Last week, my library science department hosted Alison Macrina, the founder and director of The Library Freedom Project (LFP). From their website: 

The Library Freedom Project is a partnership among librarians, technologists, attorneys, and privacy advocates which aims to make real the promise of intellectual freedom in libraries. By teaching librarians about surveillance threats, privacy rights and responsibilities, and digital tools to stop surveillance, we hope to create a privacy-centric paradigm shift in libraries and the local communities they serve. 

Alison’s three-hour workshop went by so fast, probably because she is an engaging speaker and the things she talked about were interesting. There is so much to know and learn about digital privacy…especially as librarians. We are in a critical position to help spread this information to the communities we serve. Alison herself is a librarian/has a librarian background so she definitely sees our potential in helping to protect intellectual freedom in these spaces. She is so about librarians, the LFP even has a toolkit all for us!

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What insights can the busy YALSA member glean from the new volume in The Handbook of Research in Middle Level Education: Research on Teaching and Learning with the Literacies of Young Adolescents (Malu & Schaefer, 2015)? This research-based handbook is the focus of this blog, which is the 3rd installment in a series of blogs being published by members of YALSA’s Research committee. I used two basic criteria to decide which ideas from this handbook were worthy of sharing with the YALSA community. First, the featured concept had to have some parallel relationship and/or applicability within Library and Information Science research and practice. Second, the concept has, in my opinion, not been fully integrated into in LIS research and therefore warrants more attention by YALSA scholars and practitioners. My aim is to synthesize the common threads in literacy research across the disciplines of Education and Library and Information Science in hopes that either YS practitioners or scholars alike might be interested in furthering their knowledge of this concept or incorporating it into their repertoire of practices.

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YALSA wants to know what you’re doing for and with the teens in your community around the topics of: 1) teaching tolerance, 2) building cultural competence, 3) facilitating dialogues about race, equity and inclusion; and 4) welcoming and serving immigrant teens. If you’ve developed services, programs, resources or partnerships to facilitate any of these activities, and are willing to share your information with the library community, please let us know by filling out this brief form by no later than Dec. 1st. We’ll compile and share out the examples we receive so that other libraries can benefit from your great work!

Last week YALSA’s Executive Committee had its fall meeting, and as President of YALSA, I chair this committee.

In years past, this had been held in Chicago, but this year the group decided it would be more beneficial to hold it along side YALSA’s YA Services Symposium. The meeting agenda and documents can be found in the Governance section of YALSA’s website. Since the Board of Directors is the decision-making body of YALSA, the Executive Committee’s meeting was focused on general discussions meant to help keep the Board functioning smoothly, including exploring some possible proposals for the Board to consider at their Midwinter Meeting in January.

Linda Braun, the Fiscal Officer, will be bringing a 2016 fundraising plan forward to the Board for their feedback and approval in January, and the Board Standing Committee on Capacity Building will be making a recommendation to the Board about the YALSA dues structure and method for determining the rates for the different member categories. The Committee recommended further refinements and changes to these documents before they go to the full Board.

This fall meeting is also a chance to explore YALSA’s connection with ALA, and the group talked a little about how to have a stronger voice in ALA Council and the need to encourage YALSA members to participate on ALA level committees.

The draft meeting minutes can help members understand the meeting outcomes, so please be sure to read them.

The major portion of the Executive Committee’s meeting, though, was to undertake some strategic planning exercises and discussions, which I discussed in my blog post last week.

If you have any questions about the Executive Committee’s meeting or about the strategic planning process, please contact me at candice [dot] yalsa [at] gmail [dot] com. I am also holding a Member Town Hall via Twitter on November 30th from 7:00 – 8:00pm, Eastern, where I’ll provide an update on the process and answer any questions. Please join in with the #yalsachat hashtag.

I’m grateful for all of the work that the Executive Committee members put into this meeting and the strategic planning discussions, and I’m excited about the great things that 2016 will bring for YALSA!

Stay tuned for more posts about the Executive Committee’s meeting in the coming days and weeks that my colleagues will be writing!

As many of you are aware, YALSA’s current Strategic Plan and its companion document—the Action Plan—run through 2015.

