ALA Annual Visit: Chicago Museums

Are you visiting Chicago for ALA Annual? Make some time to visit at least one of our historic, world-class museums.  If you’re going to multiple museums and attractions, consider purchasing a CityPass for a discount and the chance to skip lines at some locations.

The conference venue, McCormick Place, is conveniently located right next to the Museum Campus.  This patch of the lake shore is home to the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and Adler Planetarium.

If you’re strapped for time and can only make it to one museum, I recommend the Field Museum, both for its high quality and its convenient location.  The star of this world-class natural history museum is Sue, the best-preserved, largest, and most complete T-rex fossil ever discovered.  You’ll also find mummies, rare gems, artifacts from the ancient Americas, and a pioneering collection of taxidermy. (That last one is, frankly, not my favorite.)

Field Museum of Natural History by Joe Ravi is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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YALSA Councilor Midwinter Report

Dear YALSA members,

Here is a report of ALA Council happenings from the Midwinter conference in Atlanta. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at

(Thanks to Martin Garnar, IFRT Councilor, for much of the reporting contained below.)

Youth Council Caucus:

  • The YALSA, ALSC and AASL Councilors met with a small group of interested members to discuss any pertinent youth issues that could be brought before the ALA Council as a whole. The most important item to come out of the meeting was a decision to try a different meeting time for the Youth Council Caucus. We will pilot this at ALA Annual in Chicago this summer, using the Council Suite for a drop-in opportunity for interested members in the late afternoon – more details forthcoming.

Council I:

  • We received a report on the implementation of Council actions since the 2016 Annual Conference ( and a report of Executive Board actions during the same timeframe (
  • We heard from the chair of the search committee for the new ALA Executive Director and reviewed the candidates for the two elected spots from Council on the committee.  The rest of the committee’s membership was announced ( After Council I, voting opened to elect the two remaining committee members.
  • We approved Honorary Membership for Ann Symons, former ALA president and current GLBTRT Councilor.
  • The Council time was abridged so that there could be a Town Hall meeting on the recent concerns about ALA’s press releases shortly after the November election.  The Town Hall was live streamed on Facebook and archived for future viewing (

Council II:

  • We approved a proposal to add a 4thstrategic direction for the Association.  Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) now joins Advocacy, Information Policy, and Professional and Leadership Development.  This will boost the profile of EDI activities within the Association and serve as a rationale for increasing funding and resources for related projects (
  • We approved the request for Latino Literacy Now to become an ALA Affiliate (
  • The results of the election for the Executive Director search committee were announced.  Mario Gonzalez (at large) was elected from the 10 nominees representing divisions, round tables, and at-large Councilors and Amy Lappin (New Hampshire) was elected from the 4 nominees representing chapters.
  • The Freedom to Read Foundation president gave his report (
  • After a strenuous debate, the Council narrowly voted (78-75) to retain the requirement for the ALA Executive Director to have an MLS.  One Councilor later resigned in protest over this issue.  The YALSA board had voted to support changing the requirement, and I shared that information as part of the debate.
  • Resolution Establishing Family/Caregiver Status as a Protected Class in ALA Volunteer Work was adopted after some discussion.
  • The Annual Conference Remodel was briefly discussed, but the conversation was cut short due to time constraints.  This was a major topic of discussion during the conference, particularly at Council Forum. The Conference Committee is still accepting feedback, so please read the proposal, FAQ, and other comments on their Connect page, then add your voice to the conversation (
  • Executive Board candidates gave presentations after Council II, then voting opened for this election.

Council III:

  • The results of the Executive Board election were announced.  Patty Wong, Trevor Dawes, and Lessa Pelayo-Lozada were elected.
  • The Committee on Legislation/Intellectual Freedom Committee joint working group presented a revised Resolution on Gun Violence Affecting Libraries, Library Workers, and Library Patrons( It was adopted after some discussion.
  • The Committee on Legislation and the Intellectual Freedom Committee presented their reports (COL – no action items; IFC – one action item The IFC report included a number of updated documents and a Resolution on Access to Accurate Information.  After some wordsmithing on the Council floor, the resolution was adopted.

Respectfully submitted,

Todd Krueger

YALSA Division Councilor

Board Document #24: Award Committee Term Length

At the recent Midwinter meeting, the Board moved to standardize appointment term length for YALSA awards committees as described in Document #24.  This change will prevent overly-extended committee service breaks for members and will streamline the appointment and candidate-seeking process for YALSA staff and leaders.

In 2015, the YALSA Board approved the Selection and Award Committee Participation Policy. This policy requires a two-year break period between selection and award committee service.  The break period allows for greater member volunteer participation on selection and awards committees and encourages members to volunteer for process committee and task forces.  The policy is working successfully, with the exception of issues arising from inconsistent term lengths on YALSA’s six awards committees.

