Every day, you find ways to connect teens with the resources they need and want. Now it’s time to share your experiences and ideas with librarians, educators, researchers, young adult authors and other teen advocates at YALSA’s first expanded symposium.

YALSA is currently seeking program proposals and paper presentations for its 2015 Young Adult Services Symposium, Bringing it All Together: Connecting Libraries, Teens & Communities, to be held Nov. 6-8, 2015, in Portland, Ore.

The 2015 theme addresses the key role of connection that librarians have for the teens in their community.

Today’s 21st’ century teens have unique needs and face significant challenges that they cannot deal with successfully on their own. Library staff are uniquely positioned to help teens by not only connecting them to resources in the library and their hometown, but also to resources from affinity communities that thrive online. How can library staff connect with partners, provide programming, enhance collections, and help teens build both print and digital literacy skills so that they can be successful in the future? How can library staff connect with colleagues to form personal learning networks, increase impact and tell their stories? Join YALSA as we explore how to connect teens to their community and beyond.

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Most librarians, myself included, love to pore over award lists. They are great for enhancing collections, making recommendations and creating displays. Even better is the conversation and dialog created, when a book we love is on (or off!) the list, or, even better when a book we loathe makes the cut. “What were they thinking?!” is a phrase commonly associated with discussions and can inspire volunteering for these committees.

Joining a reading committee is a rewarding task that comes with animated book discussing, gushing and arguing. In short, it is a lot of fun for any book lover. However, it is a lot of work and a big commitment, so it is important to know the rules, requirements and goals of any award committee before officially signing up. Many people volunteer for award committees with the best of intentions, but become quickly overwhelmed with the workload. I am starting on my fourth year of reading for the Rhode Island Teen Book Awards (a local book award) and am currently reading for YALSA’s Morris Award, so here is an overview of what to think about and expect with award committee reading.

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Cultural programming is one of my favorite tasks, not only do I get to learn more about other cultures but I also get to share that knowledge with the teens at my branch. It’s an opportunity for my teens to learn about the world around them and often themselves and their own backgrounds. I serve a large population of Hispanic teens and families and have found that, while teens have heard of celebrations or customs, they often only recognize them and know very little about why they are celebrated.’  While we host Hispanic cultural programs all year long, the months of September and October are typically jam packed. We use this time to talk about cultural traditions and to prepare for one of our favorite traditional celebrations, Dia De Los Muertos.

Our events kicked off this year with a children’s program on decorating sugar skulls. With the help of our teen volunteers, children briefly learned about the sugar skulls and were able to decorate and take home a skull of their own. This served as an introduction to Dia De Los Muertos for our teens, who will spend each week in October preparing items and decorations to use in our Dia De Los Muertos display. I use each week to discuss the items we are making and how they are used in the celebrations. This year will be the first year I ask for the teen volunteers to help present what they learned for public teen programs. During the week leading up to Dia De Los Muertos, we will use everything we’ve made to put together an altar display for the branch allowing patrons to contribute all week long.

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“…as far as I can tell, a young adult novel is a regular novel that people actually read.” – Stephen Colbert

A PBS articleteenreadweek over the weekend looked at the growing popularity of young adult fiction with adults. To any librarian with YA experience, this news comes as no surprise. We all know that the amazing quality of good YA literature has broad appeal. There are times when I feel like I am getting away with something because the nature of my work involves promoting this genre. You might get this feeling, too.

Speaking of work, Teen Read Week is nearly upon us! The’ AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Collaboration‘ (SPLC Committee for short) presents this Top Ten list of ways you can promote Teen Read Week. Please note that none of these ideas are uniquely ours, but rather are great ideas we have come across over the years:

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The YALSA Local Arrangements Committee is super excited that ALA15 will be in San Francisco. We hope you’re looking forward to coming to the city by the bay and would like to offer some tips on how to make that happen!

First things first: secure your conference registration. If your supervisor needs a gentle nudge to offer support, ALA has some tips for you.

Additionally, the programs that YALSA sponsors will undoubtedly keep you on the leading edge of your profession. Other perks like free and cheap books, unparalleled networking, and vendor discounts may sway your supervisor. Read More →

For years, library staff working with teens have used the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents‘ to demonstrate how library programs and services can contribute to youth becoming successful adults. Other youth-serving organizations’ also use the language of assets and asset development, so describing library teen services in terms of assets can help align that work with broader community-wide efforts to prepare teens for constructive and fulfilling adult lives.

However, when it comes to the day-to-day interactions individual staff members have with teens, sometimes it can be difficult to figure out what assets are being built, and how best to guide staff to be more intentional about fostering positive youth development.

