ALSC’s Everyday Advocacy

Recently I made my way up to New York’s Capitol Building in Albany to “storm the castle” if you will with my fellow New York Library advocates. Every year, library workers and supporters travel caravan style from all over the state to share why libraries are important. We are at the ready with stats, numbers, stories, and anything else that can show our local representatives why we are essential to our communities and how we need them to stick up for our budget. Of course this is New York budget and only one day a year. While it is indeed powerful to see a building full of library supporters chanting “We! Love! Libraries!” in matching hats and hearing stories from representatives about how libraries have changed their lives this is only one rally in one state on one day, what can we do the other 364 days of the year?

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All About Advocacy: A Trio of March Snack Breaks

Advocacy is something that library staff working with teens sometimes find difficult to take on. It can seem scary. It can seem time consuming. It can seem like something that someone else can do. However, advocating for the value of library teen services and the value of supporting the successful growth and development of teens is something that every library staff member needs to take on. As a way to help library staff understand some of the ins and outs of advocating for and with teens, YALSA just added three new Snack Break videos on that topic.

One way to get started with advocacy work is through engaging teens in activities that help them gain advocacy skills. In the video below, Jane Gov, Youth Services Librarian, Pasadena (CA) Public Library, provides tips on how to do just that.
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Teen Tech Week: Playing with Failure

The theme for this year’s Teen Tech Week is “Libraries are for Creating,” and an important aspect of creativity is failure and the ability to embrace trying something new to see what happens. Programs based around improv games and experimenting with recording video can give teen and youth patrons an opportunity for low-risk creation. Continue reading

Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff Webinar: Teen Growth and Development

cover of the teen services competencies for library staffEach month, through December, YALSA is sponsoring free webinars (for members and non-members) on topics related to the Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff.

The March webinar kicked-off the series (the full video recording is available after the break). Led by Jutta Dotterweich, the Director of Training and Technical Assistance, ACT for Youth Project at Cornell University. This session focused on positive youth development with particular attention to how adolescent’s brains develop and how youth engagement can be and is an important aspect of positive youth development.

YALSA will host a follow-up Twitter chat on youth development on Thursday, March 22, at 7PM Eastern. Use the hashtag #yalsace to participate.
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Teen Tech Week: Four Steampunk Ideas

Teen Tech Week is finally here! “Libraries are for Creating” is a good theme for to introducing teens to Steampunk. Steampunk is not “punk” at all; the science fiction author, K.W. Jeter made up the word in the 1980’s. Think of it as science fiction meets Victorian Age. Jeter coined the word to describe some of his works, such as Morlock Night and Infernal Devices. It is not only a genre of literature, but also a style of clothes, video games, movies, and more. Steam-powered technology was prominent in Victorian times, when there was no electricity. Steampunk is a fun and creative way to get teens excited about reading and get them thinking outside the box. Not only does Steampunk inspire reading, but it also fosters creativity and encourages recycling. Continue reading

Research on Competency Content Area 5: Youth Engagement and Leadership

Authored by the YALSA Research Committee

Throughout the current term, the YALSA Research Committee will be looking at Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff through the lens of research.  Through our posts, we will attempt to provide a brief snapshot of how scholarship currently addresses some of the issues put forth through the standards.

I heard a teacher recount a story the other day on National Public Radio. He was trying a new way to inspire his high school students on a very old and seemingly abstract physics concept. His new teaching method was introducing a physics concept utilizing an innovative and tactical approach. He reported that he couldn’t keep up with the students. The student’s gathered in groups, they collaborated all on their own, the teacher reported that the students reached farther and faster than his old lectures and it finally hit him…get out of their way & watch them soar! Engaging our young adult patrons and watching them soar is what librarians need to discover and share. 

