YALSA Symposium Inspiration from a Stipend Winner

As a young librarian, it can be difficult to find your footing. After receiving my degree and being a teen services librarian for a little over a year, I was thrilled to embark on the journey to Louisville in early November for this year’s YALSA Symposium, made possible by YALSA’s travel stipend. I was expecting a weekend full of information and new ideas, but I wasn’t expecting to come home with a new outlook on teen services and a reinvigorated passion for my job, which is exactly what happened!

Teens often feel like no one understands or cares about them, and I hear

this often from the teens that frequent my library. At the Symposium I realized that bringing them into the library wasn’t enough – I had to build a community of teens that supported one another and could make changes within their own communities, as adults are separate from the lives of teens in so many ways. Nearly every session I attended in Louisville focused on communities in some way, through either building a community of teens or drawing the surrounding community into the library through partnerships and local resources.
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Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: The Future of the Past

YALSA’s new Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff continues to set out a vision for the skills and knowledge library staff need in order to successfully support teens. In this 55 minute video (a recorded version of a presentation at the YALSA National Forum on Transforming Teen Services Through CE) Mega. Subramaniam , Rachel McDonald, Jennifer Ilardi, and Shannon Lake discuss many of the skills set out in the Competencies. These include: Cultural Competence and Responsiveness, Continuous Learning, Outcomes and Assessment, Community Engagement, Teen Growth and Development, and Interactions with Teens.

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Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff: Making Space for Competencies

by Katie Baxter, Director, Kodiak Public Library, Alaska
The Kodiak Public Library, funded by the City of Kodiak, and, under the governance of the City Manager, serves the entire remote island of Kodiak, Alaska in the Gulf of Alaska located 350 miles south of Anchorage. City population is approximately 6,300; island population is approximately 14, 373.

cover of YALSA's Competencies for Library StaffAs a Library Director who is committed to providing staff with leadership development tools and on-the-job experiences, I am excited by the ways YALSA’s newly released Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff takes us beyond the boundaries of a Teen Room. I shared the competencies document with full-time and part-time employees a few weeks ago without fanfare or discussion. I anticipated that some staff would find the competencies framework formal, academic, and, not necessarily intended as a tool for their individual use. I wanted staff to come to the document on their own terms and in connection to the work we have been doing over the past four years to settle into our new building of 16,000 square feet which includes the “first-ever” Teen Room in the city’s public library.

When getting to know a new building, it’s easy to get caught up, or, closed in, by the realities of settling into rooms with labels and specific purposes. YALSA’s Competencies provides a context for establishing a library’s teen-service style in a teen-focused manner. My gut was telling me that the nature of the physical space was creating assumptions in the minds of staff and patrons that our teen patrons have what they need from the library. However, that space does not have a dedicated service desk, or a dedicated staff presence. I wanted to create a purpose-based reason for each member of the staff to be aware of how he or she works with and in support of teens. The Competencies provides me with a comprehensive springboard for that, and I decided to go for it.
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