The first time I read The Future of Library Services for and with Teens, I was inspired. The second time I read the report, I was overwhelmed. The third time I read the report, I was determined. As I looked at the findings in the report, and the steps YALSA calls out to ready our libraries to serve teens into the future, I felt like I was drowning. How could I implement all of these changes? And then I remembered that I was not alone, I was surrounded by amazing library staff who could, actually they should, come on this journey with me. So I started a discussion centered on the findings in the report and it has been one of the most professionally satisfying experiences of my career. If you feel a little overwhelmed, or want to build support for the actions outlined in the support with your colleagues, I highly suggest starting a discussion group.

First, the report looks deceptively long, don’t let that scare you or your colleagues from diving in. The real meat of the report, that provides the best fodder for discussion is only 33 pages long, that is achievably short, even for the time poor. We broke our discussion up, planning to cover the whole report in three discussions of 30 minutes each (about 10 pages per meeting).

We started small, with a look at the executive summary and the introduction to the report. This generated more discussion than we could cover in 30 minutes (I might recommend at least an hour) but I would rather get the conversation started and have it continue in the staff room, at the desk, and over coffee breaks. I knew we should allow for thoughts of dissent, one of the things I love about my colleagues is our ability to challenge assumptions. We want to really break things down so we can understand them better. You will notice a lot of questions that allow for the voice of dissent.


  • How do recent cuts in school librarian jobs change our role as public librarians serving teens?
  • Does the Library play a role in closing the achievement gap? Are we succeeded at that? What could we be doing better? Is that what our community needs? Is our community defined merely by our serving district, or does it expand beyond city/county/state borders?
  • What are the negative influences on our teens that we can help alleviate or solve?
  • Do you feel prepared to deliver culturally competent library service?
  • What is our role in preparing teens for the workforce and making sure they have 21st century skills and technological literacy?

Read More →

Shanna Miles, Media Specialist at South Atlanta High School in Georgia, is preparing to pitch an ambitious idea at the YALSA President’s Program Monday, June 29 from 10:30 a.m. to Noon. She will advocate for “America’s Next Top Maker” in front of a panel of librarians and business leaders for the chance to win cash and technology prizes provided by YALSA,, Makey Makey, and 3D Systems.

We wanted to catch up with Shanna before she heads to San Francisco for ALA’s Annual Conference.

KM: Hi Shanna! Can you give our readers a short description about the project you submitted to the Shark Bowl?
SM: I submitted a project called “America’s Next Top Maker”. In a nutshell, it’s a maker competition with an American Idol component. Students are given a backpack with the tools they’ll need to make a project, whether that be a song, a short story, or an app. They present their creations to the student body (I work in a public high school) and the students vote. The winner gets to keep the backpack o’ tools and goes on to create forever.
Read More →

fair useWe are only one week away from discussing connected learning at the ALA Annual YALSA President’s Program, A Burning Need to Know: How Passion Connects to Learning. One thing about this event that grabs me is the word “passion”, something I strive to foster in the teens that come to our library. We hope to give them a voice, and a place to share their passions and interests with each other through anime clubs, cosplay groups, book discussions and more.

This summer, we are featuring a series of fandom events for teens. Some programs focus on a specific fandom, some celebrate all fandoms from Doctor Who to photography. If you love it, we want to help you dive deeper into it. As I prepared for these programs I encountered the challenge of at the intersection of fandom and fair use.

Read More →

teen fashion showLast week the Metropolitan Museum of Art’ revealed the renovation work on its fashion galleries, reopening them to the public. Michelle Obama remarked about the important role galleries like this play in the fashion world. Showing everyone that fashion isn’t just for the elite, or only worn on the runway.

