Planning your Trip to Orlando Part 2– What to Bring to Florida and What to Leave at Home?

You received the announcement, “Registration is Open!”  I hope you have made your hotel reservation and registered for the conference.  Now, that you have made the commitment to attend Annual Conference in Orlando, on to some important questions…..what to pack and what to leave home?

The well-traveled librarian who has attended many conferences has immeasurable experience in this department. So, let’s start with the basics.  What to bring?

Step 1:  Clothes

          This is Florida.  Not the Florida you see on the Disney Channel, but the real Florida.  It will be hot.  It will rain nearly every day and the humidity is always 100%.  Add to the experience of our unique Florida weather, the fact that you will be walking A LOT.  So, in short, you will be loads more comfortable if you wear comfortable clothing and plan on changing them twice a day.

          The most popular conference attire here in Florida for the ladies is the simple blouse or cotton t-shirt (appropriately adorned with library ephemera), slacks, jeans, or skirt, and very comfortable shoes and for the gentlemen, polo or t-shirt (appropriately adorned with logos), slacks or jeans, and comfortable shoes. The true Florida natives (I am one) do not recommend flip flops, but a shoe or sandal with support.  A sweater or light jacket for the early morning chill of the conference hall is always good to have on hand.  Unless you are the keynote speaker, leave the blazers, suits, and ties at home, no one will be wearing them.  Don’t forget your bathing suit for a dip in the hotel pool, maybe a sundress or maxi dress or a button down shirt for a nice dinner or show on the town.

Step 2:  The Bag

          While you are in the convention center, it is a good idea to have a backpack or a strong tote bag, and a water bottle.  A small umbrella is good for keeping your hair dry during the daily showers should you decide to go outside of the convention center in the afternoon.  The following items are a must for any convention attendee:

  •       Cell phone
  •       Tablet or ipad or small notebook
  •       Business cards
  •       Address labels
  •       Snack
  •       ID, credit card, some cash, and conference badge

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YALSA NEEDS YOU – for our Competencies Update Taskforce!

What skills, qualities and competencies do library staff need in order to provide the best services and support to the teens and tweens in our communities?

Volunteer to help YALSA update its “Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth” document, with particular emphasis on aligning the document to the principles in the Futures Report, since the document was last updated in 2010!

More information about the document, taskforce charge and more may be found below:

YALSA’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth: Young Adults Deserve the Best (2010)

Competencies Update Task Force (Charge)

Review the current document called “Young Adults Deserve the Best: Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth” and update the language and content, as needed, to ensure it reflects the mission and core values of teens services as described in The Future of Library Service for and With Teens: A Call to Action. Provide a draft for the Spring Executive meeting, and submit a final report with recommended changes for Board consideration by Annual 2016. Task force size: 5 – 7 virtual members, including the Chair.

Previous Competencies Update drafts:

Please email me at candice.yalsa [at] if you are interested in serving on this important taskforce!

President’s Report – November & December 2015

Happy Winter!

Can you believe it’s already February?!

It’s been a whirlwind since ALA Annual, and here’s what I’ve worked on in November & December 2015:


  • Attended YALSA’s inaugural YA Services Symposium in Portland, OR, and welcomed participants at Opening Reception, Author Luncheon for Jack Gantos (who I like to call the “Johnny Cash of YA Lit”) and Closing Ceremony Poetry Slam
  • Solicited feedback and topics for the Fall Executive Meeting from Board members.
  • Recruit board members to take the lead on various proposals, discussions, and more
  • Participated in, coordinated and led discussions at YALSA Fall Executive Meeting, which was held in Portland, OR, after the YA Services Symposium
  • Assigned Executive Committee members to blog about different topics from the YALSA Fall Executive Committee Meeting and Strategic Planning sessions
  • Called for discussion and vote on adoption of YALSA’s revised Board Meeting Guidelines
    • Motion passed, the guidelines have been adopted and will be added to the YALSA Handbook
  • Called for discussion and vote on
  • Hosted first YALSA Member Townhall Tweet-up of the year on November 30th, 2015
  • Hosted second YALSA Member Townhall Tweet-up on December 18th, 2015
  • Filled chair and member vacancies on YALSA’s Financial Advancement Committee (Thanks so much, Jane Gov, Alida Hanson and Tiffany Williams!!!)
  • Filled vacancy on 2017 Alex award committee (Thank you Diana Tixier Herald!)

Works in Progress

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The American Library Association (ALA) defines outreach as providing library services and programs outside the walls of the library to underserved and underrepresented populations; populations such as new and non-readers, LBGT teens, teens of color, poor and homeless teens, and teens who are incarcerated. As these populations are often marginalized and underserved, it is crucial for libraries to recognize these populations and provide services and programs to them where they are.

