A Time to Connect: My Experience at the 2020 Virtual YALSA Symposium

The following blog post is written by one of YALSA’s 2020 Symposium Registration Grant student winners, Esperanza Pacheco.

My name is Esperanza Pacheco, and I am the Assistant Director/Young Adult Librarian for the Englewood Public Library in New Jersey. My community was super proud and excited that I was selected to attend the virtual YALSA YA Services Symposium from November 6-8 this year.

On the Friday of the Symposium, I started looking into which prerecorded sessions I could log into to begin my conference experience. Immediately, the session title which caught my eye was #DiverseReading: Encouraging Teen Readers with Instagram. I’ve created Instagram accounts for three libraries and am constantly seeking ways to use it, as well as other social media platforms to attract teens’ attention towards reading. I had the pleasure of e-meeting Rachel Milburn, who recorded this video for us. She is the Teen Services Librarian at the Frankfort Community Public Library, Frankfort, Indiana. Instantly, through our library accounts, I followed her pages on Instagram and Twitter. I was so impressed by how much time and deliberation went into her posts. She had one title that had basketballs surrounding the books on the shelf. This is a great idea as it draws immediate attention on an app, where people are constantly scrolling and only stopping for something alluring to the eye. I kept in mind some of the details she mentioned when it comes to using Instagram professionally, such as switching over to a business account in order to view the background Insights of your account interaction and engagement. It is interesting to see the outliers in how many thousands of views her top post garnered, which could have been due to the title of the book she posted or perhaps how she set up the post.

The next recorded session I tuned into was called Our Voices, Our Protest: Migrant Stories in Latinx Young Adult Literature. I was especially excited to view this one because I was able to place these authors’ titles right into a cart for my library to purchase; the beauty of online services! The authors were Aida Salazar, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Daniel Aleman, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Yamile Saied Mendez, and Ernesto Cisneros. I love sessions like these that teach me about authors I may not have known or seen. Being able to ask these authors questions in real time was a real treat. I think it is imperative for both sides too, as authors get the benefit of hearing readers’ feedback. Continue reading

Virtual Conference Does World of Good

The following blog post is written by one of YALSA’s 2020 Symposium Registration Grant student winners, Jana Wiersma.

YALSA’s Young Adult Services Symposium theme for 2020, “Biggest Little Spaces: How Libraries Serve the Expanding World of Teens”, was a play on Reno’s slogan “Biggest Little City”, where the symposium was originally supposed to be held. When it became clear the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t letting up, the symposium moved online, and representation, diversity, and inclusion were not lost in the shift. As disappointed as I was to not attend the symposium in my backyard, connections and networking were still possible, and many young adult librarians were able to join from all over the world. As a first-time YALSA symposium attendee, I was able to enter the community of young adult librarians and share experiences in a meaningful way.

The author lineup was incredible in its diversity of the powerful voices that YA librarians could not only hear, but also discuss relevant issues with. The excitement of the authors at being represented and presenting together on panels was palpable and contagious, even via Zoom. Even with the plethora of diverse authors, there was still an overwhelming call for more diversity in publishing, editing, and writing. Each author recognized the need for our teens to see themselves in whatever space they occupy — represented as readers, yes, but also as authors, editors, publishers, media specialists, and more. During the opening session, author Alan Gratz said, “There isn’t one America, there are many different American experiences,” which I felt entirely summed up YALSA’s 2020 Symposium.

From the pre-conference to end of symposium, sessions included relevant topics like teaching teens to spot and stop the spread of fake news, ramping up library teen volunteer programs, creating book boxes to help teens and tweens destress, fostering community partnerships to advocate for teens beyond the library, transforming teen services, providing support to our immigrant youth, and more!

Each session provided a wealth of information and resources we could bring back to the library and apply with confidence to better support our local teens and the spaces they occupy. With this information, our team can go forward with our top priorities: re-evaluating our teen volunteer program, re-configuring our teen space to better support the needs of our young adult community, and helping our teens feel both represented and connected during this especially difficult time of separation.

As the Young Adult Services Symposium wrapped up, I was inspired and motivated by all the possible ways I could apply what I learned, how best to implement shared tips, and how to better diversify our young adult services on a daily basis. My to-be-read pile now has a thousand books on it, and my inner book-nerd heart was bursting with the joy of getting to hear from so many amazing authors! I cannot wait for YALSA members to meet in person once again, but in the meantime, meeting and connecting virtually still did a world of good.

Jana Wiersma
MLIS Student @ University of North Texas,
Senior Library Assistant, Carson City Library, NV

2020 Virtual Symposium Early Bird Registration Extended to 9/30

As we prepare to enter the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to assure you of our continued commitment towards providing the library community with the support and opportunities it needs to work for and with teens. With that in mind, YALSA is pleased to announce that the early-bird rate for the 2020 Virtual Young Adult Services Symposium will remain in effect through the end of September. This virtual event presents a unique opportunity to bring a broader spectrum of the cooperative community together around more accessible and affordable programming, removing the barriers to participation due to travel, health, financial, or time constraints.

We wish we could contribute more financially to support library staff. However, producing a quality, interactive virtual event with minimal sponsorship and providing programs that are closed-captioned for all viewers is a costly expense that often exceeds registration gains. As a result of this, extending the early bird rate is a small, and hopefully, helpful gesture we’d like to offer.

We are excited about the 2020 Virtual Symposium and the live sessions on Social Action, Safe Places, Equity in Action, and many more. The theme of “Biggest Little Spaces: How Libraries Serve the Expanding Worlds of Teens” is well-timed. We know the importance this meeting and the content presented provides in continuing your education, assisting your teens, and expanding your network.

