Speak up for Teens this August

District Days offer the perfect opportunity for legislative advocacy. District Days are a period of time in which Congress is out of session and members of Congress are back in their hometowns. This year, District Days begin on August 1st and end on September 5th. This would be an excellent time for library staff to show elected officials how important libraries are and even get them to visit your library. Members of Congress are always busy in Washington and don’t get many opportunities to visit their local library and really see and understand all the services that libraries provide. It is important that they know this so that they can promote legislation that is beneficial to libraries and teens. If legislators actually see and experience all that libraries do they will be more likely to take action on behalf of libraries and teens. District Days offer library staff and teen patrons the chance to inform members of Congress of their constituents’ needs and help educate them on an issue that they might not know too much about. It can also help forge a relationship with elected officials that would be instrumental in bringing the needs of libraries to the minds of members of Congress, helping them make legislative changes that can only aid teens and libraries.

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YALSA @ ALA Annual 2016: Update on Board Meetings, Discussions & Actions

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July!

As we celebrated our country’s independence last weekend, YALSA, too, has sought to break free from past models of association work and is currently exploring new ways to engage our members that better meet their interests, skills and busy lifestyles.

It was with those #teensfirst  and members’ first ideals in mind that the 2015-2016 YALSA Board approached our work before and during ALA Annual last month as we worked on aligning existing YALSA groups, programs and services with the association’s new Organizational Plan.

Here are some highlights:

– The Board adopted the following consent items, which were items that were discussed and voted on previous to annual, including:

– The Board also approved a more concrete structure to support and revitalize interest groups.

– The Board approved experimenting with new kinds of member engagement opportunities, especially virtual and short-term ones.

As part of its effort to align YALSA’s existing work with the new Organizational Plan, as well as update member engagement opportunities so that they better meet member needs, the Board began a review of all existing member groups at our June meeting.  While the Board was not able complete the review, we did come to decisions about some of the groups.

– The Board agreed that the following committees’ structure and workflow will remain as they currently are:

  • Alex Award Committee
  • Editorial Advisory Board for YALS/YALSAblog
  • Financial Advancement Committee
  • Margaret Edwards Award Committee
  • Mentoring Task Force
  • Michael Printz Award Committee
  • Morris Award Committee
  • Nonfiction Award Committee
  • Odyssey Award Interdivisional Committee
  • Organization and Bylaws Committee
  • The Hub Advisory Board

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REMIX: What’s New At YALSA session, ALA Annual Conference

Are you a member of YALSA?  If you are not, you should be.  YALSA’s newly adopted organizational plan is creating an organization that is “more nimble, more modern and more reflective of the needs of teens and
our members”, according to Past-President, Candace Mack.  The changes in YALSA are daring to imagine a new vision of teen services in any library that serves teens.

On Saturday, at ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, YALSA’s leadership held an informational and focus finding meeting, “What’s New with YALSA” for membership.  Those who attended the session served as a focus group of members who had the opportunity to hear the organizational plan, and then provide feedback about what that plan looks like to them.

The first question posed to the group:  “What opportunities for member engagement do you find most useful?

  • Members were quick to point out that YALSA’s trainings provided wonderful opportunities for meaningful and timely learning.
  • YALSA offered so much to members in terms of grants and awards. Several people in the room indicated that they had applied and received a YALSA grant or award in the past.
  • YALSA’s blogs are all content meaningful, never fluff. Whether a quick glance or an in depth read, a visit to the blogs always provided useful information.
  • Serving on a committee, taskforce, jury, or in an office, afforded them an opportunity to demonstrate and develop leadership opportunities that may not have been available in their workplace.
  • YALSA’s programming at conferences and the YALSA Symposium continue to provide the best quality to dollars spent among all of the affiliates under the ALA umbrella.

The next question for the group: What have you found specifically meaningful about these opportunities?

Webinars and Trainings:  Experienced members pointed out that YALSA’s webinars, trainings, and blogs seem to always provide the timeliest information to address what is going on in their libraries now. Serving the Underserved trainings were timely when services to teens were in question in many libraries in the country.  These trainings provided an advocacy and programming approach for librarians on the front lines to use to demand more for teens.  When those trainings had met their purpose and teen services began to gain a foothold in libraries across the country YALSA was not afraid to say that they had served their purpose and move on. When studies showed that boys reading was lagging behind their female counterparts, YALSA began offering programming ideas and training to draw the young male reader.  In addition, YALSA has never been afraid to embrace our teens and promote equality, diversity, visibility, and inclusion no matter how teens identified themselves or what they may be facing in life.

