YALSA Community Survey Results

Thank you very much to everyone, both members and non-members, who took the time to fill out YALSA’s Community Survey this past year. The results are in, have been analyzed and passed on to the board for their review. It was great to have so much valuable and thoughtful feedback on what you think is important about YALSA and how it addresses the diversity and inclusivity needs of the people it serves.

Almost a third of the survey participants were either somewhat unfamiliar or not at all familiar with YALSA’s recently updated Teen Services Competencies. Many respondents reported a lack of time or simply not being aware of them as reasons for not implementing or planning to implement the competencies. Others responded that they were not currently working with teens, so the competencies did not apply to them in their current position. The highest rated competency most respondents said they implemented or were working toward implementing was interactions with teens with 68 percent of responses. This was followed by equity of access at 48 percent and teen growth and development at 45 percent.

Survey participants were asked what they saw as the most important work of YALSA and its leadership in the teen services library field. The top three choices were advocacy with 25 percent of responses, equity, diversity and inclusion with 23 percent of responses, and continuing education with 22 percent of responses. Reading and other literacies followed not too far behind with 13 percent. When people were asked what they thought was the second most important work, answers continued to follow this pattern.

The survey also asked people about YALSA’s communication channels in terms of how much they are used and how they keep up with the latest news about YALSA and library/teen services. Most of the responses indicated that people obtain the latest news from YALSA’s website and YALSA E-news with each choice being ranked first by 25 percent of responders. People said they also got their news from other YALSA emails and listservs and their colleagues and friends.

More than half of respondents, totaling 64 percent, were not familiar with YALSA’s updated Intended Impact Statement on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.  But when directly asked, about a third of people stated that increasing diversity in YALSA is the most important item on a scale of one to ten. Many different reasons were given for this, which included needing to be more diverse, wanting to reflect the communities they serve, and the importance of having different perspectives.

Some of the other general takeaways from the survey is that many respondents think YALSA is useful and has an important purpose, but the cost is prohibitive for many people. Many participants expressed concerns about the membership price, especially when attached to the cost of ALA membership and whether the benefits of membership were really worth the money. This was coupled with responses that reported it was hard to get more involved in YALSA, especially serving on committees, because of the cliquish nature of the organization. Other respondents felt YALSA mostly caters to public libraries and is not particularly inclusive for school librarians, small, rural libraries, special libraries, certain ethnic groups, demographics and sexual orientations. Some of the suggested solutions to address these issues included hiring more diverse people within the field, offering more conference discounts and grants, academic scholarships and free or discounted memberships, especially to diverse people. Cost was frequently mentioned as a barrier to diversity within the organization.

About 62 percent of survey participants hold a current membership in YALSA. Most of the survey respondents work in a public library, 82 percent are white/Caucasian, most do not speak another language, 88 percent are female, 69 percent are heterosexual, and 84 percent do not have a disability. Survey participants frequently referred to themselves as members of the majority and did not feel they were the right people to answer some of these questions.

The survey received a total of 436 responses.

This post was submitted by Rebecca Leonhard and Kimberly Kinnaird.

May is Mental Health Month

Now that it’s May, it’s time to talk about teen mental health. While mental health should be discussed every day, May is the official month where mental health organizations from all over the country put out a call for mental health education. According to Mental Health America:

Since 1949, Mental Health America and our affiliates across the country have led the observance of May is Mental Health Month by reaching millions of people through the media, local events and screenings. We welcome other organizations to join us in spreading the word that mental health is something everyone should care about by using the May is Mental Health Month toolkit materials and conducting awareness activities.

For more information about Mental Health America: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may

Here is a list of organizations that provide a wealth information about mental health awareness:



National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)


Mental Health America (MHA)


National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH)


American Psychological Association (APA)


National Council for Mental Health (NCMH)


Teen mental health has become an important topic all over the country as teens are facing extraordinary challenges causing teens to develop serious mental disorders such as Depression, Anxiety, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study that stated “[e]ver having been diagnosed with either anxiety or depression among children aged 6–17 years increased from 5.4% in 2003 to 8% in 2007 and to 8.4% in 2011–2012.[1]” As these numbers continue to rise, teens have taken it up themselves to advocate for their own mental health and the library can assist them along the way.

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Editor Sought for YALS Journal

YALSA seeks an editor for its quarterly, online journal, Young Adult Library Services (YALS). The editor will serve a one-year term starting July 15.