The Search Institute has created a new framework which can help staff internalize practices that contribute to youth success — and benefit adults, too! The Institute defines a developmental relationship as “a close connection between a young person and an adult or between a young person and a peer that powerfully and positively shapes the young person’s identity.” Developmental relationships involve expressing care, challenging growth, providing support, sharing power, and expanding possibilities.The complete framework, including 20 specific actions and more background, is available at the Institute’s website.

Sara Ryan for the Administrator Resources Taskforce

So, the kids are going back to school. Or are already back in school. Down here in Mississippi, this is the fourth week of school! Middle school is hard. The adjustments, the transitions. A lot of turmoil. So what I’m saying is that I think our kids deserve a laugh. If you need a quick display idea or just something to hand a kid who’s dreading going to school on Tuesday, here’s a list of really hilarious middle grade:

The Ginny Davis books by Jennifer Holm (of Babymouse fame!). These are old enough that your middle school readers might not be familiar with them, and they’re great. Filled with photographs, journal entries, and looking like a scrapbook, this colorful series will grab a tween’s attention–and make them giggle, too.

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Planning programs that will appeal to 12-14 year olds is really, really hard for me. ‘ This is the age where kids start to get busy, where they start having to balance school and extracurriculars with other things: like library time. ‘ If I’m’ being totally honest, this is where I start losing them.

So this summer, my amazing staff came up with an incredible program that all of my teens loved–especially that middle school demographic: an in-library photo booth. ‘ If your tweens and teens are anything like mine, they’re glued to their smartphones with Instagram and Snapchat constantly open. ‘ This program just gave them an opportunity to have some fun with their photos. We asked them to tag their pictures with the hashtag we usually use for our library stuff, and then let them loose on these fun props:

IMG_0214 SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

It could not have been more fun! It was so simple–we made the props from paper and lollipop sticks, which you can get at any craft store. We didn’t have time to make a booth, so we just put up a crepe paper background. We printed out clip art, used scrapbook paper, and there were even some superhero masks that everyone loved. It was a hit beyond anything we could have imagined, and we’ll definitely be doing this one again (we laminated the props for easy reuse). ‘ The kids loved not only the fact that it was fun, but also the freedom that they had to personalize it and own their pictures the way they wanted to. I’ve been having a lot of success in programs for tweens that aren’t overscheduled, that allow them to enjoy some of the freedom that’s starting to come with their age.

Have you tried anything similar at your library?

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Our cross-poster from ALSC’ today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a youth services librarian in Mississippi, and has worked with ages birth-18 for the last 5 years.

Summer reading is in full swing at my library and my tweens are reading furiously. The middle grade (MG) is flying off the shelves! ‘ Here are a few books that my kids cannot get enough of:

Source: Goodreads

How They Choked: Failures, Flops, and Flaws of the Awfully Famous’ by Georgia Bragg

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Most libraries, like my own, have a core group of kids know and love our programs and are super excited about libraries in general. ‘ But, especially in the summer, these kids are often accompanied by siblings in a group a bit more disconnected from library services: tweens. Tagging along with their siblings, tweens who are unfamiliar with our library programming often end up exposed to our summer offerings. What can we do to keep them coming back?

1)‘ Plan programming that interests everyone. Summer programming for teens in my library serves both middle school and high school students (we’re not large enough to divide it up). So we work hard to find programming ideas that will appeal to both age groups: crafts that older kids won’t find lame, cooking classes that 6-12th graders will all enjoy, a photobooth night where the kids can post to Instagram until they drop. We don’t have a lot of resources to work with, but if you’re not planning a program that will appeal to the wide swath of “teen” ages, you’re going to lose these kids. If your library is large enough to support separate middle school and high school programming, fantastic! Plan things that you know your middle schoolers love! Crafts! Minecraft! Book club! Ask them what they want to see and then provide it.

2)’ Talk to them about middle grade AND young adult. As soon as the kids in my town hit sixth grade, they want to books from the teen center where our YA collection is–on the other side of the library from juvenile fiction. And that’s fantastic! But I’ve had several conversations with some awesome middle schoolers about middle grade books, publisher’s age recommendations, and how I logistically can’t shelve MG in the teen center or double-buy titles. As soon as a 12-year-old sees the “Ages 10-14” note inside of a book, they give themselves permission to be in the children’s department again. ‘ Not only has this opened up more of the library’s collection for some of my younger readers, this is a great intro conversation for an ongoing readers’ advisory relationship!

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