Current term periods on these six committees range from twelve months, ending on January 31 for Edwards, Morris, and Nonfiction to eighteen months, ending on June 30 for Alex, Odyssey, and Printz. The eighteen month term originally intended to accommodate ceremonies and other events associated with the awards, with the bulk of committee work completed during the first twelve months of work.  These staggered term lengths result in a complicated and time-consuming appointment process for YALSA leaders and staff.  They also create significant frustration for eager member volunteers rolling off an eighteen month committee. These members are forced to wait at least 2.5 years, instead of the standard two years, before serving on another awards or selection committee because of appointment and election timing.

Changing appointment terms to a uniform period will eliminate these inefficiencies and concerns.  Beginning with the 2018-19 awards committees, all awards committee terms will end on January 31.

YALSA leaders do realize that attending the ALA Annual awards ceremonies for the Alex, Odyssey, and Printz awards are important to the committee members who spent their time and energy selecting the winners. So, while the official term to these committee members will end on January 30, members of these committees will be strongly encouraged to still attend the ALA Annual awards ceremonies. YALSA will provide letters or statements regarding this to encourage institutional support of this travel.

If you are a former awards committee member on your two-year break or are new to committee work, be sure to check out these other opportunities to stay involved!  And, if you’re interested in getting involved with selection committee, check out this opportunity on The Hub.

Jennifer Korn

YALSA Board Member, 2014-2017

Broadening the Board’s Composition

At ALA Midwinter, the YALSA Board accepted a proposal to broaden the makeup of the Board.

During the 2015-2016 strategic planning process, the Board considered this idea and affirmed the benefits to the Board and organization. By targeting advocates with backgrounds in key areas such as business, corporate partnerships, and fundraising, YALSA’s work can be better supported by leveraging expertise. Including advocates outside of the immediate library teen services community can provide a unique perspective, strengthening the organization and broadening its vision. With this approach to Board recruitment, YALSA can better understand and serve teen needs by adding different voices, skills, and knowledge.

The Board standing committee focusing on Leading the Transformation for Teen Services was tasked with exploring the possibility of changing or expanding the Board’s composition as outlined in the Year 1 Implementation Plan. Taking into consideration industry best practices and examining boards from similar organizations, a two-year pilot was proposed.

The 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 Board Development Committees will identify, vet, and recruit nonmember advocates passionate about serving youth and YALSA’s mission. One advocate will be included on the ballots for the 2019 and 2020 election cycles. In 2020, a team will be assembled to evaluate the impact of adding diverse viewpoints and expertise from beyond the immediate library teen services community. Based on the evaluation, the team will make recommendations on whether or how to continue this Board recruitment process.

View the full proposal board document #27 and learn more about what was discussed in Atlanta by reviewing the 2017 Midwinter Meeting Agenda.

Trixie Dantis

Board Fellow 2016-2017

President’s Report – January 2017


  • The board was very busy at Midwinter!  Check out my summary blog post, as well as individual blog posts about the Leadership Fundraising Campaign, Protecting Teen Privacy, Bylaw Changes, the Executive Committee, and the changes being made to YALSA’s selection lists.
  • Participated in many phone calls and email conversations with YALSA staff, board members, and committee members
  • The January monthly chat with the YALSA Board was about having strategic and successful conversations–former YALSA board member Maureen Sullivan facilitated the conversation.
  • Wrote quarterly YALS column about Advocacy for the Spring issue
  • Sent letters of thanks to supervisors of award and selection chairs
  • Filled vacancies on various strategic committees as they occurred
  • The Board invited Heather Sparks to serve as the YALSA Board Fellow for the 2017-2018 year. Congrats, Heather!
  • The Board adopted the updated version of their scope and responsibilities as presented in this board document, and directed the Executive Director to work with staff to ensure the statement is updated on the website.

Works in Progress

  • The next YALSA member town hall (Theme: Social Action) will be on Feb. 28 at 2 pm ET.  Look for login information in your YALSA enews.
  • Through Feb. 15, I’m accepting volunteer forms for three new YALSA strategic task forces: Leadership Fundraising, Member Achievements Recognition, and Member Grants and Awards Evaluation.  Please read this blog post to find out more and to volunteer.
  • The YALSA Board is discussing Board Document #43 Re-Envisioning the Mentoring Program virtually since we ran out of time at Midwinter.
  • Planning the YALSA Executive Committee virtual meeting in April and already planning ahead for #alaac17!

Stats and Data

  • December member stats: 4,887 members (down 5.3% from this time last year)
  • December fundraising: $2,575

Don’t Forget!


