Preparing to Get Away: Traveling Theme Activity Ideas


Road Trip by Geneva Vanderzeil (CC BY 2.0)

This year Teen Read Week is Oct. 18 – 24 and the theme is Get Away @ Your Library. There are endless ways teens from all backgrounds could interpret this positive reading message. For some, it may suggest finding a quiet spot in the sunshine to reread a favorite book, letting the everyday pressure of school, friends, or family slip to the background for awhile. For others, it might mean reading the newest sci fi hit and blasting into space, leaving this universe for another. Reading true tales of escape may help some young people feel less isolated in their emotions and feelings. Whatever teens select to read, we know that getting away with books can be a rewarding part of teens’ lives. For resources to help you reach out to underserved teens this TRW, visit YALSA’s wiki.

In our small, rural community in the southwestern corner of Virginia, many students do not have the opportunity to travel the world. Our young readers venture to the far reaches of the globe through the beauty of language. Great novels transport them out of their seats and into the Egyptian pyramids, stormy seas, or dank trenches they may never see in person.


Globes by Sam Howzit (CC BY 2.0)

Our library’s Teen Read Week plans are modest, yet thoughtful and engaging. Old suitcases will display favorite reads and titles with traveling themes such as Walk Two Moons or A Wrinkle in Time. Travel brochures and maps will be strewn about for perusal, and hanging globe lights will set the mood. Morning announcements will suggest titles, and an online poll will invite students to nominate favorite reads.



DIY Party- Wishing Travel Map 3 (1) by Geneva Vanderzeil (CC BY 2.0)

Students will challenge their imaginations by creating book-inspired travel memes. Displayed around the building, these will serve as reminders about the joys of reading for pleasure. Students will share book scenes and sites they would love to visit, and express these future travel dreams by pinning manilla luggage tags to our travel wishing map. We will also craft travel journals in an after school workshop. Here students can write and draw notes from journeys, whether by road, bike, plane, or mind. These activities combine library, English, geography, and math tie-ins, creating a week of cross-curricular fun.


DIY Travel Journal by Geneva Vanderzeil (CC BY 2.0)

Our Pinterest Board has links to all of these ideas and is a great resource for planning and inspiration. Teen Read Week is the perfect opportunity to remind teens of not only the significance of reading, but its magnificence as well. Be sure to join the Twitter conversation at #TRW15 for the latest resources and news. Visit the Teen Read Week site for checklists, publicity tools, and discussion forums, and check out YALSA’s Teen Programming Guidelines for information about what makes a good program. Happy planning!
Aimee Haslam is a middle school English teacher in Abingdon, Virginia and a library science graduate student at Old Dominion University.

Resources for Youth Services

Summer Reading is over! Many schools have already cranked up, and more will be getting going in the next couple of weeks. Fall, to me, means planning. I love doing long-term planning and reading materials that inspire me.  I’ve compiled a list here of a few more non-traditional resources that we could all benefit from. I hope one or all of these sparks your creative ideas for the fall!

Think Outside the Stacks – This is a TinyLetter newsletter written by Beth Saxon, also known as BethReads. Beth uses this newsletter to compile information that is relevant is YS librarians from outside the usual library sources–family blogs, news sources, museums, craft sites, educators. The title is apt. We have a lot to learn from people who aren’t librarians that also have interest in serving children and family, and Beth beautifully curates current, pertinent information.

Fairy Dust Teaching Blog – Fairy Dust Teaching is a resource site for teachers that actually offers online courses. But the blog is free to browse and is chock-full of classroom fun that can easily be adapted to library programming. She also highlights what educators all over the country are doing.

Planet Esmé – You might know Esmé Raji Codell from her book, Educating Esme, and her site is a wonderful resource for books, teaching, and other fun. You could get lost in those archives.

Podcasts are having their moment in the sun and I, for one, love them! Here are some great resources for podcasts that can help you be a better librarian:

Podcasts to Help Build Your Teen Collection: a post by Anna Dalin over at the Hub about great podcasts for collection development!

