Most of us in the library profession are high achievers aren’t we?

Our attention to detail has likely saved that flyer or that web page more than once from putting out incorrect information to a large amount of people. Can you imagine if that error would have gone out? Some of us might start sweating a bit just thinking about it.

Project planning? That’s our specialty! Months ahead we’re already thinking about decorations for the summer learning kickoff program or what the posters will look like for our annual film festival. Closer to the event itself we might even go so far as to lose sleep and take over most of the work ourselves just so we can make sure it’s done ‘right’.

Low attendance to a program? We’re likely mortified! We lose sleep again in thinking about how we could have gotten more teens to attend this author program that was advertised for months. The regular teen visitors even assured you they were coming. What could possibly have gone wrong?

Are you a perfectionist? Read More →

According to the 2013-2014 Core Values for the Teen Services Profession, developed by the Young Adult Library Services Association’s (YALSA) Professional Values Task Force, there are “nine core values that define professionalism for those who work for and with teens through libraries. 1” One of the nine core values is “Compassion,” where librarians who work with teens “strive to identify with others’ experiences. Shows concern, empathy, and consideration for the needs and values of others. Within this value, librarians will demonstrate the following:

  • Communicates effectively, both verbally and non-verbally, with others, taking into consideration individual differences in learning styles, language, and cognitive abilities, etc.
  • Builds and maintains knowledge of teens’ social, emotional, mental, and physical development and how they shape the teen experience
  • Strives to understand teens' lives from their perspective in order to create genuine connections
  • Places the needs of teens above one’s own
  • Provides services for and with underserved and underrepresented teen populations

After reading through this report, the one core value that speaks the loudest to me is compassion. If we, as teen librarians, were to prioritize these values, compassion needs to be the number one value that we need to act upon; not only is compassion the key to solidifying honest relationships with teen patrons, these connections provide us with the information and insight to support many facets of teen services including connected learning. According to The Future of Library Services For and With Teens: A Call to Action: “To support their learning—personal, work-related, and academic—library staff must connect with teens as individuals. As one participant noted: “Many teens don’t have relationships with non-supervisory adults…teens need more adults who are not “in charge of charge” of them” (2014, p.10). By showing compassion, we are conveying to teens that we are genuinely interested in their opinions and thoughts, which is why we develop teen advisory boards and similar programs. These programs allow us to build rapport with teen patrons because we are providing a dedicated forum for teens that tell them that we do value their input. If we are unable to create these kinds of avenues, we need to get up from behind the reference desk and actually talk to teens when they walk into the library. What exactly do we talk about? Talk about anything and everything! Read More →

YALSA core professional values coverWhat do accountability, excellence, innovation, and social responsibility have to do with the teen services profession? The quick and easy answer is a lot. However, a more specific answer is that these 4 ideas are a few of the Core Values listed in YALSA's new Core Professional Values for the Teen Services Profession. This Professional Values document was published by YALSA last month after a year-long development process by the association's Professional Values Task Force. The Task Force began their work after discussions by the YALSA Board of Directors during their 2013 Annual Conference meetings The Board wanted to develop and support the professional development of library staff serving teens and to help others in the library profession understand the value of what library staff working with and for teens work towards every single day of the year.

The document, a one of its kind in the area of library teen services, is an excellent framework for the values that all those working with teens in libraries should embrace. Not only does it list the Core Values but it includes ways of demonstrating those values. For example, if you demonstrate Innovation, which is defined in the document as:
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A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between July 10 and July 16 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.
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This is a guest post from Kelly Stade, Area Manager at the Hennepin County Library.

All leaders need support. Intentionally building your network can support you when you feel stuck, spark creativity and connect you with new opportunities.

As a private person, it can sometimes be difficult for me to ask for help. Networking within your library system, school or professional organization can feel challenging. I admire my colleagues who seem comfortable reaching out to a broad network of supporters. As I have pushed myself to build connections, it has been beneficial both for myself and the library where I work.

“What would you do?” moments. We have all run into situations where we feel stumped or puzzled. We also have moments where we feel confident, but would value a second opinion. Both are excellent opportunities to reach out to trusted peers. By the nature of being a leader, you try new things, push yourself, explore, and you extend beyond your comfort zone. When venturing into this new territory, it is only natural to have moments of uncertainty. Asking questions and asking for help demonstrates your confidence as a leader. The answers you get back will help you learn new skills and expand your perspective.

Even if you feel confident in your approach, reaching out for second opinions provides an opportunity to learn a diversity of styles. I love hearing how a single challenge can be approached from a number of different angles. The diversity of opinions challenges me to reframe and refine myself as a leader.

When putting myself in a vulnerable position of asking for help or for a second opinion, I can open the door to become a trusted support for others, repaying the favor.

“What are you up to?” moments. Creativity sparks creativity. The librarianship profession is one that rewards begging, borrowing and stealing. Need to develop a new summer program initiative or Teen Read Week promotion? Don’t reinvent the wheel. Reach out to your network to learn what other libraries are doing. The community or network you reach out to may live in-person or online.

Another benefit to building a network is that your network may lead you to new opportunities, like the opportunity to write on the YALSA blog.

