Three Reasons Why I Want to be a Youth Librarian

It wasn’t until I was drafting my essay for my graduate school application that I knew what kind of librarian I wanted to be. Currently, I work as an academic librarian, where I tend to non-traditional students and their woes of returning to college. I enjoy my job very much; however, working with the youth, particularly teens, has been my goal since I began grad school. There are youth librarians all over the United States, all of them with varying reasons on why they wanted to work in this area of librarianship. For instance, they may have a passion for interacting with kids and teens, or perhaps working with youth keeps them young and vibrant themselves.

My reasons for becoming a youth librarian are probably the same as others, and I’ve got three of them. For one, I want to give teens a voice. Second, I want to show them how the library is still relevant to their lives, and third, I want to show them that as a person of color, we exist in all professions, including as youth librarians.

With social media platforms freely available, teens have multiple ways to voice their opinions. Even with Facebook and Twitter, not everyone takes teens seriously because some are treated like children; they should be seen and not heard. Sometimes, I catch myself dismissing my 14-year-old brother’s opinions, which isn’t right. As a future youth librarian, I’d like to ensure that teens can freely and safely express themselves. When they can share their thoughts and feelings, they have the agency and autonomy to make choices that benefit them. Teens of color need to be comfortable with expressing their views about the world. It has been my experience that they are silenced and punished for being who they are, be it through their natural hair, sexuality, religion, etc. As a future youth librarian, I plan to create programs and spaces where teens can be honest, and that’s enormously important. Continue reading Three Reasons Why I Want to be a Youth Librarian

YALSA Seeks Member Manager for Teen Programming HQ for 2021-2022 Term

YALSA would like to thank the Teen Programming HQ’s current manager Dawn Abron for all the great ideas and leadership she’s poured into the HQ the past two years. Thank you for all your great work, Dawn!

YALSA is seeking a Member Manager for its programming web site, Teen Programming HQ for a one year term starting February 1, 2021. The Member Manager will receive an honorarium of $500 per year. Please note that this is not a salaried staff position, but a member volunteer opportunity. Apply by January 25, 2021 by sending a resume and cover letter to Anna Lam at alam@ala.org.

The mission of the site is to provide a one-stop-shop for finding and sharing information about library programs of all kinds for and with teens. The site promotes best practices in programming by featuring user-submitted programs that align with YALSA’s Teen Programming Guidelines,  Futures Report and Mission Statement. Additionally, the site enables members and the library community to connect with one another to support and display their efforts to continuously improve their teen programs.

The Member Manager will work with YALSA’s Communications Specialist to ensure the site is relevant, interactive, engaging and meeting member needs for information about innovation in teen programming, as well as participates in the maintenance of the site and work within the guidelines for the site as set by the YALSA Board of Directors. The Member Manager drives the recruitment of experts and the collection of content for the site; generates ideas for direction and content; obtains, analyzes and uses member and library community feedback about the site; assists with marketing; and ensures programming related activities, news and resources from YALSA are integrated in the site, and vice versa.

List of Qualifications for the Member Manager:

  1. Strong project management and organizational skills
  2. Ability to delegate work and to manage a variety of contributors and volunteers
  3. Dynamic, self-motivated individual
  4. Excellent verbal and written communications skills
  5. Experience in web site maintenance
  6. Ability to set and meet deadlines
  7. Knowledge of best practices in teen programming, as outlined in YALSA’s Teen Programming Guidelines, Futures Report, and Mission Statement
  8. Ability to work well in a team environment
  9. Ability to work well in a mostly virtual setting, including using tools such as Google Drive, Google Calendar, Skype, etc. to coordinate work and communicate with others
  10. Membership in YALSA and a passion for YALSA’s mission
  11. High ethical standards and no real or perceived conflict of interest with YALSA or its portfolio of print and web publications

General Member Manager Responsibilities:

Oversight & Coordination

  • Effectively motivate, support and supervise a group of volunteers
  • Update and maintain systems and processes to ensure efficient oversight, promotion and integration of the site and database. Make adjustments as needed
  • Ensure the vetting process is consistent through the utilization of guidelines, standard messaging, etc. Make adjustments as needed
  • Work with the Communications Specialist to recruit and vet experts to vet the program proposals
  • Communicate with the Communications Specialist on a regular basis to assign tasks, discuss marketing strategies, discuss site management, etc.
  • Work with the blog managers and YALS and JRLYA editors as appropriate to coordinate dissemination of information to members and the library community.
  • Maintain communication with YALSA member groups whose work relates to teen programming
  • Follow all established policies and guidelines, enforce them as necessary and periodically conduct a review of them to ensure currency
  • Direct questions about sponsorships, advertising, etc. to YALSA’s Executive Director
  • Write reports prior to the Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting for submission to the YALSA Board

