The YALSA Board is excited to announce a new member award – the Innovation in Teen Services Award. The award, funded by Friends of YALSA (FOY), was established in 2018 by the YALSA Board to recognize a  member who has developed an innovative program in their library that has benefited teens in their community and that illustrates YALSA’s vision for teen services as outlined in the report: “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action” and “Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff.” Innovation includes leveraging creative thinking, problem solving, and/or identifying novel solutions to challenges.  Innovation often involves risk-taking.

Nominations for this $500 award are open now through December 1, 2018. Self-nominations are welcome. To be eligible the nominee:

  • Must be a current personal member of ALA &YALSA.
  • Must work for and with teens in a library setting.

More about the award criteria and application materials can be found here.

Submit an application by December 1.

If you have any questions please contact Letitia Smith at lsmith@ala.org or at: 800/545-2433 x 4390.

The Board is looking forward to learning about the wonderful innovative projects our members are engaged in!

Thanks for all you do for teens and for YALSA!

Sandra Hughes-Hassell
YALSA Immediate Past President

at the innovation celebration a photo of a teen at the podiumIn the spring 2016 issue of YALS, Darcy Coffta, the Upper School Librarian and Director of Innovation at the Berwick Academy, provides an overview of the school’s Innovation Center and some of the projects that students have worked on. One of the Innovation Pursuits mentioned is the “Cupcake Innovation.” And, as promised in the article, the recipe is available so you can try it out yourself.

You can read more about the Berwick Innovation Center, access mentor materials, and more on the Berwick Academy website.

YALSA members and YALS subscribers can access the current issue of the journal, along with past issues, on the “members only” section of the YALSA website. (Login required.)

You know how, no matter how many hundred channels you have, there is nothing on TV? More and more, people are turning to webseries and vlogs for fresher kinds of humor and entertainment. So why not start a vlog series for your library website, or get a bunch of teens together to write a script for an original series? You could also take advantage of the short format of these videos and host a “festival” of screenings of the best series and vlogs out there. Now that so many computers come fully equipped with a basic webcam and editing software, this is an inexpensive way to get creative and to learn more about technology.

Here are some great vlogs and webisodes that should provide you with inspiration as they entertain you.

  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: This relatively new series transfers Jane Austen’s novel to the life of a grad student recording her angst. It’s funny and a great way to make classic literature applicable to our current times. If your patrons are having trouble getting ready for their AP English exam, use this to take off the stress. Read More →

Sometimes it can be frustrating to hear great, innovative ideas that don’t sound like they’d ever be possible with your budget. Or maybe you’re tired of hearing about great “new” tools you’ve been using since you were in grad school. Maybe you even read some of the posts in this series and thought, Yawn. Been there, done that. What’s innovative to another librarian might not be for you–it might be scary, or passe, or just not right for your library.

So why not try something that’s new for you?

When we talk about innovation, I think too often we feel a lot of pressure to be truly on the cutting edge, whether it’s using the absolute newest technology or finding the next Printz winner. And let’s be honest: that can be exhausting. I don’t mean to discourage taking risks–please do!–but I also want us to give ourselves permission to applaud the little innovations in our daily lives.

Is your library embracing bookstore shelving? Way to go! Are you diving in to co-teaching a class? Fantastic! Encouraging a spontaneous dance party in the stacks? That is great, and also please invite me next time.

In the comments, what’s one new thing you’re trying?

American Libraries recently posted an article about programming for homeschooled kids and their families. There are a lot of great ideas there that you should take a look at, but very few of the ideas are focused on teens. Like any library media specialist knows, teens need to have their reading, research, and library skills in check before college, and those being homeschooled are no different.

In addition to inviting those teens to your regular programming and events, consider doing things for them during the lull of the day, when everyone else is in school. Not all parents who homeschool are necessarily schooled in how to use library databases, scholarly journals, and online media for research projects, so perhaps a small group might appreciate a workshop similar to the ones high school students get from their librarians. You could even designate a special hour a week for drop-in lessons.

On a similar note, homeschools don’t employ full-time college counselors, but you probably have a circulating and non-circulating collection of test prep books, college guides, and more. Another unique daytime program you can offer, then, is a college workshop. Invite some current college students, whose schedules also allow them to have some free hours during the day, to answer questions about local schools and essay topics, and see if any of your regular homework tutors can volunteer to come in and help with the process. Read More →

20120427-070905.jpgCollaboration. Everyone probably wants to do it in order to provide excellent services to teens. You might have the chance to collaborate regularly with teachers, parents, teens, colleagues, bookstore owners, authors, police and fire personnel, and others who work in community agencies and departments. These are people it’s probably fairly easy to connect with and whom you may have fairly easy access to. But, are they the right people to work with in order to be innovative in services?