The President of YALSA, Candice Mack, is focusing her year as President with an initiative, “3-2-1 Impact: Inclusive and Impactful Teen Services,” which will focus on building the capacity of libraries to plan, deliver and evaluate programs and services for and with underserved teen populations.  Visit YALSA’s wiki to find and share information about serving diverse teens and building cultural competence.

Each month I will profile a teen librarian or staff working in teen services providing outreach services and programs outside the walls of the library to underserved and underrepresented teens. The purpose is for us to learn, connect, network and share with each other the crucial work we are doing in this area.

This month I interview Candice Mack.  Candice is the Interim Coordinator of System-wide Young Adult Services for the Los Angeles Public Library as well as the YALSA President.

What kind of outreach services do you provide for teens?
As the interim coordinator of system-wide Young Adult Services at Los Angeles Public Library, I help coordinate system-wide partnerships with different local organizations, which all 73 of our libraries will collaborate with on outreach and services.  Some of the main partnerships we’ve developed recently are with the LA LGBT Center, which has a youth center that provides transitional housing and drop-in education, career and social services to LGBTQ youth in the LA area, many of whom are teens who originally from out-of-state who have either been kicked out or ran away from home to try and find a better and more accepting future in LA.  Last year, we did a book drive and participated in two of the LA LGBT Center’s resource fairs.

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YALS Takes on Community Engagement

winter 16 YALS coverYALSA friends, I have just finished reading the winter 2016 issue and I am excited. New features, new directions for YALSA, inspiration, and plenty of practical information abound.  The theme of the issue is Community Engagement and I love what President Candice Mack says about that-it might be quicker to do something on our own, but it’s short-sighted. Community engagement leads to collaboration, long term relationships, and ultimately an increased capacity to reach more teens. (Thanks, Candice for sharing a site where we can input our zipcodes to find out other youth serving organizations!)  The interview with Karen Pittman, a co-founder of the Forum for Youth Investment, is an in-depth look at what collective impact is and how libraries can be a part of it.  While I read that feature as a “big picture” look at community engagement, I read Community Experts Mentor Teens and New Adults by Laurie Bartz and saw some concrete things many of us could implement. She describes a program that is teen driven, part of the community, and supporting 21st century skills, including leadership and technology. Basically, it’s got it all!
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YALSA Board @ Midwinter: Nominating Committees

Have you considered running for YALSA governance? Do you know someone who would be great on the board? or would you like to nominate someone to be on the Printz, Nonfiction, or Edwards committee?

If so, take a look at the names listed below.  They are on the 2017 Nominating Committees for Governance or Awards. Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 1 2016, the Governance & Award Nominating Committees will be seeking and vetting candidates for the following positions: President-Elect, Fiscal Officer, Board Member-at-large, Edwards Award Committee member, Nonfiction Award Committee member, and Printz Award committee member.  It is their responsibility to recruit, vet, and select candidates for the slate. When building the slate, they seek out the most qualified individuals as well as provide for broad representation, including but not limited to representation of the membership by diverse background, type of library, special interest, and geographic location.

Please contact the chairs of the committees if you have any questions about serving or would like to nominate someone.

Governance Nominating: Chair Paula Brehm-Heeger (paula.brehm-heeger @, Abigail Phillips, Shannon Peterson, Christopher Shoemaker, Sarah Sogigian

Awards Nominating: Chair Franklin Escobedo (adrithian @, Amber Creger, Valerie Davis, Barbara Moon, Elizabeth Schneider

It’s Time to Tweak your YALSA Volunteer Form!

It’s time to volunteer for YALSA committees again! During the Spring, we’ll be appointing YALSA members to serve on virtual strategic committees.  To find out more about the committees, juries, and advisory task forces, click on this link. To learn more about the responsibilities of committee members, check out the Committee FAQ  and visit YALSA’s Handbook. If you decide that you have the necessary time to devote to an appointed group and want to use your skills to give back to the organization, consider filling out a Volunteer Form.

The volunteer form consists of the following parts:

  1. Number of Years You Have Been a YALSA Member
  2. Professional Experience (List previous positions and locations, most recent first)
  3. Special Skills (e.g. accounting, PR/marketing, fiscal planning, research, refereeing, editing, etc.)
  4. Selection Committee Qualifications (e.g., relevant coursework, materials evaluation experience, book reviews, articles and research published, previous selection committee experience, etc.)
  5. Current Professional Commitments in ALA/YALSA (please indicate volunteer activities, elected positions, committee work, etc.)
  6. Current Professional Commitments at State/Regional Level or Other Associations (please indicate volunteer activities, elected positions, committee work, etc.)
  7. Have you communicated with the current committee chair or committee members of the group you are interested in joining to find out what their responsibilities are? Yes or No?
  8. Have you ever attended a YALSA selection committee meeting? Yes or no?
  9. If appointed, can you attend each Midwinter and Annual Conference held during your 18-month-appointment, as is required of all selection committee members? Yes or no?
  10. At this time, do you have your supervisor’s support to serve on a YALSA selection committee? Yes or No or Not Applicable?