Seek Out & Manage Content & Contributors

  • Provide oversight to the panel of experts to make sure the quality of program submissions is acceptable and complies with YALSA’s Teen Programming Guidelines and Futures Report
  • Work with the panel of experts to recruit contributors on a continuous basis
  • Work with the panel of experts to seed questions and spur discussion in the community portion of the site
  • Manage a strategy to deal with comments and spam daily to guarantee that the site content is appropriate

Promotion

  • Regularly highlight contributions to the site through social media, listservs, the YALSA eNews, online communities, and other means
  • Plan and implement incentives, contests and other activities to drive traffic to the site and encourage contributions
  • Leverage relevant events, such as Teen Read Week or summer learning, to encourage new contributions and to promote existing content
  • Answer questions and inquiries about the site in a timely fashion
  • Work with the YALSA Communications Specialist to create cross-promotion of all YALSA’s web presences
  • Utilize social media and YALSA communication channels to increase awareness of the site and its content

Technical Maintenance

  • Work with YALSA’s Communications Specialist as appropriate to update and manage software
  • Monitor new technologies and their potential to impact the site, and make recommendations to the Communications Specialist, as appropriate

YALSA Communications Specialist Responsibilities:

  • Communicates regularly with Member Manager to provide support and facilitate work
  • Works with the site developer and the ALA IT Dept. as needed on technical issues
  • Handles all financial transactions for the site
  • Promotes the site through appropriate venues
  • Coordinates efforts and facilitates communication among all YALSA publications, including the blogs and journals
  • Manages the site software, including liaising with the developer and ALA’s IT Dept. to troubleshoot technical issues
  • Ensure site guidelines and policies are complied with
  • Oversee the recruitment process for Member Managers, as needed

Win an Author Visit & Donate If You Can!

2020 has been a challenging and difficult year. As we move through this final month of 2020, I’ve been thinking about the things I’m most grateful for and a big piece of that is the support I’ve felt from my YALSA and ALA colleagues. Just being able to talk about books, attending sessions at the year’s virtual YALSA Symposium, and “seeing” everyone at this year’s virtual Annual conference was something that buoyed my spirit and reinvigorated the love I have for this work. Coincidentally, we recently celebrated #GivingTuesday, and I was excited to donate to Friends of YALSA (FOY) to help others achieve their dreams of studying and working in the library field. As someone who was helped by FOY funds through the Board Fellow Program, I know how important these opportunities are to growing passionate and dedicated folks in the profession. During this unprecedented time, teens need us more than ever, and Friends of YALSA provides scholarships, leadership opportunities, conference attendance assistance, and much more through monies donated all year to support those who work for and with teens.

This year, our big fundraising raffle was cancelled due to the Symposium being virtual, but in light of that, we have a fun surprise!  YALSA is offering the chance of winning a free virtual author visit from Gretchen McNeil, author of 2020 YALSA Teens’ Top Ten winning title, #MurderFunding and 2019 YALSA Teens’ Top Ten winning title #MurderTrending. While donating is not required to enter to win, we truly hope you will consider donating to FOY or specifically to our Give $20 in 2020 campaign as it winds down for the year. If you have already donated this year – THANK YOU! If you have not donated, please consider giving if you are able to help support your colleagues during these difficult times. And, be sure to fill out the form to throw your name (or the name of a colleague if you’d like to gift the visit) in the hat for the opportunity to treat your teens to a virtual author visit. Please submit the form by January 30, 2021.

Thank you to Gretchen and Freeform Books, an imprint of Disney Publishing Worldwide for donating this awesome prize.  And, thank you, to all of you, for supporting each other in all the ways you do during this time.

-Traci Glass, Financial Advancement Committee Chair

Chat & Snack Open Discussion Session: Supporting Teens During Difficult and Challenging Times

Join YALSA on Dec. 17 at 12pm CST for an open discussion session titled, Chat & Snack: Supporting Teens During Difficult and Challenging Times. Come listen, learn and share your thoughts about how teens have and are adjusting to the new normal, post-election media and other challenging aspects of 2020. This is a great opportunity to come together to reflect, share stories, ask questions and support each other as we continue to strive to serve and support teens to the best of our ability. This session is open to everyone, so please feel free to share with your colleagues and network. 

