Learning with YALSA This Summer

drawing of hands raised The teens in your community might be out of school for the summer (or just about to get out of school) however, library staff never stop learning. That’s why YALSA has some great options for you to keep your learning going this summer. Here’s what’s on YALSA’s continuing education calendar for June, July, and August:

New E-Course

Start at the End: Backward Design for Library Programming
7/8/2019 – 8/11/2019

This new online course, taught by Casey Rawson, a Teaching Assistant Professor at UNC Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science, gives participants the chance think about what they would like their library activities for and with teens to achieve. Then with that in mind work backwards to determine what programs they might provide in order to reach that goal/impact. During the five week course participants will learn about the backwards design framework for planning. They will also have the chance to develop learning goals for their activities for and with teens and through those goals better articulate the value of the work that they do. You can learn more and register for this e-course on the YALSA website.
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Prepping for ALA: Bookish D.C. Beyond ALA

As ALA Annual draws near, you’re probably looking over the program and figuring out which YALSA sessions to attend and which ticketed events you can’t miss. Obviously you’ll be making your way to the Best Fiction for Young Adults Teen Feedback Session on Sunday (1-3pm WCC 202A), a perennial librarian favorite. But how else will you spend your time? And when you need to escape the convention center, where and how can a librarian find other bookish things to do? Here are our Top Five recommendations for Bookish D.C.:

Our Voice: Celebrating the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards
This exhibit, featuring artwork from the illustrators of 101 Coretta Scott King Award-winning titles is FREE! and open to the public. Created by the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, this traveling installation is co-sponsored by the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee and the Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table of the ALA. The exhibit will be on display at THEARC, 1901 Mississippi Ave SE (a 15-minute walk from the Congress Heights metro station) through June 25. If you can, join for a special Closing Reception on Friday, June 21, from 1-3pm. If you’re planning to attend the reception, RSVP to CSK50Art@gmail.com.

Book Buzz D.C.
Combine a visit to a branch of the D.C. Public Library with a fantastic FREE! event that includes lunch! Metro over to Cleveland Park to hear representatives from 20 publishers share their most anticipated upcoming release titles. Children’s & teen titles will be showcased in the morning session, while the afternoon will feature books for adults. Pre-register for this event to reserve your seat and ensure that they have enough food to provide lunches for all attendees.

Library of Congress
No librarian’s visit to our nation’s capital would be complete without a visit to the Library of Congress. Hour-long public tours of the Thomas Jefferson Building run Monday-Saturday, but if you just want to wander around on your own, ogle the gorgeous Reading Room, and head down into the basement to visit the Young Readers Center on your own schedule, that’s also a possibility. Note that if you want a Reader Card, you’ll need to stop by the Madison Building. To speed the process, pre-register online up to two weeks in advance of your visit.

Bookshops and Bars
Perhaps your idea of escape includes a drink or some book browsing in one of D.C.’s beloved independent bookstores. In that case, be sure to head over to Petworth Citizen for a signature cocktail in their Reading Room, a free library-turned-speakeasy, where you can sip your beverage among the stacks. Prefer a muffin or coffee? Local independent bookstores and D.C. treasures Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe and Politics & Prose should suit you just fine. If you’re looking for an evening outing, Politics & Prose has trivia Saturday nights @ 8pm. Book Riot also put together this list of DC’s top indie bookstores. Hungrier for more? Busboys & Poets is a local chain with several locations that offer a curated book selection, open mic, poetry readings, and deliciously conscious cuisine (so many vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free options!).

If you haven’t found anything here to spark your interest, rest assured, there’s plenty more bookish things to explore in D.C. Book Riot and Epic Reads have both put together their own guides with some additional suggestions.

Better yet, any D.C. locals want to chime in with their favorites?

YALSA 301 at Annual 2019

It is almost time for ALA Annual! I am looking forward to seeing many of you in Washington, DC, at the great YALSA events and programs that are scheduled!

Here is an important one to add to your schedule:

Saturday, June 22nd from 9-10 am
Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Room 159A-B

At YALSA 301, you can learn about YALSA leadership opportunities and ask questions of members of the YALSA Board Development Committee – all current or former YALSA leaders. It is a great time to meet other YALSA members who are also interested in leadership positions! Many of us volunteer our time to take on leadership roles within YALSA. Serving on the Board or chairing a committee is a win-win! YALSA benefits from your experiences and passion for teens, and you gain leadership, team building, and career building skills.

Not able to make it to conference? I encourage you to contact me or the other members of the Board Development Committee to learn more. Even if you are not ready to run for Board right now, we would love to talk with you about the exciting leadership opportunities that are available in YALSA!

