Rethinking YALSA — Member Engagement

If you haven’t heard, the YALSA Board just approved the association’s new 3-year organizational plan. If you haven’t read it yet, you’re seriously missing out on some exciting news, not to mention a great advocacy piece. It’ll invigorate you to take action and empower change in teen services nationally and in your community.

Read it here:

During the planning sessions for the Board, YALSA’s top priorities were structured into three categories:  (1) Leading the Transformation of Teen Services, (2) Advocacy, and (3) Funder and Partner Development.

When reading the new plan, you’ll notice an emphasis placed on leveraging relationships and building a field of knowledge.  A strategy of “Leading the Transformation” is to leverage relationships with state and regional associations to promote the transformation of teen library services. Part of this member engagement strategy is to take a look at YALSA’s presence at state and regional conferences.  This is not to say that YALSA will be confined to only state conferences (or conferences for that matter), but other related associations and local library group meetups as well. The purpose of this strategy is to engage teen library leaders at the local level so that we can not only learn what members and potential members want and need from YALSA, but to better help carry out the work of the association.  

While YALSA currently exhibits at some conferences other than ALA, there hasn’t been an official plan to connect with state and regional associations.  These are essential assets and gateways to member engagement. State and regional associations are other avenues to engage with members outside of ALA sponsored events and rally together on issues relating to teen services.  Through this, we’ll hopefully answer the question, “What do state associations want, and how can YALSA help?”

Apart from being physically present at state conferences, YALSA is also looking for ways to highlight the great work being done locally. This could be something shared through YALSA communications (such as a publication or a virtual honoring), or at local events where attendees may personally recognize teen service leaders and staff from those highlighted libraries. One of the ways we’ll try to approach this is to develop a 50-state engagement strategy, with specific offerings and focus on specific leaders at the state level, including but not limited to state library association leaders and state library agency youth services consultants.

Of course, we’ll also consider YALSA’s capacity. We will seek ways to identify state and local library leaders and leverage existing member resources to state and regional associations. These strategies will help engage members, spread the word about YALSA’s resources, encourage local conversations and sharing of resources, and increase member growth. If this plan is successful, by the year 2018, we estimate there would be YALSA presence at a minimum of 10 state or regional conferences per year and YALSA membership will grow by at least 15%.

Why is this important?  

Membership growth + capacity & knowledge growth = achieve more things for teens!

To view a full list of YALSA’s presence at State and Regional Conferences, see

If you would like to get involved or have questions about the plan implementation, please share your thoughts via this short survey

What meetups or conferences do you attend?

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Jane Gov is a Youth Services Librarian at Pasadena Public Library, California. She is currently Financial Advancement Committee Chair and serving on the YALSA Board. You can tweet her @missjanegov.

Rethinking YALSA: What’s New in YALSA and How You Can Be a Part of It!

The YALSA Board has been hard at work throughout this year and last year looking at YALSA’s Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action report, association capacity and sustainability, and incorporating member and stakeholder feedback to re-envision the organization’s Strategic Plan to create an association that is more nimble, more modern and more reflective of the needs of teens and our members both today and into the future.

The result is YALSA’s new Organizational Plan!

Please check it out:

You can also find YALSA’s new Mission, Vision, and Impact Statements ( and the Implementation Plan (

Mission: Our mission is to support library staff in alleviating the challenges teens face, and in putting all teens ‒ especially those with the greatest needs ‒ on the path to successful and fulfilling lives.

Vision: Our vision is that all teens have access to quality library programs and services ‒ no matter where they occur ‒ that link them to resources, connected learning opportunities, coaching, and mentoring that are tailored to the unique circumstances of the community and that create new opportunities for all teens’ personal growth, academic success, and career development

Intended Impact Statement: To meaningfully address the challenges teens face today and to put more teens on the path to a successful and fulfilling life, YALSA will support library staff who work for and with teens in the transformation of teen library services so that:

  • Libraries reach out to and serve ALL teens in the community no matter what their backgrounds, interests, needs, or abilities, and whether or not they frequent the library space.
  • The library “space” is at once both physical and virtual. It connects teens to other people, printed materials, technology, and digital content, not limiting teens to a designated teen area but rather inviting them into the full scope of the library’s assets and offerings.
  • Teens co-create, co-evaluate, and co-evolve library programs and activities with library staff and skilled volunteers (including mentors and coaches) based on their passions and interests. These programs and activities are connected to teens’ personal, work, or academic interests across multiple literacies; generate measurable outcomes for teens’ skills and knowledge; and are tailored to the unique circumstances of the community.