Register now.

2021 Nonfiction Award Finalists Selection Process

With the recent release of the 2021 Nonfiction Award Finalists, we want to be transparent (while respecting confidentiality) about the award’s criteria and selection process. The process for the Nonfiction Award selection is a rigorous task.  The Nonfiction Award Committee is charged with recognizing the best in the field of nonfiction books. With that in mind, each meeting is conducted with a thorough review of the purpose and eligibility requirements, with a particular emphasis on excellent writing, research, presentation, and readability for young adults. All finalists are vetted through a year-long process following YALSA’s protocol.

For the past several years, YALSA has been utilizing an EDI (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) lens to transform the foundation upon which YALSA’s policies and procedures are built. As part of the year-round virtual work undertaken by the board, they recently identified the need to re-evaluate all volunteer groups’ charge, including all book awards’ and selection lists’ evaluation criteria for nominated titles according to YALSA’s EDI Statement and EDI Plan, which is embedded within YALSA’s current interim strategic plan. The YALSA Board’s interim strategic plan’s goal is that “100% of all programs, products, events, and education will support YALSA’s statement on EDI.”

YALS Spring 2021 Issue: Call for Articles

Article proposals for the Spring 2021 issue of YALS are currently being sought. The theme is Race(ism).

Prospective articles should provide broad and specific discussions that address questions such as:

• How has your library addressed race and/or racism or microaggressions/implicit bias/etc?
• How do we train ourselves, especially in libraries, to recognize race and the harms that can be perpetrated against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)?
• What are the roles that BIPOC YA librarians can/do play in creating a safe space for teens in their libraries?
• How are BIPOC YA librarians helping to bring the issues of race, equity, diversity, inclusion, and/or social justice to the forefront in their libraries? Likewise, what are non-BIPOC YA librarians doing?
• Why are there so few YA librarians of color and how can we address this? (who recruits them, which libraries have been successful & how)
• How has your library taken a strong stance against racial injustice?
• What are teens’ thoughts on race as it relates to the library community and how can we provide guidance on the topic?
• Are there programs, presentations, or resources that your library or your teens have created centered around race?

Please note that this is a volunteer writing opportunity with no monetary compensation. YALSA has the right to first refusal.

Please submit article proposals by December 28, 2020 the extended deadline, February 1, 2021.

If you know someone who has experience on this topic and would be interested in writing for YALS or have questions, please contact YALS’ editor, Yolanda Hood at yhood@upei.ca.

How Will You Give Back Today?

Giving Tuesday

This year, Giving Tuesday looks and feels a bit different than years past as it has been an especially difficult year for everyone, and giving financially might not be an option for you this year.

If you are able to give, please consider donating to the Friends of YALSA (FOY) campaign: Give $20 in 2020. The funds raised are used for member grants and awards. One particular program is the Spectrum Scholarship, which works to diversify the field of teen services. This year has been an awakening for racial injustice. YALSA has been a long standing leader in bringing awareness of structural racism in our country and our teens need their libraries to reflect the diversity of our population. Each year, YALSA supports two Spectrum Scholars. The program actively recruits and provides scholarships to American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Middle Eastern and North African, and/or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander students to assist them with obtaining a graduate degree and leadership positions within the profession and ALA. These scholarships help our profession grow in much needed ways. To learn more about the Spectrum Scholarship and the full list of member awards and grants FOY supports, please visit YALSA’s website.

We understand that this year has been a difficult and trying time for many, so if you are unable to give financially this year, please consider sharing the Give $20 in 2020 campaign on social media to encourage others to donate. Thank you for all you do to support teens in our communities.

-Carrie Kausch
Financial Advancement Committee member

A Time to Connect: My Experience at the 2020 Virtual YALSA Symposium

The following blog post is written by one of YALSA’s 2020 Symposium Registration Grant student winners, Esperanza Pacheco.

My name is Esperanza Pacheco, and I am the Assistant Director/Young Adult Librarian for the Englewood Public Library in New Jersey. My community was super proud and excited that I was selected to attend the virtual YALSA YA Services Symposium from November 6-8 this year.

