As I was sitting in the Philadelphia airport, waiting to fly home from Midwinter 2014, I checked my email to find something rather startling: an invitation to be the keynote speaker at a symposium on library services for children and teens sponsored by the National Library for Children and Young Adults (NLCY) in South Korea. According to the email, my book Young Adults Deserve the Best: YALSA's Competencies in Action had been translated into Korean and distributed to libraries in Korea, and they wanted me to come to the symposium and share my “experience and expertise in youth library services”—all expenses paid!'  Read More →

So, remember when you got that email from ALA that gave you the link so you could vote? Yeah, you're right; that was a month ago. But you still have three days left to vote: voting closes on Friday, April 25. Now is the time to dig through your email, find that link, and go ahead and vote.vote

As of yesterday, 16.6% of ALA members had cast a ballot in this election. That's a pretty low voter turnout. We don't have numbers for YALSA members specifically, but in the past, voter turnout for YALSA has been around 20%. Still, that means fewer than 1000 people are making the decisions about things that might matter to you: who serves on YALSA's Award committees (Printz, Edwards, and Nonfiction), and who serves on YALSA's Board of Directors.

In March, this blog had a whole series of posts to give you information about the candidates. Every weekday, starting February 26' and running through March 19, there was at least one (and usually two) interviews each day with the candidates. You can find them easily by going to the drop-down menu labeled "Categories" on the side of this page and selecting "Election."

For even more' details, including complete biographical information on all of the candidates, check out the sample ballot.

YALSA is a member-driven organization. That means it's up to YOU to vote for the people who will be representing you over the next few years.

Don't let any more time go by. Vote.

Sarah Flowers, Chair, 2014 Governance Nominating Committee

 

On November 12, YALSA held a free webinar for members on the topic of Teen Services Amplified with Everyday Advocacy.' I facilitated this webinar, which drew over 40 engaged YALSA members in real time, and many more who have listened to the archived version. Because the topic of advocacy is such a big one, I wanted to focus on the ways any of us can use easily available resources, like YALSA's Advocacy Toolkit, to amplify our message that library services are important to teens and to communities.

After some quick definitions--talking about how marketing, advocacy, and lobbying differ, for example--we got into the heart of the matter by sharing examples of ways we can advocate on a daily basis. We started by talking about WHO we advocate with: administrators, co-workers, parents, community members. Attendees gave examples of times they had been able to show their bosses or co-workers how library programs and services were valuable to the teens in their communities.

We also talked about the HOW of advocacy:

  • focus on the value of programs and services
  • keep it simple
  • talk about needs, not just desires
  • stay positive
  • tell stories
  • listen, and find out what your audience cares about

Finally, I shared some of YALSA's great resources for advocacy, and encouraged members to take advantage of the advice, talking points, hints, and tools that YALSA has developed over the years. There's no need to re-invent the wheel when it comes to advocacy!

The archived version of the webinar is free to YALSA members, available on the YeLL (YALSA e-Learning Library) page.

Sarah Flowers

In talking about advocating for teen services, we often emphasize advocating with your library's administration, or with elected officials, or the public. But there's a great--and often untapped--pool of people that can really help you spread the word about teen services: your library colleagues, from fellow librarians and library assistants to clerks and pages.' If you get these people on board with your message, they will carry a lot of the load of getting the message out to others.

Think about it: who are the people in the library that the public has the most contact with? Yes, it's the front-line staff, the folks who spend hours a day at the service points or in the stacks. These are the staffers that members of the public are most likely to know by name, or at least by face. In many public libraries, in fact, it is the clerks and pages who are most likely to be truly local--people who live and work in the community that the library serves.

So how can they help you advocate for teens? Well, they can't, unless they understand why they should and how they can go about it. Your first step is to inform and energize them. Keep in mind that many adults don't really understand teenagers and sometimes they're even a little afraid of them. Your job may be simply to demystify teens and help others understand why they do what they do.

  • Offer to do a short session at a library staff meeting and/or new employee orientation on teen developmental needs.
  • When you are chatting with co-workers in the break room, share interesting stories about teens and the value of teen services.
  • Come up with a joint project in which you can work with children's or adult services librarians to serve both teens and children or adults.
  • Make a note when you see a positive interaction between another staff member and a teen, and follow up by complimenting your colleague, either verbally or with a quick note.
  • Find out which of your colleagues have teenagers at home, or work with teens in some other part of the community--at church, at a volunteer organization, as a coach, etc.
  • Find opportunities to remind your colleagues that helping teens grow into strong and capable adults is good for the whole community.
  • Share your own enthusiasm for teen services at every opportunity--others will be swept up in your wake.
  • Find out if you can take another staff member along with you when you speak at schools or at community events.

