imageI practically lived on coffee and doughnuts this past weekend at the YALSA Symposium in Portland. Not that I'm complaining; if you're going to drink lots of coffee, Portland is the place to do it. I began my symposium experience with the Friday afternoon preconference Hip Hop Dance and Scratch: Facilitating Connected Learning in Libraries with the hope of gaining some programming ideas. I walked out three hours later with a newfound comfort-level using the program and, yes, concrete ideas for how to use it at my library. Having three hours allotted for experimenting, asking questions, and watching what other people created helped immensely.

At Teen Services without Borders, a panel of school and public librarians and an independent bookseller that discussed challenges and successful partnerships that cross library, departmental, and district lines. Boundaries can feel like brick walls when they prevent teens from accessing the library, and the panel members ultimately decided they needed to serve teens and not the rules, viewing themselves as part of the same community, not competitors. Tips they shared include: Give up your ego. Put kids first. Promote each other's programs and services. Ask for help and keep trying until you find the right person. Finally, take a hard look at the rules - can any be broken?

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As some of you may know, last year Boston got hit with snow for weeks on end. However, all Boston winters are cold, windy and wet, and here are some quick tips on what to pack to prepare for the beautiful winter wonderland we don’t stop complaining about until spring thaw.

Must Haves:

-Winter Boots

You want to bring boots that are warm and waterproof. You don’t have to take snow boots if it’s not going to snow or you don’t already own them, but DO NOT think you can get away with packing what one would wear in a California or Florida winter. Most likely it will snow, and most likely your feet will get wet. So at the very least, waterproof your boots, and do not plan to wear heels unless you plan to change when you get to the convention center. If you’re not familiar with waterproof spray, it’s very easy to find online, and will keep your boots from letting in all the lovely wet on the ground. Also, you’ll want to bring extra socks. Even if you have waterproof shoes, you never know, and they don’t take up much space in your suitcase.

-Winter Coat

This one is a gimme. You need a real winter coat, one that will cover your whole torso, and can put up with Boston winter temperatures. Typical January temperatures are 30 degrees Fahrenheit, but it can get colder, so make sure you have something that will keep you warm and toasty.

-Scarves, mittens and hats

You DO need a scarf, and gloves, and a hat. Boston weather is not only cold and windy, but it can also change mid-day. You might leave your hotel thinking it will be mild and dry, and then realize it’s snowing and you wish you could just wrap a towel around your head. IT’s not cute, but no one looks cute outside in Boston in January. You won’t be the only one who looks like a stuffed toy version of yourself.

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So, ALA Annual Conference to be held in Orlando is 7 months away.  Proposals for presenting have been accepted and presenters have been notified.  Keynote speakers, author events, and preconference workshops have been announced.  And now, reality has set in.  Can I afford to go? Let’s break down those expenses for a full conference attendance.

The expenses breakdown:


Airfare—Flights from select hubs can be as low as $200 round trip.  Plan to book at least four months in advance for the best rates.  Lower your cost with use of frequent flyer miles.


5 nights--$160 to $400 per night depending how early you book and how close to the convention center the hotel is.  Remember there is a reservation deadline for the best conference rates through the ALA website.  Share a room to bring your cost down.


Register by the early bird deadline for the lowest cost.


6 days—estimated $40.00 per day, for a total expense $240.00.    The average cost of a meal from the food vendors in the exhibit hall are $11-$15 and restaurants in the convention area may cost between $20.00 -- $100 per meal.  Lower your food costs by taking advantage of exhibitor presentation meal invites.  Visit the local grocery store (Publix or Walmart on Sand Lake Road) and pick up some inexpensive meals and snacks to keep in your hotel room refrigerator.  Most hotel rooms in the convention area have fridge/mini microwave combos and coffee pots.  Occasionally, giveaway snacks are offered to attendees. Have the snack or bag it for later.

Conference attendance is 7 months away, begin your planning now.  With a savings of $215 per month through June, a full conference attendance is within your reach!


Some other tips to off-set your expenses.

  • Ask your school district or employing institution if there are professional development funds for use.
  • Seek funding from your school’s PTA/PTO or other parent organization.
  • Request support from a community-based organization such as your local Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, or other group that supports education.
  • Graduate students inquire about grants from your institution.
  • Remember conference attendance may be deducted from your taxes as a professional expense. Check with your tax professional.