On the Friday of the Symposium, I started looking into which prerecorded sessions I could log into to begin my conference experience. Immediately, the session title which caught my eye was #DiverseReading: Encouraging Teen Readers with Instagram. I’ve created Instagram accounts for three libraries and am constantly seeking ways to use it, as well as other social media platforms to attract teens’ attention towards reading. I had the pleasure of e-meeting Rachel Milburn, who recorded this video for us. She is the Teen Services Librarian at the Frankfort Community Public Library, Frankfort, Indiana. Instantly, through our library accounts, I followed her pages on Instagram and Twitter. I was so impressed by how much time and deliberation went into her posts. She had one title that had basketballs surrounding the books on the shelf. This is a great idea as it draws immediate attention on an app, where people are constantly scrolling and only stopping for something alluring to the eye. I kept in mind some of the details she mentioned when it comes to using Instagram professionally, such as switching over to a business account in order to view the background Insights of your account interaction and engagement. It is interesting to see the outliers in how many thousands of views her top post garnered, which could have been due to the title of the book she posted or perhaps how she set up the post.

The next recorded session I tuned into was called Our Voices, Our Protest: Migrant Stories in Latinx Young Adult Literature. I was especially excited to view this one because I was able to place these authors’ titles right into a cart for my library to purchase; the beauty of online services! The authors were Aida Salazar, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Daniel Aleman, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Yamile Saied Mendez, and Ernesto Cisneros. I love sessions like these that teach me about authors I may not have known or seen. Being able to ask these authors questions in real time was a real treat. I think it is imperative for both sides too, as authors get the benefit of hearing readers’ feedback. Continue reading A Time to Connect: My Experience at the 2020 Virtual YALSA Symposium

Virtual Conference Does World of Good

The following blog post is written by one of YALSA’s 2020 Symposium Registration Grant student winners, Jana Wiersma.

YALSA’s Young Adult Services Symposium theme for 2020, “Biggest Little Spaces: How Libraries Serve the Expanding World of Teens”, was a play on Reno’s slogan “Biggest Little City”, where the symposium was originally supposed to be held. When it became clear the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t letting up, the symposium moved online, and representation, diversity, and inclusion were not lost in the shift. As disappointed as I was to not attend the symposium in my backyard, connections and networking were still possible, and many young adult librarians were able to join from all over the world. As a first-time YALSA symposium attendee, I was able to enter the community of young adult librarians and share experiences in a meaningful way.

The author lineup was incredible in its diversity of the powerful voices that YA librarians could not only hear, but also discuss relevant issues with. The excitement of the authors at being represented and presenting together on panels was palpable and contagious, even via Zoom. Even with the plethora of diverse authors, there was still an overwhelming call for more diversity in publishing, editing, and writing. Each author recognized the need for our teens to see themselves in whatever space they occupy — represented as readers, yes, but also as authors, editors, publishers, media specialists, and more. During the opening session, author Alan Gratz said, “There isn’t one America, there are many different American experiences,” which I felt entirely summed up YALSA’s 2020 Symposium.

From the pre-conference to end of symposium, sessions included relevant topics like teaching teens to spot and stop the spread of fake news, ramping up library teen volunteer programs, creating book boxes to help teens and tweens destress, fostering community partnerships to advocate for teens beyond the library, transforming teen services, providing support to our immigrant youth, and more!

Each session provided a wealth of information and resources we could bring back to the library and apply with confidence to better support our local teens and the spaces they occupy. With this information, our team can go forward with our top priorities: re-evaluating our teen volunteer program, re-configuring our teen space to better support the needs of our young adult community, and helping our teens feel both represented and connected during this especially difficult time of separation.

As the Young Adult Services Symposium wrapped up, I was inspired and motivated by all the possible ways I could apply what I learned, how best to implement shared tips, and how to better diversify our young adult services on a daily basis. My to-be-read pile now has a thousand books on it, and my inner book-nerd heart was bursting with the joy of getting to hear from so many amazing authors! I cannot wait for YALSA members to meet in person once again, but in the meantime, meeting and connecting virtually still did a world of good.

Jana Wiersma
MLIS Student @ University of North Texas,
Senior Library Assistant, Carson City Library, NV

YALS Winter 2021 Issue: Call for Articles

Article proposals for the Winter 2021 issue of YALSA’s journal, YALS are currently being sought. The theme for the issue is Youth Voices. Prospective articles include those that consider teen voice, what it is, how teens use it, and how we can provide support through library services, resources, and programming. How do we train ourselves to encourage and support teens who want to engage their communities and the world at large? Learn more and submit by Oct. 28.