I’m the only high school librarian in my school. I love the independence, yet constantly updating and fine-tune services is challenging. YALSA has developed robust programs that help me succeed every year. When I use these resources, I know I am getting the latest and greatest professional information. And, when I give to YALSA, I am helping YALSA continue to improve my profession.

Why do I join YALSA every year?

Reason #1:  YALSA helps me keep ahead of the trends

YALSA published The Future of Libraries for and with Teens: A Call to Action in 2014 to help me meet the needs of today’s and future teens. While I can read and share this document without joining YALSA, my membership makes projects like this possible.

This document is dense with substantial ideas explained in clear, succinct language. It has produced shifts in my attitude resulting in real changes in our library program. The section “Embracing Our Role as Facilitator Rather than Expert” gave me permission to learn on the job, learn in front of students–and enjoy learning from them. Thanks to The Future of Libraries for and with Teens: A Call to Action, I confidently step aside and learn alongside students. Next year I plan to implement some action around the section “Supporting Library Staff in Gaining New Skills.”

“The Future of Libraries is affecting change in libraries across North America. Read about five libraries’ work in Case Studies: Real-World Examples of How Libraries Are Re-Envisioning Teen Services. And, the change isn’t limited to libraries. Using this document as a guiding force, YALSA has developed a new 3-year strategic plan.

With a YALSA membership, you get guidance on how to implement The Future of Libraries by listening to this webinar on YELL!, the YALSA e-Learning platform:

What I Stopped Doing: Improving Services to Youth by Taking On Less by Jennifer Velasquez.
Listen to the Recording
View the Slides

Reason #2:  Collection development

College Bound

I can’t imagine doing collection development without the guidance of YALSA’s annual book awards and lists. Here are three of my favorites and what I’ve done with them:

YALSA’s Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners

This list is unique because it’s wide, covering many subject areas, with an emphasis on newer nonfiction. It comes out every five years so you get deeply acquainted with the titles. I wrote a grant to our local school funding council to buy as many of the titles as possible, including ebook and audiobook formats. I market the list a few different ways every year and use YALSA designed pamphlets for promotions. My teachers and students can’t wait to see what the next list highlights in 2019.

YALSA’s Quick Picks for Young Adult Readers

I always check this list to make sure I don’t miss anything important. This year I did a professional development workshop with teachers in my school called Matching Readers to Resources using this list for a browsing cart for teachers during the session. Our teachers learned about current high quality, high interest fiction and nonfiction published for teens and designed ways to work them into the curriculum.

YALSA Book Awards and Booklists

Audiobooks! Graphic Novels! Reluctant Readers! Novels! Nonfiction! The best of YA publishing in one place! I joined YALSA to support the development of these essential collection development tools.

Reason #3:  Readers advisory

YALSA helped me get some great books on my shelves. Now I’ve got to move them into teens’ hands? While YALSA does a lot of discussions of books and other materials in the blog, publications, and awards lists, they also create targeted readers advisory webinars.  When I join YALSA, I improve readers advisory because:

  • I get access to fantastic readers advisory webinars like the ones listed below on YELL!, the YALSA e-Learning platform
  • I enable YALSA to create more of them

Sample readers advisory webinars

  • Ready, Set, Go! 30 Ways to Reach Reluctant Readers in 60 Minutes by Jen Hubert Swan, author of Reading Rants!
  • Around the World in 60 Books by Pam Spencer Holley
  • Street Smart: Serving Teen Street Lit Readers by Megan Honig, author of Urban Grit: A Guide to Street Lit

Reason #4:  More knowledge

We all know how difficult it is to get access to high quality research.  And, research relating to teens and libraries is scarce. YALSA develops the field of YA library services research and professional literature in The Journal of Research and Young Adults (JRLYA) and Young Adult Library Services (YALS). When I join YALSA, I keep up with the latest research in my field, and support its development.



YALS is a quarterly publication whose primary purpose is continuing education for YA librarians. It’s a conference in between two covers!  We get a print and a digital version. The only way to get this publication is to become a member of YALSA. The Spring 2016 issue is about “Libraries and Learning,” and features the following articles by practicing librarians.

  • YALSA Organizational Planning Update by Sarah Hill
  • The Real Magic of the Youth Media Awards by Sandra Hughes-Cassell
  • Research Roundup: Libraries and Learning by Crystle Martin
  • Make, Do, Share: Sustainable STEM Leadership in a Box an Interview with Shannon Peterson
  • Berwick Innovation: A School Librarian’s Role Reimagined by Darcy Coffta
  • Many Paths to Change: Different Approaches to Enhancing Learning in School Libraries by Jeffrey DiScala
  • Creating a Culture of Learning at Your Library by Kate McNair
  • Tell the Story: Use Outcomes to Show the Difference Your Program Makes by Sara Ryan
  • Surviving a Bully at Work by Vanessa Hale and Jean Haert


The Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults is a quarterly open-access, peer-reviewed online research journal, developed to support YALSA’s National Research Agenda. You can access it without joining YALSA, but your membership fee goes toward supporting the journal. The June 2016 volume published four studies by university researchers:

Why do I join YALSA?

Because my teens deserve it.
Because I need to be well informed.Because I like to learn.
Because developing my skills is important to me.
Because it’s important to me that teens get fantastic library services.

Why give to YALSA?

Because these extraordinary resources require funds and professional knowledge to create. By donating to Friends of YALSA, you can help support member grants, stipends, scholarships and awards so that members can continue to develop, flourish, and provide the best services for teens. Donate here.

Alida Hanson is a Librarian at Weston High School, MA and received her MLS from Simmons College in 2012. She’s been a YALSA member since 2009 and currently serves on YALSA’S Financial Advancement Committee. She’s got a particular special skill in putting together IKEA furniture.

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