YALSA wants to know what you’re doing for and with the teens in your community around the topics of: 1) teaching tolerance, 2) building cultural competence, 3) facilitating dialogues about race, equity and inclusion; and 4) welcoming and serving immigrant teens. If you’ve developed services, programs, resources or partnerships to facilitate any of these activities, and are willing to share your information with the library community, please let us know by filling out this brief form by no later than Dec. 1st. We’ll compile and share out the examples we receive so that other libraries can benefit from your great work!

Congress is poised to act definitively on the federal education bill, ESEA, very soon. This is the first new education bill in 14 years​!​  The last time Congress passed an education bill, school libraries were left out. This resulted in widespread cuts for school libraries, and nearly an entire generation of our youth have suffered from a lack of access to experts and materials they need to succeed in the 21st century workforce. So, at this moment, we are at a very critical juncture, and it's up to all of us to speak up for youth now!

Congress's goal is to have a draft bill by Nov. 30th, but it could be out as early as next week. Once the bill is out, Congress will move very quickly, and will most likely vote on a final bill by mid-December. There are two steps that will happen in the next couple of weeks: first the House votes on the bill, and then the Senate.  These next few weeks are a window of opportunity for us and our advocates to help youth through support of school libraries.

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I tell myself all the time that the success of a teen program is more than “just” attendance. I know I’m not alone in that. A YALSA committee has even created a living document – Teen Programming Guidelines – that includes a section on evaluation and measurement. But still, it doesn’t take the sting out of a near-empty room, or eliminate the dread of explaining to your supervisor that your teen programming budget should remain static (dare we say increased?), regardless of attendance stats, in the continuing saga of library budget freezes and cuts.

Many colleagues have lamented the lack of attendance at a program for which they had such high hopes – the teens ASKED for it, or HELPED plan it, or it DREW double-digit attendance at another library, or was ALL OVER the listservs to which we subscribe. Sure, we tell ourselves and coworkers that “at least the kids that came had a good time,” but in that same moment we’re also thinking “what did I do wrong?” or the more self-defeating “maybe I should just be a reference librarian, they don’t have to deal with this kind of rejection” (apologies to my reference/adult services friends & colleagues – you know I love you and the work you do!).

If you take only one thing from this post, it must be this: we’re all programming rock stars. I believe it, and occasionally have to say it out loud to convince myself, but it’s true. If you’ve been in teen services for more than three years, you know the unspoken secret of our demographic – it changes, seemingly overnight! Sometimes, sooner than a pop star’s shimmer fades. Older teens graduate or are lost to the extracurriculars they need for their college apps; you might see them for volunteer hours, always in demand but in short supply. And yesterday’s tweens are today’s teens. Add in the constant evolution of technology and pop culture, especially the advent of YouTube celebs (seriously, there’s a whole con devoted to them!), and you’ve got the jist of the revolving stage upon which we play. A program you did last year for mostly seventh & eighth graders just won’t fly for the same group this year, but that gaming lock-in you did five years ago with the high-schoolers, tweaked ever so slightly, will. We’re like Madonna – continually reinventing our programs. Or maybe I should say Beyonce? Yeah, make it Beyonce. Madonna makes me sound old.

We need to break this cycle of self-doubt and shed light on the “real” problem: we don’t talk about our “flops” at all, and we really should! Our ideas are as fabulous as we are, but just might not be right for our current crop of teens. Comment here to share your story. Let’s create a blooper reel and share those “big” ideas that never really worked with our kids. They might work for someone else, or they might not. It never hurts to share. Also, please help us make Teen Read Week materials and resources better for you by completing the YALSA survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/trw15
Carolyn Aversano is the Teen Services Librarian at The Ocean County (NJ) Library, Jackson Branch.

This past July, I received a mysterious phone call from a number I did not recognize. As a skeptical member of the 21st century, my initial instinct was to just let it ring. But something inside me prompted me to—just this once—answer this call. I’m glad I did, because it was a phone call I was secretly hoping for without getting my hopes up. The call was from the American Library Association (ALA) offices to let me know I was awarded a Spectrum Scholarship. I screamed internally (and then externally, successfully scaring my dog).

