized that bringing them into the library wasn’t enough – I had to build a community of teens that supported one another and could make changes within their own communities, as adults are separate from the lives of teens in so many ways. Nearly every session I attended in Louisville focused on communities in some way, through either building a community of teens or drawing the surrounding community into the library through partnerships and local resources.
During this year’s YALSA Symposium, not only did I experience southern hospitality at its finest, I had the pleasure of meeting amazing YA library staff from all over the country. From California to New Jersey, 442 YA library staff members descended upon the beautiful city of Louisville and, immediately, I felt at home. Despite the three hour time change, I spent four days communing with colleagues, eating lots of southern fried food, and taking in all the knowledge I could to become a better YA Librarian.
At the opening ceremony, we heard from YALSA President, Sandra Hughes-Hassell, who is embarking on journey to provide YALSA members with ideas and training opportunities to promote youth activism through community engagement. After introducing this year’s task force members, attendees heard from several teen authors including Kwame Alexander, James L. Swanson, Paolo Bacigalupi, and Nina LaCour. If you didn’t know, Kwame Alexander started a web series called “Bookish” where he discusses books and it’s a lot of fun (access the series from his Facebook page)! What was great about this opening session is that you could hear a pin drop as this room, packed with vivacious YA library staff, sat silently as they absorbed the words of these authors. Once the panel was done, these amazing authors signed books donated by the publishers for the attendees!
A little over a week ago, I packed my bags for the 2016 YALSA Symposium. It wasn’t easy to rip myself away from the Cubs euphoria raging in my hometown of Chicago, but I was excited to share a weekend with people who were passionate about something even more important: serving young adults in the library. The Symposium theme was Empowering Teens, and there was lots of discussion about ways to fostering teen ideas, talent, and leadership in our libraries. Letting teens take charge may feel like extra work, but the benefit to them is worth every bit of effort.
Teen Library Team, assemble!
We’ve all been there – something you hear or read at a library conference gives you that delicious fuzzy feeling of Hey… I could do that! You start jotting down notes about the idea and where it could go, what it could do for your community, and before you know it, the margins of the handout are scribbled with your new plans for world domination.
I love those moments. I always say, if I get just one great idea from a workshop or webinar or conference, then it was worth it. I left the 2016 YALSA Symposium with an entire folder of great ideas, as I was one of the lucky librarians who got to judge the Teen Programming Contest.
That experience on Sunday morning was the absolute highlight of the Symposium for me, and I don’t say that to diminish the rest of the weekend. It was just so inspiring to hear so many amazing ideas – the other judges will agree with me that the decisions we had to make were incredibly difficult. I was impressed by the variety of pitches – some people had powerpoints and handouts for us, while others simply mesmerized us with a story of what they hoped to accomplish. It was clear that everyone had respect and hope for their communities, and wanted to empower their teen patrons in any way they could.
It is my absolute hope that everyone who pitched their idea to us will somehow, one way or another, make their idea a reality (and then write about it for one of YALSA’s publications!) If I learned only one thing while in Pittsburgh (and trust me, I learned a ton), I learned that we have amazingly talented people working in teen services.
At the 2017 YALSA Symposium, I hope that many more people take up the challenge. Make it an even tougher decision next year!
Sarah Amazing is the Teen Services Supervisor at the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library. She blogs at zen-teen.com
At #yalsa16, I presented on a panel focusing on summer learning programs with Emily Samose, Director, Education and Learning Initiatives, Urban Libraries Council; Maggie Jacobs, Director of Educational Programs at the New York Public Library; and Kelly Rottmund, Teen Services Coordinator at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. In particular, we highlighted programs with a “double bottom line” approach, addressing summer slide for youth and peers by engaging teens as program leaders.
Emily began the session with information about Accelerate Summer, an ULC and NSLA summer learning initiative funded by IMLS. She covered their findings after surveying, observing, and conducting interviews at public libraries nationwide.
Next, Maggie covered NYPL’s Literacy Leaders program, a yearlong program targeting high school teens in danger of not graduating. The program begins during the fall semester when teens complete a credit-bearing ELA course and continues with teens working directly with younger students during the spring semester and into the summer.
Then, I presented AHML’s Summer Volunteer Squad program, a teen component of the library’s summer reading program. Summer Volunteer Squad is 8-12 focused groups comprised of teens that complete projects for the library over the summer. I focused on the groups achieving the “double bottom line” through paired reading, mentoring through STEM activities and more.
Two new activities that you don’t want to miss are now scheduled as a part of the YALSA Teen Services Symposium.
Symposium Solutions Desk
Come visit the Symposium Solutions Desk and get feedback and solutions for your burning questions and challenges. We’ll have YALSA members available and ready to talk with you about everything from programs to advocacy and developing outcomes to curating collections. Our advisors are: Continue reading
Thank you to all who ran for positions on the 2018 Edwards, Nonfiction & Printz Award Committees and congratulations to those who were elected!
These award committees are partially filled by elected spots and partially filled by appointed spots, so now through June 1st, YALSA is collecting volunteer forms for the 2018 Edwards, Nonfiction and Printz Award Committees that will begin work Feb. 1st, 2017 and for the 2017 YA Services Symposium Planning Taskforce (held in Louisville, KY) that will begin work later this year.
If you are interested in one of these committees or the Symposium taskforce, the first thing to do is learn all about what the expectations are for members of these groups.
These resources can help:
YALSA is seeking individuals with the highest ethical standards, a passion for YALSA’s mission and expertise in evaluating YA literature to serve on these awards committees.
If you feel you have met the criteria and have the time available to serve on one of these YALSA award committees or the symposium taskforce, you are encouraged to fill out the Committee Volunteer Form between now and June 1st.
In order to be eligible to serve on a YALSA committee, you must be a current personal member.
To learn more about membership, or to join, go to http://www.ala.org/yalsa/join.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at gsarahthelibrarian @gmail.com
Registration for YALSA’s 2016 Young Adult Services Symposium, which takes place Nov. 4-6 in Pittsburgh, is now open. Individuals can register for the symposium with early bird rates now through Sept. 15, 2016.
Early bird rates are as follows:
- $199 YALSA Personal Member
- $199 Pennsylvania Library Association Members
- $199 Pennsylvania School Librarians Association Members
- $249 ALA Personal Member
- $310 Nonmembers
- $59 Students (enrolled full-time in a library program)
Register early to take advantage of up to $50 in savings. Registration includes:
- Opening session and reception Friday evening
- Educational programming Saturday and Sunday
- Option to register for additional events
- Access to a free webinar
- Certificate of participation with your contact hours
- Snack breaks Saturday and Sunday
- Symposium tote bag
On Nov 7-8 YALSA brought together librarians, authors, and other professionals passionate about serving teens. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the YALSA Literature and Young Adult Services Symposium, but for those of you who had to remain at home, here are some themes from the event: