My second ALA annual conference is done and I am starting to feel like a seasoned pro. However, I am still learning so many new things I missed my first time around. I attended YALSA 101 last year and was inspired to be more active. A few months later though, I had forgotten about time requirements for “book” committees, what exactly were award committees, and there was something about badges. I decided to attend YALSA 101 again this year to brush up on what is offered in my YALSA membership and learn where I could volunteer my services.

Speaking of selection versus award committees, I have some clarification. Juries select grant or award winners, like the Great Books Giveaway. Selection committees are the book committees that select specific media and booklists such as Great Graphic Novels for Teens or Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. Book committee members are responsible for obtaining review copies, but many are provided by publishers or shared by committee members. Selection committees usually have a two-year commitment. Being a selection committee administrative assistant, the person who distributes the nomination lists, organizes the committee and acts as its secretary, is a lot of work. However, it can be a foot in the door to join a selection committee. Strategic committees run the business of YALSA. Strategic committees carry out many roles like planning Teen Read Week and Teen Tech Week, membership recruitment, running The Hub and YALSA Blog, and more. Except for the Executive Committee, all strategic committees meet virtually, with no requirements to attend conferences. Most strategic committee appointments last for one year.

One topic of YALSA 101 was advocacy. I did not realize how many options there are to easily approach our legislators to advocate for libraries. I can participate in National Library Legislative Day by going to the offices of my legislators in my state or Washington, D.C. I can tweet or email them if I am unable to travel and I can do this anytime I want to. One idea I came away with is inviting a local politician who is a stakeholder such as a school superintendent, town selectman, or school board member to come be “Librarian for Day” so they can see my job in action.

I had forgotten about YALSA’s YouTube channel. YALSA Academy has a series of short, five minute long videos for training or inspiration. You can take a quick break and get ideas for maker spaces, coding, Twitter basics, or starting a mock Printz award program. Any librarian can create a video for YALSA Academy, so think about showing off something you do for summer learning/reading, Teen Read Week or Teen Tech Week. As a brand new feature, the YouTube channel also has “snack break” videos that are about fifteen minutes long. These videos give guidance on partnering with a local museum or assessing program impact.

I was not aware of YALSA’s virtual mentoring program. If you are a YALSA member with five or more years of experience, you can be a mentor. There is no requirement to meet face-to-face. The time commitment is fairly low, just four hours a month for a twelve month period. If you are a YALSA member and new librarian with 4 or less years of experience, a graduate student in a Library Science program, or a library staff member whose primary responsibilities focus on teen services, then you are eligible as a protege. The virtual mentoring program is free.

One thing that I had been confused about was the difference between The Hub and YALSA blog. The difference is pretty simple. The Hub focuses on collection development and content curation. YALSA Blog is everything involving services to teens. This can encompass programs, trends, makerspaces, intellectual freedom, funding, research, and much more.

I had heard about YALSA badges for continuing education last year, but I was overwhelmed with information, so I did not focus on these until this year. The badges are designed as self-pacing, micro-credentials that cover a broad range of skills. Badges serve as a way to inform co-workers, patrons, supervisors and future employers about your knowledge and skills of of teen services. Linked to YALSA’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth, badges are applicable for both school and public library staff members working with teens. There is a great video to learn more if you are interested

Needless to say, YALSA 101 is filled with information about the organization, what it provides to members, and how members can participate. If you attend ALA annual conference and want to learn more, or have been a member for a while and want to refresh your knowledge of what YALSA offers, I strongly urge you to attend. After two times at YALSA 101, I am starting to feel like I can take better advantage of my membership and find avenues to contribute to YALSA.

About Lisa Castellano

Mrs. Castellano is a Library Media Specialist at Larkspur Middle School in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is also a reviewer for School Library Connection, president of Virginia Beach Library Association, and a member of AASL Best Apps Committee. Follow on Twitter: @castelfam7625

2 Thoughts on “YALSA 101- What I learned attending this session twice!

  1. Colleen LeComte on July 6, 2016 at 12:42 pm said:

    Lisa, this was super helpful and informative! I am currently a mentor for a fellow teen librarian in Florida, but everything else was great to know! Thanks for the write-up!

  2. Lisa Castellano on July 6, 2016 at 12:46 pm said:

    Thanks so much – 101 is always full of information

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