I’d like to suggest that they may not be. In order to be innovative the collaborations we pursue and get involved in have go be as innovative as the programs and services we want to sponsor. It becomes comfortable to collaborate with people you know and have a history with. But that means it also becomes easy to miss opportunities for doing something new, reaching teens you might not regularly interact with, and gaining new insights and ideas.
Read More →

I admit that this is more of a call for you all to innovate than it is me giving you ideas. I’ve been thinking lately about how today’s popstars, especially Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Jessie J, are all about having distinct, out-of-this-world style and attitude to go along with their music. Instead of the concept albums of the 1960s and 1970s, today’s pop culture likes its concept artists. Gwen Stefani mixed ska and angst with Jean Harlow, Katy Perry fetishizes and infantilizes herself, and the UK’s Marina & the Diamonds is unabashedly seeking popstar superstardom, and her aesthetic is all about how she’s “obsessed/with the mess/that’s America.” You can argue whether or not these artists are good or bad, whether they’re obvious or esoteric, whether they’re legitimate or faking it–I know I do–but you can’t deny that they are memorable and fascinating.

So what does that have to do with youth services? Lots, I’m sure. Thinking about popstars and performance/concept art can lend itself to all kinds of interesting book displays and programs. You may even end up inspiring a new generation of quirky songstresses and 21st century Bowies.

  • First, check your catalog for CDs by any musician you would consider a “performance artist” or “concept artist.” You can also check at the end of this post for some suggestions. Next, create a display where you connect these albums to biographies that may be in your adult nonfiction section, novels about teen musicians, and other nonfiction titles relating to the artist’s aesthetic, from vintage fashion to abstract art. If you don’t feel you know enough about this topic, this is a great opportunity to bring in your teen advisory board or an awesome library student intern. Read More →

Though teen services are usually defined as serving patrons in the 12-18 age range, in practice, teen librarians serve a broader range of patrons than merely 12-18 year olds—from 10 year olds with mature tastes and reading abilities, to college students uninterested in transitioning to adult fiction, to grandparents pulled to teen books by the young adults in their lives and the quality of the materials.

In serving this broad age range with teen materials, I find that I need to have different cultural glasses at the ready during readers’ advisory.’  After all, the patron whose adolescent experience is being molded right now, page by page, is different from the patron who fondly recollects reading a particular book the summer when she first fell in love.

Here is some information we teen librarians can use during readers’ advisory to guide adults to new teen titles similar to those they loved in their adolescence. Read More →

Etsy, as you might know, is a flourishing online marketplace for independent artists, designers, and antiquers to sell and trade their wares. There are thousands of items in a ton of categories, from zines to custom-made wedding gowns to homemade soap and vintage lunchboxes. It’s not all great–they don’t have a parody site, Regretsy (NSFW), for nothing–but there are some gems. Here are some items available on Etsy that might spruce up your teen section, serve as a great prize for a reading contest, or just suit your own librarian style. And what’s better? Start a conversation with your craftiest patrons about what they’d do with an Etsy storefront, or use your library Pinterest account to pin all of your favorite (or most laughable) Etsy products.

Librarians Dewey It Better badge:
There’s a little bit of pin-up girl in all of us. This patch by user BadgesbyQuake will let you shout that out to anyone who sees your…tote bag?

Build-a-Library Invitation:
Okay, so this isn’t really for the library, but it’s such an adorable idea I couldn’t resist! This is an excellent theme idea by user lilmoptop for a fellow librarian’s baby shower or wedding–or, frankly, any occasion, because who isn’t always building their personal library? Read More →

Each year, YALSA sponsors preconference workshops and programs for the ALA Annual Conference. Through May 31, we’re seeking your proposals for a conference presentation at next year’s event in Chicago, June 27 to July 2. As you can see from our request for proposal, next year we are emphasizing creative conference proposals, highlighting best practices and innovations in five priority areas:

  • Young Adult Literature/Readers’ Advisory
  • Advocacy & Activism
  • Programming & Outreach
  • Research & Best Practices
  • Teen Spaces (physical & virtual)
  • Youth Participation

What innovations have you brought in these five areas? What inspiration have you found in our 30 Days series that could apply to them? YALSA is as creative and innovative as its members, which is to say very creative and highly innovative. So fill out our Annual 2013 request for proposal and tell your peers about everything you’ve accomplished at your library!