An open letter to YALSA Members – Being an Emerging Leader

Dear YALSA Members,

I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the incredible and enriching experience I had as a 2016 YALSA Emerging Leader. Without the Friends of YALSA and your donations, I would have not had enough money to attend both conferences as was necessary with this honor.

Participating in the Emerging Leaders program has changed my life as a new librarian. Not only did I have the privilege of attending both ALA Midwinter and Annual, but I got to participate in leadership training with 49 other outstanding young librarians. It was an amazing networking opportunity, not only with my diverse cohort, but also with the leaders of the program and guest speakers.

I also had the privilege of working on a project for YALSA with 5 other Emerging Leaders. We created a social media calendar for YALSA to use with its members. We started by surveying YALSA members about how they use social media, then developed best practices based on the response, and finally developed a social media calendar with Facebook and Twitter posts for the entire year. I learned so much throughout this process, including how to communicate and manage a large scale project virtually. At ALA Annual, we presented our project at the Emerging Leaders poster session, but also to the YALSA Board, which was super exciting.

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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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16 Reasons to give to YALSA in 2016 — Part 4


From earlier parts of this blog series (part 1, part 2, and part 3), you’ve read about reasons to give to YALSA–particularly to Friends of YALSA.

When I first joined ALA in 2010, I didn’t know what Friends of YALSA stood for.  I thought it simply meant: “YALSA is awesome” and “I will be friends with anyone in YALSA.” It was naive of me, but in my defense, I was new to the field and had just started library school.  It wasn’t until I saw a list of names in a monthly YALSA newsletter that I realized what it meant.  The Friends of YALSA are those who donate to these funds. The Friends of YALSA support over $16,000 annually in member stipends, grants, scholarships, and awards.  The Friends of YALSA are likely to be highly passionate about YALSA and teen services.

As a YALSA member, you get access to hundreds of outstanding professional tools and online learning opportunities such as webinars and videos. You’re also eligible for YALSA grants, stipends, and awards.

However, as a donor to Friends of YALSA, you’ll help fund these member grants, stipends, and awards which in turn allow more librarians to do great work, which then increases the likelihood that they’ll bring back their experiences to share with the wider YALSA membership!

So here are more reasons why you should give to YALSA.

Reason #13: Webinars

Why give to YALSA? There are plenty of reasons, but professional development appears high on that list. YALSA members get free access to over 75 webinars which are high quality in information and relevant to your work with teens… plus, you can learn at your own pace and at your convenience.

Here are some recent and upcoming webinars:

  • What I Stopped Doing: Improving Services to Youth by Taking On Less
  • Connecting with Immigrant and Refugee Youth in your Community
  • Content Creation Tools for You & Your Teens
  • Cultural Competence in the Library
  • Identifying and Serving Homeless Youth
  • Welcoming Spaces: Serving Patrons with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders)
  • Serving LGBTQ Teens
  • Ready, Set, Go! 30 Ways to Reach Reluctant Readers in 60 Minutes
  • Community Collaborations: School and Public Library Partnerships
  • Collecting and Vetting Digital Content
  • Commence Learning! Prepping for College Readiness Library Programming and Services
  • Life Hacks 101: Strategies for Preparing Your Teens for Adulthood
  • Making the Leap from Summer Reading to Summer Learning to Increase Impact
  • (Upcoming) July 21: Connecting Teens & Community Inside and Outside the Library
  • (Upcoming) August 18: Connecting Teens to Mental Health Support and Services

More about webinars can be found:

“YALSA’s free webinars for members are a great way to squeeze in professional development if you can’t get away from your [library]!” -Ariel Cummins, New Braunfels Public Library

Reason #14:  Toolkits

Did you know that in addition to all the various resources available on the website, wiki, courses, webinars, blogs, member communities, and other resources for members, YALSA has toolkits that features step by step instructions and best practices for a variety of hot topics for teen services? Check them out.  These toolkits are available to download.

