Gearing up for the ALA Conference is exciting, especially as a first timer! I just wrapped up my first year working with YALSA as a member of the Research Committee and will be the Research Committee Chair starting in July. So for me, there is certainly no better time to get out, meet people and learn some new tips, tricks and techniques! However, as this first time ALA conference attendee is quickly learning, there are tons of programs to choose from. So what I’ve gathered here is just a sampling of programs that are relevant to Young Adult services that caught my eye.

Book Time!

I am always up for spending time with books or talking books and there are some sessions lined up that look to be interesting.’ Blurring the Lines of Books, presented by Erin Reilly-Sanders from Ohio State University is presenting on books that “blur the lines between media, form, and genre, transcending tradition and setting expectations on edge.” I’ve certainly stumbled across some’ fantastic books that are unique and hard to categorize, so I’m intrigued to learn more!

Nonfiction Reader’s Advisory is not your typical RA topic, which is exactly why it caught my eye! Jennie Rothschild and Angela Frederick are presenting Stranger than Fiction: Reader’s Advisory for Nonfiction. This session will address nonfiction/fiction reads alike, noteworthy new titles, how these titles can tie into Common Core standards and, of course, linking the right book to the right reader.

A session on The 2014 Alex Awards could give you some great new titles to share with teens (or to add to your own booklist). Not sure what the Alex Awards are? All the more reason to come! Author John Searles will be in attendance to speak and sign books, he won in 2014 for “Help with the Haunted.”

Graphic novels, comics and manga are an integral component of any teen collection and there are plenty of sessions on these materials too! Check out Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years on Saturday morning or Best and Worst Manga on Sunday morning. You can also browse the Graphic Novel Petting Zoo or gain insight on comics at Let’s Talk Comics: A Roundtable Discussion.


Naturally, there are many sessions on different ways to engage with our teen patrons. The first program that caught my eye is Virtual Passport: Connecting Teens Through YouTube, presented by Christina Fuller-Gregory and Mary Kate Quillivan. I’ll let their description do the talking:

“Imagine this…breakfast in London, lunch in Morocco, and dinner in South Africa. You can do this and more through the global community of YouTube. Teens in Columbia, South Carolina are discovering that they don’t only have to be consumers, but can be creators of this original content.

To foster these experiences we have developed My World, a unique programming series that teaches and empowers teens to create original visual art using new media. The hope is that this leads to career paths and hands-on learning opportunities that will open the world both locally and globally for teens.”

Another session will bring some focus back to books in Teen Reading Lounge: Engaging Teens Through Interactive Humanities Based Programming. ‘ According to the program description, the Teen Reading Lounge, is a book discussion series created by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, and was designed to “encourage teens to read and talk about literature that matters to them, engage teen audiences in out-of-school time learning in the humanities and increase the capacity of libraries to conduct public humanities programming for teen audiences.”

The topic of book groups naturally leads into connecting teens with authors, and there’s a program for that! ‘ The Art of the Author Visit: Connecting Teens with their Favorite Authors will provide techniques and offer “the insider’s perspective on what makes an ideal library visit from popular YA authors Leigh Bardugo and Jessica Brody.” ‘ The session will cover marketing techniques, community outreach and keeping the author happy.

Summer programming is another huge component of teen services. Caris O’Malley from the Maricopa County Library District is offering A New Approach to Summer Reading. “The Maricopa County Library District built an open source software for managing summer reading programs called The Great Reading Adventure. Come to learn of its origin and development and how it can change how your library approaches summer reading.” Sounds pretty cool!

Everyone is talking makerspaces these days, and of course you’ll find those sessions at ALA.’ Teaching Teens How to Fail: Library Spaces and the Maker Movement looks to be a fun and interesting session based on The Free Library of Philadelphia’s maker programs and the philosophy behind it. “Much of the philosophy behind making is mentoring youth in tinkering and experimentation; teaching the making process as one of inquiry and inevitable failed attempts. We see the library as the ideal environment to mentor youth as they learn that it’s okay to fail.”

Of course, there is always a program (or two, or three) that just doesn’t work. For that, check out We F’ed Up, But We Fixed It: Thriving When Things Go Wrong. (Great title!) The description sounds great: “”Failure” doesn’t have to be the “f-word.” We all fear the program that no one comes to, but we’re not alone in failing, and in that empty room is a lesson that can make future efforts successful. A panel of librarians will discuss initiatives that didn’t turn out as planned and how they recovered from their mistakes and went on to flourish.”


Trying to find new ways to reach out and connect are always important. I’m excited to check out Teens, Turntables, and Tater-Tots: Lunchroom Outreach with CLP – BAM! (Books and More), presented by librarians from Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. They will discuss “how to develop a cafeteria-based outreach initiative on any scale or budget. Learn how you can give students “a taste” of what your library offers by providing readers’ advisory, circulation, card registration, craft programs, music, gaming, and more to entire school populations—all during lunch!” ‘ 

Another cool outreach based presentation is the The Ally-brarian, presented by Jordan Moore. ‘ The session will discuss reaching out to underserved populations that the librarian is not a part of and how librarians in the majority can reach out and advocate for those who are minorities, creating a more inclusive library. ‘ â€œThe “Ally-brarian” works to help those who would normally not “see themselves” in the library, either as a patron or professional, find a welcoming place.” ‘ 


Taking a look at current research and what it suggests can help librarians plan for the future. ‘ The Future of Library Services for and with Teens, presented by Linda Braun will do just that. ‘ Based on the National Forum on Teens and Libraries, this session looks to be an interactive discussion on the forum’s findings and implications. ‘ 

Of course there are a lot more sessions that discuss teens and teen services, this is just a small sampling that caught my eye and interest. ‘ What are you looking forward to at ALA this year? ‘ See you there!

One Thought on “YA @ ALA: From the Research Committee

  1. Clover88 on June 25, 2014 at 12:06 pm said:

    Thank you for this great guide through the (sometimes overwhelming) choices.

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