September 30 will be your last opportunity to receive the early bird rate. That means you can still save up to $100; the member rate is $129, and the non-member rate is $249. Registration includes full access to all conference programming, including access to the content for one year. We hope you’ll join us November 6th – 8th.

Register today.

-Amanda Barnhart, YALSA President

-Tammy Dillard-Steels, YALS Executive Director

Registration open for 2020 Virtual YA Services Symposium

Registration for YALSA’s 2020 YA Services Symposium, which takes place virtually November 6-8, is now open. Early bird registration ends September 15.

Programs cover the entire spectrum of topics related to providing services for and with young adults. This year’s theme is Biggest Little Spaces: How Libraries Serve the Expanding Worlds of Teens. New this year and included in registration is the Edwards Luncheon. Registration is open to anyone with an interest in young adult services and literature.

Registration includes:

  • Access to recordings of all sessions for one-year post event
  • Opening Session: Space to Deal: How Authors Turn Real Life into Stories with Empathy, a conversation with authors Traci Chee, Sharon Flake, Alan Gratz, April Henry
  • Author Breakfast (Saturday): Taking Space: Making Diverse Voices Heard in a Crowded Landscape, a conversation with  Kim Johnson, Ryan La Sala, Anna-Marie McLemore, and Nic Stone.
  • Edwards Luncheon: Hear from 2020 Edwards Award winning author Steve Sheinkin
  • Author breakfast (Sunday): Pride of Space: LGBTQ+ Representation in YA, a conversation with George M. Johnson, Dahlia Adler, TJ Klune, and Aiden Thomas, moderated by Malinda Lo.
  • Closing Session: Inner Spaces: Creating Compelling Characters Dealing with Tough Topics, a conversation with Romina Garber, Adib Khorram, Mark Oshiro, and Courtney Summers

Early Bird Registration Rates (Now – September 15)

  • $129 YALSA Personal Member
  • $199 ALA Personal Member (Join YALSA by phone: 800.545.2433)
  • $39 Students (enrolled full-time in a library program)
  • $249 Others (Join ALA/YALSA by phone: 800.545.2433)

Additional programs such as Friday pre-conferences can be added to registration for additional fees. View the list of programs and participating authors.

Register online or by phone at 312-280-4293. Learn more about the symposium at www.ala.org/yalsa/yasymposium. For questions or concerns, please contact Nichole O’Connor at noconnor@ala.org.

YALSA’s 2020 YA Services Symposium to be held virtually

2020 YALSA YA Services Symposium - Now Virtual

YALSA’s Board of Directors has made the decision for YALSA’s 2020 YA Services Symposium to be held virtually November 6-8, 2020 in lieu of the originally planned in-person event in Reno, NV.

The virtual symposium will feature an array of programs, author panels, discussion and poster sessions, and more. New this year, the Edwards Award celebration will also take place at the virtual symposium. The Symposium Marketing and Planning Taskforce is currently working to reconfigure and adapt the slate of programs.

As a result of the format change of the symposium, YALSA is modifying its symposium travel stipends to instead award free registration to ten YALSA members – five to library workers and five to library students. Apply by August 1.

More information regarding registration and programs will be available in the coming weeks. Sign up for updates about the symposium via this form.

Call for Program Proposals for 2020 YA Services Symposium Open

The call for program proposals for YALSA’s 2020 Young Adult Services Symposium is open now through February 15.

The theme of the symposium is “Biggest Little Spaces: How Libraries Serve the Expanding Worlds of Teens,” and is to be held November 6-8, 2020, in Reno, NV.

Program proposals should address one or more of the following questions:

  • How do staff provide inclusive programming and diverse collections? How do we ensure representation and equity of access to materials and information? e.g. book and program challenges, the library as a “neutral” space.  How can literature assist us?
  • How does staff provide outreach to teens in their community?  How do you meet teens where they are?
  • How do we create more inclusive and “safe(r)” spaces? How do we empower teens to find their voice and speak out about issues important to them? e.g. gun violence, global warming, #metoo, institutional racism, LGBTQ rights.
  • How are staff affected by adversity on the job? How do we address this and other experiences like compassion, fatigue, and burnout? e.g. self-care

In addition to addressing the theme, proposals should also highlight best or emerging practices for libraries of all sizes and capacities in one or more of the following categories:

  • Collections and Content Curation
  • Digital and Print Literacies
  • Equity and Inclusion
  • Outreach
  • Partnerships/Collaborations
  • Programs and Services (including planning, implementing and evaluation)
  • Tools for Practice (cultural competency models and training, trauma-informed care, mental health first aid, 40 developmental assets, social emotional learning, etc.)
  • Youth Participation

Through inclusive programming, diverse collections, outreach, advocacy, and partnerships, libraries offer safe spaces for teens. Do your programs and services meet the complex and diverse needs of contemporary young adults? Does your teen section or YA collection need a refresh? Have you found partnerships to encourage and advocate for young adults? Join YALSA for our 10th Symposium in Reno, Nevada as we discuss the literature, activities, and the biggest little places needed to serve and inspire today’s teens.​

Interested parties are invited to propose 60-minute programs centering on the theme via the online form found on the symposium site. Proposals for programs must be submitted by February 15. Applicants will be notified of their proposals’ status the week of April 15.

Registration for the 2020 YA Services Symposium will open in April. Sign up for updates here. To learn more about the symposium, visit www.ala.org/yalsa/yasymposium.

A huge thank you goes out to the members of the 2020 YA Services Symposium Planning and Marketing Taskforce: Chair, Scot Smith, Robertsville Middle School Library, Oak Ridge, TN; Amelia Jenkins, Juneau (AK) Public Library; Keiko Sanders, La Jolla, CA; and De Anza Williams, University of Illinois-Urbana for their work on creating a theme for the symposium. Thank you again!