I had worked in the Arlington Heights Memorial Library’s teen department for two years and just finished my first year pursuing my MLIS at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The combination of these two experiences had fully solidified my passion for librarianship. I wanted to be a participant and contributor to this community of educators, learners, and advocates for change. The Spectrum Scholarship offered me the priceless opportunity to work towards this dream, and amazingly, without tuition looming over me like a dark, despairing cloud of debt! But I didn’t truly realize the breadth of opportunities Spectrum would present me outside of monetary awards until I started interacting with my fellow scholars.

Quickly, emails from our cohort of scholars made their way into my inbox. As we made our virtual introductions, I realized that I would get to meet each of these talented, passionate, and diverse people at the 2016 ALA Annual Conference in Orlando as part of our scholarship award. I was lucky enough to meet some of these scholars at the Illinois Library Association (ILA) Conference last month where we were awarded the Sylvia Murphy Williams Award in conjunction with our scholarships. After the initial awkward observation of niceties (that everyone must suffer through, I know), there was an instant kinship between us. As library school students from diverse backgrounds, we immediately had common experiences and points of view to fuel our conversations, both serious and guffaw-worthy. Naturally, the topic of diversity came up a lot in our talks—an area for discussion that we as a profession need to talk more about, even if it does not come about naturally!

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The YALSA Local Arrangements committee for ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston, January 8-12, 2016 is recruiting teen book groups for the  Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA) Teen Feedback Session.  This session is scheduled on Saturday from 1-3pm.  All teens who participate in the BFYA Teen Feedback Session will receive a free Exhibits pass to visit the Exhibit Hall prior to the feedback session, and then there is a publisher sponsored lunch (with authors) right before the session.  During the session, teens will be giving their constructive feedback on titles that have been nominated for BFYA.  The books the teens will be discussing are the titles that are nominated for the 2016 list:  http://www.ala.org/yalsa/bfya-nominations  

YALSA takes input from youth very seriously, and in order to get a wide representative of area youth, we are seeking up to 50 teens to visit and participate in ALA Midwinter 2016.  Preference will be given to local teen book groups facilitated by YALSA members. Participating teens are asked to read as many of the BYFA titles as possible, but all titles don’t need to be read by each teen.

Participation consists of teens (ages 12-18) speaking in front of an audience of the committee, publisher representatives, and conference attendees. The Teen Feedback Session runs from 1 PM-3PM.

YALSA Goals for Youth Participation:

  1. To organize and implement youth participation to support division goals,
  2. To collect a wide range of ideas from as diverse a young adult population as possible,
  3. To incorporate youth participation into programs and services in order to provide a richer experience for YALSA members,
  4. To create valuable experiences for the participating young adults in which they can gain knowledge and/or skills useful in future endeavors.

All expenses, other than registration for the day of the Teen Feedback Session, are the responsibility of the group.

DEADLINE EXTENDED : November 9, 2015

Click here to apply.


Here are some reasons to get excited.

Everything happens in the same hotel.

If you've been to any big conferences, you know you can spend at least as much time getting from session to session as you do in the sessions. Maybe you made a special effort to trek to a particular program, only to discover that you had the time right, but it was happening in the other Hyatt. The more intimate scale of the Symposium means you'll have an easier time getting where you want to go, and more chances to interact with other attendees.

Everyone attending is interested in teen services.

Have you ever told someone enthusiastically that you work with and for teens, only to have them respond with something like "Better you than me!"? That won't happen at the Symposium! It's a fabulous opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals who are engaged and excited about working with teens. Tip: When you meet someone and exchange business cards, write a note on the card with a bit of what you talked about; it's a good way to make sure you remember them after you get home. Example: "graphic novels + STEAM, shared love of banh mi and Hamilton"

Powell's is great. So are a lot of other places to find books, comics and zines.

Powell's is our fantastic local bookstore juggernaut, but there are a lot of other gems (some walkable, some a public transit ride from the hotel) including Reading Frenzy, Mother Foucault's, Green Bean Books, A Children's Place Bookstore, Bridge City Comics, Floating World Comics, Cosmic Monkey Comics, the Independent Publishing Resource Center. And Multnomah County Library's Friends of the Library operates a store in the downtown Central Library.

The Portland Art Museum is close to the conference hotel and stays open until 8 pm on Fridays. Check out their Seeing Nature exhibit.

It's true: Portland has a lot of super tasty food carts.

Full day at the Symposium isn't enough for you? Consider the Lit Crawl on Saturday night.

