Apply for Our 2017 Summer Learning Resources and Teen Summer Intern Grants

Planning your summer learning program?

Consider applying for our 2017 Summer Learning Resources and Teen Summer Intern Grants.

Through generous funding from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, two grants are available: the Summer Learning Resources Grant and the Teen Summer Intern Program Grant. The purpose of the grants is to help libraries combat the summer slide, as described in YALSA’s position paper, “Adopting a Summer Learning Approach to Increase Impact.”

Twenty summer learning resources grants, worth $1,000 each, will be awarded to libraries in need and will allow them to provide resources and services to teens who are English language learners, struggling in school and/or who are from socio-economically challenged communities. Twenty teen summer intern program grants, also worth $1,000 each, will be awarded to libraries to support the implementation of summer learning programs while also providing teens a chance to build hands-on job skills.

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What is the Board up to?

Every month the Board meets for an informal chat to check in with on-going projects, get to know each other a little better, and get updates from the executive committee. At the Annual meeting in Orlando, the Board began the process toward aligning YALSA’s work with the new organizational plan, so there were a lot of updates to share from the three standing board committees: Leading the Transformation, Advocacy, and Funder and Partner Development.

The committee on Leading the Transformation is currently working on several board proposals to meet the needs of members by providing leadership development and cultural competency training. They are currently in the information gathering mode both from YALSA staff, members, committees and looking at national standards in these areas. They were also pleased to announce that YALSA has been represented at 13 regional or state conferences thus far in 2016  (with more to come!).

The Advocacy standing committee has been thinking about the best ways to accomplish the goals laid out in the organizational plan. They are looking closely at National Library Legislative Day and how YALSA can support that ALA effort. They also explored Governor’s Boards to see how YALSA members can influence state legislative action.

The Board members serving on the Funder and Partner Development committee have been working on a roadmap to increase planned giving, that was discussed at the annual meeting in Orlando. They have also begun prioritizing and building a strategy around YALSA’s needs and is looking for potential donors and partners who can fill those gaps.

President Sarah Hill updated the Board on the work of the Executive Committee which will meet at the YALSA Symposium in Pittsburgh. In Orlando, the Executive Committee was assigned new duties and roles within the board, and has been working to become deeply versed in YALSA’s financial matters. 

The Board has been working hard on projects that kicked off in Orlando to align the association’s work with the new Organizational Plan, so expect more updates from the Board as we move forward! We hope to see you in Pittsburgh and Atlanta!

YALSA Member Award Juries

Announcing a new volunteer opportunity!

I will be making appointments to YALSA’s seven member award juries soon, including:

BWI/YALSA Collection Development Grant Jury

Conference Travel Scholarships Jury

Frances Henne/VOYA/YALSA Research Grant Jury

Great Books Giveaway Jury

MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens

Volunteer of the Year Award

Writing Award Jury

Jury appointments run from Nov. 1, 2016 to Feb. 1, 2017. All of the work will be conducted virtually with the bulk of it occurring in December and January. Want more information about the juries? Click on the links above.

This is a new approach to appointing committee members to our member award juries and is in direct response to the summer members’ survey which indicated that YALSA members want more short-term, opt-in, and virtual volunteer opportunities.

Requirements to Volunteer

  • Be a current YALSA member with the available time
  • Be interested in volunteering with YALSA
  • Have relevant experience
  • Have a high comfort level using digital tools such as Google Drive, Skype, etc.
  • Be concurrently serving on three or fewer appointed groups

That’s it!

To Apply

Simply complete the quick 4 question form below by no later than Nov. 1st.

Please free to contact me with any questions at

Thanks for volunteering with YALSA!


YALSA Young Adult Services Symposium: Get Advice & Win $

2016 YALSA Symposium LogoTwo new activities that you don’t want to miss are now scheduled as a part of the YALSA Teen Services Symposium.

Symposium Solutions Desk
Come visit the Symposium Solutions Desk and get feedback and solutions for your burning questions and challenges. We’ll have YALSA members available and ready to talk with you about everything from programs to advocacy and developing outcomes to curating collections. Our advisors are: Continue reading

President’s Report – September 2016

Fall Greetings! The YALSA board is busy preparing for the Symposium and the Executive Committee meeting. Please see the report below about my activities over the past month.