  • to the YALSA Staff and Midwinter Marketing Committee for making sure that the #alamw17 ran smoothly!
  • to all the YALSA board members and committee members who were prepared for in-person meetings at #alamw17!
  • to all our members for all that you do to support teens and teen library services in your communities!

Respectfully submitted,

Sarah Hill, YALSA President 2016-2017


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 YALSA Futures Report calls out the importance of outreach to underserved populations and ways in which library staff can think about ways to work with targeted communities of teens (e.g. those who are incarcerated, homeless, in foster care, or in classrooms and other inschool locations) and where they are, rather than waiting for teens to find a way to get to the physical library space.

This month I spoke with Laura Mielenhausen, Youth Services Librarian Hennepin County Library Teen Central, Minneapolis Central Library.

What kind of outreach services do you provide for teens?

I provide weekly library service to the Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Center (JDC). This includes maintaining the JDC library collection; bringing new materials (both withdrawn items from Hennepin County Library and items purchased specifically for JDC); shelving the returned materials; and visiting the residents to suggest books and take book requests. When I visit the residents I let them know about the services our public library provides, including Homework Help programs, Teen Anime Club, and the Best Buy Teen Tech Center in downtown Minneapolis, where teens can do creative projects like record their own music. I also let them know how they can get a new library card and get any old library card fines reviewed, so they can get a fresh start as a library patron.

Describe a day in the life of providing outreach.

For my JDC outreach, I track the number of requests I get at each visit. I fill those requests with JDC library materials first, but in the case the teen wants a book we don’t have at JDC I bring it from the public library system. I keep a spreadsheet of who has what and everything is checked out to one library card account that I maintain. On the day of the visit, I pack my hand cart with any requested materials, new magazines, and new books for the collection and hop on the light rail to arrive at JDC. I check in with staff, sign in, and receive my building keys that I’ll use to move around the building. I have a book truck that I fill with new, popular, and interesting items, which I take up to each “mod” of residents. In each mod, I meet with residents, talk to them about the books they like and what they’ve been reading at JDC. These teens have a lot of time to fill and many read a book a day. They love to tell me about books they liked or did not like, and it gives me a good opportunity to do a little reader’s advisory on the fly by suggesting other books on the cart, and to encourage them to visit the public library after their release. After my visits I head back down to the library to put away returned materials and weed any damaged items. I spend about four hours at the JDC every Tuesday morning, with a few additional hours at my desk every week making requests, updating my spreadsheet, and getting the materials ready to bring in. Twice a year I put together an order for new books for JDC, with support from Hennepin County Library’s Outreach department. We sometimes get grant funding to bring in authors to visit the residents in JDC and other correctional facilities served by Hennepin County Library. When that happens, I work with my colleagues to plan the visit, bring copies of the author’s book for the residents to keep, and communicate with JDC staff and teachers to support attendance at the visit. Last year we were delighted to invite Kekla Magoon to come in and speak about her book How it Went Down. Residents had an opportunity to read the book before her visit and then were able to ask her questions about the book and her life as a writer. Everyone got to keep a signed copy of the book.

What resources would you recommend for someone new to outreach to look for ideas for inspiration as well as best practices?

Remember that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Reach out to other librarians in your system and those doing similar work in other library systems. Ask lots of questions – find out about existing outreach programs and what makes them succeed. If you have an idea for outreach you’d like to do, don’t be deterred by the inevitable, “Oh we tried that in 2010 and it didn’t work” response. If it’s a valuable library service that supports the mission of your library and addresses a community need, you can find a way to make it work. Meet with teachers, program coordinators, shelter directors, and other youth workers in your community and explore how you can bring library services to their youth programs or collaborate on youth programming together.

What are some of your favorite things you have heard from teens while providing outreach services?

I love hearing about what the teens are reading and seeing their enthusiasm about books. I’ve learned to never make assumptions about what incarcerated teens might be interested in reading – I get requests from R.L. Stine to Dostoyevsky, from Stephenie Meyer to Sister Souljah – and the joy I see when I bring a requested item never gets old. My favorite experience is when a formally incarcerated teen comes to see me at the library – we talk, get their library card account up-to-date, and look for books that might interest them. Coming from a situation where some books are restricted, a formerly incarcerated teen once said to me, “Wait, I can read whatever I want?” “Yes,” I said, “this is your public library. You can check out any book you see in here.”

YALSA’s Literacies Resource Retreat Toolkit Creation

The set up

At the end of November, seven librarians were asked to participate in YALSA’s first resource retreat. The mission of the retreat was to create a literacies toolkit, expanding on the discussion that began in the 2014 report: “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action”. We were asked to create a document that was user friendly and accessible to both librarians and library staff who work directly for and with teens. The rest was really up to us, which was both exciting and a little daunting.