Demonstrating to young adults how leadership can be accomplished in the public library sphere is not like school for they are not our “students” and not like home because they are not our “children”. Library staff are here to serve their population…as YALSA members and library staff, we need to find a way to successfully serve youth.  YALSA has worked very hard to create documents and share that information with their members.  Engaging young adults, and providing leadership should be the goal of every library worker’s effort when planning young adult programs, outreach and services and this is one of the goals of YALSA’s New Teen Services Competencies for library Staff. Our topic for this month’s competency #5 Youth Engagement and Leadership, which is defined as: Responds to all teens’ interests and needs, and acts in partnership with teens to create and implement teen activities and to foster teen leadership.

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Allied Media Conference & Call for Proposals

Do you view libraries, archives, museums, and galleries through a lens of them being a leading force in social justice, activism, and community organizing? Then you may be interested in attending the Allied Media Conference (AMC) which takes place June 14-17, 2018 in Detroit. The AMC brings together themed conference tracks comprised of sessions that are all connected by the concept of media-based organizing, “or any collaborative process that uses media, art or technology to address the roots of problems and advance holistic solutions towards a more just and creative world.” This year, the Radical Libraries, Archives, and Museums track will return to Allied Media Conference and aims to share more ideas and skills while allowing individuals working in these fields to make connections and support each other in their work.

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Teen Tech Week: 9 Activities for Creating at Your Library

This year’s Teen Tech Week theme, “Libraries are for Creating,” highlights how teens can combine technology and creativity to create some truly unique products.  The ideas and resources here make for great program activities this Teen Tech Week and any time of the year.

Paper Circuits

This low-tech, low-cost project integrates art into an activity that is perfect for teaching how circuits work.  The main supplies are copper tape, a 3-volt coin cell battery, and a basic LED. MIT’s High-Low Tech features a tutorial and templates, and Sparkfun has a list of projects.  If money is not a barrier, take it a step further with LED stickers from Chibitronics.


Sewable Circuits / Wearable Electronics

Sewable circuits similar to paper circuits, only instead of copper wire, electrical current is conducted through conductive thread.  Create a circuit with the thread, an LED, a battery holder, and metal snaps.  The sewing is fairly basic, so sewing newbies should be able to participate, but teens without an existing understanding of circuits might do better starting with paper circuits.  One draw of sewable circuits is that teens can create a functioning and (possibly) fashionable product in a relatively short amount of time. MIT has an excellent lesson plan here, or this Instructables project is a good starting point.


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Still Looking for short-Term Volunteers

Want to get involved in YALSA? Don’t have lots of time? Here’s the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.

YALSA has a two short-term member volunteer opportunities available right now!

We are looking for:

  1. Three to five members to serve on a virtual taskforce charged with developing a new member Innovation Award. This award will recognize a member who has embraced YALSA’s vision for teen services. The award proposal will be due to the Board for review at our June 2018 meeting.
  2. Three to five members to serve on a virtual taskforce charged with developing a new Mid-Career Travel Stipend to be used by a YALSA member who expresses need and has not had the opportunity to attend an ALA Annual Conference or YALSA Symposium for five years. The stipend proposal will be due to the Board for review at our June 2018 meeting.

These are two great ways to get involved in the work of YALSA without having to attend in-person meetings or make a lengthy commitment. Plus, you’ll be helping to craft proposals for awards that will directly benefit members.

If you are interested in volunteering for either of these short-term volunteer opportunities, please fill out the Committee Volunteer Form

If you have any questions, please contact me (


Sandra Hughes-Hassell
YALSA President 2017-2018

2018 YALSA Election: An Interview with Board of Directors-at-Large Candidate Trixie Dantis

Get ready to vote in this year’s YALSA election!  To help you make informed decisions, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2018 YALSA Governance candidates. Voting will take place from Monday, March 12 through Wednesday, April 4.  Below you’ll find our interview with Board of Directors-at-Large candidate, Trixie Dantis.  To help you further prepare for the election, be sure to check out the recording of the Candidates’ Virtual Town Hall and read the sample ballot.

Serving three-year terms, YALSA Board members are responsible for jointly determining YALSA’s current and future programs, policies, and serving as liaisons to YALSA’s committees, juries, taskforces and advisory boards. Members work year round, and attend in-person meetings at ALA’s Midwinter and Annual Conferences. A full description of Board duties and responsibilities can be found here. Continue reading