Vandy Pacetti-Donelson is a Library Media Specialist. She is a library advocate and Board Director for the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME). Find her online at or follow her on Twitter @VandyPD.

Happy Fall!

Here is what I worked on in September:


  • After board discussion, called for board to vote to approve location for the 2016 YA Services Symposium
    • The 2016 YA Services Symposium will be held in Pittsburgh, PA
  • Filled various strategic committee vacancies
  • Led second monthly chat with the YALSA Board, where we discussed YALSA’s Brand and Reputation
  • After board discussion, called for board to vote on Rachel McDonald’s board vacancy
    • The board vacancy will be left open until next YALSA election in Spring 2016
  • Met with colleagues at Wattpad, National Writing Project, Connected Learning Alliance, and DeviantArt to discuss possible design challenge partnership in conjunction with Teen Tech Week 2016's theme: Create It @ Your Library
  • Completed bundled registration for ALA Midwinter and ALA Annual 2016
  • RSVP'd to attend ALA Information Policy workshop at ALA Midwinter

Works in Progress

Stats & Data

  • Friends of YALSA raised $0 in August 2015
  • Membership: 5,088 (down -0.8% over this time last year)

Last, but certainly not least -


  • All of our members for all that you do to support teens and teen library services in your communities, every day!

Until next time!

Respectfully submitted,

Candice Mack, YALSA President

Picture of Boston

Boston by Jeff Gunn. CC By 2.0.

Boston is a great city with a lot of great food options, but if you have special dietary requirements, it can still be difficult to find places to eat. That’s why YALSA has compiled information about restaurants that are great for vegetarians, vegans, and those who need to ensure that their food is gluten-free.

Lucy Ethiopian Cafe - Located right near the Symphony T-stop on the Green Line, this is a small Ethiopian restaurant that offers tasty food and many vegetarian options.

Tanjore - If you find yourself near Harvard Square, Tanjore offers an extensive menu, including a range of vegetarian options. Their daily lunch buffet always includes vegetarian options as well.

Clover Food Lab - Including locations in Brookline, Harvard Square and Kendall Square, as well as a food truck, this restaurant has many vegetarian options. Most of their food can also be made vegan.

Veggie Galaxy - Located in Central Square a short walk from the T-stop, this restaurant has a menu of entirely vegetarian and vegan dishes. They also have a vegan bakery.

Grasshopper - Offering an entirely vegetarian and vegan menu, this restaurant has been a long time staple on the vegan scene in Boston.

MJ O’Connors - This restaurant, which is very close to the convention center, offers a wide variety of food including pub food, salads, and a gluten-free menu upon request.

Boloco - Offering a wide range of wraps and smoothies, this restaurant offers something for everyone with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options available. It also has locations dotted throughout Boston and Cambridge.

Bon Me - This Vietnamese chain has multiple locations and a food truck that travels around Boston and Cambridge. It offers vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

Hopefully these restaurants will give you some good lunch and dinner options during your stay in Boston. If you want to find out about more dining options (including restaurants that offer Halal or Kosher options) and other sightseeing information, check out the YALSA Midwinter 2016 wiki. (Note: While we will make every effort to keep the wiki up-to-date, restaurants change their menus frequently, so you may want to call in advance to confirm that they haven’t changed their options).

The Young Adult Services Symposium is not only great for networking, broadening your horizons but as well as meeting great authors! The author I would like to talk a little about is Dhonielle Clayton. Clayton has recently released her first novel, which she wrote with Sona Charaipotra entitled, Tiny Pretty Things. Clayton will also be releasing a fantasy book series, The Belles, in 2016. I am certain that if you are a teen librarian, you have heard the hot topic about needing more diverse teen books. Well, that's where Dhonielle and Sona Charaipotra’s expertise comes in handy. They have cofounded CAKE Literacy. CAKE Literacy is described as a "commitment to creating delicious and diverse concepts for middle grade, teen and women’s fiction readers".

Why CAKE? Well, usually when these two ladies would meet to discuss books and writing, they always had a slice of cake with their discussions. CAKE Literacy came about because they both shared love for the TV series The Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars and noticed how there wasn't any diversity in those shows. Come to think of it, nearly all the fantasy genre books I have read, also lack diversity. With that in mind, I agree with Dhonielle and Sona and support CAKE Literacy! If you haven't check out their website, please do! It's visually stimulating. Don’t forget to visit Dhonielle Clayton at the 2015 YA Services Symposium.