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YALSA 101- What I learned attending this session twice!

My second ALA annual conference is done and I am starting to feel like a seasoned pro. However, I am still learning so many new things I missed my first time around. I attended YALSA 101 last year and was inspired to be more active. A few months later though, I had forgotten about time requirements for “book” committees, what exactly were award committees, and there was something about badges. I decided to attend YALSA 101 again this year to brush up on what is offered in my YALSA membership and learn where I could volunteer my services.

Speaking of selection versus award committees, I have some clarification. Juries select grant or award winners, like the Great Books Giveaway. Selection committees are the book committees that select specific media and booklists such as Great Graphic Novels for Teens or Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. Book committee members are responsible for obtaining review copies, but many are provided by publishers or shared by committee members. Selection committees usually have a two-year commitment. Being a selection committee administrative assistant, the person who distributes the nomination lists, organizes the committee and acts as its secretary, is a lot of work. However, it can be a foot in the door to join a selection committee. Strategic committees run the business of YALSA. Strategic committees carry out many roles like planning Teen Read Week and Teen Tech Week, membership recruitment, running The Hub and YALSA Blog, and more. Except for the Executive Committee, all strategic committees meet virtually, with no requirements to attend conferences. Most strategic committee appointments last for one year.

One topic of YALSA 101 was advocacy. I did not realize how many options there are to easily approach our legislators to advocate for libraries. I can participate in National Library Legislative Day by going to the offices of my legislators in my state or Washington, D.C. I can tweet or email them if I am unable to travel and I can do this anytime I want to. One idea I came away with is inviting a local politician who is a stakeholder such as a school superintendent, town selectman, or school board member to come be “Librarian for Day” so they can see my job in action.

I had forgotten about YALSA’s YouTube channel. YALSA Academy has a series of short, five minute long videos for training or inspiration. You can take a quick break and get ideas for maker spaces, coding, Twitter basics, or starting a mock Printz award program. Any librarian can create a video for YALSA Academy, so think about showing off something you do for summer learning/reading, Teen Read Week or Teen Tech Week. As a brand new feature, the YouTube channel also has “snack break” videos that are about fifteen minutes long. These videos give guidance on partnering with a local museum or assessing program impact.

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Rethinking YALSA: Virtual Town Hall on Monday!

Don’t forget to login on Monday, June 13, 2016, from 2 – 3 pm Eastern for a Town Hall Discussion!

The Town Hall will be about the Organizational Plan that the Board just approved.  See President Candice Mack’s recent blog post for more information.

The Town Hall will be led by Candice and me, and we’ll be joined by many board members, too. The agenda is as follows:

2:00 – 2:15 pm:  Overview of the Organizational Plan & Steps Already Taken

2:15 – 2:45 pm:  Discussion with Participants about Involvement & Engagement Activities

Question to Ponder: What YALSA member engagement activities have you found most meaningful?

2:45 – 3 pm: Q&A and Wrap-Up

If you can’t make it to the virtual town hall, but you’re attending ALA Annual in Orlando, we’d love to see you at the session What’s New in YALSA and How You Can Be a Part of It! The session will be on Saturday, June 25th, from 8:30-10 am at the Rosen Centre, Room Salon 03/04. It will be similar to the virtual town hall, and YALSA’s strategic guru Eric Meade will join the discussion. You can find out more about the Whole Mind Strategy Group in this interview with YALSA Board member Kate McNair.

We’ll be using a format that the Board has been using to meet virtually– Zoom. You don’t have to use video, but it does make conversation easier. And we always love when cute animals accidentally walk in front of the screen!

Email the YALSA Office soon to receive the login information: yalsa@ala.org

National Library Legislative Day 2016 – Reflections of an NLLD Travel Stipend Winner

I was extremely fortunate to be able to attend ALA’s National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) 2016 with a travel stipend from the Friends of YALSA. So I’d like to thank YALSA and the Friends for this wonderful opportunity. Here are a few of my thoughts on those days.

