Spring into a new YALS

yals spring 16 cover showing web with learning related imagesIt’s spring! Wonderful things are cropping up-blooming flowers, singing birds, leafy trees, and a spring issue of YALS. If spring is a time for new beginnings and fresh starts, then the new issue of YALS fits right in. This issue unveils a fresh new layout and design that you are sure to like. As for content? Excellent as always!

This issue’s theme is “Libraries and Learning,” a theme that President Candice Mack acknowledges could be seen as familiar ground, but..has a fresh take on it in line with the YALSA “Futures Report” and the world of libraries today. She encourages us to think about learning at the library not in terms of the “stuff,” but of the learning process the “stuff” enables.

Kate McNair has a great piece, “Creating a Culture of Learning,” that I think will be of interest to many of us. The library as a center of learning is an idea we’re comfortable with, but we typically think of just the library users as the learners. If we participate in learning new things as well, it may be easier to understand the needs and feelings of our users. How can we be part of the culture of learning too? McNair has some terrific suggestions, and I especially like the useful sidebar, “Where to Get Started in your Continuous Learning.”
Continue reading

Rethinking YALSA: I learn best when…

As YALSA moves closer to completing the association’s organizational plan, the Board of Directors has discussed a variety of topics related to YALSA initiatives. To this purpose, the Board is considering the areas needed to support teen library staff successfully. In this series of blog posts, we look at some of these areas.

There is so much to discover.

For library workers who interact daily with teen patrons, there is always something new. It comes from the teens themselves, raving about a new video game or Netflix original. It comes from changes within the library – new technology, new staff roles, new uses for the meeting rooms, etc. For library workers who serve teens, the need to know can be urgent.

We like face to faceThis is the place that YALSA hopes to fill with a variety of learning opportunities. Part of re-thinking YALSA involves discovering the best ways to bring training to the people who need it when they need it. Right now there are a number of ways that library workers can access training through YALSA. Let’s start with an overview.

Some libraries offer in-service training that pulls everyone in the system together for a day of learning. YALSA offers full day institutes on a range of topics that could be a good fit for our library.  YALSA provides the trainer and materials, and your library provides the participants and space.  If your library is looking for qualified speakers on a variety of topics, check out YALSA’s Speaker’s Bureau. There may be someone nearby who is has expertise on evaluating summer learning programs, for example. This allows face-to-face learners to feed off the enthusiasm of the group and to generate lively discussion. Feel free to add your own name and your particular expertise to the list!

Live webinars can also have the dynamic feel of face-to-face learning, since it shares that spontaneous quality. YALSA’s live webinars are ideal for discussing important topics that get lost in the daily business of serving patrons. For example, YALSA’s  Connecting with Immigrant and Refugee Youth in Your Community will be held on April 21 at 2:00pm EST, and all live webinars are free to YALSA members. If you are able watch the webinar with colleagues, this can be a great way to generate discussion on local library issues.

But what if that is exactly the time your teens show up at the library? The same webinar is available within 24 hours after they’re recorded, accessed through the Members Only page. After 30 days, anyone can view the webinar for $19.  All of YALSA’s institutes and e-courses can also be offered for a specific library or group at a special rate.

I'd rather schedule online training at a time that's convenient to me.There are also plenty of free, on-demand webinars as well. There are webinars on the future of teens services, on connected learning, summer programs, and gaming, to name a few. Recorded webinars don’t have the immediate interaction of face-to-face training, but they still stimulate new thinking and can shed fresh light on everyday activities.

On a larger scale, YALSA offers sessions at ALA’s Midwinter and Annual Conferences, as well as the YA Symposium. These are perfect for those learners who thrive on the energy of others. The presenters are at the top of their field, and the room is filled with people who share that passion.

British Library Conference

British Library Conference

But there’s a downside to this, of course. It means travel. It means expense, which necessitates planning ahead and figuring out strategies for minimizing costs, like sharing a hotel room. If you’ve never attended an ALA conference or YALSA’s symposium before, you can apply for travel grants.  Travel grant applications for the symposium are being accepted through June 1st. There are the kinds of crowds that send introverts back to the hotel room. These big events are increasingly available through live webcasts, which, true confession, is how I watched the Youth Media Awards last winter.

YALSA’s newest continuing education offering is free and can be accessed 24/7 from where ever you are.  This micro-credentialing effort is a great way to brush up on or build new skills.  The digital badges you earn help you demonstrate to current or potential employers the skills and expertise you have mastered.  And for customized, one-on-one professional development, check out YALSA’s virtual mentoring program.