To achieve this impact, the YALSA Board identified the following priority areas:

  • Leading the transformation of teen library services (including a cultural competency component)
  • Advocacy to policy makers at all levels to increase support for teen library services
  • Funder and partner development

We’re really excited about the new plan and our #TeensFirst focus and we want to know what your thoughts and/or questions are!

To that end, we’ve put together an Organizational Plan FAQ:

YALSA President-Elect Sarah Hill and I are also hosting a virtual video townhall on Monday, June 13th, from 2-3 p.m. Eastern via Zoom.

And, if you’re attending ALA Annual in Orlando next month, we will also be hosting a face to face session on YALSA’s new Organizational Plan on Saturday, June 25th, from 8:30-10 a.m. at the Rosen Centre, Room Salon 03/04, called What’s New in YALSA and How You Can Be a Part of It!

If you have any other questions, comments, concerns and/or compliments, feel free to email me at candice. YALSA [at] or reach me via Twitter @tinylibrarian! Hope to see you online and/or in person at our Townhall and at ALA Annual!

Secrets of the Orange County Convention Center and Surrounding Area

Conferences can be difficult to navigate.  Between arriving on time, knowing where to park, and finding a cup of coffee, one can easily miss that important session.  Don’t get lost trying to prepare for the day!  Here are a few tips to make your conference go smoother.

cup-of-coffee13There is a reason why all of the hotels around the convention center have coffee shops…the coffee offered in the convention center by the vendors, shall we say, leaves much to be desired.

Pro Tip:  Most hotels have K-cup coffee makers in room.  Bring your own K-cups and your own travel mug to make your morning coffee.

Desperate Measures:  Nearest Starbucks:  10725 International Drive #110

711-lunch-break-isolated-icon-on-light-brownLunch can be the most costly meal of the day if you are not careful.  Meals in the Convention Center Cafeteria are usually $20.00.  The vendors in the exhibit hall have a slightly lower price for a lunch plate, but remember it is fast food.

Pro Tip:  Purchase a ticket for one of the many author or other value added luncheons offered.  You will have a great meal and an experience.

Desperate Measures:  Option 1:  Remember, some of the vendors will be inviting you to a “lunch and learn”.  You will receive a free meal while you listen to their pitch.  Option2: Pack your own lunch. (Granola bar, trail mix, piece of fruit from breakfast.)  Option 3:  Optimize the snack breaks offered in the hall between sessions.

gasInternational Drive has numerous restaurants and attractions, but you won’t find a gas station.  Many folks find themselves on Sand Lake Road paying “tourist inflated” prices.  Don’t buy gasoline there.

Pro Tip:  Go to 7-Eleven @ 6026 Destination Parkway.  Grab a Big Gulp and a Lotto ticket while you fill up.

Desperate Measures:  Well, you did bring comfortable shoes, right?

parkingThe OCCC charges $15 per day for standard vehicles and $25 per day for oversized vehicles.

Pro Tip:  Arrive early as parking fills fast or leave car in hotel parking and take the ALA shuttle.

Desperate Measures:  If you are healthy, most hotels are within one mile of the convention center.  Watch for traffic and use the crosswalks.

drug-store-icon-vector-illustration-53855958Sunburned. Forgot your prescription.

Pro Tip:  Nearest drugstore: Walgreens @ 9858 International Drive

Desperate Measures:  Remember most hotels have a basic needs bodega or closet to assist their quests.  It never hurts to ask.

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


YALSA’s Mentoring Program: Make a Difference in a Library Staff Member’s Life

hand writing on a chalkboard with the word mentorI bet that many YALSAblog readers have been fortunate enough to have a professional mentor. Maybe that experience was serendipitous and the mentoring relationship wasn’t planned but nonetheless ended up being an important part of professional growth. I’ve been fortunate enough in my career to be mentored both spontaneously and through specific planning. Each has been a fantastic experience and I am grateful to the mentors I’ve had in my professional life.

I’ve also been a mentor and was fortunate enough to act as a mentor as a part of YALSA’s formal virtual mentoring program. That too was a great experience. Not only did I get to help a newish library staff member move forward in their work, I also learned a lot from the people I worked with. Learning about their work, their questions, and the projects they wanted to pursue helped me to think more about what are the best ways to serve teens with and through libraries.

Now you have the chance to make a difference in a library staff member’s life and also perhaps gain some new insights yourself. YALSA’s virtual mentoring program is accepting applications for both mentors and proteges through June 1. It’s a perfect opportunity. And, if you know someone who you think would be a great mentor please pass this information on to them.

Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, No Problem in Orlando

Orlando is a large city with many food options, but sometimes when we have special dietary requirements, finding good places to eat can be frustrating.  There is no shortage of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free choices here in Orlando.