Fashion is something we all interact with every day, but many of us overlook the complicated skills needed to work in the industry. Journalism pieces like Planet Money’s T-Shirt Project have shed light on what it involves to take a drawing and turn it into a piece of clothing. Michelle Obama also commented on the variety of tools a designer needs to have at their fingertips. “It’s a career that involves, science, engineering, accounting, marketing and so much more. Maybe they’ll learn about the math behind Charles James’s designs. And they’ll think to themselves, maybe I should pay closer attention in geometry,” she said speaking to students. This’ is another perfect example of connected learning, providing opportunities to learn new skills while diving into a passion for fashion.

Our teen cosplay club printed this crown with our 3D printer to go with a costume.

Our teen cosplay club printed this crown with our 3D printer to go with a costume.

The Johnson County Library has been encouraging teens to show their style since 2008 with our first teen fashion show (pictured above). Since then we have branched into a cosplay club that meets regularly to design, sew, critique and wear costumes from their favorite books, movies and TV shows. The cosplay club is a great example of connected learning’ happening naturally and quietly at the library. Club members are required to make a project plan for each costume, set goals and deadlines, define budgets, and critique designs and help other member learn new skills (like 3D printing). The club has made appearances at local conventions in group costumes (most recently the Sailor ‘ Avengers) and continues to encourage members to grow and improve. Not all of these teens will become fashion designers but the skills they have learned to budget, plan and collaborate will serve them well in whatever career they choose. The Library is happy to provide a place for them to explore their passions.

If you want to find out more about connected learning please start with the wonderful posts’ on the YALSA Blog, starting with’ this one. Don’t forget to mark your calendars to attend the YALSA President’s Program,’ A Burning Need to Know: How Passion Connects to Learning,’ Monday, June 30, ‘ 1-3 pm.

energyOver the past two weeks, the YALSA President’s Program task force has been meeting with connected learning coaches who will facilitate discussions in Las Vegas to discuss their experience with and use of connected learning ideas. The diversity of these discussions cemented the feeling that connected learning comes in all shapes and sizes and we can’t wait to hear from you at our program at ALA Annual.

As we dove into discussion with the coaches a few themes kept recurring and we wanted to share them with you. Connected learning is already happening in many libraries, some just don’t have that term in their vocabulary to label what they are already doing. Libraries are poised to be the place where passion-directed learning happens. Already a community hub, we can help connect teens with the resources, mentors and spaces that will help them follow their passions. Now that we know what connected learning is and can see it already happening in our libraries, we can begin to foster it with intention.

As we begin to plan programs, services and classes with connected learning in mind, we have to stay flexible. Self-directed and passion-based learning is difficult to direct without derailing the learners enthusiasm. This is an easier goal for public libraries, who likely do not have to prove the learning happening at their programs, and can let the process take as long as it needs to. Schools face the challenge of identified outcomes to every class or program, but there are some great examples of librarians using the concepts of connected learning to add additional value to their testable outcomes.

Connected learning is happening in all types of libraries, as evidenced by the diversity of our coaches. At A Burning Need to Know: How Passion Connects to Learning‘ they will help participants identify connected learning already happening in their environments, and as a group we will discuss ways to level up what we are already doing. There are small things we can do to bring big rewards to our teens.

If you want to find out more about connected learning please start with the wonderful posts’ on the YALSA Blog, starting with this one. Don’t forget to mark your calendars to attend the YALSA President’s Program,’ A Burning Need to Know: How Passion Connects to Learning, Monday, June 30, ‘ 1-3 pm.

Chicago Public Libraries and Mayor Rahm Emanuel are on board to expand their connected learning project, YOUmedia. A grant from the MacArthur Foundation and a contribution from the mayor will allow the Chicago Public Library to expand the program into five new locations as well as offering pop-up labs for teens at branches around the metro-area.

Projects and spaces like YOUmedia allow teens to learn at their own pace, emphasizing mentors, one-on-one teaching opportunities and self-guided exploration. The library gives them the tools and allows teens to delve deeper into their passions and share what they have learned with their peers. And now with the support of the MacArthur Foundation and the mayor, this program will be able to help even more teens.

