YALSA Winter CE Not to Be Missed

There’s lots of opportunities this winter to take advantage of YALSA CE that focuses on making sure teens in your community have access to materials and services that meet their specific needs. Here’s what’s on our lineup:

Let’s Keep it Real: Library Staff Helping Teens Examine Issues of Race, Social Justice, and Equity
January 26, 2017, 2PM Eastern
Library staff play an important role in helping teens to gain skills, comfort, and confidence in making decisions and having discussions related to social justice, equity, and race. In this webinar you’ll have the chance to learn about how to help teens recognize their abilities in this area. Library Journal Mover and Shaker Amita Lomial will facilitate the webinar. Check out a portion of Amita’s 2015 webinar for YALSA on libraries and cultural competence.

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En-route to Transforming Teen Library Services

Imagine a library where tweens develop and run an oral history project, working with seniors in the community to podcast their knowledge about the community, with mentoring from the anthropology and education students at the local community college, and then create a Wikipedia page for their community.

Imagine a library where a group of teens co-design the window display for the local boutique with their merchandising managers for their spring/summer collection for teens, by doing research in the library on the upcoming weather pattern for spring/summer with a local meteorologist, and work with the faculty members and students from the School of Design at the local community college to put their designs together and present their ideas to the local boutique owners.

How do we become this kind of librarian – one who leverages technology, design, community partnerships and the latest research on learning in informal spaces?

The new, online Graduate Certificate of Professional Studies in Youth Experience (YX) is designed to give you these skills and more, in alignment with YALSA’s Leading the Transformation of Teen Library Services priority area in its new organization plan.

Working in partnership with YALSA, the ALA Office of Information Technology and Policy (OITP), an advisory board of top researchers and library leaders, and with the support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the YX Certificate is designed to answer the needs of librarians in an evolving landscape of learning and technology.

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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 YALSA 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 post will be a roundup of some of 2016’s posts to highlight the outreach work some teen services librarians are doing as as well potentially inspire YOU to try and replicate some of this work in your own libraries and communities.

December’s post introduced us to Jessie Vieau, Teen Librarian and the work he is doing at the  Madison Public Library, Central Library with Making Justice, a community-based learning program for at-risk and court-involved teens that includes weekly workshops and an artist-in-residence opportunity.

September’s post focused on the work Courtney Saldana, Youth Services Supervising Librarian at the Ovitt Family Community Library in Ontario, California does with the STeP program. Courtney created the STeP program or Skills for Teen Parents, an innovative library services model aimed at connecting pregnant and parenting teens with the resources and services they need to succeed as adults and as parents.

July’s post introduced us to the work of Hayden Bass, Outreach Program Manager, for the Seattle Public Library and her work in outreach and priorities she focuses on.

May’s post introduced us to Leigh Hurwitz, School Outreach Librarian with the Brooklyn Public Library and the work she does between Brooklyn PreK-12 school communities and Brooklyn Public Library.

March’s post focused on Kim Dare who was the YALSA Cultural Competence Task Force Chair 2014-2015. She talked a lot about the priorities of the YALSA Cultural Task Force be brought into the conversation of outreach.

January 2016’s post introduced us to Kate McNair, the Teen and Outreach Librarian for the Johnson County Library, Kansas, Antioch Branch.  Kate’s position focuses half of her time working directly on outreach, working with partners outside of the library.

What about some resources to help, these resources are culled from some of the posts throughout the 2016 year.

Vancouver Public Library’s Community-Led Libraries Toolkit. ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services has a whole slew of resources. Hayden Bass led a webinar at WebJunction—there are lots of other great resources linked there, too.

From Kristy Gale, Young Adult Services Librarian at the Seattle Public Library, University Branch November 2016 YALSA Blog post

  • Talk to youth and young adults that may be experiencing homelessness that use your library. They will have valuable input!
  • Check-in with library staff that are already doing this work. If you have community engagement and outreach service staff at your library, tap into them.
  • Seek out service providers at local agencies that reach out to teens and young adults experiencing homelessness along with other populations in your community that have inequitable access to resources and opportunities.
    • Connecting and volunteering with organizations that focus their work on helping young adults experiencing homelessness and LGBTQ YA has been a great way for me to learn more about the needs of the young adults I serve. Go on outreach with these organizations and learn as they model best practices!
  • The LAMBDA Summit was earlier this year, and Dr. Julie Winkelstein a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is a Postdoctoral Researcher and nationally known advocate for those experiencing homelessness, is a powerhouse of knowledge on the topic.

There are a lot of resources that I use on a regular basis that may be helpful to people coming to outreach.  Some books that I look at; (from Pamela McCarter, Outreach Specialist, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, April YALSA Blog post )


*          Hurt 2.0: Inside the World of Today’s Teenagers (Youth, Family, and Culture)

*          Speaking to Teenagers: How to Think About, Create, and Deliver Effective Messages by Doug Fields

*          The Youth Worker’s Guide to Helping Teenagers in Crisis by Rich Van Pelt

*          The Romance of Risk: Why Teenagers Do the Things They Do by Lynne E. Ponton, M.D.

*          Ask Me if I Care: Voices from an American High School by Nancy Rubin


*          At Risk Youth, 5th Edition 5th Edition by J. Jeffries McWhirter

*          Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers by Cris Beam


TimeOut Youth Time Out Youth Center serves LGBTQ youth ages 11-20.

Mayor’s Mentoring Alliance The Mayor’s Mentoring Alliance connects Charlotte mentoring organizations for the purpose of promoting best practices through providing workshops, resources and standards for quality service delivery.

The Relatives  The Relatives is a system of resources that helps children, youth and young adults find safety, stability and pathways to successful futures.


Library Services for Youth in Custody

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

30 Days of Social Justice: Wrapping Up and Taking Action

The 30 Days of Working for and with Teens for Social Justice campaign is wrapping up, but that doesn’t mean your actions have to end. As I mentioned on December 1st, Opportunities for White People in the Fight for Racial Justice suggests great ways to get involved in the cause and help spread awareness. Actions range from asking for little effort (but causing a big impact), to major changes we can help implement through our libraries.

If you haven’t tried anything yet, check out the site and do something quick, like:
follow writers and activists of color on social media
teach teens about racism, violence, privilege, and more
diversify your reading list

If you’re attending Midwinter, make room in your schedule for Racial Justice at Your Library hosted by Libraries4BlackLives.

Be sure to check the Hub to make sure you didn’t miss any posts in this collaboration!

STEAM Zone: an Afternoon of Mechanical Engineering at Miami-Dade Public Library

The Miami-Dade Public Library hosted a series of innovative, technology-based programs for center city youth that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (a/k/a STEAM). 

A Mechanical Engineering class at the North Central Branch was attended by over twenty students. The class is the brainchild of Carol and Brianna Frachtman and is one of many offered by their school Engineering For Kids Broward. It focused on the creation of two hands-on projects that introduced a variety of engineering concepts and skill sets to a highly enthusiastic group of youth.

“We like to build on children’s natural curiosities and unlimited imaginations by offering inquiry-based, collaborative lessons that spark enthusiasm. It’s about discovery and play and having fun while learning,” said Carol.

The first lesson centered on the creation of a Candy Catapult. Carol explained how these simple machines were used to hoist weapons abCandy catapultsove the high ramparts of medieval villages. The youth were given all the supplies needed to create their own catapult, the foundation of which is a box of DOTS gumdrops. When several students asked if they might consume some candy, Carol quickly explained how that would compromise the volume and weight of their catapult’s foundation—the box of candy—and they might not be able to get enough tension to hurl their projectiles where they wanted.

To foster team building, the students broke into small groups and assembled their catapults. Once the catapults were completed, the concepts of accuracy and precision were discussed.

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Meet the YALSA Board of Directors

What is the YALSA Board? What do they do? Who is on the YALSA Board? These could be questions you may have and if they are you’ve come to the right place. Each month, two YALSA Board of Directors are interviewed and their responses are shared here in order to help members get to know more about the Board members, the Board itself and things the Board is working on.