Since we’re talking about library folks here, it makes sense to add that there are plenty of great resources available in print. How about Megan Fink’s Teen Services 101: A Practical Guide for Busy Library Staff? Or Monique Delatte Starkey’s compilation of Practical Programming: The Best of YA-YAAC? And check  your mailbox for the Spring 2016 issue of YALS, which features an array of timely articles, including Kate McNair’s “Creating a Culture of Learning at Your Library.”

What works best for you? Are you inclined to travel and be part of YALSA at conferences? Do you like attending webinars or e-courses with a few like-minded colleagues?  Do you prefer to work independently online and earn digital badges?  Let us know what you think!

What is your preferred format for professional learning opportunities? (choose up to 2)

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...


Rethinking YALSA–Juries

During the organizational planning session at the 2016 Midwinter Meeting, the consultants encouraged the Board to embrace newer member engagement models that would allow YALSA to be faster and more flexible, while at the same time better meet member needs.

The YALSA Volunteer Form for strategic committees, juries, and task forces closed on March 1, and so I’ve been busy appointing chairs and members to fill the empty spots. The most important thing I’ve learned? We have awesomely qualified volunteers and too many committees! And so I was more than willing to bring a proposal to the board last week to improve the volunteer process for YALSA juries.

YALSA has 7 juries:

  • Collection Development Grant Jury
  • Conference Travel Scholarships Jury
  • Frances Henne Research Grant Jury
  • Great Books Giveaway Jury
  • MAE Award for Best YA Literature Program for Teens Jury
  • Volunteer of the Year Award Jury
  • Writing Award Jury

The Board approved the proposal as stated: “For 2016, the Board will experiment for one year with a new model for juries wherein they are only assembled for 3 months (Nov. – Jan.) and that jury members opt-in to participating instead of being appointed. Chairs will be the only appointed members, and will continue to be appointed by the President-Elect. This proposal is specifically for those juries that vet the member grant and award applications that have a Dec. 1 due date.”

Look for a call for jury volunteers in the YALSA eNews in September! If you already volunteered for a jury through the volunteer form, you’ll be given the first opportunity to opt-in to serve. Jury members will be selected on a first-come, first-serve basis and begin work on Nov. 1. Volunteers will still need to comply with existing eligibility requirements, such as current personal membership in YALSA and concurrent service on three or fewer appointed groups.

The Membership Engagement standing board committee will review the process in early 2017 and submit a recommendation to the Board for moving forward with juries. Of course, we anticipate that the process will go smoothly and that YALSA members will appreciate the short three-month term!

Over the next year, we’re hoping to find more ways to streamline YALSA procedures, while improving member experiences with the organization. Please let me know if you have any ideas! If you have any concerns or questions, feel free to comment below or email me at gsarahthelibrarian at gmail.com.

Write for YALSA!

Have you considered writing for YALSAblog or the Young Adult Library Services (YALS) journal but are unsure what topic to write about? The YALSA Publications Advisory Board conducted a survey of blog posts and YALS articles from the past few years. Our results show that some topics get much more coverage than others, creating a need for more articles on certain topics and services. Here is a brief summary of our findings and how you can help fill these holes by submitting to the blog or YALS.

Please note that the purpose of the survey was to identify articles and posts that could be compiled into topic-based publications, so we didn’t include articles that were out of date, that were dependent on a theme such as Teen Tech Week, or were otherwise unsuited for a compilation. All results were finalized November 2015 for the YALS survey and March 2016 for the blog survey.

Continue reading

Hands-On Science

Florida has many adventures for your budding scientist. Explore many hands-on experiences.  Do you have a budding astronaut at home?  Are you looking for Science experiences to bring back to your teachers?  Is science just “your thing”?  These local experiences will not disappointment.

Orlando Science Center

Orlando Science Center attracts nearly 400,000 visitors each year with dynamic and engaging content. The goal has always been to personalize the guest experience; demonstrating how science impacts everyday life. Structured programming ranges from on-site experiences that utilize exhibits, theatrical performances, classes, and events, to off-site educational programs in the schools.