The week before NLLD I had a phone conversation with my state (CA) NLLD coordinator, Deborah Doyle. I like to be prepared so it was helpful to have an idea of what would be happening while I was in DC and what was expected of me. Deborah was great about outlining the main events – the Sunday training for newcomers, the Monday all day briefing with a succession of speakers, and then Tuesday, the actual day, where we would be visiting offices with folders and offering our own brief comments on the information we wanted to impart. As Deborah put it, Tuesday would be “off to the races,” where we would be seeing lots of people. She even gave me advice on what to wear, including checking the weather frequently in advance – advice I should have taken more seriously, because I ended up having to buy a warmer coat while I was there. Who knew it was going to be so cold in DC in May?

The Sunday newcomer training was useful, too, since I’m definitely a novice in this kind of advocacy. My only experience in the past was going to Legislative Day in California many years ago and so I wasn’t sure what to expect as I anticipated the long halls of these very official looking Washington DC buildings. The training was helpful and included how to make our points, how to present our “ask” – what we wanted from them – and the issues we needed to emphasize. We were encouraged to know their interests, use storytelling as a tool and follow up with them afterwards.

The Monday all-day briefing was fascinating. The room was full of library folks from all across the U.S., all there to advocate for critical issues, like confirming Dr. Carla Hayden as Librarian of Congress, funding for school libraries, the Freedom of Information Act Reform, the Email Privacy Act, support of the Lifeline Program and net neutrality rules, and ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty, for those with print disabilities. An issue that had just arisen was the House bill that would prevent the Library of Congress from changing the LC term “illegal aliens” to less pejorative and biased language.

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The Calm Before the Storm: How Teens and Libraries Can Fight Mental Illness

If you haven’t had a chance to read YALSA’s 2016-2018 Organization Plan, I highly recommend that you do because it rocks! Not only is this the plan that most of us have been waiting for, it is a sign that our work as teen library staff has shifted to focus on the needs of our teens and how YALSA can support us1:

Mission: Our mission is to support library staff in alleviating the challenges teens face, and in putting all teens ‒ especially those with the greatest needs ‒ on the path to successful and fulfilling lives.

Vision: Our vision is that all teens have access to quality library programs and services ‒ no matter where they occur ‒ that link them to resources, connected learning opportunities, coaching, and mentoring that are tailored to the unique circumstances of the community and that create new opportunities for all teens’ personal growth, academic success, and career development.

With this plan, we now have the opportunity to tackle difficult issues that our teens are experiencing such as mental illness.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “that 1 in 5 children, ages 13-18, have or will have serious mental illness where symptoms arise at the age of 14 and will eventually manifest by the time they are 24 years old.2” In other words, if we have 20 teens who regularly attend our programs, that means 4 of them are predisposed or have a serious mental illness. Furthermore, 90% of death by suicide occurred among teens with mental illness. With the current efforts that are being made to de-stigmatize mental illness and portray it as a disease that can be managed, libraries can raise awareness and join this much-needed conversation.

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Rethinking YALSA: What’s New in YALSA and How You Can Be a Part of It!

The YALSA Board has been hard at work throughout this year and last year looking at YALSA’s Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action report, association capacity and sustainability, and incorporating member and stakeholder feedback to re-envision the organization’s Strategic Plan to create an association that is more nimble, more modern and more reflective of the needs of teens and our members both today and into the future.

The result is YALSA’s new Organizational Plan!

Please check it out: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/aboutyalsa/strategicplan

You can also find YALSA’s new Mission, Vision, and Impact Statements (http://www.ala.org/yalsa/aboutyalsa/mission%26vision/yalsamission) and the Implementation Plan (http://www.ala.org/yalsa/sites/ala.org.yalsa/files/content/ImplementationPlan.pdf)

Mission: Our mission is to support library staff in alleviating the challenges teens face, and in putting all teens ‒ especially those with the greatest needs ‒ on the path to successful and fulfilling lives.

Vision: Our vision is that all teens have access to quality library programs and services ‒ no matter where they occur ‒ that link them to resources, connected learning opportunities, coaching, and mentoring that are tailored to the unique circumstances of the community and that create new opportunities for all teens’ personal growth, academic success, and career development

Intended Impact Statement: To meaningfully address the challenges teens face today and to put more teens on the path to a successful and fulfilling life, YALSA will support library staff who work for and with teens in the transformation of teen library services so that:

  • Libraries reach out to and serve ALL teens in the community no matter what their backgrounds, interests, needs, or abilities, and whether or not they frequent the library space.
  • The library “space” is at once both physical and virtual. It connects teens to other people, printed materials, technology, and digital content, not limiting teens to a designated teen area but rather inviting them into the full scope of the library’s assets and offerings.
  • Teens co-create, co-evaluate, and co-evolve library programs and activities with library staff and skilled volunteers (including mentors and coaches) based on their passions and interests. These programs and activities are connected to teens’ personal, work, or academic interests across multiple literacies; generate measurable outcomes for teens’ skills and knowledge; and are tailored to the unique circumstances of the community.