When teen services and teens are seen in a more positive light, advocacy becomes the next step. To help your colleagues advocate, you will need to continue to provide them with the necessary information. Read More →

YALSA President Shannon Peterson and I have been talking about her presidential theme of Amplified: Speaking Up for Teens and Libraries, and we were discussing the effort to build strong ties between YALSA and our members and library administrators. In May and June, I wrote a six-part series for this blog on how to work with library managers and administrators. Those posts were based partly on a survey that YALSA conducted of members who identified as supervisors and managers. One of the things we asked was what were some of the buzz words, lingo, and hot topics that made managers prick up their ears and listen. So here are some of those terms and ways you might incorporate them into your conversations with your managers:

ROI. This is manager-speak for “return on investment.” It's really pretty straightforward. Managers want to know that if the library invests time, money, personnel, and equipment on a service, program, or collection, there will be some return on that investment. What kind of return? Maybe you can demonstrate that the effort you invested in putting on a dynamite program resulted in increased circulation in a particular area or from a particular demographic. Maybe adding a service, like homework help, resulted in reaching a previously under-served segment of the community. The more you can collect data (track circulation before and after the program; keep count of the number of new cards that were issued to participants in a new program or service, etc.), the easier it will be for you to show your managers how much return you got from your investment. Read More →

As part of YALSA President Shannon Peterson's presidential theme (Amplified: Speaking Up for Teens and Libraries), YALSA is working on a number of projects to help YALSA members speak up for teens and for teen library services. As part of this effort, I recently worked with other YALSA members to update YALSA's Advocacy Toolkit. The new, updated, streamlined version can be found here, in PDF format, for easy downloading and sharing.

The toolkit it just that: a collection of easy-to-use tools for doing everyday advocacy in your library. The topics covered include:

  • What is advocacy? The differences between advocacy, marketing, and lobbying.
  • Everyday advocacy: what you can do in five minutes, fifteen minutes, thirty minutes, or more.
  • Developing and delivering your message: how to develop a persuasive message and deliver it with conviction.
  • Using web tools for advocacy: getting maximum impact from social media. Read More →

At the 2013 ALA Annual Conference, the YALSA board discussed an issue that we have been grappling with for some time: how do we get library administrators on board with the idea that teen services and programs are important, and deserve a fair piece of the library pie?

At the 2013 Midwinter Meeting, the board decided to survey YALSA members who are supervisors and managers, to get some input on this issue. The YALSA Executive Committee discussed the survey results at our April conference call, agreeing that we needed to focus on:

  • collecting and sharing case studies
  • helping members build skills that will enable them to better interact with administrators and articulate the needs of the teen services department
  • collaborating with other organizations in order to build stronger ties with administrators

Since that discussion, the following activities have taken place:

  • I wrote a six-part series for the YALSAblog on "What Your Manager Wishes You Knew" that incorporated information from the survey and tips from managers about what teen services librarians could do to work with administration to improve teen services.
  • YALSA and LLAMA (the Library Leadership and Management Association, another division of ALA) collaborated on a webinar for managers, "Increase Your Library's Value by Amping Up Teen Services," which was facilitated by YALSA and LLAMA member Mary Hastler.
  • LLAMA members received an e-blast in June about YALSA's instructional kits. Read More →

Do you sometimes wonder what you could do to get more administrative support for teen services in your library? There are some relatively simple steps you can take to win friends and influence managers! This is a six-part series that shares some tips from managers that you can integrate into your work life and maybe make some positive changes in your library.

In the first five weeks, I talked about' presenting yourself as a professional,' speaking the language,' collecting data, sharing information up the ladder, and taking a big-picture look.' I'll conclude this series by talking a bit about:

Getting Everyone On Board

One way to get managers to take notice of teen services and programs is to get everyone talking about those services and programs. "Everyone" means:

  • library staff
  • teens
  • parents
  • community members
  • trustees
  • elected officials
  • everyone!

Read More →

Do you sometimes wonder what you could do to get more administrative support for teen services in your library? There are some relatively simple steps you can take to win friends and influence managers! This is a six-part series that shares some tips from managers that you can integrate into your work life and maybe make some positive changes in your library.

In the first four weeks, I talked about' presenting yourself as a professional, speaking the language, collecting data, and about sharing information up the ladder.' This week let's move ahead to:

Taking a Big-Picture Look

You may think that it is obvious that changes are needed in your library. It may be crystal clear to you that teen services needs a bigger materials budget, more staff, and a higher profile. But somehow, your library's upper-level management is not seeing the same thing you are. Now what?
Read More →

Do you sometimes wonder what you could do to get more administrative support for teen services in your library? There are some relatively simple steps you can take to win friends and influence managers! This is a six-part series that shares some tips from managers that you can integrate into your work life and maybe make some positive changes in your library.

In the first three weeks, I talked about' presenting yourself as a professional,' about' speaking the language, and about collecting data. This week I want to talk about a sometimes forgotten piece of the puzzle:

Sharing Information Up the Ladder

When YALSA surveyed members who were identified as library supervisors and managers, we asked them about best practices and success stories in increasing upper management buy-in for teen services. There were several recurring ideas:

  • Publicize successful programs that succeed in engaging teens
  • Have teens speak to library board/Foundation boards to share their love for the library
  • Document reports with photos/videos from programs for teens
  • Share teen comments in monthly narrative reports
  • Share successful award-winning projects that have increased library usage by teens
  • Share' stories of how teen services develop youth and transform communities
  • Tie teen services to youth development

What these comments have in common is the importance of letting upper-level administrators and board members know what you are doing, and' why it's important to the community. Read More →