senior prom fakeMarcy Rhodes has three possible sweet squeezes: Steve, who drops out of the running when he goes off to college; Rick, a nice, dependable kind of guy, and Bruce, a looker with a yellow convertible. When Senior Prom approaches, Marcy has to go with someone, so like many heroines in chick lit, she picks the guy with the convertible. During prom, however, Marcy realizes that Bruce intends to stay out all night. Marcy panics, since this was not her plan at all. Fortunately, nice guy Rick gives Marcy a ride home. The next day she learns that Bruce totaled that yellow convertible in after-prom hijinks.

It sounds like the plot of a Meg Cabot novel, but Senior Prom, written by Rosamond Du Jardin, was published in 1957. Du Jardin was the author of seventeen young adult books, including four books in the Marcy Rhodes senior promseries. Young Adult Literature, although far from the market giant it is today, was robust in the years following World War II. Such was the cultural backdrop when the American Library Association created the Young Adult Services Division (YASD) in June, 1957. Mildred Batchelder served as the first Executive Secretary. The early years included scuffles with other ALA divisions and a fight to keep the TOP OF THE NEWS journal focused on Youth Services.

Want to know what happens next? You can find more about the history of YALSA in the YALSA Handbook in the History section.  The YALSA Handbook is a nifty document that not only chronicles the backstory of our vibrant ALA Division, but contains all kinds of information about today’s YALSA as well.

Librarians working with young adults need no proof that their services have an impact on teens and the community that surrounds them. As soon as you make that vital connection with a teen who trusts you to find a good book for them, or to show them resources for an important paper, you have influenced a life. The greater community, however, may not see the value of this intangible work. It’s taken many years to convince library boards and administrators of the importance of a librarian dedicated to the service of young adults. Now, as budgets are slashed and libraries forced to close, the need to champion the work of young adult librarians is even greater than before. What we really need are some Great Ideas that emphasis the urgency of young adult advocacy.

In the new Strategic Plan, Advocacy and Activism play a vital role in YALSA’s  future goals. Since YALSA is an organization with members working in a variety of settings, we need a variety of Great Ideas. What does your institution do to increase awareness of teen services? What do you wish it would do? What would you do as an individual, given the time and resources?
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