  • Advocated for libraries at an ESSA listening session for the Illinois State Board of Education
  • Lead the September monthly chat with the YALSA Board about membership survey results, strategic committee task lists, and quarterly reports
  • Completed my registration for ALA Midwinter in Atlanta–have you?
  • Filled the Selection List Transition Task Force and participated in calls with the chair
  • Followed up with the YALSA representative to the annual IFLA conference–look for a blog post coming soon!
  • Wrote welcome for printed symposium booklet
  • Interviewed by a student for the Columbia Chronicle for article about the stigma of young adult literature
  • Filled vacancies on various strategic committees
  • Reminded the YALSA Board of a need to communicate with members–look for YALSA blog posts coming soon from each board member
  • Led a YALSA board vote about recommending but not requiring a MLIS degree for the next ALA Executive Director

Works in Progress

  • Developing the transition plan for the new way juries will work. Are you a YALSA member with time to serve on a virtual jury over the next few months? Volunteer here!
  • Preparing for YALSA’s YA Services Symposium & Fall Executive Committee meeting
  • Preparing for ALA Midwinter in Atlanta
  • Answering questions and working with YALSA board members as they prepare board documents in the standing board committees

Stats and Data

  • August Membership: 4973, down 2.2% from last year at this time
  • August Donations: Raised $480 for Emerging Leader program

Join me for the next YALSA Town Hall meeting!  It will be on Weds., November 16, from 5-6 ET via the online Zoom platform.  Look for access information coming soon in the November weekly enews or email for login information.

THANK YOU to the awesome YALSA Board members who have been hard at work in their standing board committees to make positive changes that will result in improved library services to teens!

THANK YOU 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

Board Update: Board Self-Assessments

The YALSA Board works year-round, tackling projects and other tasks in between conferences. One of those projects is updating the YALSA Board self-assessment tool.

Self-assessment is an essential part of professional development. Self-assessments help us gage the success of our efforts and identify areas for growth. After all, an organization, be it YALSA or your library, can only successful if the people leading and working in the organization are successful.

YALSA’s Board Members are expected to conduct self-assessment to ensure YALSA’s leadership is effective.  At ALA Annual 2016, the Board discussed the need for an updated assessment tool and process that better reflects the new Organizational Plan. Diane Colson, Jennifer Korn, and Kate McNair are in the process of developing that new assessment tool and process. We examined the prior YALSA self-assessment tool, tools used by other organizations within and beyond ALA, and professional literature on the topic to create an effective and user-friendly self-assessment rubric. The Board at large is now in the process of examining and offering feedback about the current draft of this tool.

This finished tool will be used by all board members annually at minimum. Results will be used to develop individual and group goals, which will ensure YALSA keeps moving forward in its teens-first mission. The tool will also be used by members interested in pursuing a YALSA Leadership role to better understand Board work and expectations, and will be available to the entire membership on YALSA’s website.

As the Board continues to work on this and other projects, we encourage you to also think about your personal self-assessment and growth. Teen services in our libraries thrives because of your work and development!


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 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 to Carrie Rogers -Whitehead who was the Senior Librarian in Teen Services for the Salt Lake County Library System. She began the outreach program with the juvenile detention system in Salt Lake County.


1. What kind of outreach services do you provide for teens? How long has this program (or partnership) been in place?

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Equity in Out-of-School Stem Learning: A Reflection

STEM learning is a growing part of student’s lives now because of all the fast technology advances. There are many great ways for students to participate in STEM activities while in school, but what can “out-of-school” educators, such as librarians, offer these same students? This is the questions that a group, sponsored by the Research+Practice Collaboratory, wanted to answer. Their main question was: “How can professional learning for out-of-school staff be organized to promote equity in STEM learning?” Through this discussion, four big ideas emerged to support this.

First, “seeing, hearing, and honoring” need to be at hand with all educators, whether in school or, out of school. This means, staff working with teens, and other youths, need to listen to what customers want. The best way to design a program is to listen to what your customers want from you.

Teen volunteers work with teen customers on sharing new technology.

Teen volunteers work with teen customers on sharing new technology.

For instance, recently I had a young man reach out to me because he wanted to start a STEM Club at my library branch. Although I was timid at first, due to time and money, we decided to go ahead. The positives of having a teen led STEM Club is, they have more ideas of what they want to do, and are very knowledgeable about all different types of STEM programs and projects. When our department started having teen led programs earlier in the summer, we had great success because the teen volunteers were excited to present their ideas, and teens in the community were excited to see what their peers were doing. Seeing, hearing, and honoring has really helped my department in a big way.