To achieve this impact, the YALSA Board identified the following priority areas:

  • Leading the transformation of teen library services (including a cultural competency component)
  • Advocacy to policy makers at all levels to increase support for teen library services
  • Funder and partner development

We’re really excited about the new plan and our #TeensFirst focus and we want to know what your thoughts and/or questions are!

To that end, we’ve put together an Organizational Plan FAQ: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/organizational-plan-faq-2016-2018

YALSA President-Elect Sarah Hill and I are also hosting a virtual video townhall on Monday, June 13th, from 2-3 p.m. Eastern via Zoom.  Please contact the YALSA Office at yalsa@ala.org for the access information.

And, if you’re attending ALA Annual in Orlando next month, we will also be hosting a face to face session on YALSA’s new Organizational Plan on Saturday, June 25th, from 8:30-10 a.m. at the Rosen Centre, Room Salon 03/04, called What’s New in YALSA and How You Can Be a Part of It!

If you have any other questions, comments, concerns and/or compliments, feel free to email me at candice. YALSA [at] gmail.com or reach me via Twitter @tinylibrarian! Hope to see you online and/or in person at our Townhall and at ALA Annual!

Completing the Puzzle Between Teens with ASD and Public Libraries

From Pinterest

According to Occupational Therapist, Bill Wong: “For autistic individuals to succeed in this world, they need to find their strengths and the people that will help them get to their hopes and dreams. In order to do so, ability to make and keep friends is a must. Amongst those friends, there must be mentors to show them the way. A supportive environment where they can learn from their mistakes is what we as a society needs to create for them.”1.

As teen library workers, we have an incredible wealth of resources at our fingertips to  assist teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  Along with these resources, we have colleagues, community partners, and experts who are passionate and willing to help us with create services and programs for teens with ASD. The sky is the limit when it comes to creating an inclusive environment, but, sometimes, starting from the ground up can be daunting. However, no matter what how long it takes to implement and plan these services and programs, the end result will create an honest dialogue between the library and our entire teen population to foster an environment of camaraderie, acceptance, and empathy.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

According to National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS):

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a group of complex neurodevelopment disorders characterized by repetitive and characteristic patterns of behavior and difficulties with social communication and interaction. The symptoms are present from early childhood and affect daily functioning. The term “spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability in functioning that can occur in people with ASD. Some children and adults with ASD are fully able to perform all activities of daily living while others require substantial support to perform basic activities.”2

On March 27, 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new study that identified 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls) as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 3 Since 2000, the rates have increased by 119%, which means that ASD is one of the most common development disorders in the United States. Although Autism has been around for more than 100 years, it wasn’t until the early 1980s that Autism was classified as an actual neurological disorder and not a mood disorder (i.e., Schizophrenia). Since ASD  is in fact treatable, children are being diagnosed at an early age so they can get the necessary therapies they need to manage thir symptoms. Although the resources are available for an early diagnosis, some parents may have a difficult time finding out how to get their child help due a variety of reasons. Due to these obstacles, children and teens could potentially fall to the wayside in their development and this is where libraries can help children and teens with ASD.

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Teens Succeed with Libraries Video Contest

YALSA is looking for creative video entries of up to 60 seconds in length that compellingly demonstrate to the general public how teens make use of 21st century libraries, programs and staff in order to succeed in school and prepare for college, careers and life. Winners will be announced no later than June 1, 2016. The top three entries will receive a box of books, audiobooks and graphic novels worth a minimum of $200. Examples of content may include, but are not limited to showing how teens use libraries to do things like get good grades, explore careers, pursue hobbies, plan for college, build digital skills, create stuff, connect with others, serve the community, become engaged citizens, etc.  This is a great opportunity for teens to show off their film making skills!  Get the details via this online entry form.  This contest is being administered by YALSA’s Advocacy Resources Taskforce.