Advocacy Toolkit

Legislative Advocacy Guide (PDF)

Making in the Library Toolkit (PDF)

Research Tools

Social Networking Toolkit (PDF; updated 2011)

Social Networking: A Guide for Teens (PDF; updated 2011)

STEM Programming Toolkit (Word doc)

Teen Intern Toolkit (PDF)

Teen Reading Guide for Parents and Caregivers (PDF)

Teens’ Top Ten Toolkit (Word doc)

YALSA Road Trip (PDF)

“YALSA tool kits are essential to every Teen Librarian and helps me advocate for my teens!” -Dora Ho, Los Angeles Public Library

To view YALSA’s whole list of professional tools and online learning resources, visit:

Online Learning:

Professional Tools:

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16 Reasons to give to YALSA in 2016 — Part 3

Read reasons #1-4 here, and #5-8 here.

We asked YALSA members to share their top reasons to give to YALSA, and here are some of them:

Reason #9:  Grants and scholarships

Yep, you heard that right. There’s money out there. YALSA offers nearly $200,000 a year in awards and scholarships to members. Some of these are sponsored by library vendors, like Baker & Taylor, and Greenwood, but others are sponsored directly by the Friends of YALSA. YALSA supports Spectrum Scholars and Emerging Leaders, and gives grants to members so that they can attend conferences and Library Legislative Day. By supporting YALSA, you are supporting members who are working directly with or on behalf of teens. Find out more here:

Reason #10:  Recognition and Awards

In addition to scholarships and grants, YALSA acknowledges the good work that YALSA members do in a variety of areas. The YALSA Writing Award acknowledges the best writing each year in YALSA’s blogs and journals. The Volunteer of the Year Award acknowledges the contributions of YALSA members who have demonstrated outstanding service to the mission, goals and work of YALSA during a given service year.  Awards are given out for chair, member, and/or a group as a whole.

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16 Reasons to give to YALSA in 2016 — Part 2

Here are some truly awesome reasons to give to YALSA.  Read reasons 1-4 here.

Are you looking for ways to better serve the teens in your community? Then you, yes YOU, should be looking at YALSA and how you can support this fine organization.

headsReason #5:  You will get great ideas
Programming ideas from nation-wide programs like Teen Read Week and Teen Tech Week. Plus all of the valuable ideas you’ll get from you fellow teen librarians from around the country and the world. A great place to start is YALSA’s Programming Headquarters.

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16 Reasons to give to YALSA in 2016 — Part 1

I’m the only high school librarian in my school. I love the independence, yet constantly updating and fine-tune services is challenging. YALSA has developed robust programs that help me succeed every year. When I use these resources, I know I am getting the latest and greatest professional information. And, when I give to YALSA, I am helping YALSA continue to improve my profession.

Why do I join YALSA every year?

Reason #1:  YALSA helps me keep ahead of the trends

YALSA published The Future of Libraries for and with Teens: A Call to Action in 2014 to help me meet the needs of today’s and future teens. While I can read and share this document without joining YALSA, my membership makes projects like this possible.

This document is dense with substantial ideas explained in clear, succinct language. It has produced shifts in my attitude resulting in real changes in our library program. The section “Embracing Our Role as Facilitator Rather than Expert” gave me permission to learn on the job, learn in front of students–and enjoy learning from them. Thanks to The Future of Libraries for and with Teens: A Call to Action, I confidently step aside and learn alongside students. Next year I plan to implement some action around the section “Supporting Library Staff in Gaining New Skills.”

“The Future of Libraries is affecting change in libraries across North America. Read about five libraries’ work in Case Studies: Real-World Examples of How Libraries Are Re-Envisioning Teen Services. And, the change isn’t limited to libraries. Using this document as a guiding force, YALSA has developed a new 3-year strategic plan.

With a YALSA membership, you get guidance on how to implement The Future of Libraries by listening to this webinar on YELL!, the YALSA e-Learning platform:

What I Stopped Doing: Improving Services to Youth by Taking On Less by Jennifer Velasquez.
Listen to the Recording
View the Slides

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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:

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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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:

You can also find YALSA’s new Mission, Vision, and Impact Statements ( and the Implementation Plan (

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:

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 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] or reach me via Twitter @tinylibrarian! Hope to see you online and/or in person at our Townhall and at ALA Annual!