YALSA’s board of directors has the principal responsibility for fulfillment of YALSA’s mission and the legal accountability for its operations. The board has specific fiduciary duties of care, loyalty, and obedience to the law. As a group they are in charge of:

  • establishing a clear organizational mission
  • forming the strategic plan to accomplish the mission
  • overseeing and evaluating the plan’s success
  • hiring a competent executive director
  • providing adequate supervision and support to the executive director

This month meet Nick Buron, Chief Librarian, Queens Library and YALSA Board Fiscal Officer and Diane Colson, Library Director at City College Gainesville and YALSA Board of Directors member.

What are you working on in the Board?
I was honored to be selected by the YALSA Board to complete a one year stint as YALSA’s Fiscal Officer.
My first few months has been coming up to speed with current issues with the Board, YALSA and ALA finances as they relate to Divisions.  As this is my third time with the YALSA Board (Three years as Board Member at Large and three years as YALSA Councilor to ALA Council) I feel I have been able to make the on-boarding a quick process.
What do you want others members to know about the Board and YALSA?
The YALSA Board’s responsibility is to insure a strong, self sustaining professional organization for its members.  That takes time, innovations and sometimes changing the way things have been done in the past.  I encourage all YALSA members to be involved so that they can benefit from this hard work.  Also, the Board is simply a group of members that have dedicated themselves to do for the association – this can be you. Members should feel welcome to step forward and be the next group of leaders on the board.
How does one get involved in the Board?
All Board meetings are open to the public and members are encourage to attend at either Mid-winter to Annual conferences,  If that does not work, YALSA Town Halls, committee assignments and events are excellent ways to know what the board is doing and get involved.
What book you are reading or what is your most favorite recent teen program?
My new favorite Teen program at my library is our Young Adult Literacy program.
Four times a year, at three Queens Library locations, 60 young people who have not succeeded in traditional secondary school programs meet to raise their math and literacy levels to the point they can study for the HSE (high school equivalency) test.  Students are given incentives when they do well academically or have good attendance habits, free metro-card for transportation and internships .  The success rate has been high with many teens succeeding where they did not in the past.

What are you working on in the Board?

I am interested in the potential of YALSA Interest Groups as a dynamic venue for member engagement. Currently, we have just three Interest Groups. Two of them serve to connect YA communities in geographical areas (Washington DC, LA) and the other focuses on the topic of Teen Mental Health. Interest Groups are a natural first step for YALSA members who would like to be involved in the exchange of ideas without a formal commitment. They can be a way for members to bond over shared passions no matter what sort of library they work in or where in the world they work. Interest groups can lead to conference programs, blog posts, or a group of experts that assist YALSA as needed.

I’m also the chair of our Advocacy Standing Committee and, in the past couple of months, have worked with other board members to create a Board Self-Assessment document.

What do you want others members to know about the Board and YALSA?

Teens really do come first. Library staff in many types of settings work with teen patrons, and YALSA aims to provide support for all of these diverse endeavors.

One recent example of this is the wiki page prepared in response to the presidential election. This very thorough collection of resources was assembled within days of the election, so library staff could respond to the concerns of young people in an informed and supportive way. Members can be proud of the level of expertise and focused leadership provided by YALSA staff and the Board.

How does one get involved in the Board?

For me, it was a matter of staying involved over the course of many years. My first official YALSA event was a “Serving the Underserved” Training program in 1999. After that, I was appointed to the 2004 Outstanding Books for the College Bound Committee, and then Popular Paperbacks. I was fortunate enough to work on a number of award and selection committees, but I also served on process committees such as Organization & Bylaws and Strategic Planning. Eventually, I worked up the courage to run for YALSA Board.

I think that YALSA leaders are always looking for members who love the organization and its work. While I personally prefer volunteer assignments that put me in touch with literature, my commitment is to YALSA as a full, dynamic entity with many tasks and responsibilities. That kind of fervent commitment doesn’t go unnoticed!