In mid-2014, YALSA’s Board began discussing the need for a new strategic plan, put together a Strategic Planning Taskforce and conducted a membership-wide survey. However, since the publication of the report, “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: a Call to Action,” called for significant changes in teen services, YALSA’s Board agreed that the traditional approach to strategic planning was no longer a good fit for YALSA and its needs.

The Board felt that it was necessary to take a step back and rethink the organization’s purpose, focus and structure in order to enable YALSA to be well-positioned to help its members adopt the recommendations in the report and transform library services for and with teens. Most importantly, the Board agreed to use the Futures Report as its guide for the strategic planning process. As a part of this, a ‘teens first’ message has been the broad focus throughout this process. All of us are passionate about helping teens succeed in school and prepare for college, careers and life. Keeping this foremost in our minds throughout strategic planning discussions is what we have striven to do.

In the past, YALSA’s Board did not have a call-to-action or vision document of this type from which to base its strategic planning efforts. In this sense, the Board felt it was starting a new round of strategic planning with an advantage over past rounds. However, in late 2014 and early 2015 the strategic planning process stalled while the Board struggled to find a consultant who could help lead YALSA through a new, and nontraditional organizational planning process. So, an RFP was put together in the spring in order to find what YALSA needed. Then, over the summer, YALSA’s leaders reviewed proposals from potential consultants and in August signed a contract with the Whole Mind Strategy Group.

The plan is for the Board have in-depth, generative discussions now through the Board’s meeting at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. A first step was for YALSA’s Executive Committee to meet this past weekend, where the committee did a “scouting expedition”/environmental scan in order to identify what external and internal factors were impacting teen services in libraries.

Next, the Board will get together in January to discuss this scan and develop a vision for how YALSA can make the recommendations in the Futures Report a reality. The goal is to have a new plan in place by the end of February.

This new document will be different from the past strategic plan format in a few key ways. First, it will be a three year plan, not a five year one. Additionally, the plan will have new components including an intended impact statement, a theory of change statement, organizational outcomes, and a learning plan. To learn more about these new components, visit Bridgespan Group’s website. Traditional elements, such as goals and objectives and an action plan will also be included.

I and other YALSA Board members will post updates about the process on the YALSAblog and share news in the weekly YALSA e-News. I am also holding a Member Town Hall via Twitter on November 30th from 7:00 – 8:00pm, Eastern, where I’ll provide an update on the process and answer any questions. Please join in with the #yalsachat hashtag.

If you have any questions for me, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via candice.yalsa [at]

YALSA’s Board is very excited about the possibilities that a new strategic plan will open up for YALSA and its members, and we hope you are, too!

Together we can work to put teens first and ensure that all of the nation’s teens have a chance at a brighter future.

Happy Veterans’ Day and Native American Heritage Month!

I’ve just returned from YALSA’s inaugural YA Services Symposium and Fall Executive Committee Meeting and I am so pumped and inspired by the incredible work that all of our members are doing!

I’m looking forward to expanding on my experiences at both events in some other blog posts, but in the meantime, here is what I’ve been working on since September 2015:


  • Called for YALSA Board to vote on location for YALSA’s 2017 YA Services Symposium
    • The 2017 YA Services Symposium will be held in Louisville, KY
  • Called for YALSA Board to vote on Rachel McDonald’s Board Member-at-Large vacancy
    • Due to the time frame of her term, the Board voted to leave the position vacant until the upcoming ALA/YALSA elections in Spring 2016
  • Completed and submitted welcome for 2015 YA Services Symposium program
  • Completed and submitted President’s column for Winter 2016 issue of YALS
  • Worked with YALSA Executive Board Members Linda Braun, Sarah Hill and Todd Krueger to facilitate October 2015 Board Development Chat
  • Discussed and debriefed with YALSA Standing Board Committees regarding YALSA Quarterly Chair reports during October 2015 Board Development Chat
  • Submitted and posted September 2015 President’s Report
  • Worked with YALSA President-Elect Sarah Hill to determine YALSA Board Development Chat topic for November 2015
  • Completed planning, agenda and documents for YALSA’s 2015 Fall Executive Committee Meeting
  • Discussed Libraries Transforming Communities campaign with ALA President Sari Feldman, who will be interviewed for the YALSAblog
  • Found coordinator for Summer Learning pre-conference at ALA Midwinter