Where can you start building your network? Look within your organization or neighboring libraries. Reach out to leaders in your organization who are doing work you admire. Do you know someone who seems to be well connected? Ask those well connected individuals to introduce you to a broader circle. You can also look within YALSA, ALA or your local library community. Join a committee, attend a conference or participate in professional opportunities. Intentionally build your network through professional leadership programs such as the PLA Leadership Academy or ALA Emerging Leader Program. I am fortunate to be a graduate of the 2014 ALA’s Emerging Leader program. Through the program, I was able to make strong connections to librarians across the country. It is exciting to learn from and share with librarians outside of my home state. As a leader, challenge yourself to ask for help and reach out the leaders around you. Making professional connections will not only benefit you, it will make our profession stronger.

Start small. The next time you feel stuck or in need for inspiration, intentionally connect with one new person. You will soon find that your efforts feel more natural and your network richly diverse.

Kelly Stade is an Area Manager for Hennepin County Library, with a background in Youth Services. She is passionate about leadership development and supporting others in active leadership. Connect with Kelly via LinkedIn.

Since ALA Mid-Winter was conveniently located in Chicago this January, I decided to make the trip and attend the conference on Saturday. I had been to professional conferences before, but all for writing centers, not libraries. My first thought upon walking into the conference center was the same familiar feeling I got in writing center conferences: a bunch of people who are all passionate about one thing: libraries. I always love the energy at conferences; the energy that helps renew your passions and reminds you why you do what you do day in and day out.

My focus at Mid-Winter was seeing how ALA and the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation worked together to promote libraries to work with their communities to affect social change. They believe that public libraries should use their position in a community to help facilitate conversations that could lead to effective change. This is all under the ALA umbrella of Transforming Libraries. I was interested in these sessions because during my first semester in graduate school, I found myself drawn to and working with communities (both talking about community ideas in class and then working with a community for my assistantship). I’m currently taking a community engagement class and was interested to see Harwood’s spin on engagement.

After some freight congestion, I was able to attend two out of the four sessions: intentionality and sustaining yourself. Intentionality focused on the three As: authenticity, authority, and accountability. They wanted to make sure you deeply knew the community you were working with and followed through on promises. The final session, on sustaining yourself, focused on knowing personally what keeps you going (ways to destress and relax) and who you can talk to about frustrations and triumphs. Both sessions stressed small group discussion, which gave me the opportunity to meet other librarians (in all variety of roles). There was good discussion all afternoon however I left wishing I could have heard more from the pilot libraries who were coached by Harwood. Two different libraries gave short intros to start the sessions, but in five minutes, you can’t learn much about all the successes (and also the roadblocks).

In some ways, I felt out of my element at ALA. I was simply a student, one who didn’t have any long term experience in libraries. I could listen to conversations but sometimes felt I had nothing to add. However, at the same time, I got this great sneak peak into the professional world I’m preparing to jump with two feet into. Public libraries and communities are a big deal right now and if I can present a resume with experience in working with and for communities, then I help to separate myself from the rest of my peers competing for the job opening. What ALA and Harwood are picking up on isn’t a new concept — public libraries have been working with communities since they first began. These sessions serve as reminders that we as librarians are serving our community and should be an open, safe place to have tough conversations and conversations that begin to work towards social change.

Happy Monday, amazing YALSA members!

Can you believe it's already near the end of February?

For those who've made New Year's resolutions to be more involved in the profession, it's not too late!

The deadline to apply to join a YALSA strategic committee, jury, or taskforce is this Sunday, March 1st!

You can see the full list of committees and juries here.

Strategic committees are a great way to get involved with YALSA, as they are virtual committees. Or, if you are a new member and looking to try committee work for the first time, the strategic committees are a great way to learn about YALSA, connect with teen service professionals from around the country, and help you develop your virtual work skills and teen expertise. So, if travel and conference attendance aren't an option for you this year, please take a minute to fill out the volunteer form here and send it in before March 1st!

My Appointments Taskforce and I will begin the process to fill the over 200 open positions that help YALSA accomplish the work of the strategic plan and the work that moves the association and members forward immediately after March 1st, so please be sure to get your application in before then.

I strongly encourage all YALSA members to apply - it is an easy and great way to get more involved in this amazing association, especially if you are interested in joining a YALSA selection or award committee in the future.

Please feel free to contact me at candice.yalsa (at) if you have any questions!

Well, we're just steps away from the closing date for the Strategic Committee appointments, so if you haven't yet filled your volunteer form for YALSA committees, then please follow this link now and volunteer.

You can see the full list of the committees and juries that I will be appointing to here.

Once the deadline passes, the appointment process begins! And it looks a little something like this:

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St. Paul Learning LabThis post is part of a series where the YALSAblog takes a closer look at Learning Lab grantees from museums and libraries to learn how they engage middle and high school youth in mentor-led, interest-based, youth-centered, collaborative learning using digital and traditional media.” To read more about the context of the Learning Labs, visit the first post in the series here.

Today we will read about a Learning Lab with the St. Paul Public Library, MN from Marika Staloch, Youth Services Coordinator, Read More →