Not all of us have 2.5 million dollars to spend on connected learning spaces but we can all incorporate the ideas of passion-directed learning into our libraries. If you are interested in learning more about how people are already using connected learning concepts, or want to share how connected learning plays a role in your library, mark your calendars for the’ YALSA President’s Program,’ A Burning Need to Know: How Passion Connects to Learning, at ALA Annual this summer.

Learn more about YOUmedia in the video below.

Welcome to 1999. “Genie in a Bottle” and “Hit Me Baby One More Time” are playing on the radio. At the hormone riddled age of 15, I sit in my eye-achingly yellow bedroom. The walls are covered with bookshelves and posters. A small room, there isn’t much space for furniture. A twin bed sits on the floor in the corner (beds without frames are so much cooler) and small dresser sits next to desk made from an old door set atop two filing cabinets. Riding the new broadband wave (no more tying up the phone line) I surf the web on my hand-me-down laptop newly upgraded to Windows 98. What do I surf for, what draws me to the growing online community…anime.
Read More →

image courtesy of Pink Sherbet Photography on flickr

Today is YALSA’s 56th birthday! For over half a century YALSA has been helping libraries, library workers and advocates expand and improve library services for teens. All of the wonderful work that YALSA has done over the years would not be possible without the passion and hard work of members like you. On YALSA’s birthday please become a Friend of YALSA by donating to support scholarships and stipends to continue to grow young adult library services.

Let’s look at some other famous people who share this day with YALSA:

  • Solange Knowles, young sister to Beyonce who has tried her hand at acting, modeling and running her own business, turns 27 today.
  • Star of the popular TV series Friday Night Lights, Minka Kelly turns 33 but still looks like she could be in high school!
  • Best-selling author and fan favorite from’ The Office, now’ staring in her own show, Mindy Kaling turns 34.
  • Iain Glen, who you may know from the series’ Game of Thrones, turns 52 today.
  • The Chuck Taylor, the basket ball player who made the shoes famous was born on this day in 1901. What would we wear without him?!
  • And for those children of the 70’s and 80’s, the two stars of RoboCop, Peter Weller (RoboCop) and Nancy Allen (Officer Anne Lewis) both celebrate June 24 as their birthday! I hope they had a party on set! I would love to see RoboCop with a birthday hat on.

If we could get them all together, it would be one heck of a party! You can celebrate by donating‘ to YALSA and helping to provide an even better 57th year!

Image courtesy of Justin Henry on Flickr

YALSA’s 56th birthday is just a week away on June 24! As you probably know, choosing the perfect birthday card can be difficult. Not too sentimental, nor too sarcastic, the perfect balance is hard to find. If you are looking for the right message to send on Monday, please consider one of these cards (that, unfortunately, do not exist) inspired by our favorite books.

Harry Potter’ by J.K. Rowling

Front: Happy birthday! We would like to cordially invite you to attend Hogwarts!

Inside: Unfortunately we sent your original letter by owl and Errol is so slow it took 45 years to get to you.
Read More →

in darkness nick lake printz seal

All Friends of YALSA are cordially invited to a reception honoring Michael L. Printz winner, Nick Lake. Join us at this wonderful cocktail hour, hosted by Bloomsbury Children’s Books, before the Michael L. Printz Program and Reception during ALA’s Annual Conference on July 1st from 5:30-7:30pm in the Columbus AB room of the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

Unable to attend yourself? Gift your invitation to someone else so they can meet this amazing author and learn more about YALSA. Help introduce someone to an award-winning author, and a fabulous organization at the same time.

YALSA’s 56th birthday is quickly approaching. Help support YALSA and YALSA members by becoming a Friend of YALSA. Beyond this amazing reception, Friends of YALSA will also  enjoy reserved seating at the Printz and Edwards Receptions at ALA’s Annual Conference. Friends members in the Gold and Platinum circles will also be invited to small, intimate reception with Margaret A. Edwards winner Tamora Pierce.
Read More →