Notice that 4 bold questions on the volunteer form are for selection and award committees only, so no need to complete those right now!

In Fall 2015, I read hundreds of volunteer forms (you should see my spreadsheets!), and I felt like I should share some advice. Here’s how to make your volunteer form stand out and get noticed!

  • Spell out abbreviations.  I don’t know what all those initials mean for your state and regional library groups.
  • No need to explain why you weren’t a member in 2003–just give us your best guess for how many years you’ve been in YALSA or contact Letitia to find the exact number.
  • Be concise.  Adjectives aren’t important. Lists are awesome!
  • List everything you’ve done for YALSA, ALA, and other ALA division groups–that information isn’t automatically uploaded into the forms.
  • Be specific and only volunteer for what you really want to be on. It shows that you’ve thought about it.  If you apply for everything, it makes me think you’re not sure where your strengths lie.
  • Take a look at your volunteer form. There are character limits to the boxes–if you have words cut off, shorten it.
  • Be active in other organizations and tell us about it.
  • Let us know if you have experience working with younger or older teens, if applicable.
  • Make sure it’s clear that we can tell if you work in an academic, school, public, or some other type of institution.
  • We want diverse members on all committees–age, gender, ethnicity, urban/rural, library type, etc.
  • Let us know that you’re familiar with online tools like Google Hangouts, Skype, conference calls, etc.

You can also look over the Committee FAQ to get more advice.

You can gain valuable YALSA and professional development experience by volunteering to be on a YALSA strategic committee, task force, or jury. The online volunteer form opened Dec. 7, 2015. The work of most of these strategic groups is done virtually–no conference attendance required! The deadline for strategic committee applications is March 1, 2016, and I will be making those appointments in the spring.

As always, if you have any questions, please contact me at gsarahthelibrarian @

YALSA Board @ Midwinter – Overview

Happy post-Midwinter!

The YALSA board started off Midwinter on Friday with training session on best practices in association governance. All day Saturday, Board members worked with a consultant from the Whole Mind Strategy Group on organizational planning.

Based on those discussions, several key topics rose to the top as ones most likely to become the focus of the organizational plan. They were: advocacy, continuing education, cultural competency promotion, leadership development, partner/funder relations, and state level outreach.

The goal is to develop a focused and responsive plan which will help YALSA meet the needs of members and advance teen services in libraries across the country. Based on the outcomes of the organizational planning discussions, the consultant will help the Board draft a new, 3 year plan.

We hope to have that in place by March 1st.

While the planning discussion took up all of the Board’s meeting time on Saturday, there were still other topics that the Board discussed at the business portion of their meeting on Sun. and Mon.

Those topics included:

  • Diversity on YALSA’s Board: the board voted to approved the taskforce’s recommended updates to the nominating committees’ charges and asked the taskforce to submit a formal request to the board for adoption of a diversity definition for YALSA. The board had some questions and feedback regarding the proposed checklist for nominating committees’ use and sent that document back to the taskforce for further work
  • Dues categories & rates: the board voted to table this issue until after organizational planning is complete
  • Updating YALSA’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth: the board reviewed the latest draft and had further recommendations for refinement
  • YALSA’s portfolio of guidelines and position papers: the board approved the proposal to have staff work on updating some of these documents in the short-term

Check out the full board agenda and documents online to get the details of what the board talked about. We will also be posting meeting minutes there in the next week or so. You can also read the accompanying blog posts on the YALSAblog that other Board members have been sharing out since we’ve returned from Boston.

If you have question about a particular agenda item or issue or would like more details about it, feel free to e-mail me or any of YALSA’s Board members.

I will also be hosting another virtual town hall via a Twitter chat on Fri. February 5th from noon to 1:00 p.m., Eastern, and I hope you can join in!

Drop in any time during the hour to learn more about organizational planning and board activities and follow along with #yalsachat.

I would love to hear your thoughts about the potential focus areas for the new plan: advocacy, continuing education, cultural competency promotion, leadership development, partner/funder relations, and state level outreach.

Also, feel free to follow Executive Director Beth Yoke (@yalsa_director), myself (@tinylibrarian), and/or other YALSA Board members for tweets about the work of the board!