Secret Stacks – a podcast about comics in libraries by Kristin Lalonde and Thomas Maluck.

I hope this gets you started. Happy planning!


Our guest blogger from ALSC today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a Library Consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.

District Days Reminder

We’ve passed August’s halfway mark. That means school is just around the corner and we’re in the middle of District Days! Your state’s representatives are home for a short recess from their Washington business. They’re taking this time to learn about what’s happening in their communities, and what issues their constituents have on their minds.

It’s our chance to advocate for libraries! For teens! For the valuable work libraries do in communities across the nation! Not sure how to proceed? Check out YALSA’s Advocacy page for ideas ranging from short and simple to more complex ( Find your representative’s  office information at ALA’s Legislative Action Center (

Since August is a quiet month in our library, instead of inviting our elected officials to come to us, we’re going to them. Members of our Teen Advisory Group will create a “highlights packet” to send to Senator Jon Tester, Senator Steve Daines, and Representative Ryan Zinke at their Helena offices. Packets will feature teens’ favorite library activities and personal statements about why the library is important in their community. I’ll include YALSA’s great infographic “What Public Libraries Do For Teens,” an infographic about teen services at our library, and an open invitation to attend teen programs. One event we’ll feature is from January 2015, when, I took five teens to demonstrate MakerSpace gear –robotics, MakeyMakeys, and button making – at the Montana Library Association’s Legislative event. The Governor and state representatives enjoyed interacting with our teens, going so far as to offer engineering advice!

This is me, standing on the street corner of the internet, inviting you to get the word out. Call, email, or visit your elected official’s office to share the super cool things teens are doing at your library.


Serving Latino Teens: Podcast with Ady Huertas

YALSA’s Cultural Competencies Task Force interviews Ady Huertas, Manager of the Pauline Foster Teen Center at San Diego Central Library. Ady has worked with teens for over a decade: from providing instruments and lessons for a library rock band, to providing free summer lunches, to organizing a thriving teen council, Ady continually strives to provide resources and services for teens. She currently leads and contributes to several projects serving Latino teens, such as the REFORMA Children in Crisis Task Force, and the California State Library/Southern California Library Cooperative STeP (Skills for Teen Parents) Project. This podcast gives an overview of how best to reach out and serve Latino teens and provides advice to librarians new to serving Latino young adults and their families.


REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking:

REFORMA Children in Crisis Project:

Webinar about the STeP Project:

University of California, EAOP:

National Council of La Raza:

National Council of La Raza | STEM:

Summer Fun Cafe:

Follow us on Twitter:
Ady Huertas: @adyhuertas
Monnee Tong: @librarianmo

Intro and Closing Music: Summer’s Coming from Dexter Britain’s Creative Commons Volume 2.

Resources for District Days

Now that District Days are in full swing and you have hopefully reached out to your representative, we wanted to provide some resources for you that will help you in your planning! And if you haven’t reached out yet, there’s still time. We hope that these resources will provide some inspiration.

These handouts from YALSA are a great starting point when talk to your representative about libraries and teen services for libraries are not only important but necessary.

What public libraries do for teens..

Why teens need libraries

YALSA’s Legislative Advocacy Guide

LSTA fact sheets from ALA

Then take a look at YALSA’s wiki page on advocating for more links and resources.

Don’t forget to use one of your best resources that you have, your teens! If you have a Teen Advisory Board then talk to them and see if they have ideas.  

And just remember, you don’t have to do something big for District Days. The most important thing is that you reach out to your representative and #act4teens!

Staci Terrell is the Children’s Services Manager at Anderson Public Library in Anderson, Indiana and is the current chair of the YALSA Legislation Committee.


Many of today’s teens spend hours each day online communicating with friends. They visit their online friends in social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter; they share photos and videos via services such as YouTube, Vine, and Snapchat; and they send each other text messages throughout the day – and night – via their ever-present cell phones.

