So, at some point in February, I decided that I would apply for YALSA’s travel stipend to attend #NLLD15.  I was hopeful and I received the award.  So, I planned my trip, contacted my state coordinator, packed my bag, and was off to Washington.

dupont circleI arrived at 12:30 on Sunday at Ronald Reagan International Airport.  I took Southwest and was able to get a pretty economical ticket.  I found my way to the METRO station, purchased a Smart Ride Card, and hopped on the Metro toward Dupont Circle.  I was on my way to the First Time Attendee Session at the ALA Washington Office.

I stopped for a quick photo on Dupont Circle.  I think Annette Bening made a bigger deal out of it in the “America President” than it was.  Three quick blocks and I stopped at Kramer Books & Afterwords Café for Lunch.  They have an amazing brunch/luncheon menu on Sundays and it is a restaurant attached to a bookstore. Nirvana!  I had the crab cake open faced sandwich.  ( I found it on Urban Spoon.)ala office

After lunch, I walked the 2 blocks to the ALA Washington Office.

The meeting for first time attendees was amazing.  We worked on techniques for speaking with Senators and Representatives.  We talked about “the ask”.  I even managed to take a selfie with the presenter, Stephanie Vance.

Working on your asking skillsThe training was inspiring.  We had the opportunity to meet other librarians and media specialists from across the country.

I headed back to the host hotel after the meeting to meet up with my state delegation for dinner.  We went to a local restaurant and talked about our goals and appointments for the next day.  Oops!  I was supposed to make some appointments!

The next morning, we had a full day of sessions on the different issues and pieces of legislation affecting libraries at the host hotel.  Our state coordinator found a few minutes to have a pastry.Florida delegationCharlie takes a break

Since, I hadn’t made any appointments the day before, I took the list of representatives that were not yet contacted from Florida and made some calls to set up appointments with their staffers.  I managed to contact all but two and schedule appointments throughout the next day.


In the evening, we attended a reception for library staff at the Dirksen Building, where some of the Senate Committees meet.  I met the YALSA President and the Director and we were photobombed during a selfie.  I also managed to photobomb the President of ALA during a speech to the delegates.

YALSA prez director and me           Working on my testifying

After a quick breakfast the next morning, we were off to the Capitol to visit and discuss the issues.  As usual Southern charm rules and the Florida delegation was warmly received by the staffers of our Representatives and Senators.  Our delivery was professional and I believe our message was heard.  I was encouraged that most were interested in us because we were their constituents in the districts.

It was an interesting experience that I would love to have the chance to repeat.

office visit1

After a quick bite in the underground cafeteria, I was off to the METRO for one last ride to the Airport.  Thank you, YALSA for the opportunity to #act4teens and represent the interests of Florida libraries in Washington, and thank you Friends of YALSA for funding this opportunity!  If you'd like to be the recipient of this travel grant for 2016, apply online by Feb. 1, 2016.

Grand Central Station           Metro seal



Vandy Pacetti-Donelson is a Library Media Specialist. She is a library advocate and board member for the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME). Find her online at or follow her on Twitter @VandyPD.

Part of why I enjoy blogging for YALSA is that I can have my voice, as a librarian-in-training, be heard among other professionals. And so, I wanted to post a reflection after my first year in graduate school.

Year one was great. Choosing University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign was the right choice for me. I feel challenged and surrounded by peers who are just as passionate about libraries as I am. These peers are also my friends, and together we explore Urbana-Champaign. The faculty have supported me in my endeavors and have shown me more resources than I can go through (thank goodness for websites like Diigo to keep track of all of them). My master plan has been changed but this professional has the ability to be flexible. I’ve embraced my revised path and feel even more confident than I did a year ago. Even sitting in graduation, hearing our dean speak, reminded me of why I joined this profession and all the things I have to look forward to. I think it’s truly an exciting time to be in library land.