The editor will be responsible for the textual and pictorial content of the journal, and will work closely with YALSA’s Editorial Advisory Board, member groups and YALSA’s Communications Specialist to solicit articles and information. The editor will also edit and proof all copy for each issue.

Applicants must be YALSA members, have editorial experience, excellent communications skills, and be comfortable working virtually with various digital platforms and tools such as WordPress, FTP software, and more. The editor will receive a rate of $500 per issue plus $1,000 total in travel support for attending the ALA Midwinter Meeting or Annual Conference during the term of the contract.

Editor responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Setting the scope and tone of the journal and its online presence both textually and visually
  • Working with the member Editorial Advisory Board (EAB) to develop a yearly editorial calendar, solicit manuscripts and determine content and themes for each issue of the journal
  • Reviewing, editing, and as appropriate, writing content for the journal
  • Managing the work of columnists, contributors, reviewers, and online contributors and to communicate with them regularly (at least monthly)
  • Serving as spokesperson for the journal and help maintain an appropriate web presence for the journal
  • Maintaining the highest degree of integrity and ethical standards as member editor
  • Attending ALA’s Annual Conference or Midwinter Meeting to promote the journal and solicit authors
  • Communicating and collaborating with other YALSA member editors when appropriate
  • Performing other relevant duties as needed

Send cover letter and resume to Anna Lam at alam@ala.org. Apply by June 15.

YALS primarily serves as a vehicle for continuing education for library staff serving young adults, ages 12-18. It includes articles of current interest to the profession, acts as a showcase for best practices, provides news from related fields, and spotlights significant events of the organization, and offers in-depth reviews of professional literature. Learn more.

Help YALSA Name A New Teen-Focused Month

This year, Teen Read Week and Teen Tech Week will be dissolving to form a month long celebration of teen programming and teen services in libraries across the country! The month long celebration will be held in October of every year.

Teens, want a say in YALSA’s newest month long celebration? Librarians, please encourage your teens to be a part of an exciting initiative. The celebration will include related displays, passive activities, and programming that will fit public libraries, school libraries, and beyond! We will also being asking both teens and librarians for their feedback on the celebration, so be sure to keep an eye out for that.

To submit your celebration name, post on social media with your suggested idea and use #yalsaname or fill out our Google form. The winner will receive prizes and recognition! You are able to submit ideas until 5/31. Once the submission date has passed, there will be a voting period for the top 10 entries. Please share the news! We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

This post was submitted by members of the Teen Tech Week / Teen Read Week Committee.

An Interview with YALSA’s New Executive Director, Tammy Dillard-Steels

Head shot Tammy Dillard-Steels

Tammy Dillard-Steels, YALSA Executive Director

This week YALSA welcomes our new Executive Director, Tammy Dillard-Steels. YALSAblog interviewed her about her past experiences and what she’s looking forward to accomplishing with YALSA.

What drew you to YALSA, specifically?

I made a choice when I made a career change from Health and Safety administration to the non-profit management to dedicate my career to helping those who improve the health of a community and those that live in those neighborhoods.  YALSA and ALA missions are aligned with my personal and career aspirations to serve those who dedicate their careers to making a difference.

The positive impact that libraries and the staff have on young adults and the community drew me into position and my desire to work for YALSA.  As an Association professional, I am internally motivated to help advance, promote and elevate a profession that operates to improve the lives, mind, and future of those they serve.  It is rare to work to for an organization that fights to keep great institutions such as libraries relevant and to assist those that provide services to our future leaders.  Accepting this role is a great opportunity to improve the next generation, provide access and programs to youth is the greatest need.

I look forward to working together with YALSA to support library staff in alleviating the challenges teens face.

In what ways will this position differ from your previous leadership roles?

The role of Executive Director (ED) at YALSA is similar to my previous leadership roles; I have developed budgets, managed staff, implemented strategic plans, lead advocacy initiatives and fundraised in previous positions.  The uniqueness about this position is that I have not encountered before is leading an association that is a division of a larger association.

How can we equip colleagues to be effective advocates of teens in the library?

An effective advocate understands that they have a voice, using it has power and makes a difference.  In my opinion, library staff can help educate teens on the importance and power of their voice; and how to navigate through our political system.

Guiding teens through analyzing a situation, preparing them for the experience and allowing them to represent their concerns or the library causes are great ways that staff can get teens involved and become effective advocates too.

As the ED for Urban Sustainability Authority, I trained youth in our afterschool program to educate and Illinois politician on the dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke and advocate for them to sign the Illinois Smoke-Free Act.  The teens were enthusiastic about sharing their own experiences and how smoking affects them.  It was a life-changing moment for the teen and the community.  They learned their voice and view was important.  They embraced the importance of advocacy.