Open:  Thur – Tues 10am – 5pm, Closed Wed

Admission:  $19.95 Adult, $13.95 Child, Florida Teachers free with Valid credentials

Admission includes 4 floors of intereactive exhibit galleries, films in the Dr. Philips CineDome, Digital Adventure Theatre and Science Live!  Admission also includes one Hollywood Movie per visit.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is where you can see the largest rocket ever flown, touch a moon rock, meet an astronaut, and stand nose-to-nose with shuttle Atlantis all in the same day. Make it a more memorable experience by having lunch with an astronaut!


Open:  9am – 7 pm daily

Admission: Prices begin at $50 Adult, $40 Child.  Lunch with an Astronaut $29.99 Adult, $15.99 Child

Continue reading

Instagram of the Week — April 11

Throughout the month of April, libraries are clearing away the clutter, running creative teen programs, and getting ready to celebrate National Library Week (April 10-16). Every April Fool’s Day, the puns and jokes bring to mind a supervisor of mine. She would prank call us in the evenings to ask if we had any red books, for instance, and she always had patrons dropping by for books and laughs. For her fiftieth birthday, we returned the favor by packing her office with balloons so tightly, it was impossible to move. Not only did we love working for her, she encouraged a culture of creativity and truly connected the library to the community. Research shows that laughter has not only been linked to higher creativity in problem solving, but also benefits health and relationships.

As The Future of Library Services for and with Teens explains, library staff need to connect with teens as individuals, be willing to talk with teens about their interests and passions, and take risks in order to find out what works and does not work with and for teens. Hosting creative programs provide teens a way to connect to the library and gives them opportunities for making and hanging out. Being silly on the job reminds us that working with teens is not only demanding and rewarding, but also FUN!

Please let us know how your library is celebrating National Library Week in the comments section below!


Public Library Association (PLA) Conference News-Teen Services

“Challenge yourself at #PLA2016 to be extraordinary because extraordinary libraries
create extraordinary communities.”  This was the theme for the bi-annual conference and it seemed to have genuinely expressed just that.

I began the conference by leading a preconference titled “Emerging Adults in Our Libraries: Who are They and Where do we Find Them?” and while the theme doesn’t specifically pertain to teen services I think a lot of teen librarians (and this was part of the impetus for the research for the presentation) will attest to the reality that this is something they see and think a lot about with serving teens; what happens to them in terms of services and programs after they “age out” of teen services?  This was a central focus of the research that myself and three other librarians embarked upon in 2015 by launching a nation wide survey into the work libraries are doing with and for emerging adults (ages 18-25/30).  The presentation at PLA introduced our research findings, had participants do an activity based on real life scenarios we heard from librarians with our research, participants shared out possible solutions and then an expert panel spoke about the work they are doing with emerging adults and their families as well.  Tomas Mejia, Director of Migrant Education at the Department of Education, Colorado, Clayton Gonzalez, Director of Programs, Urban Peak (a Denver, Colorado nonprofit that provides a full convergence of services for youth age 15 through 25 experiencing homelessness or at risk for becoming homeless) and Alberto Pellicer, Early Literacy Librarian, Denver Public Library.  A blog has been created that includes information from the preconference, articles about this population, outreach to this population, and opportunities for other librarians to share the work they are doing with this population.

The Bubbler @ Madison Public Libraries: A System-Wide Approach to Learning through Making was a great introduction into the work that Madison, Wisconsin Public Library is doing with and for peoples of all ages with technology programming, DIY programs, an artist in residence program and more.  The Bubbler is a program and not a specific space, the programs take place in the Central Library, the 7 branches, schools, juvenile justice centers and in the community.  There is a BIG focus on this kind of work with teens in schools, in the library and in the juvenile justice system and this is a library recognized effort.  Making Justice  is a community-based learning program for court-involved teens that includes weekly workshops and an artist-in-residence opportunity.  They are doing all kinds of programming opportunities for teens involved in the juvenile justice system with music programming, bringing in hand drawn animation stations and more.  The Bubbler is through an IMLS and NEA grants. Check out the Teen Bubbler site.

making justice

I visited the Denver Public Library and had a chance to see the Idea Lab in action during time for teens in the space; Monday through Friday 3:00-6:00 pm.  The SM Energy ideaLAB is a makerspace and digital media lab at the Central Library. With equipment and software, people can make videos, games, music, art, crafts, and more. The lab is free to anyone – no library card necessary!  Not too many barriers for teens to use the space in terms of not having a library card, no problem.