The 2015 YALSA Young Adult Services Symposium will take place November 6-8, 2015 at the Hilton Portland & Executive tower. Register today!

--Annie Snell, YA Services Symposium Marketing and Planning Task Force

This year's YALSA Young Adult Services Symposium has an awesome program filled with presentations, panels, and papers covering many different aspects of YA services. Plus, there are over 30 YA authors that will be attending the symposium. I will be traveling all the way from St. Petersburg, Russia to Portland just for the symposium and there is one more aspect that absolutely makes it worth the trip: the attendees!

As a solo librarian, I welcome every opportunity that I get to interact with other librarians in youth services. Through my involvement in YALSA and use of Twitter, I have had the chance to get to know quite a few librarians throughout the U.S. At last year's symposium in Austin, I got to meet many of these librarians in person for the first time. There is so much to be learned by spending time with other librarians in a social setting. After the panels ended for the day, our professional development did not end. Over drinks and delicious food, we discussed books, library programs, blogging, and life. It's awesome to find that your friends are just as awesome IRL as they are online.

Don't worry if you are new to YALSA or the symposium either! In my experience, the community of attendees is incredibly welcoming. I attended the opening night meet-and-greet with one friend, but by the time we left for a taco run, we had grown to a group of ten - the majority of which we had never interacted with before.  By connecting with fellow librarians I got new ideas right away and also found ways to stay in touch throughout the year. I am able to regularly check in with YA librarians to see what programs they are running, what books they are promoting, and how they are making a difference for their patrons. I cannot wait to see who I will meet this year.

The more pro-active you are, the more you will benefit from being surrounded by awesome librarians. It's never too early or too late to start. Get online before you leave for Portland and follow the Symposium's hashtag #yalsa15 to see who else will be attending. When you are there, don't be afraid to compliment someone on their cat-patterned cardigan or awesome haircut. Say hello to the person next to you in line for coffee. Ask someone which author they will visit first during the Book Blitz. I know how difficult these interactions can be for some people, but I promise they will be worth it.

The 2015 YALSA Young Adult Services Symposium will take place November 6-8, 2015 at the Hilton Portland & Executive tower. Register today!

-Jessica Lind, find me on Twitter before #yalsa15 and say hello! @sadrobot


Are you a YALSA member who has never attended ALA Annual? YALSA and Baker and Taylor want to help send you to Orlando for ALA Annual 2016! We will be awarding three grants: one each for a public librarian, school librarian, and graduate student.

Applicants for the Baker & Taylor Scholarships must be librarians with one to ten years experience working with teens. Two grants will be awarded of $1,000 each.

The Dorothy Broderick Student Scholarship will be awarded to a graduate student currently enrolled in an ALA accredited graduate school of library & information science. The winner will receive $500 up front and must submit receipts following the conference to receive any additional funding.  

Applications must be submitted online no later than December 1. The application includes short essay questions and requires a supporting statement from someone familiar with your work.

More information and links to the application form can be found on the YALSA Conference Grants webpage

Jenna Friebel is a youth services librarian at the Deerfield Public Library in Illinois and current chair of YALSA’s Conference Travel Scholarships Jury.



This post was based on my presentation at the ALA Annual Convention, What I Stopped Doing: Improving Services to Teens by Giving Things Up. Slides for the presentation can be found on Slideshare or HaikuDeck.

In order to do improve library service to teens, we have to work differently -- and in order to do that, we have to stop doing some of what we’re currently doing.

From discussion at Annual and among colleagues in my personal network, this is a topic that resonated with large numbers of staff -- not just the necessity of giving things up, but the importance of continuing to talk loudly and proudly about the things we stopped doing. In youth services this is especially important -- often we are solo practitioners who were hired to work with a broad range of ages -- 0-18 in some cases.

Discontinuing or re-assigning tasks and services is challenging, but it’s critical to improving library services to teens -- and it’s an important leadership quality. While there is no one formula that will work for every library or community, when we’re ready to think about what we can stop doing, reflect again on YALSA’s Future of Library Services for and with Teens report - it sets a frame for the work that’s most important to consider discontinuing or doing differently.

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