Have time to decompress on Sunday after the Symposium ends? Try the Lan Su Chinese Garden, or if you prefer your decompression a little louder, the Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade.

Sara Ryan writes books and comics for teens and others, most recently Bad Houses with art by Carla Speed McNeil, and works as the Teen Services Specialist for Multnomah County Library.

Want to offer more hands-on learning opportunities for and with the teens in your community?  3D Systems Corp., in partnership with YALSA, is giving away up to 250 3D printers to members of YALSA.  Learn more and apply online by Oct. 30th.  Are you not a YALSA/ALA member yet?  Membership starts at $60 per year.  Contact Letitia Smith at lsmith at ala dot org, or 312.280.4390, to get the best rate and to learn about paying in installments.  And don't forget to check out all of the great maker and connected learning resources on YALSA's wiki!

Over the next several weeks, Congress is working on a new federal education bill. Now is the time to activate your library friends and supporters and get them to speak up for school libraries! The last education bill, No Child Left Behind, did not specifically include school libraries, and as a result students suffered because schools closed libraries, cut library budgets, or eliminated staff positions. Right now we have a window of opportunity to right that wrong and help America’s youth. Congress needs to hear from as many people as possible about the importance of school libraries in supporting youth success. Provided below are two ready-to-use messages you can share out with your library supporters. Please do so today!


Studies show that strong school libraries drive student achievement. They help young people succeed in school and prepare for college, careers and life. Congress is currently working on a new education bill that would provide federal funding for the nation’s schools. They need to hear from you that it’s vital to include school libraries in this new bill.  Your calls, emails and Tweets will be the evidence Congress needs to take action for America’s youth and ensure school libraries adequately funded in the ESEA reauthorization.

Here’s how you can ensure that happens:

  1. Go here: http://cqrcengage.com/ala/home
  2. In the blue bar in the upper half of the page, choose how you want to contact your member of Congress: letter, Tweet, or phone call
  3. Click on the option(s) you want, provide the required contact info, & submit.  The letter and Tweet are pre-written for you, so it’s super easy! (but you do have the option to customize them if you want)
  4. Forward this message to library advocates in your community & encourage them to do take action, too
  5. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

For more information, read this blog post from ALA. Thank you for speaking up for youth and libraries!


kids need #SchoolLibraries! ow.ly/Sf4lT -contact Congress 2 ask 4 support 4 school libs via this easy site ow.ly/S0kdw

Thank you,

Beth Yoke

Last week we called on library staff and advocates to contact Congress to support school libraries, and many of you responded (yay!)!  So far, there have been 2,971 emails, 446 Tweets and 39 phone calls.  That’s great, but with over 98,000 school libraries and 17,000 public libraries in the U.S. we can do better!  ALA staff are meeting with key Congressional staff later this week to ask for support for school libraries.  Right now we need one final push from library staff and advocates so that when ALA meets with Congressional staff your grassroots support will be the evidence Congress needs to take action for school libraries and ensure they’re adequately funded in the ESEA reauthorization.

Here’s how you can make sure that happens:

  1. Go here: http://cqrcengage.com/ala/home
  2. In the blue bar in the upper half of the page, choose how you want to contact your members of Congress: letter, Tweet, or phone call
  3. Click on the option(s) you want, provide the required contact info, & submit.  The letter and Tweet are pre-written for you, so it’s super easy! (but you do have the option to customize them if you want)
  4. Forward this message to library advocates in your community & encourage them to do take action, too
  5. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

For more information, read this blog post from ALA.

Thank you,

Beth Yoke

Early bird registration for YALSA's Young Adult Services Symposium, which takes place Nov. 6-8 in Portland, OR is only open through Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. Register now for the best rate!

The symposium will focus on the theme “Bringing it All Together: Connecting Libraries, Teens & Communities” and is a great opportunity for educators, researchers, and library staff to explore the entire spectrum of topics related to providing services for and with young adults.  From the opening session with Aija Mayrock, author of "The Survival Guide to Bullying," to the Book Blitz with over 35 participating authors, riveting programs and events, including a ticketed luncheon with Jack Gantos, and the Teen Poetry Slam closing session, attendees will leave with an unforgettable experience and equipped with newly gained insights and skills to help you better serve young adults.

We hope to see you in Portland!