Top Vegetarian Choices

Veggie Garden 1216 E Colonial Dr Ste 11, Orlando, Florida 32803 407-228-1740 Now Open: Mon-Thu 9:00am-8:00pm, Sat 9:00am-9:00pm, Sun 9:00am-8:00pm Cuisine: Vegan-friendly, Take-out, Asian, Vietnamese Serves Vietnamese vegan and vegetarian cuisine. Menu features a signature soup broth which uses over eight kinds of fresh vegetables and fruit. Small and cozy, sit down for a quick bite or take food to-go. Accepts credit cards. Inexpensive.

Dandelion Communitea Café 618 N Thornton Ave (at downtown), Orlando, Florida 32803 407-362-1864 Mon-Sat 11:00am-10:00pm, Sun 11:00am-5:00pm Cuisine: Vegan-friendly Orlando vegetarian cafe and urban teas shop. Provides a friendly and relaxing environment. Find Sweet Tooth vegan goodies here. Moderate.

Woodlands Pure Veg 6040 S Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, Florida 32809 407-854-3330 Call for hours – tell us Cuisine: Vegan-friendly, Lacto, Indian, Buffet, Catering Vegetarian Indian restaurant features south Indian cuisine. Has a varied. daily lunch buffet. Food can be spicy. Simple decor. Open Tue-Sun lunch and dinner, closed Mon. Moderate.

Vegan Choices

Fresh 24 2816 Corrine Dr, Orlando, Florida 32803 407-897-1355 Mon-Sat 10:00am-6:00pm, Sun 11:00am-4:00pm A produce market selling only local farm fresh produce which arrives at the store within 24 hours of being picked. Daily produce arrivals include hydroponic, organic, and conventional farming.

Rhaphsodic Bakery 710 N Mills Ave, Orlando, Florida 32803 407-704-8615 Mon-Thu 11:00am-7:00pm, Fri-Sat 11:00am-8:00pm Vegan except for jars of honey, this bakery makes all-vegan desserts and baked goods and has a cold case with drinks, cakes, cookies, biscuits. Rotating local artwork displays. Free Wi-Fi. Wheelchair accessible. Accepts credit cards.

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Rethinking YALSA: I’m Excited – How About You?

In late April the YALSA Board approved the association’s new organizational plan. If you haven’t read the plan I think you want to. And, if you need some encouragement, check-out what some YALSA Board members are excited about:

photo of Jennifer Korn with teens and a sign that says - excited about the teens first approach

YALSA Board member Jennifer Korn with library teens – they are excited with the Teens First focus.
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Instagram of the Week – May 16

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

This week we’re focusing on two hashtags that can get teens and library staff working together to create content and engage bibliophiles worldwide. The Future of Library Services for and with Teens report discusses the importance of helping teens gain experience with technology and social media, create digital and message content, and interact with adults who can serve as mentors. The report also highlights how it’s no longer the role of just those in the Children’s, Teen, or Youth Services departments to interact with teens, but that all library staff members regardless of position or department should work on engaging teens and building relationships. Creating content for your library’s Instagram feed is a fun (and often humorous) activity, but can be time consuming and something that gets bumped down the priority list as the school year comes to a close and public library summer reading programs gear up. Inviting all library staff to stage and snap a few photos while encouraging teen volunteers to assist and share ideas presents an opportunity to make introductions and work toward a shared goal.

If the #librariesofinstagram hashtag is the go-to for connecting libraries around the world, then #bookstagram is what brings book lovers together to share current reads and book reviews, to be read piles, favorite quotes, fandoms, and more. Usually these eye-catching photos feature one or two books staged with a complementary background, small props, and good lighting. Book publishers frequently #bookstagram new releases and libraries are featuring items in the collection, staff recommendations, and book club selections. Inviting staff and teens to stage photos allows for a change of scenery (perhaps literally with different surfaces, lighting, and desktop items to incorporate), camera angles, and a variety of titles to include.

Although National Library Card Sign-up Month isn’t until September, libraries post photos of their cards throughout the year and often invite patrons to participate in contests depicting their card on the go. Looking through #librarycard photos is exciting! Yes, a number of the images are libraries highlighting their card and all of the resources that can be accessed with it, but there are just as many photos of patrons excitedly sharing that moment when they’ve moved to a new town or have a young family member obtain a new card. A library card hashtag is easily customized to include your library or town for a summer contest featuring #librarycardadventures or #travelinglibrarycard. Easy to pack and the sky is the limit for photo ops!
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YALSA Professional Learning Series: The Future of Library Services for and with Teens –Working with At-Risk Teens


In last week’s post  on working with teens who may be at risk we started to discuss what barriers people may face in working with teens who may be at risk as well as some examples of work people are doing in their libraries.