YALSA Board @ Midwinter – Fiscal Matters Follow-Up

creative commons licensed piggy bankAt ALA’s Midwinter Meeting in Boston, one of the topics the YALSA Board focused on was YALSA’s dues and member categories. This was a follow-up to a Annual Conference 2015 conversation at which the Board approved placing on the YALSA 2016 ballot an item that will ask association members to approve an initiative that allows YALSA to align dues with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). In Boston the Board looked at three more options for the 2016 ballot on the topic of dues and member categories:

  • Raising regular member dues by $5 to $65/year.
  • Raising organizational member dues by $30 to $100/year
  • Not adding any ballot items beyond the previously approved CPI related measure

After discussing the three options the Board decided to not add a ballot item other than the CPI measure. However, the Board wanted to continue to review this topic, particularly once the association’s current organizational planning is done. With that in mind, the Board did approve the following motion: Continue reading

Thoughts about Book Selection Lists

enhanced-buzz-24540-1374618713-43In the afterglow of the Youth Media Awards comes the distribution of YALSA’s latest selection lists. These lists have long been resources for both readers’ advisory and collection development, keeping library staff abreast with the new and wonderful. There was a time when the Best Books for Young Adults list (now re-envisioned as the more narrowly focused Best Fiction for Young Adults) delivered many new book choices for library staff to add to the young adult collection.

That was then. Now it’s not unusual for library staff working for and with teens to discover books before they are even published, via web sites like NetGalley, Edelweiss, or by direct publisher contact. There are many networking opportunities, including the yalsa-bk listserv, that crackle with vitality, producing on-the-spot book recommendations and compiled lists.  The YALSA Hub has hundreds of lists on current topics. In addition, there are fabulous blogs about young adult literature, some by library workers, and some by teens. Surely YALSA’s carefully chosen book selections should be somewhere in this swell of activity. Unfortunately, they don’t generate the buzz of online exploration and discovery.

We can do better. It’s time for transformation!

8792688521_2f7538d895_mrHere’s an example. In 1988, YALSA (then YASD) compiled five annual genre lists, covering  Horror, Mystery, Romance, Sports, and Science Fiction. Eventually, Fantasy, Humor, and Historical Fiction were also included. In 1996, these lists were replaced by the Popular Paperbacks selection committee.

The Popular Paperbacks list continues the process of compiling  topical lists. The committee chooses topics that might be of ongoing interest to teens, such as the genres above. The books must be available in paperback, to keep them within easy purchasing range. It allowed libraries to stay on top of teen reading fads without breaking the budget.

It was a fabulous idea – twenty years ago.

But the appeal of paperbacks has changed over the past two decades. They used to look cool stuffed in the back pocket of blue jeans. Tucked inside a textbook, they allowed teens to read Judy Blume instead of history. Those paperback spinners that once housed countless volumes of Babysitter’s Club and Fear Street serials now are storage headaches. Current paperbacks are often too large to fit in the spinners. Add in the growing popularity of e-books, and Popular Paperbacks just doesn’t sound very hip.

girl readingBut dynamic lists on fascinating topics? Always in demand.

I certainly don’t mean to pick on the Popular Paperbacks committee. It’s dear to my heart because I served on that committee for three years; I met a lot of great library folk and learned much from them. And the 2016 chair, Katie Salo, led her committee in developing some awesome lists. Thank you, and all of those who worked so hard on this year’s impressive selection lists.

The YALSA Board is currently involved in organizational planning, driven by the call to action in YALSA’s Futures Report. In taking a step back, we can really focus on how best to build YALSA so that it is aligned with the vision of teen services as outlined in the report. With that momentum, we are well-positioned to support members as we all strive to build a futures-focused teen program at our libraries.  The Board is working with an expert on organizational planning who has encouraged us to embrace an “everything is on the table” approach that allows us to think about  the kinds of support members need most, including collection development and content curation, and how we best provide that.

This topic and its relation to selected lists like PPYA is actually just one example of what the board will be considering once a new plan is in place and the work of aligning existing programs, services, initiatives and resources begins.  The goal is to have a draft plan put together by early Feb., work throughout the month to refine it and have a final, new plan in place by March 1.  The aligning work will take place after that and lead to the development of proposals for the board’s consideration, most likely at their meeting in June.

To keep up to date on the organizational planning process, check the YALSAblog for regular updates. And join YALSA president Candice Mack for her Member Town Halls on Twitter via the #yalsachat hashtag. The next one will be Friday, Feb. 5, noon to 1:00 pm (Eastern).

It’s a good time to look ahead.