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: 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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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!

YALS – Libraries and Learning: A Resource Guide for “Make, Do, Share”

cover of spring yalsYou should have already or will soon be receiving your Spring 2016 edition of YALS. The topic of the issue is Libraries and Learning. All the articles are excellent but the one that stood out to me was the featured interview with Shannon Peterson, the Youth Services Manager for the Kitsap (WA) Regional Library (KRL). The library received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for their program Make, Do, Share: Sustainable STEM Leadership in a Box.

One of the great things about this interview is that not only did we learn the context of this project (it began with a project called BiblioTEC, sponsored through the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation) but also heard about how Shannon and her staff frame the work they are doing. Many times in public libraries, we are so focused on helping our community, we don’t think about the reasoning behind our behaviors. These behaviors and the programming we create can be influenced by the theory we read and the theory we believe grounds our work as librarians. Shannon’s interview was full of all the things she and KRL was thinking of as they created the Make, Do, Share programming.
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TTW Grant Winner: Let’s Play!

I was one of the lucky few to win a Teen Tech Week grant this year! I am excited, but I have to say, my teens are even more excited than I am. Why? Because we’re starting a Let’s Play club!

‘Let’s Play’ is a web video genre in which people record themselves playing video games, and then post their creations online for others to view. Our teens will be involved in, and in many cases, in charge of, every aspect of the process – channel branding, game selection, set-up, digital and audio editing, uploading, creating metadata and captions, and social media marketing.

There are a lot of people creating Let’s Plays, and a lot of variety within the genre. Some use face-cams, others are just voice-over narration and commentary. Some play retro games, while others showcase games long before they’re released. Some play anything a fan will send in, while others ‘speed-run’ by taking advantage of glitches and expertise to finish a game as quickly as possible. Many Let’s Players also livestream for hours on Twitch.tv to live audiences of followers and paid subscribers, posting these to Youtube in addition to their normal content.

Below are some Let’s Players to check out if you’d like to learn more about this ever-growing genre of online video!


Felicia Day’s Co-Optitude was my introduction to Let’s Plays. Hosted on Geek & Sundry, Felicia plays mostly retro and indie games with her brother Ryon, generally very badly and to much hilarity. The production value is high – the set is remarkable and there is a lot of editing involved, including clever use of video game sounds to bleep any mature language.


Zach Drapala is GhostRobo, a Let’s Player who often gets early access to a variety of highly sought after games. His full walk-throughs are full of gratitude for his viewers, and he often gives away copies of the games he’s playing to lucky subscribers. His second channel, GhostRoboJr, focuses on games specifically for kids.


Holly Conrad is a professional cosplayer and special effects artist, appearing on the short-lived Syfy documentary series ‘Heroes of Cosplay’. As Commander Holly, her infectious sweetness seeps through as she plays a variety of games with friends. She also plays a lot of World of Warcraft, and posts the occasional real-life video featuring her cosplay and other creations.


The hankgames Youtube channel is the Let’s Play home of bestselling teen fiction author John Green. Once upon a time, his brother Hank created this channel and played a variety of games, with John occassionally joining him. In 2011, John began playing the yearly FIFA (a soccer league) game, and since that time, the channel has mostly featured this (Hank has an occasionally-updated channel now called GamesWithHank) Ever the storyteller, John has back stories for most of the players and continues to update viewers on their news, from the arrival of babies to marriages and more. He also answers a variety of questions, often passed on from donors to the annual Project for Awesome. Although originally he played as the Swindon Town ‘Swoodilypoopers,’ in 2014 he was ‘fired’ as their ‘manager’ and instead began playing as the AFC Wimbledon ‘Wimbly-Womblys’ (neither of these names are accurate). It’s a long and hilarious story (you can read more here), but John’s love of the actual AFC Wimbledon team in England has inspired him to give the proceeds of this Let’s Play channel to the team, most of which supports the youth team. There is now a Nerdfighteria billboard in the AFC Wimbledon stadium, and the Nerdfighteria logo is on the official team uniform.

Minecraft Let’s Players

As the audience for Minecraft tends to be younger, the majority of Let’s Players who play Minecraft tend to keep their channels clean of any mature language. These folks often have some of the largest audiences, with subscribers in the many millions.


Welcome to the Sky Army! Adam Dahlberg, otherwise known as Sky, specializes in Minecraft roleplay, creating and playing in specially created Minecraft environments (also known as ‘mods’) that look like superheroes, other video games, etc.


Dan Middleton is a British Let’s Player who also focuses on mods and other mini-games and challenges. In 2015 he received a Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Award.

