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 yalsa@ala.org 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!

Grant Gives YA Collection New Life

This year I was awarded one of the Baker & Taylor/ YALSA Collection Development grants to create a new and improved YA collection at the Scranton Public Library’s bookstore/library hybrid branch, Library Express.  Library Express is unique not only because it is a hybrid but because it is located in the Marketplace at Steamtown, Scranton’s downtown mall.   Library Express is also the location of most of the teen programming that I conduct as the library’s Young Adult Librarian.  The YA collection at Library Express was desperately in need of an upgrade so this grant came in very handy.  With the grant funding, I was able to add about eighty-five new titles to the existing YA collection.  In total, these new items circulated 107 times between June 2016 and August 2016.  This much activity was in great contrast to the meager circulation statistics which were collected before we added the new titles.

When I ordered the items for the new teen collection, I decided to spend most of the grant funding on YA Fiction novels which could be classified as modern classics such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Monster by Walter Dean Myers, The First-Part Last by Angela Johnson and The Giver by Lois Lowry.  This strategy paid off because these titles circulated well and will not become outdated so easily.  The nonfiction titles and Playaways that I added to the collection did not circulate quite as well.  I had a feeling that this would be the case which is why I spent the bulk of the grant funding on YA Fiction.

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Do You Speak Game?

At the White Oak Library District, I helped work on my library’s district wide strategic plan. The one place I knew we were failing our patrons was with families who were learning English as a second language. We always talk about ways to better serve our patrons in this aspect but never really got around to doing anything. Once the plan was released we finally started making an effort.  Seeing the families coming in for conversation clubs, I noticed the children and teens were always left behind. The teen services staff quickly realized the teens needed something of their own, as a way to learn and to help their family members learn. We thought about how language is learned and realized that playing games increases language comprehension skills.  Games add an extra component of fun to learning, making it active learning. We plan to buy Scrabble, Bananagrams, Upwords, Scrabble Slam, Scattergories, Catch Phrase, Taboo, Balderdash, Jenga, Apples to Apples, Anomia and Superfight!. These games will become a circulating collection that families can borrow. We hope it will help them bond, learn, and play together.

It is always hard to find a way to tell our library users about all the services we have for them. We plan to launch the collection during Teen Read Week and have a special game night kick-off program at all three of the branches called “Do you Speak Game?” The purpose of game night is to introduce our patrons to the game collection and use it as an opportunity to teach patrons how to play the games.

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Bullying Prevention Month: Bullying in Public Schools in America

October is bully prevention month and with that, YouthTruth, a national nonprofit that surveys students who deal with bullying, have come out with a new report. “Students who are bullied often fail to report it out of fear of becoming a greater target, or because they may be uncomfortable coming forward.” Because of this many parents, school leaders, etc. may not know what is actually happening to their children and students. Through an anonymous survey, YouthTruth works to bring these statistics to light, so that the public can be made aware of how vast a problem bullying can be. YouthTruth looked at 80,000 public school students across the United States from grades five through twelve.

The report by YouthTruth shows that one in four students are being bullied in public schools in the United States. Unlike popular beliefs, bullying still happens mostly in person, rather than online. The findings did find that if you are being cyberbullied, more often than not, you are being bullied in person as well. With bullying, students who were surveyed believe they are being bullied due to “their appearance, their race or skin color, and because other students thought they were gay.”

There are four types of ways to be bullied: verbal harassment, social harassment, physical bullying, and cyberbullying. Verbal harassment is the most common at 79%, social harassment makes up 50%, physical bullying is at 29%, and cyberbullying is at the bottom at 25%. As stated before, if a student is being cyberbullied, they are also experiencing bullying in person. Of the students who reported that they were being cyberbullied, 74% said they experienced verbal harassment, 68% reported social harrasment, and 38% report physical harassment. These numbers go to show that cyberbullying is not a lone crime, students are being bullying from multiple facets.

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Rural Virginia Celebrates Teen Read Week 2016

p1050105-1-2My school librarian and I are still kicking around a ideas for our school’s Teen Read Week celebration October 9 – 15. This year’s “Read for the Fun of It” theme focuses on multilingual youth. In our rural corner of the world, where only three students are English language learners, we feel this year’s theme is especially important. A great number of connections, activities, and displays are piquing our interest as we plan for a week of celebrating cultural diversity and reading for pleasure.


Our school system’s acceptable use policy changed this year, and students now have access to their electronic devices during school hours. Book spine poetry, a bookface showdown, and a where do you read? contest are all in consideration. We want to focus on drawing students to the library using the phone and social media power couple that is so influential to tweens and teens. We are also really digging a play on Silent Library, especially something like this around the world version which connects perfectly with this year’s theme.

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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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