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YALSA’s Emerging Leaders Project – Part 2

Being an Emerging Leader is the easy part; it is the balancing of the rest of your life that gets difficult.

Sitting down to write this blog post, it has now been three months since we completed our project with YALSA and for something so major that occupied six months of our lives, it feels like it was over in no time at all.

But before I start reflecting too deeply on the experience, I’ll try to remember that someone told me this post was supposed to be about collaboration.

Collaboration can be such a scary word right? Going through life, we have all had some kind of experience where we were forced to collaborate. Maybe it was a group project in school where you partnered with your friends and things backfired horribly. It could have been that work assignment with Steve over in Accounting who you didn’t know real well, but things worked out and you wound up with a promotion. But I think for many of us, collaborating and that idea of “group projects” will always have a negative association.

So you can imagine my anxiety level heading into my first meeting with the YALSA group. And I know that they won’t admit it, but I would bet my teammates felt pretty similarly too.

That said, I think the community anxiety and general dread towards group work may have been the foundation of what exactly made this project run so smoothly. Each member of Project K seemed to enter that first day with a desire to try and make this process as easy and painless as possible. It was that mutual understanding and goal of trying to get through the Emerging Leaders program together, that provided the common ground that got us started.

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Advocacy in Action: Speak Up for School Librarians with ESSA

What’s happening in your state with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)? This federal plan replaces No Child Left Behind, and includes language regarding “effective school library programs,”  thanks to your advocacy!

In Illinois, the State Board of Education (ISBE) is charged with creating the plan for implementing the ESSA. The Illinois School Library Media Association (ISLMA), with the help of John Chrastka from the nonprofit group EveryLibrary,  worked hard over the summer to develop a plan to ensure that the ISBE includes school librarians as they implement ESSA. Now, as the ISBE holds listening tours all over the state, ISLMA asked for volunteers to speak up.

So I did.


Because my daughter needs a certified school librarian in her school with dedicated funding for library materials and services, not a paraprofessional trying her or his best with funding only from book fairs.

Because I want my community college students to come to me from high schools with certified school librarians–too many of them don’t. And I can tell by the research questions they ask me at the reference desk and during library instruction sessions that they are seriously lacking in information literacy skills.

Because I want to live in a community that values libraries of all kinds because of their ability to improve lives.

Each speaker at the event could talk for 3-5 minutes, so I made my story personal.  I’m a member of ISLMA, and, once registered to appear at a listening session, received talking points from the current ISLMA President, Patti Fleser.  I was able to coordinate with other speakers before the session I attended at Effingham High School so that we didn’t duplicate each other.  Because of my experience as a high school curriculum specialist, I discussed how school librarians are valuable to school improvement, serving as the natural curriculum and professional development experts in their schools, especially the small schools downstate. School librarians and a retired high school principal spoke concerning school libraries and how they support the concept of the whole child and promote the Illinois Learning Standards.

Guests at the ISBE Listening Session also received updates about what’s happened lately.  At its September meeting, ISBE adopted a college and career framework that consists of a benchmark for declaring a student “ready” for college and career:  a 2.8/4.0 GPA, a readiness college entrance score on the SAT, two or more academic benchmarks or an industry credential, and two or more behavioral and experiential benchmarks.  This led to several school administrators voicing their disagreement with this proposal, with one giving the example of a student who is an expert welder as a teenager. That student won’t be considered college and career ready according to this new proposal (especially if he’s a poor test taker), yet he’s already secured a career with a salary that will eventually pay more than most teachers.  In reply, the ISBE officials reiterated that they welcome feedback, and provided an email address for citizens to send comments and concerns. If you’re concerned about the teens in your communities, these are the meetings that librarians need to attend!  Superintendents, principals, teachers, librarians, the press, and local business leaders were in attendance, and the conversation before and after the event was uplifting and important.

As members of YALSA, we #act4teens. We know that effective school library programs make a school more successful in preparing students for college, career, and life. In the new YALSA organizational plan, one of the three priorities is advocacy to policy makers at all levels to increase support for teen library services. By attending this meeting, speaking up, and emailing comments to ISBE, I was able to advocate for libraries to employees of our state board of education. It didn’t hurt that I was able to build connections with community members concerned with the education of children and teens either.

What’s happening in your state? Check out this blogpost from EveryLibrary to find an ESSA calendar for school library stakeholders and to find more information about ESSA in your state.  What can you do to advocate the teens in your community?