A little less than two years ago YALSA published the "Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action" report. (Often referred to as the Futures Report.) At that time YALSA also started talking about how to help library staff working for and with teens to develop programs and services that align with the recommendations in that report. Some of the projects YALSA launched to support that work include futures-focused webinars on topics related to the recommendations made in the report, the Programming Guidelines and Programming HQ, and a wide-array materials for library staff to use to better understand and advocate for the library services discussed in the document.

Now, YALSA is taking the next step in supporting the future-focused ideas of the report and in helping library staff support the lives and needs of teens in 2015, 2016, and beyond. That next step is in the development of an up-to-date vision and plan for YALSA (the current strategic plan runs through the end of this year). It's a great opportunity to think about all that YALSA does and make sure that the programs and services provided to members are those that will best help them support teens today.  And in this latest round of planning, we're doing much more than updating a document.  We're looking broadly at where YALSA is and where we want and need to go.  That's exciting because:

  • There is a teens first focus. That means that YALSA is keying in on a strategic plan that makes sure the work the association does supports the needs of today's teens as they prepare for college, careers, and life. Read More →

The YALSA Executive Committee met in Portland, Oregon, on Nov. 8 and 9, and one of the items on the agenda was to discuss Board Member Exit Interviews. As a result of the discussion, some changes are going to made in the Board Leadership Training. Evaluation of the training is nothing new--changes are usually made fairly regularly in order to continue to improve and fine-tune this effort.

During the Board Leadership Training that will be held at 2016 Annual in Orlando, we will make more of an effort to discuss board member expectations and procedures.  Often, board members have varying degrees of board procedure knowledge in their background, so we'll need to get all members on the same page.  If you're new to board process, it might be a shock when process takes a bit longer than it does at your library. The word "quickly" for a national organization and "quickly" for a library can be two different things! Things can move a bit slower at the national organizational level, but being deliberate means that multiple people are fact-checking, complying with policies, and thinking things through in order to ensure the board is making informed decisions.  My experience on my state school library organization introduced me to working with boards, and the various task forces and committees that go with it. Committee chairpersons are vital because they drive the group to get things done. In YALSA, board members serve as liaisons to task forces and committees and help move things along, too. Then the board members serve on standing board committees that meet on a regular basis to ensure that the smaller groups are effective.

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OTA Flickr Creative Commons Piggy Bank photoAt each YALSA Board or Executive Committee meeting there is at least one conversation that focuses on the fiscal health of the association. When the YALSA Executive Committee met in Portland, OR earlier this month there were several agenda items that related to this topic. As the YALSA Fiscal Officer I want to provide an overview of these discussions.

  • Item 5 on the Executive Committee agenda focused on the FY '15 financial numbers and implications for FY '16. Part of this discussion was a follow-up to an Annual Conference discussion of the YALSA Board in which Board members talked about what they need in order to better understand the fiscal documents provided to them. The Executive Committee agreed that it is important to continue to support Board members in better understanding YALSA's fiscal health and I and YALSA's Executive Director will work on methods to achieve this. Read More →

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!

YALSA is formulating its next strategic plan, which will be a 3 year plan rather than a 5 year one. Directly after the Young Adult Services Symposium, YALSA staff and the Executive Committee met for 1.5 days to dig deeply into the process. In her recent blog post, YALSA President, Candice Mack, referred to this time as “a ‘scouting expedition’/environmental scan.” Four YALSA members also participated in the first half-day session.

Facilitated by Eric Meade from the Whole Mind Strategy Group, attendees utilized The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action to reflect on what the future landscape of teen services in libraries might look like. Just like the Futures report calls for a paradigm shift that leads to teen-centric services, the new strategic plan will take a teen-centered approach by putting teens’ needs at the forefront and setting goals that support YALSA members in helping teens meet those needs.

Attendees gathered in a large circle in a meeting room at the Hilton where the Symposium was held. After an explanation of theories and of the process of the day, different groups went into the “fishbowl” (a circle within the larger circle) to answer questions relating how the Futures report could strategically address the landscape of teen services and YALSA. Later, we divided into groups to brainstorm possible goals we would like to see YALSA achieve in the year 2025. We then categorized the goals into groups.

What struck me most throughout the process was the level of engagement of everyone. There were signs of vitality and a healthy YALSA throughout the afternoon. There was a desire by YALSA staff and the Executive Committee to get member feedback and to ensure that the results of the process made for both the best YALSA possible, best served our teens, and resulted in a strong teen services staff in our libraries.

Again, throughout the process, YALSA is looking to get member feedback. Engage in the process now by completing YALSA’s feedback form. The next opportunity to discuss the process will be with Candice Mack during a Twitter Town Hall on November 30, 7:00 to 8:00pm EST. Use #yalsachat to participate.  

Adrienne Strock is the Teen Library Manager at the Nashville Public Library. She is currently a member of the YALSA Community Connections Taskforce. She tweets @astro2pt0.


imageI practically lived on coffee and doughnuts this past weekend at the YALSA Symposium in Portland. Not that I'm complaining; if you're going to drink lots of coffee, Portland is the place to do it. I began my symposium experience with the Friday afternoon preconference Hip Hop Dance and Scratch: Facilitating Connected Learning in Libraries with the hope of gaining some programming ideas. I walked out three hours later with a newfound comfort-level using the program and, yes, concrete ideas for how to use it at my library. Having three hours allotted for experimenting, asking questions, and watching what other people created helped immensely.

At Teen Services without Borders, a panel of school and public librarians and an independent bookseller that discussed challenges and successful partnerships that cross library, departmental, and district lines. Boundaries can feel like brick walls when they prevent teens from accessing the library, and the panel members ultimately decided they needed to serve teens and not the rules, viewing themselves as part of the same community, not competitors. Tips they shared include: Give up your ego. Put kids first. Promote each other's programs and services. Ask for help and keep trying until you find the right person. Finally, take a hard look at the rules - can any be broken?

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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] gmail.com.

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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