The Board Development Committee is:

Sandra Hughes-Hassell, smhughes@email.unc.edu

Sarah Hill, gsarahthelibrarian@gmail.com

Carla Land, landc@lvccld.org

Melissa Malanuk, mmalanuk@gmail.com

Ritchie Momon, rmomon@mymcpl.org

Gail Tobin, gtobin@stdl.org

YALSA Board at #alaac19: YALSA 101, 201, 301 Task Force

As a result of YALSA’s Division and Membership Promotion committee’s evaluation of membership engagement surrounding volunteer opportunities in 2018, one recommendation was acted upon right away: to evaluate the effectiveness of YALSA 101, 201 (currently inactive), and 301 sessions. Read more about the YALSA DMP recommendations in Board Document 5. Here are some of the reasons why the Division and Membership Committee recommended evaluating these sessions, that focus directly on sharing information with members and potential members about volunteer and leadership opportunities:

  • To review the effectiveness of the information shared in each session
  • Whether YALSA needs to reinstate the 201 session: This session was previously held during Midwinter to focus solely on volunteer opportunities but these 201 sessions have not been held for the last few years
  • To consider how these sessions (normally held at ALA Conferences) could be replicated at YALSA Symposium and online for a virtual audience

Earlier this year, the YALSA Board’s direction to the President was to appoint a task force no later than March 1st, to explore and evaluate YALSA 101, 201, and 301 sessions and recommend changes, with findings to be presented to the Board by Annual 2019. Learn more in Board Document 8.

See the full agenda of the Board of Directors at ALA Annual in Washington D.C. All Board meetings are open to attendees, and you can learn more about the Board meetings on the YALSA Conference wiki.

YALSA Board at #alaac19: Membership Engagement and Volunteer Opportunities

In the last half of 2018, YALSA’s Division and Membership Promotion Committee did a deep dive to evaluate YALSA’s membership engagement around volunteer opportunities. Here are some key highlights of their evaluation and recommendations for improvements:

  • Increasing communication about the specific work done by the committees, task forces, and juries. Specifically, calendars or timelines, desired skills, and member workloads or expectations for each group.
  • Improved communication after a member has submitted a volunteer application, including but not limited to increasing awareness on volunteer opportunities that are still open after specified positions have been filled.
  • Improving the transparency of various volunteer and committee work using social media.
  • Create a requirement that YALSA committees, task forces, and juries share their work via YALSA blog posts (where applicable–some committees cannot do this per the confidentiality of their work).
  • Create a task force to evaluate YALSA 101, 201 (currently not active), and 301 sessions to evaluate their effectiveness, and the possibility to additionally hold them at other conferences or virtually.
  • Survey current YALSA volunteers about how they want to be acknowledged for their work.

At Annual in Washington, D.C., the YALSA Board will review recommendations by the Division and Membership Committee and may discuss what further actions need to take place or need to be assigned to committees, the YALSA Board, or YALSA Staff. Learn more in Board Document 5.

See the full agenda of the Board of Directors at ALA Annual in Washington, D.C. All Board meetings are open to attendees, and you can learn more about the Board meetings on the YALSA Conference wiki.

Libraries Welcome All Families: A Conversation with Urban High School Students about Representation in the CT Nutmeg Nominees

This post was first published on the ALSC Blog on April 23, 2019

Jillian Woychowski is the Library Media Specialist at West Haven High School and a member of the ALA Interdivisional Committee for School and Public Library Cooperation

Kymberlee Powe is the Head of Children’s and Teen Library Services at the West Haven Public Library

I am very lucky as a school librarian to work so well with my public librarians. Our city’s children’s and teen services librarian has held card drives and visits me on a regular basis. We’ve coordinated getting materials for each other and worked together on summer reading. We also share the experience of serving on our state book award committee. I served on the High School Level 2018 Nutmeg Committee and Kym just wrapped serving on the Middle Grades Nutmeg Committee for 2020 (see nutmegaward.org). Being on the committee for a state book is a serious time commitment, requiring reading 75-150 books and monthly meetings to discuss them. For both of us, making sure our students were represented in the eventual nominees was very important.

Kym comes to West Haven High School once a week to hold a book club with students in our Program for Accelerated Credit-recovery in Education (PACE) program. Students in PACE “have had difficulty succeeding in the regular setting. The program offers credit recovery and and intensive support system so that these students can learn the appropriate skills and behaviors needed to be successful in school and beyond. The program takes a unique outside-the-box approach to teaching and learning in order to re-engage students in their own education, with a focus on college and career readiness” (Program of Studies, whhs.whschools.org). Students receive 90 minutes each of Language Arts and Mathematics a day, along with contemporary issues and environmental education to give students an awareness of their own community. Technological literacy rounds out their curriculum.

This March, Kym and I sat down for a conversation with two PACE students to talk about being an urban librarian and the challenges for equity, diversity, and inclusion in potential award-winning literature.

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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. 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.

What Summer Learning Looks Like in Action: Teen Programs that Inspire

What is Summer Learning? Surprise, you have been doing it without even knowing it! In recent years, there has been a move to transition Summer Reading into Summer Learning. Why? Because libraries have naturally transitioned into third spaces. We are advocates of combating the summer slide, which primarily affects disadvantaged youth, by providing hands-on activities and resources that support them. These materials can be in the form of books, audiovisuals, and e-media. Summer Learning appeals to every type of learner because it is all-inclusive. The teen that struggles with reading but enjoys the library and its atmosphere knows that they are just as welcome and intimidation is null as the avid reader. “Tickets” and “participation logs” reflect this change by adding additional ways to participate by including activities that teens and children can do in and outside of the library.