This week in discussion related to working with teens who may be at risk, let’s talk about successes that people have had with working with teens who may be at risk. Thinking about what you’ve read related to this topic, and what you’ve been able to accomplish, let us know:

  • A success you’ve had in your library implementing YALSA Futures Report related ideas that helped make change in your work with and for teens who may be at risk
  • What you think helped to make that success possible
  • Ideas and suggestions you have for others who are also working with teens who may be at risk
  • Questions you have about implementing some of the ideas in your work with and for teens who may be at risk

Here is the first post in this series if you would like to be part of the discussion and share some of your thoughts. Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments section and feel free to comment/question on anyone else’s. Feel free to reach out directly to me if you have any questions about any of the posts


YALSA Professional Learning Series: The Future of Library Services for and with Teens –Working with At-Risk Teens


Last week in the first post in this month’s YALSAblog Professional Learning series on working with teens at risk, I posted a set of resources to read, listen to, and view. This week it’s time to start a discussion about working with teens at risk AND steps to take in order to work with teens at risk.  

One of the barriers I hear from teen librarians is they feel they don’t have the support from their libraries to go outside of the library and provide library services and services and programs to teens at risk, nor do some of the libraries have in their strategic plan or priorities to focus on providing services/programs to these populations.  Reading and learning more about what the Madison Public Library is doing specifically with teens who are incarcerated with the Making Justice program really made me think how a library is recognizing a marginalized population that is limited to services and programming and bringing those services and programs in.  With the institution as a whole acknowledging and focusing services and programs specifically to this population says a lot about how it feels about working with teens at risk as well as promoting and using this program as a model.

This week let’s talk about this:

  • What barriers might you face within your library to focus services on working with teens at risk either in the library or outside the library? Maybe your barrier is that you are interested in working with working with teens at risk and don’t have administrative support or don’t know even where to start.
  • What did the resources from last week get you thinking about in relation to those barriers?
  • What are some examples of work people are doing in their libraries with teens who are at risk? Is it something that your library acknowledges, recognizes and supports (is outreach and working with teens at risk in your library’s strategic plan for example or a specific focus for your library?)
  • What questions or comments do you have from what others are writing?

It would be great to have a discussion on this topic, so feel free to post your own thoughts as well as replying to others.

Rethinking YALSA: Executive Committee

The YALSA Executive Committee met April 15 via Zoom online video conferencing, and one of the topics on the agenda was discussing itself! The role of the Executive Committee in the organization hasn’t been looked at lately, and with the Board currently working on a new organizational plan, now is the perfect time.  Take a look at the document.  If you review the rest of the agenda and items discussed at the meeting, you might notice that the role of the Executive Committee comes up often in those as well.

For starters, the Executive Committee is examining current roles and responsibilities and exploring which may be a better fit for the Board, Governance Nominating Committee or another group.  The Executive Committee has a narrowly defined role as outlined in its charge, yet over the years it has taken on some tasks for convenience’s sake that may be more appropriately handled by others. For example, planning and supporting Board member orientation and ongoing training is most often the job of a Board Development Committee in other associations.  A Board Development Committee is like a Nominating Committee, but with a longer view.  They don’t just recruit Board members, but support them throughout their time on the Board.

Based on the Committee’s discussion, there will be a proposal about the Executive Committee coming soon for the Board to review, and items from the Fiscal Oversight Strategies document will be added to it.  One part of the proposal will recommend that the Executive Committee take on some fiscal monitoring responsibilities.  Ten years ago, it was adequate for YALSA’s Fiscal Officer and Executive Director to be the most engaged in money matters (with Board oversight), but YALSA has grown exponentially over the years.  Just last week, YALSA announced that it has received a three-year grant from IMLS of over $300,000.  Add in the grant from Dollar General, sponsorship from Best Buy, and endowments, and the result means a more complex budget and increased fiscal monitoring and reporting.  Bringing more member leaders into the financial planning and budget monitoring and reporting process can be a good strategy to help ensure that YALSA stays fiscally healthy and is able to do some long range financial planning.

The Executive Committee also discussed where it might need to expand an existing role.  Currently each Executive Committee member liaises directly with an ALA-level member leader or group.  Building and maintaining strong ties with ALA can help increase YALSA’s impact, so the group explored ways that the Committee could devote more time to interacting with their ALA counterparts, monitoring ALA level activities that impact Divisions, and more.

Whatever the Board ultimately decides, our goal is to re-envision the Executive Committee so that it better meets Board needs.  Do you have any ideas for us to consider after reading the documents linked in this post? If so, we would love to hear them! Please leave a comment or email me at gsarahthelibrarian @