Mr Stampy Cat

Joseph Garrett is a Let’s Player from the UK who uploads “a bunch of different games, including a new Minecraft video, every single day.” Known mostly as Stampy, he often works with Let’s Player iBallisticSquid and recently published his first book, Stampy’s Lovely Book.


David Spencer, also from the UK, posts Minecraft Let’s Plays from both the XBox and PC versions. He often attempts to complete challenges created by his best friend, Stampy.  Together they have a joint channel, Magical Animal Club, where they post a variety of content including a series of videos on tough topics such as bullying, confidence, and online safety.


Jordan Maron, otherwise known as Captain Sparklez, plays a variety of games but mostly focuses on Minecraft and is well-known for his animated Minecraft videos that parody popular music. Minecraft Style was featured in a variety of tech publications. He also maintains a second channel where he posts his Minecraft livestreams.

You can’t really talk about Let’s Players without mentioning the big names: Rooster Teeth’s Achievement Hunter (their show Rage Quit is the epitome of what it’s like to be frustrated with games, and a personal favorite), Markiplier, PewDiePieDodger, Best Friends Play, and Game Grumps, to name just a few. Your teens are watching at least some of these gamers (and will probably debate the merits of their favorites), but I must stress that these are not channels you can watch as a group in a library setting. They are important names to know, but remember: the average age of a gamer is 35. These are adults creating things for themselves and mostly for other adults. If swearing in all cases and a lot of mature language and situations in most are not things you are comfortable with, stick with the channels I’ve highlighted above.

Sarah Amazing is the teen librarian at the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library. She blogs at zen-teen.com and falls asleep almost every night to the sounds of Danny and Arin’s colorful commentary on Game Grumps.


Contact Congress to Support Library Funding in the FY17 Budget

Please use ALA’s super easy web page and take a minute to email and Tweet your members of Congress and ask them to support library funding in the FY17 federal budget. The messages are pre-populated—all you need to do is provide your name and contact information to ensure it goes to the proper members of Congress. If you have the time, you’re also encouraged to phone their offices. Your help, and these funds, make a huge difference in what libraries and library staff can do for their patrons.

It’s that time of year when Congressional cost-cutters sharpen their budget knives and go looking for under-supported federal programs to slash or discontinue. Last year, Paul Ryan, who is now Speaker of the House, proposed completely eliminating the federal agency for libraries (IMLS) and with it over $200 million in funding for libraries (the Library Services and Technology Act—LSTA, and Innovative Approaches to Literacy–IAL). Both of these critical funding streams for libraries are potentially on the chopping block this year and it’s up to you to help save them.   Continue reading

Speak Up for Teens & Libraries in your State!

Now is the time of year when most state legislatures are in session, and the teens in your state are relying on you to speak up for them!  Here’s what you can do:

  • Find out what dates your state’s legislature is in session, by visiting the National Conference of State Legislatures’ web site.
  • Visit your state library association’s web site to find out if they are hosting an advocacy day in your state’s capitol and learn how you can get involved.
  • Stay up to date on the issues by visiting your state legislature’s web site or downloading and using one of these free apps: Congress, Countable, or icitizen.
  • Build your legislative advocacy skills.  A great starting point is YALSA’s free Legislative Advocacy Guide (.pdf).
  • Take action and mobilize others to do so, too.  Connect with your state library association to find out what calls to action they are focusing on this year.  Check out www.ala.org/yalsa/advocacy for tips and resources.  Consider asking your elected official if they will sponsor a resolution in support of libraries (a resolution is not legislation or a bill–just a feel good message that state legislatures pass all of the time in an effort to make nice with the voters).  YALSA has a few sample documents compiled into one file that you can adapt and use, including a sample resolution, emails and a press release.  Access the MS Word file today for an easy way to raise awareness about libraries with the elected officials in your state!
  • Engage the teens in your community, help them learn about the legislative process and encourage them to become active around the issues that matter most to them.  Read “Help Youth Take Action” and share this free Youth Activists’ Toolkit (.pdf).

And don’t forget that National Library Legislative Day is May 3rd!  If you can’t make it to Washington DC, ALA has several ways that you can participate virtually.

-Beth Yoke

Contact Congress Feb. 15 – 20 to Support Federal Library Funding

President Obama released his draft FY17 budget today.  The next step is for Congress to take it up.  Congress will spend the spring and summer working on their version, with the ultimate goal to have a final budget passed in fall.  In the President’s budget, proposed funding for the Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) is down by $500,000 over last year, grants to state libraries are down $900,000, and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy grant program (a funding opportunity for school libraries) is level funded at $27 million.  These are all vital programs that support the nation’s libraries.  ALA’s President, Sari Feldman, issued a statement today expressing disappointment.

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