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YALSA is seeking a Member Manager for its upcoming web resource, Teen Programming HQ, The mission of the new site is to provide a one-stop-shop for finding and sharing information about library programs of all kinds for and with teens. The site will promote best practices in programming by featuring user-submitted programs that align with YALSA’s Teen Programming Guidelines and Futures Report. The site will also enable dissemination of timely information about emerging and new practices for teen programming; raise awareness about appropriate YALSA tools to facilitate innovation in teen programming; and provide a means for members and the library community to connect with one another to support and display their efforts to continuously improve their teen programs. The site is expected to have a soft launch in July and a full launch in September. Please note that web developers have been contracted with to build the site. The Member Manager is not expected to have any web site design or development responsibilities.

The Member Manager will work with YALSA's Communications Specialist to ensure the site is relevant, interactive, engaging and meeting member needs for information about innovation in teen programming, as well as participates in the maintenance of the site and work within the guidelines for the site as set by the YALSA Board of Directors. The Member Manager assists with the recruitment of experts and the collection of content for the site; generates ideas for direction and content; helps obtain, analyze and use member and library community feedback about the site; assists with marketing; and assists with ensuring programming related activities, news and resources from YALSA are integrated in the site, and vice versa.

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A brief look at 'grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

"What do librarians do all day?"

How many times have we heard that question? Am I right? Sometimes it is asked with a hint of curious wonder, or a dash of lovable innocence. Other times, it is sharply spoken as a challenge - a supposed trap. And to be fair, not all librarians know what all other librarians get up to on a daily basis. Law librarians? Digital management? Corporate?  I'm stumped and should definitely be enlightened. The truth is our job as teen or school librarians is a vague mystery to many, even those who reap the reward of our hard efforts.

So, what do we do all day? We plan, promote, teach, buy, weed, counsel, read, support, troubleshoot, make, break, connect and change. We change, our teens change, and our work changes almost daily. This week's Instagram post features teen librarians doing what we do everyday. Yes, librarians read. We have to! How else will we honestly and informatively sell reluctant readers on great books? We plan, plan, plan, and plan some more. We execute programs. Sometimes we celebrate and sometimes we recuperate, re-evaluating the research, promotion and execution of a failed program. We agonize over lessons as equally as we devote ourselves to 1-on-1 assistance. We work, A LOT. Please take a peak at what some librarians are getting up to, and share what you do in the comments. What's the best part of your daily work? What's an interesting project you are working on? Give us a snapshot of the behind-the-scenes from a day in your life as a teen librarian.

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Thank you to all who ran for positions on the 2017 Edwards, Nonfiction & Printz Award Committees and congratulations to those who were elected!

These award committees are partially filled by elected spots and partially filled by appointed spots, so now through June 15th, YALSA is collecting volunteer forms for the 2017 Edwards, Nonfiction and Printz Award Committees that will begin work Feb. 1st, 2016 and for the 2016 YA Services Symposium Planning Taskforce that will begin work later this year .

If you are interested in one of these committees or the Symposium taskforce, the first thing to do is learn all about what the expectations are for members of these groups.

These resources can help:

YALSA is seeking individuals with the highest ethical standards, a passion for YALSA's mission and expertise in evaluating YA literature to serve on these awards committees.

If you feel you have met the criteria and have the time available to serve on one of these YALSA award committees or the symposium taskforce, you are encouraged to fill out the Committee Volunteer Form between now and June 15th at

In order to be eligible to serve on a YALSA committee, you must be a current personal member.

To learn more about membership, or to join, go to

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me at

The newest special issue of YALSA’s Journal of Research on Libraries & Young Adults features selected papers from the 2014 YALSA YA Literature Symposium. In “You Are What You Read: Young Adult Literacy and Identity in Rural America,” Robin A. Moeller and Kim E. Becnel of Appalachian State University present a survey of 118 rural North Carolina high school sophomores’ reading interests and habits. They found the female students’ top favorite fiction genres to be: 1) romance, 2) mystery, 3) adventure, and 4) horror. In contrast, the males’ top four favorite genres were: 1) adventure, 2) science fiction, 3) humor, and 4) horror.  Nearly two-thirds of both of female and male students indicated that they read for pleasure an hour or less per week.  These results highlight the importance of providing free reading time and materials access in schools and libraries, particularly for rural teens with limited access to book and electronic resources. Additional implications for library services to rural teens are discussed.