The retreat was scheduled for the Friday of Midwinter. Since this was YALSA’s first time trying a resource retreat, everything new to us was also new to YALSA. We were given a stipend to help defray travel and lodging costs and were asked to attend one phone conference before Midwinter to plan out a few logistical elements. In the phone call, we realized we needed a Google doc to keep our ideas in one place. This document proved to be a crucial element of our success during the retreat. We were glad we had done some leg work ahead of time to make the actual day of writing go a tad smoother.

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Leadership Fundraising Campaign

At ALA Midwinter in Atlanta, the YALSA Board voted to assemble a taskforce to create and implement a year-long fundraising effort to raise $20,000 for the YALSA Leadership Endowment. The Endowment is designed to generate income to support opportunities for the development and training of future YALSA and library leaders by capitalizing on the considerable contributions and talents of YALSA Past Leaders. The Endowment honors both those who created the fund and those who receive support from the fund.

At its inception in 2007, Past Presidents made the initial donations to get a fund started to create an endowment focused on leadership. By 2009, enough funds had been collected to petition ALA to formally create the Leadership Endowment. The name and background information of the Endowment encourages participation from many types of sources while acknowledging the contribution of those Past Presidents who initiated the creation of the fund.

YALSA currently receives $2,392 per year in interest from this endowment. In 2016, the Board voted to use $1,000 of the interest to support the Dorothy Broderick Student Conference Scholarship and to invest the remaining $1,392 back into the endowment to build capital to support a proposed PhD Fellowship.

Our $20,000 targeted goal for 2017 will provide enough funding to support one additional leadership initiative, such as the proposed PhD Fellowship.

If you would like to help raise additional funds to support YALSA’s leadership initiatives, we are accepting volunteer forms for the Leadership Fundraising taskforce through Feb. 15! YALSA President Sarah Hill is looking for several virtual members, including a chair to serve on the taskforce from March 1, 2017 through January 31, 2018. You can read more about the taskforce here. Please email Sarah with any questions.

If you would like more information about the Leadership Fundraising Campaign, see Board Document #38.

And as always, if you have questions, contact any of the YALSA Board members.

Sandra Hughes-Hassell
YALSA President Elect

Protecting Teen Privacy

privacyAt ALA Midwinter, the YALSA Board was pleased to adopt the position paper “The Library’s Role in protecting Teens’ Privacy” written by Mary K. Chelton.

Libraries play an integral role in protecting the intellectual freedom and privacy rights of our communities and users. In early 2016, the FBI published Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools, a proposed set of guidelines for surveying internet use of students seen to be at-risk of recruitment by terrorist organizations. These guidelines cast American high schools at hotbeds for terrorist action, and recommend identifying teens for surveillance and intervention on factors so broad that almost every teen fits the description.

It is documents like this that remind us of the important role that libraries play in protecting the privacy of teens (both in and out of school). This highly connected population, is already subjected to privacy threats every day, and policies like the one proposed by the FBI are in direct opposition of the library’s mission.

In the newly adopted position paper, Chelton suggests several actions we can take to protect the privacy rights of teens:

  • Refresh your knowledge of key documents, like ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Manual and AASL ‘s Standards for the 21st Century Learner
  • Report challenges or violations of teens’ privacy to ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom
  • Embed educating teens and their parents and caregivers about their rights into library services and programming
  • Keep up to date on privacy and surveillance issues through resources such as ALA’s District Dispatch and the YALSAblog
  • Seek out training on topics including but not limited to: privacy, students’ rights, libraries’ role in intellectual freedom, and how to leverage technology tools that protect privacy
  • Participate in events such as the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom’s Choose Privacy Week
  • Take advantage of technology that protects library patrons’ privacy
  • Make a commitment to reach out to and serve at-risk youth in the community and address their needs, whatever they may be
  • Identify and work with community partners who are also committed to protecting teens’ rights

The YALSA Board adopted the position paper at ALA Midwinter and has committed to reviewing YALSA guidelines and policies to assure teen information seeking and privacy needs are addressed.

See 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 upcoming blog posts from board members about some of the actions taken at Midwinter.

Kate McNair

YALSA Board Member 2015-2018

Volunteer Opportunities: Three New YALSA Taskforces

Have you ever benefited from YALSA grants or awards? How would you like to be recognized if you did win a YALSA scholarship or award? Want to help YALSA raise funds to support leadership initiatives for members? Then we need your help! I’m accepting volunteer forms for three new taskforces that were established by the Board last week–Leadership Fundraising, Member Achievements Recognition, and Member Grants and Awards Evaluation taskforces.  Volunteer now through Feb. 15! Please email me with any questions and read on to learn more about the volunteer opportunities.

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