What book you are reading or what is your most favorite recent teen program?

I love adult books that have teen appeal, so often my favorite books fall in that category. I’ve recently read The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson and Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt.

Program-wise, I’m really enjoying putting together materials for my students about identifying fake news. It’s the kind of presentation that makes them laugh (who would believe THAT?) but also helps them to analyze news in a more discerning way.

Connected libraries: Surveying the current landscape and charting a path to the future

Library programs designed for and by teens. One-on-one professional mentorship. Makers of different age groups and cultures collaborating on projects. Partnerships with department stores, architectural firms, and design schools. These are just a few of the ways that public libraries are leveraging the principles of the connected learning framework to help to teens connect 21st century skills to their own interests and peer relationships.

A new white paper titled Connected Libraries: Surveying the Current Landscape and Charting a Path to the Future, from the ConnectedLib project collects the existing literature on connected learning in libraries to explore trends (such as treating teen volunteer programs as workforce development), opportunities (such as building community partnerships), and challenges (such as measuring the impact of a program). The white paper also describes how the ConnectedLib project addresses gaps in the existing connected learning research and resources for libraries.

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30 Days of Social Justice: Why the #OwnVoices Movement Is Crucial for Young Readers

What is the #OwnVoices movement?

Alaina: The #OwnVoices movement originated as a hashtag, started by Corinne Duyvis. Duyvis is an own voices author of OTHERBOUND and THE EDGE OF GONE. Duyvis started the hashtag with children’s literature in mind, but the hashtag has expanded by its users to include all literature or publishing. The hashtag #OwnVoices is meant to showcase works that are created by authors/illustrators who share the identity of their characters, such as a book with a d/Deaf protagonist written by a d/Deaf author.

Why is the movement so important?

Alaina: Whenever we talk about diversity in publishing and literature, there are some critical things to consider. Are we discussing diverse characters, or diverse authors, or diverse gatekeepers and industry professionals? Are we concerned with diversity in that stories are being published with inclusive casts, or are we also talking about the lack of diversity in whose work gets published, and who is sitting at the table making decisions about what to publish? The reason that #OwnVoices creators are so important is because, as marginalized people, we’re the best authority on telling our own stories. It’s great that more people are talking about how to write authentic, sensitive stories outside their experience, and getting sensitivity readers involved, but it’s also important that marginalized people are able to tell their own stories. And that’s what #OwnVoices does—it allows us to be a voice in our own storytelling, when stories about marginalized communities have historically been told by privileged people.

How does the movement relate to other literary movements, such as #WeNeedDiverseBooks?

Alaina: I think a lot of these movements fold together into a central goal—to have more diverse, authentic and intersectional representation across the industry. The different shades of hashtags, such as #OwnVoices and #DisabilityTooWhite (started by Vilissa Thompson), only go to show that there are nuances to the general idea of diversity, whether it’s the idea that disability representation isn’t inclusive of people of color, or the idea that we should prioritize authors writing about their own marginalized experience. These are all unique issues within the larger diversity movement, and I think every time a new hashtag or discussion pops up, it allows us all to dig in deeper and think about the ways we can improve, not just as individuals, but as an industry.

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Promoting Diversity in Homogeneous Communities

Last month at the YALSA Symposium in Pittsburgh, I caught myself in a disturbing thought. The conference featured discussion and idea sharing about all kinds of diversity, especially racial diversity. There was advice about building inclusive collections, providing vital services to underserved populations, and making the library a safe space for people of all races to express themselves and feel valued. On the last day of the Symposium, sitting in one of many sessions that touched on this topic, I thought, “This is so great. I wish I worked in a community where I could do this stuff.”

It didn’t take me long to realize that this thought was very, very wrong.

I work in an upper-middle class, mostly white, mostly Christian suburban community. Being near a large city, we have access to a lot of diversity around us, but our community itself is commonly referred to as a “bubble.”

Libraries are here to pop those bubbles. Continue reading