In a recent research grant funded by IMLS, we set out to study how public and school libraries fit into teens’ increasingly online information lives, especially when it comes to searching for information. To that end, we collected data through interviews, focus groups, and surveys from two populations of U.S. high school students. One population attends an urban public science and engineering magnet high school which is known for its award-winning integration of technology throughout the curriculum and its 1:1 laptop program. The school enrolls about 500 students, about 30% of whom are economically disadvantaged and 65% of whom are minority students. The second student population attends a suburban public high school located outside of a major U.S. metropolitan area in a different region of the country. About 55% of the students are economically disadvantaged and 75% are minorities. This second school also supports a small science and engineering magnet program within its total student body of about 2500. Our research sample from this school included both magnet and non-magnet students.

A total of 158 students from the two schools took part in the study. As a group they were heavy social media users, and the majority had used social media services such as Facebook and Twitter to ask (77%) and answer (61%) questions. More than half of the participants had asked or were willing to ask questions about 20 common information needs topics, ranging from social activities and entertainment to careers and health information. School was the most common topic they asked about online, with 77% reporting that they had used social media to ask questions about school-related topics such as homework and class scheduling.

These findings demonstrate that – contrary to common belief — teens are not just wasting time when using social media. Often they are seeking information and sharing what they know with others. Recognizing that teens are using social media for beneficial uses such as information seeking and sharing can help libraries to better support teens’ information needs. Libraries can develop policies that support teens’ use of social media and consider providing informational content through these outlets. Library staff can also encourage teachers, school administrators, and other adults who interact with teens to consider the value of using social media for information access and sharing.

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Use District Days 2015 to #act4teens

It’s time for District Days once again, which are when congressional representatives return home to their districts on recess. The recess this year is from August 1-September 6. This is the time representatives will have office hours at their local offices, attend town hall meetings, and meet with constituents to speak with and listen to them.

As an advocate for libraries and teens, this is an opportunity to show your representatives why libraries are a valuable asset to their constituents and districts. District Days provide you the ability to let your voice as a librarian or library worker be heard before the representatives head back to Washington, D.C.

Need help getting started? Check out the great resources on the District Days wiki and look for posts on the YALSAblog throughout August for information on how to participate by the Legislation Committee. One simple way is to make sure you use this  #act4teens hashtag when you promote your District Days activities.

Need to find out who your congressional representative is for your district? Or their local district offices? There’s a website and an app for that!

Some things to keep in mind, as you start to prepare for District Days.

  1. Keep it simple. You don’t have to create an event just for your congressional representative to attend. Invite them to a teen program, such as a summer learning wrap up party or Back to School night.
  2. Include the event details. Date, time, location, whether or not press will be invited, a description of the event, plus estimated attendance and who will be attending the event.
  3. Provide information about your library. Key statistics, demographics, etc. but keep it concise.
  4. Make sure to publicize the event! Send information to local news outlets along with using social media.
  5. Follow up after the invitation is sent. Call them a week after it’s sent, if you haven’t heard back from them.
  6. If they can’t make it, then try going to them. Contact their local office to schedule an appointment, while they are at home in their district.
  7. Send a thank you note. Once the event is over, don’t forget to thank your representative for taking the time to visit your library!

For additional advocacy resources, visit

Staci Terrell is the Children’s Services Manager at Anderson Public Library in Anderson, Indiana and is the current chair of the YALSA Legislation Committee.


Are you struggling trying to find ways to engage teens at your library? Look no further! As part of our ongoing research relating to teen library services, we talked with teens across the country and have answers for you in “10 Questions to Ask about Your Teen Services.” (For details about the research, see our recent YALS article: Denise Agosto, Rachel Magee, Andrea Forte, and Michael Dickard, 2015, “The Teens Speak Out: What Teens in a Tech High School Really Think about Libraries…and What You can do to Improve their Perceptions.” Young Adult Library Services 13 (3): 7-12.)

