The YALSA Board of Directors is always looking for ways to incorporate innovation into our overall mission to expand and strengthen library services for teens and to build the capacity of libraries and librarians to engage, serve, and empower teens and young adults. One of our core functions is to provide continuing education to librarians and library workers who serve teens.

We are all aware that because of the rapidly changing nature of how information is created and delivered, librarians must constantly learn new skills to be effective in our daily work. In addition, we know that in today’s world, learning happens everywhere, and YALSA wants to help librarians and library workers get recognition for the skills they are acquiring outside traditional settings. In looking for ways to be innovative in our approach to CE, YALSA was fortunate enough to be able to partner with Mozilla, the Macarthur Foundation, and HASTAC in their Badges for Lifelong Learning Project.

In March, YALSA, in cooperation with Badgeville, was awarded a $75,000 grant to create a Badges for Learning project that will increase YALSA’s capacity to deliver professional development in an exciting, innovative way.

The badges—at no cost to learners—will be based on YALSA’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth. In the initial project, curriculum will be based on three competency areas: Communication, Outreach & Marketing; Knowledge of Materials; and Services. In each area, learners will complete four sets of “minor” badge activities, after which the learner will earn a gold badge for that content area.

Learners might develop the skills needed for the badges in the work place, at a local workshop or gathering, or by engaging with specific resources or other members on YALSA’s web site. Badges for Learning offers learners an efficient and effective way to learn and demonstrate new skills and to interact with peers, and a way to help them get recognition from their supervisors and administrators for these new forms of learning.

And badge earners can be innovative in how they use the badges: in virtual resumes or portfolios, in their yearly employee evaluation or goal-setting process, on web pages or blogs, or in some other way that showcases the work they’ve done. Badges are a great way to demonstrate that you are always growing and improving in your commitment to serving teens in libraries.

About Sarah Flowers

Sarah Flowers is a YALSA Past President and former Deputy County Librarian for the Santa Clara County (CA) Library. Currently she does writing and speaking on topics related to teen services and teaches online courses for California's Infopeople Project.

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