Works in Progress

Important YALSA Dates & Reminders

Relevant Stats & Data

Last, but certainly not least –


  • Amanda F. Barnhart, Caroline E. Aversano, Kristyn Dorfman, Aimee Haslam, Samantha Millsap, Gretchen Smither, and Melissa Patrice West for all for their hard work on this year’s Teen Read Week Committee
  • YALSA Board Members, especially the members of YALSA’s Executive Committee, for great discussion and support of our members, committees and association
  • 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

Last month, I started an anime club at my branch library because anime is still, and always will be, popular. In fact, we had six teens show up to the very first meeting and, needless to say, they are super excited to be a part of this program. During our first meeting, I asked the teens what they want to see in anime club and the first thing they asked me was: “Can we do more than just watch anime? I literally screamed “YES!” because I have every intention of diversifying this program and I will definitely need the teens’ help in making this club thrive.

During our discussion about the club, the teens asked for a variety of programs that would include a cosplay event, a history of manga presentation, a Japanese food program, an anime inspired craft workshop, and other programs that celebrate the Japanese culture. Not only are these ingenious ideas, these will transform an already popular program into something else even more awesome. By taking a different approach to anime club, and asking teens what they want from a program, we, as teen services librarians, are demonstrating what it is to be innovative. According to the Core Professional Values for the Teen Services Profession, innovation “approaches projects and challenges with a creative, innovative mindset. 1” By changing the concept of anime club (aka. sitting around and watching anime), we are adding elements that have the potential to not only bring in more teens, but help us re-evaluate our approach to programming in general. For example, when starting a new service or program, it is absolutely essential to consult our teens; by going straight to the source, we establish the outcomes we want to reach, which will shape how we plan and implement a successful program. Once we get a consensus of what teens want from programs and services, we need to figure out the best ways to get teens into the library, which is why we need to get innovative with our outreach.

Although many of us use social media and other marketing methods, the one method that we can always rely on is reaching out to our community. Whether it’s a concert venue, a teen center, a school event, or even a college fair, we need to meet teens face-to-face and tell them what services are available. If we don’t have the means, or the opportunities to go out into the community, we can easily apply that idea to every teen that walks into our library. In other words, we need to be vigilant in making sure that every teen is welcome and that we are available to serve them to the best of our ability. Furthermore, we need to do everything in our power to establish some sort of contact with them, which can easily start with “Hi! I am the Teen Services Librarian. What’s your name?” By initiating, and creating an ongoing dialogue with teens, they will realize that there are actual adults who are dedicated to serving them, which is not only great for us, but incredibly beneficial for those who need a safe environment to be who they are and for those who feel the need to be a part of something. With this new anime club, my hope is to not only involve the teens in the planning process, but give them the chance to be involved in the implementation. Whether it’s passing out flyers, using their massive social network to promote the program, or setting up the program, teens will experience all the necessary steps to finish what they started. Anything is possible with teens so let’s give them the chance to show the community their passion and dedication to providing something unique and fun!

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A recent report from America’s Promise Alliance looks at four communities who strove to expand opportunities for their underserved students. With support from the Ford Foundation, these communities leveraged local resources to expand opportunities in a variety of ways.

America’s Promise Alliance is an organization, founded in 1997 with the support from former Secretary of State Colin Powell and previous presidents: Nancy Reagan (standing in for her husband Ronald Reagan), Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. The organization strives to create places and situations for students to succeed.

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Makerspaces are popping up everywhere and the definition of makerspaces is constantly evolving like the spaces themselves. Makerspaces, sometimes also referred to as hackerspaces, hackspaces, and fablabs are creative, DIY spaces where people can gather to create, invent, and learn. The focus, actually, is on the type of learning that goes on, not the stuff.  Making is about learning that is: interest-driven and hands-on and often supported by peer-to-peer learning.  This is often referred to as connected learning.  Also, you don’t need a set space to facilitate this type of learning.  You can have pop up makerspaces at various library branches, afterschool programs, community centers, etc.  Or you can set up a ‘maker cart’ that can travel anywhere in the library.  Perhaps what your teens need most are maker backpacks that are stuffed with resources and activities they can do at home.