What are you looking forward to learning more about as you settle into your role? 

I have spent numerous hours in the library as a young adult reading, researching and hanging out.  I did not have the internet, Google and virtual friends.  I am looking forward to is learning the new trends and ways that library staff engages today youths to utilize the resources, programs, and services that libraries offer.   I want to help YALSA promote those practices to help improve the image and increase the usage of libraries for teens.

What will be the most exciting aspect of your new role? The most challenging?

I am truly excited growing YALSA membership, building partnerships; and expanding the equity, diversity and inclusion programs.

My current challenge is to prepare for ALA’s Annual Conference, which is less than eight weeks away, providing great service as I am learning my responsibilities.

What are you reading? What are you listening to or watching?

I am reading Becoming by Michelle Obama.

I have opted to purchased H.E.R. cd versus streaming it and listen to it in my car.   I love the song, Focus; it relaxes me as I drive.

Welcome to YALSA’s new Executive Director

YALSA is thrilled to welcome Tammy Dillard-Steels as our new Executive Director. Tammy’s first day will be Tuesday, April 23.

She brings to YALSA experience as executive director of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), as well as extensive experience at the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), where she served as Regional Director, leading the Chapter Performance Excellence Team and managing the “CEO Circle” of products, benefits, membership and budget.

Other positions have included Director, Constituent Services, Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) and Executive Director, Urban Sustainability Authority (Urban Sustain). At the AGD she was appointed by the Board of Directors to restructure the Leadership Development Forum.

Tammy Dillard-Steels has an MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management and a Master of Public Health from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a Certified Association Executive, through the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and a Scholar from ASAE’s Diversity Executive Leader Program, as well as Association Forum of Chicagoland’s Diversity Workforce Initiative.
She is active professionally, as Chair of the Professional Practice Committee (Association Forum of Chicagoland) and member of the Foundation and Development Committee (ASAE). She is an Alumni Council Member at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health.

I hope you will all join me in welcoming Tammy when she starts next week!

Here is the link to the official ALA announcement: http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2019/04/ala-welcomes-new-yalsa-executive-director-tammy-dillard-steels


Register Now for YALSA’s 2019 YA Services Symposium

Registration for YALSA’s 2019 YA Services Symposium is now open.

The symposium takes place November 1-3 in Memphis, TN with the theme Show Up and Advocate: Supporting Teens in the Face of Adversity. Anyone with an interest in young adult services is welcome to attend.

Now through early bird registration (September 15), those who join YALSA and register for the symposium will be automatically entered for a chance to win free registration for the 2020 YALSA symposium. YALSA members already registered for the symposium will be entered into the drawing automatically.

Additionally, non-members who join YALSA/ALA before registering can save and become eligible to register with the YALSA member rate, apply for a $1,000 symposium travel stipend, gain access to a quarterly journal, weekly newsletter, additional grants, and more. Joining and then registering often costs less than the non-member rate.

Early bird registration ends September 15 and rates are as follows:

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2019 YALSA Election Results

YALSA is excited to announce its 2019 election results. The following individuals have been elected:

Amanda Barnhart

Josie Watanabe

Fiscal Officer
Jane Gov

Board of Directors
Trixie Dantis
Karen Lemmons
Ryan Eduardo Moniz
Charli Osborne
Valerie Tagoe

To learn more about YALSA elections or governance, please visit www.ala.org/yalsa/workingwithyalsa/governance.

Research Roundup: Social and Emotional Learning

Welcome to Research Roundup. The purpose of this recurring column is to make the vast amount of research related to youth and families accessible to you.

While preparing the Research Roundup on Social and Emotional Learning for the Winter issue of YALS, I learned that there would be a flurry of publishing in late 2018 and early 2019 in the field of social and emotional learning. This update highlights some of these developments:

  • The Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development released From a Nation at Risk to a Nation of Hope in January 2019. It is the result of two years of study and conversations with experts, practitioners, and parents across the nation. It provides synthesis, case studies and recommendations for future work.  The report makes six recommendations:
    • Set a clear vision that broadens the definition of student success to prioritize the whole child.
    • Transform learning settings so they are safe and supportive for all young people.
    • Change instruction to teach students social, emotional, and cognitive skills; embed these skills in academics and school wide practices.
    • Build adult expertise in child development.
    • Align resources and leverage partners in the community to address the whole child.
    • Forge closer connections between research and practice by shifting the paradigm for how research gets done.
  • CASEL’s Measuring SEL: Using Data To Inspire Practice has published a number of research briefs. I found this brief particularly useful: Equity & Social and Emotional Learning: A Cultural Analysis. Measuring SEL also hosted two design challenges, which give you the chance to learn about SEL assessment tools developed by practitioners.
  • In December 2018, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation published an issue brief Social and Emotional Development Matters: Taking Action Now for Future Generations which gives an overview of key findings and links to reports on specific aspects of SEL that the foundation developed from 2017 until now.
  • The University of Minnesota recently updated its SEL Toolkit. The toolkit uses the Ways of Being SEL Model developed by the University of Minnesota. It focuses on youth in middle school, but provides many activities that can be adjusted for other ages. Many of these activities are applicable to out-of-school time programming.

Submitted by Committee member Bernie Farrell.

SAAM at the Library

CONTENT WARNING: This post addresses sexual assault and domestic violence.


In 2015, I began collaborating with my local sexual assault and domestic violence shelter to offer library programming centered around Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October and Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in April. SAAM was always the harder event to prepare for because the topic was one that many people feel uncomfortable discussing in public. While domestic violence is awful, it seemed that more people were willing to open up about their stories, whereas sexual assault is still something many don’t want to share. We had themes to guide us that were established by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center which really helped focus our project. In 2017, the theme was “Engaging New Voices” and the partners I worked with felt these new voices should be young people. We actually ended up using this theme for two years because in 2018 we continued to build the program and engaged teens.

The partnership between the library and the local sexual assault and domestic violence shelter was one that we built over several years. I did an outreach event in October 2014 which did not draw nearly as many people as I was hoping for. While at that event, I got to know the outreach team at the center and we decided to start collaborating on projects for April and the following October. From my standpoint, it was a good move because we were both going to promote the event and the advocates from the shelter would provide the voice of expertise. Our work together eventually grew into programming events for teens.

Programming events related to domestic violence and sexual assault for adults can be a challenge; for teens, it was scary territory. This was not something I had ever created a teen program for, but I knew it was something our regular teens would be interested in. I relied a lot on my partners from the shelter because they had done outreach to teens in local schools and actually had an action team of teens. Our discussions regarding SAAM began almost right after the previous SAAM event wrapped, with our first in person meeting occurring during the summer. At that meeting we would determine what we wanted to do. Would this be one big event? Are we doing multiple events? What target audience are we looking for? Part of the reason this process began so far in advance was because the space that the library used for programs could also be booked out by community groups as well as other internal departments that wanted to offer other programming. However, as a collaborative team, we also wanted to make sure we were all on the same page and were going over the hits and misses of the previous year.

When it was determined that we wanted to reach out to teens, I reflected back on what a program like that would look like in the library. After much conversation, the team decided to reach out to one of the local schools that assisted girls who were not thriving in a traditional school setting. In a nod to Project Clothesline, we opted to inform the young women at the school about the significance of Denim Day while we decorated jeans. All partners brought bubble paint and fabric markers to the school on a day in April. The shelter provided the jeans for decoration. Each partner claimed a specific time to be at the school and help lead the project in class. In all, I think every girl at the school was able to decorate a pair of jeans.

After the jeans were decorated, the school allowed us to leave them on their property for a few days. At that time, I picked them up and brought them to the library. The library’s main role was to facilitate an art show and provide girls the opportunity to be featured artists, stand by their jeans, and talk about the significance of the day to them. We had a few speakers that we arranged to come up and speak at the event. As a librarian, I welcomed everyone to the event and gave some general information about the library and why we partnered on this project. We then had speakers from the shelter and from our local NOW Chapter come up to speak about what is being done locally and at a national level. Finally, we gave a teacher from the school a chance to talk about the experience for the girls. Instead of the teacher speaking alone, the girls actually came up with her and explained what the event meant to them and what they learned.

From what SAAM programming was when we first began collaborating in 2015—to what it ended up being in 2018—was an interesting progression, especially as we worked our way into teen programming. I don’t think I would have had the confidence to do a teen event on sexual assault without those first two years, and I certainly don’t think I would have approached this topic without the partners I had. For additional resources, please visit the SAAM website. The event planning guide is a great resource for those who have never done an event like this before and want somewhere to start. In the guide, they mention a library book display. So, let’s just say you end up going with a book display. Consider reaching out to your local shelters to get feedback on your book display. Build that relationship and then work together on a project for next year.