Those of us who work closely with youth are well informed about our summer program, but other departments in your library may not be. It is your job to educate staff so they can make the public aware of what Summer Learning activities you offer. Take the initiative by sending out an e-mail blast to your coworkers or ask to present at one of your staff meetings to make everyone aware of what Summer Learning is and what that looks like in your library. Emily Samos, Urban Libraries Council, presented her 5 Strategies to building a Summer Learning culture throughout your library as a part of the Making the Transition from Summer Reading to Summer Learning YALSA Webinar, November 2016.

1. Engage team members across the library.
2. Connect Summer Reading with other library services.
3. Start Planning in September [for next year].
4. Initiate and cultivate partnerships with schools, museums, and other partners.
5. Plan programs with clear learning goals.

What Does Summer Learning Look Like in Action?

Reading Public Library—Reading, PA
At the Reading Public Library, we transitioned to Summer@RPL to encompass all that we offer for children, teens, and adults throughout the summer. As that relates to teens particularly, our teen ticket has three activities that participants can complete, “Read,” “Participate in a Teen Program,” and “Volunteer/Do A Good Deed in Your Community.” We encourage them to try all three but note in the rules that they may do any combination. They earn level prizes, can put in for prize packs, and submit for the grand prize after completing all the levels. The “level up” approach keeps them engaged all summer long. Our programs are a combination of fun, entertaining, informative, and always engagingfrom special performances to daily STEAM programs, special guests, and workshops to prepare them for the year ahead and beyond. Performances include a Bollywood interactive performance during Family Night. Our STEAM programs include a Maker Event and weekly opportunities to participate in an engineering program with Snapology where children and teens will be guided through hands-on activities using things they already love: LEGO® bricks, K’Nex, and technology. SAT Prep will be taught by an instructor with more than 23 years of experience teaching the SATs. And our Job Training workshop will be instructed by the Department of Labor and Industry.

Teen Loft Lounge Area at Reading Public Library (Pennsylvania).

Boyertown Community Library—Boyertown, PA
At Boyertown Community Library, Lisa Rand has many cool programs in the works. She is starting a new series called, “Try It Out.” Barrio Alegria, a community development organization that utilizes art as a platform for change, will teach the teens Latin Dance Basics, with an evening salsa class and weekend bachata lesson. A Yoga instructor will lead three afternoon and evening sessions. These programs have flexible times in hopes of accommodating potential participants’ various schedules.

In the past, Lisa has held Ukulele Basics classes provided by a local music shop, Funky Frets. Teens attended three sessions, which gave them a solid base of learning that could be continued with paid lessons, practicing independently, or through the help of resources such as YouTube. “I received great feedback on this program. Teens were glad for a chance to try something new, free of charge. They could approach the learning opportunity as simply something fun to do, with very low commitment. However, meeting for three sessions gave enough of a taste that some teens discovered a new hobby to pursue,” Lisa said.

“When choosing programs for teens, two of the questions I ask myself are Will it be fun? and Would my teens have access elsewhere? We have a wonderful dance school in our neighborhood, but Latin dance is not a part of their curriculum. During the school year, our teens may not have access to Latin dance instruction. On the other hand, for those teens who already love Latin dance, this will be a chance to learn from a live instructor.”

“For the yoga class, I wanted to offer a format where someone could come once to try, or return another time if they enjoy the experience. This program is a way to provide tools for stress-management and wellness but in a low key, recreational setting. We are not a gym or a PE class, so trying a new physical activity here could be welcoming for patrons who might not try on their own.” She says.

Fleetwood Area Public Library—Fleetwood, PA
Stacy Lauks at Fleetwood Areas Public Library has a very cool program series in the works called Practice Makes Progress. “Summer is a great time to explore new things but…it is also important to practice your skills in subjects that you love in order to progress,” she says. Each week during Summer Exploration, patrons will have the opportunity to participate/submit work in a designated subject area such as an art sketchbook, community music recital & community music evaluation, graphic history organizer, community science fair project, or writing submissions. Each submission category includes a positive-based assessment from a member of the community that works in that particular field.

Fleetwood Area Library decided to focus on exploring new things because summer is a great time to “explore what you want when you want, how you want,” she says. “New things are exciting and great, but there are some things that students need to continue practicing during summer. Practice Makes Progress addresses this dichotomy, connects students/library to the community, and is still flexible enough that students can use their practice to explore their interests.”

To make their goal come to fruition, they picked subject areas and coordinated dates; got community members to donate their time to review submissions and plan programs; advertised with the school/private teachers; and are now waiting for the fun to begin. “Can’t wait to see what happens,” she says.

This is what Summer Learning looks like in action. Each of us has a different vision as evident by the examples provided. Nevertheless, we share common goals; we want our youth to excel in areas that we have noticed need developing or may spark an interest and have all found an approach to guide them. We believe in quality experiences for our teens that include using partnerships to our advantage by asking members of our community to give of their time and talents to provide our teens with hands-on experiences, supporting the resources that libraries offer.

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.