Sustainable Connected Learning for Youth focused on the initiative that the Cuyahoga County Library System has rolled out as a pilot in five locations with Connected Learning. The Information and Technology Department spearheaded this initiative by training staff in the focus areas of Connected Learning as well as provided ideas and worked with staff in identifying program ideas like STEAM programming, mentoring/social component and on the fly programming.

The article in School Library Journal in March 2016 introduced some of us to the work Denver Public Library is doing with asset mapping and I joined the session, Teen Asset Mapping: A Community Development Approach to Teen Services Expansion to learn more about what they are doing.  The Director of Denver Public Library and a staff consisting of librarians (one being the only Teen Librarian on the staff at DPL) and library associates worked tirelessly on this project beginning in 2013 with the idea that they weren’t providing teen services and wanted to but what would that look like in a city with a strong number of organizations that do provide teen services/programs.  The idea was to identify what the assets for teens are in Denver; this would be outside library organizations and find out what exactly they are doing with and for teens.  They developed questions and interviewed over 40 organizations and through the responses created a list of categories like juvenile justice system, teen parents, homeless youth, along with services/programs being provided.  What came out of the research was a better understanding of what services/programs there were in Denver and what services/programs weren’t being offered and what needs there may be.  The staff at DPL did an incredible amount of work on this and they are accessible; contact them through the link above as well as check out the resources they have available for more in depth information.

Registration for YALSA’s 2016 Young Adult Services Symposium now open

feature-slides-reg-openRegistration for YALSA’s 2016 Young Adult Services Symposium, which takes place Nov. 4-6 in Pittsburgh, is now open. Individuals can register for the symposium with early bird rates now through Sept. 15, 2016.

Early bird rates are as follows:

  • $199 YALSA Personal Member
  • $199 Pennsylvania Library Association Members
  • $199 Pennsylvania School Librarians Association Members
  • $249 ALA Personal Member
  • $310 Nonmembers
  • $59 Students (enrolled full-time in a library program)

Register early to take advantage of up to $50 in savings. Registration includes:

  • Opening session and reception Friday evening
  • Educational programming Saturday and Sunday
  • Option to register for additional events
  • Access to a free webinar
  • Certificate of participation with your contact hours
  • Snack breaks Saturday and Sunday
  • Symposium tote bag

Continue reading

Instagram of the Week – April 4

A brief look at ‘grams of interest to engage teens and librarians navigating this social media platform.

We’ve flipped our calendars to April and the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month has arrived! Established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month is the largest literary celebration worldwide. The Future of Library Services for and with Teens report discusses the importance of engaging teens in library programming that helps develop multiple literacies and skills for future college and career success. Poetry month lends itself to a variety of active and passive programs, and libraries are taking to Instagram to share programming opportunities with their communities. Sharing a poem a day on social media, placing boards with magnetic words around the library, and providing the materials necessary for poetry contest entries allows teens to explore poetry at their leisure. On the other hand, holding a poetry slam, blackout poetry art program, or hosting a poet to lead a workshop and reading can foster a more collaborative environment for teens. Spine poetry and poetry contents that require photographs, online submissions, or sharing content on social media provide an opportunity for teens to enhance technology skills. Putting together a book display? Why not ask teens to assist in searching the catalog for materials to include? Don’t forget to pull a few novels in verse and popular fiction titles that include works of poetry.

Need a little inspiration for programs? Visit the National Poetry Month website where you can find a list of 30 ways to celebratetips for librarians, and a form to request a free poster with this year’s design by Debbie Millman. Don’t forget that Poem in Your Pocket Day is coming up on Thursday, April 21!

This week’s Instagram images not only highlight what libraries are doing for Poetry Month, but also how they celebrated April Fools’ Day on April 1. Want to share your poetry program plans or tell us a fun April Fools’ prank your library pulled? Use the comments section below!

Continue reading


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 President of YALSA, Candice Mack, is focusing her year as President with an initiative, “3-2-1 Impact: Inclusive and Impactful Teen Services,” which will focus on building the capacity of libraries to plan, deliver and evaluate programs and services for and with underserved teen populations.  Visit YALSA’s wiki to find and share information about serving diverse teens and building cultural competence.

Each month I will profile a teen librarian or staff working in teen services providing outreach services and programs outside the walls of the library to underserved and underrepresented teens. The purpose is for us to learn, connect, network and share with each other the crucial work we are doing in this area.

This month I interview Pamela McCarter, Outreach Specialist for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

Pamela McCarter 2

Continue reading