Why focus on maker programs and spaces in your library?  These types of activities help teens explore their interests and build skills that they need for college and careers.  The Institute of Museum and Library Services has a great two page informational sheet (.pdf) that talks about making and libraries. Share this with your supervisor to help them understand why these types of learning activities are important.

If you are thinking about ways to bring in some maker programs into your library, begin with  identifying what kind of  learning activities your teens want/need the most.  Digital, craft, technology, a mix?   Maybe your teens want you to work with them to create activities to do a little  bit of the above.  What do you need to get started?  First, build your knowledge of connected learning.  Your one stop shop for that is the Connected Learning Alliance.  Be sure to check out their free webinar archive.  Another very good connected learning resource to explore is

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In our last Teen Programming post, we outlined the importance of outreach and how to integrate it into your programming arsenal. Since “outreach” can translate to a wide range of ideas and actions, narrowing it down will help you take your next step towards effective methods of community engagement. This is where partnerships come in! This, however, opens a whole new can of worms. How does one establish positive community partnerships? How do you ensure that your goals aren’t lost in translation? How do I secure beneficial opportunities for teens through partnerships?

When I first began working in my position, I was immediately overwhelmed by the need my community has for the library and its community organizations. During my first few months, I had grand plans to “do it all” and open up so many more opportunity and learning experiences for my community’s teens. What actually happened was that I got burned out and became discouraged. I realized very quickly that I was not going to be able to accomplish many of my goals alone. I needed support from others who were positioned in the community to help me achieve what needed to be done.

So let’s break it down. YALSA’s Future of Library Services report states that today’s teens need libraries to connect them to other community agencies, but how do you establish these connections? Network, network, network! This may sound simple, but community leaders need to know who you are. Start by attending committee and board meetings to get a sense of the issues and climate of your community. PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) meetings are another community body that is important to engage with as they are directly connected to the teens that your services will affect. Are there task forces or coalitions that are specifically directed at alleviating a specific need? Don’t be hesitant to insert yourself into the community conversation because you have your library’s resources to back you up. As a library representative in the community, you are an integral voice in the larger network of organizations that are committed to improving the lives of teens. Pinpoint individuals whose resources are in line with your goals and begin a dialogue with them.

When starting this dialogue, how do you make sure that your goals don’t get lost in translation? Communication is so important when you are making efforts to partner with an outside agency. Before any communication begins, make sure that you have your goals and plans clearly defined. What is it that you want to accomplish? What role do you see this partnering organization offering? Additionally, offer your resources and begin a dialogue about how this partnership would benefit both organizations mutually.

How do you make sure that your partnerships bring beneficial opportunities to teens? Last month we discussed ways to discover your community through outreach. During this discovery process, locate areas that your community needs more from your library. Is there a group that’s being under-served? Who can help you bridge that gap? A few months ago, I recognized a gap in the services that we were offering. At the time, we had reached out to just about every group of teens to make sure that our programs and services were reaching our diverse teens’ needs. However, we hadn’t reached out to teen survivors of domestic violence. I made a connection with the director of a local organization that acts as a transitional agency for teens and families who are leaving abusive situations. They offer temporary housing, counseling, and resources to help them take control of their futures and I wanted the library to be a part of this transition. My goal in partnering with this organization was to bring enriching programs to the teens at this facility, as they might not have access to these opportunities during this transitional period of their lives. Upon meeting with the director, my goals were clearly defined and I listened as she described how our organization could benefit these teens. We agreed upon a plan and programs were implemented at their location. We also offered books from our collection that we had discarded. We wanted to give the teens that she serves the opportunity to continue reading since many of them were temporarily not in school. This partnership was a simple way of offering integral library services to a new demographic while still connecting to the larger community.

Ultimately, libraries must work with partners to alleviate their community’s needs. Start small, make connections, and be diligent about following through. YALSA’s Futures Report pinpoints the shift that libraries are experiencing in the 21st century. We have gone from quiet, solitary locations that provided relatively uniform services to spaces, both physical and virtual, that offer a broad range of resources that empower teens and grow their skills, interests, and goals. Partnerships are integral to meeting this standard because they allow us to continue to broaden the services we offer, bridge gaps in your community, and build a better future for teens.

What are your partnership success stories? How do you bridge the gap in your community with partnerships?