In “The Real Deal: Teen Characters with Autism in YA Novels,” Marilyn Irwin (Indiana University, Indianapolis), Annette Y. Goldsmith (University of Washington), and Rachel Applegate (Indiana University, Indianapolis) analyze 58 YA novels, each with a teen character with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The authors contrast the character portrayals in the novels with recent research on real youth with ASD to evaluate the accuracy of the fictional portrayals. They find the portrayals to be largely accurate overall, with some notable differences, particularly with regard to friendships. Irwin, Goldsmith, and Applegate close with a discussion of the benefits for teens of reading fiction that includes characters with disabilities. These benefits also stand as compelling arguments for YA librarians to collect and promote YA fiction with realistic depictions of teens with ASD.


Teen book clubs seem to be a tough thing to get started. What do we read? How do I get teens in? How do I keep them coming? Could it be online and in person? Here are some tips on how to make a great teen book club…

1. Take a survey to see what teens in your area are reading, when they visit the library, and how often they visit.
2. Teens have busy schedules, one meeting a month is usually plenty.
3. Have snacks (If you can). I know we don’t want this to be the main focus, but it lures them in!
4. Have them chose their books instead of you choosing for them.
5. Have an online forum for them to discuss their books in case they couldn't make it to the meeting. Or, have an all online book club!
6. Do a fun art project based around the book you’re reading.

Do you have a successful teen book club? Do you have tips you would like to share? Please comment below and tell us all about it! And take a look at the ‘grams below to see what others are doing for their book clubs.

I hope you will join me from 8:00 – 9:00pm, eastern, on Thursday May 14th for the next YALSA Member Virtual Town Hall!

I’ll be providing an update on what YALSA leaders and staff have been doing to realign YALSA’s programs and services towards the Futures Report in order to better serve members.  Some exciting new resources are coming, so don’t miss the chance to get the inside scoop!  I’ll also build in lots of time so members can share their thoughts on other actions you’d like YALSA to take to better support you in your efforts to implement the recommendations in the report.

Advance registration is not required and the event will be held via YALSA’s webinar platform, Adobe Connect.  The event will be recorded for anyone who cannot attend some or all of the live session.

Looking forward to chatting with you soon!

On April 17th YALSA’s Executive Committee met by conference call for its semi-annual meeting to discuss several ongoing and two new issues.  The agenda and related documents for this meeting can be found in theGovernance section of YALSA’s web  site.  Some highlights from the meeting include:

  • Talking through possible next steps in order to advance YALSA’s strategic planning effort.  YALSA will be putting out an RFP to identify a consultant who can support YALSA leaders as we work to become more outcomes focused and to develop a new plan for YALSA that aligns with the Futures Report
  • Thinking about how the work of the relatively new board standing committees can be organized to best support the mission of YALSA and increase the impact of the great work that member committees, juries, taskforces and advisory boards do
  • Discussing the draft FY16 budget and talking about how best to prioritize activities and align resources in order to best support members in the coming fiscal year
  • Reviewing the recommendations from the Selection Committee Evaluation Taskforce, whose work has focused on examining the six award committees to look for opportunities to improve or streamline processes in order to make the work of these groups easier and more coordinated.

There were two items we did not have time to get to, but that we plan to explore in our virtual work space: determining an oversight process for YALSA’s upcoming teen programming database and thinking about targeted member recruitment.  The minutes of this meeting can be found in the Governance section of YALSA’s web site.  It’s important to note that YALSA’s Executive Committee is not the decision making body of the organization, and that no decisions were made during the meeting.  The Committee may, however, decide to advance some of the discussions and/or make some recommendations to the board for their meeting in June.  YALSA’s Board of Directors has just begun to explore the topics and issues they feel are a priority to discuss at their June meeting,  If you have any recommendations for areas of focus for the board, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.  It’s an exciting time for YALSA and I’m grateful to be able to work on behalf of such enthusiastic and creative members!