10 Questions to Ask about Your Teen Services

  1. Can teens find quiet spaces for reading and studying in your library and vibrant spaces for hanging out, socializing, and creative activities?

It’s important to remember that teens use libraries for all sorts of activities – social interaction, quiet reading, collaborative school work, and hanging out with friends. Your library space needs to support all of these diverse activities. When asked why they use libraries, some of the teens we’ve worked with talked about schoolwork. For example, Kacie* (age 18), told us that she hadn’t visited her public library in years. Then she stopped in one day and realized that it was a great place to do her homework. She realized that: “‘Hey! The library is quiet. There’s everything I need [for studying].’… It was like: ‘Hey! The library’s kind of awesome!'” On the other hand, other teens told us about using libraries as spaces to connect with their friends or to engage in creative pursuits. As Jamie (age 18) explained: “People usually just go to the library to play music or just chill out, eat lunch, or read a game magazine. I have used it for that. They have cool magazines there.” Your library should provide clearly marked spaces to support each of these different activities.

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My Year As YALSA Board Fellow

When I received my acceptance letter as YALSA’s 2014-2015 Board Fellow I was so ecstatic. I’d been involved in YALSA before I even began my time in library school at Drexel University. First serving on the Fabulous Films for Young Adults Committee and then YALS editorial Advisory Committee and the Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults Committee. But this I knew would give me a different experience that I was looking forward to, especially thinking at the time that I would love to run for an opportunity to sit on the YALSA Board of Directors.

Well, my year as Board Fellow did not disappoint. In fact, it proved to be so much more than what I bargained for when I first started out. I had certain tasks to fulfill as described in the YALSA Board Fellow Program – a major task of which was to undertake a project for the year. Stemming from a mega issue discussion, I quickly realized that the conversation of board diversity needed to continue and, with the help of Beth Yoke and Shannon Peterson, I put together a board document that would later be discussed at ALA midwinter 2015 and voted on to be moved forward via the work of a task force. I agreed to Chair this taskforce and work is currently underway to make suggestions for how YALSA can increase and maintain ongoing diversity among the board of directors.

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YALSA Governance Nominating Committee Needs YOU!

Many associations function through the work of volunteer members. YALSA is one of these associations and every year YALSA, with its more than 5000 members, looks for dedicated folks to run for various elected positions on the executive committee and board of directors.

Who finds these candidates? YALSA has a Governance Nominating Committee made up of five dedicated professionals: the immediate past president and four involved members. (I’m one of the five members.)

Each year specific positions are available and each opening has specific requirements based on the description of it and current makeup of the Board. In our quest to find a perfect match for each slot, we look for diversity…in its broadest sense: gender, location, type of library worked/works in, years in the profession, areas of specific expertise, and previous experience. It is this mix on the board that allows YALSA to attract new members and retain long term ones, all the while making sure we are innovative, educational, professional and fun. Because YALSA’s Board of Directors is currently engaged in a Strategic Planning process which aligns itself with an Outcomes  Based Planning and Evaluation process as well as with the concepts presented in the its Future of Library Services for and with Teens report, we’re also considering individuals who may have familiarity with either or both.

Our deadline is to have a slate of candidates to present to the YALSA Board for approval by the end of the summer.  Our process is to review all volunteer forms that have been submitted and review the requirements for each available slot. We are currently looking for several Board positions including Director-at-Large, Secretary and President.  Successful candidates will run for election in the Spring of 2016 and begin their terms during YALSA’s Board III meeting at the Annual 2016 conference in Orlando.

For more information on the responsibilities of each role on the Board, please visit the Governance page which includes some handy FAQs to help get you started. There’s also a series of interviews and podcasts from past Board members in a series on this blog called “Life on the YALSA Board.”

Are you interested, a current member, and ready to put your name forward? Please submit the online nomination form.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Shannon Peterson, Past President and 2016 Governance Nominating Chair at