At the 2013 ALA Annual Conference, the YALSA board discussed an issue that we have been grappling with for some time: how do we get library administrators on board with the idea that teen services and programs are important, and deserve a fair piece of the library pie?

At the 2013 Midwinter Meeting, the board decided to survey YALSA members who are supervisors and managers, to get some input on this issue. The YALSA Executive Committee discussed the survey results at our April conference call, agreeing that we needed to focus on:

  • collecting and sharing case studies
  • helping members build skills that will enable them to better interact with administrators and articulate the needs of the teen services department
  • collaborating with other organizations in order to build stronger ties with administrators

Since that discussion, the following activities have taken place:

  • I wrote a six-part series for the YALSAblog on “What Your Manager Wishes You Knew” that incorporated information from the survey and tips from managers about what teen services librarians could do to work with administration to improve teen services.
  • YALSA and LLAMA (the Library Leadership and Management Association, another division of ALA) collaborated on a webinar for managers, “Increase Your Library’s Value by Amping Up Teen Services,” which was facilitated by YALSA and LLAMA member Mary Hastler.
  • LLAMA members received an e-blast in June about YALSA’s instructional kits.

At the YALSA Board meeting at Annual, the Board voted to create two new task forces to continue this effort to get administrator buy-in.

  • The Library Administrator Resources Task Force will include library supervisors, managers, and administrators, and will coordinate the development of new content, including case studies that illustrate the value of teen services, tip sheets, infographics, position papers, blog posts, and other resources that will illustrate the value of teen services for an audience of administrators.
  • The Professional Values and Career Development Task Force will create tools that will help teen librarians improve their professional skills and be more effective in communicating with and engaging administrators. The first task will be to identify best practices in associations and professionalism and identify the core professionalism values of a librarian or library worker who serves teens, and then to create guidelines for professionalism for that audience. Once these are established, trainings and other resources may be developed around these “soft” skills, which may include areas such as teamwork, understanding generational and cultural differences, attitude, problem-solving, ethics, integrity, communication styles, image/demeanor, accountability, and boundaries.

Anyone who is interested in being on either of these task forces should contact YALSA President Shannon Peterson, who will be appointing members soon.

Sarah Flowers

YALSA Past-President

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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