Replay the live session from YALSA’s Midwinter Institute, Innovations in Essential Teen Services. The replay includes links to the video we streamed of each presenter.

You’ve already heard about several of the YALSA events coming to Midwinter this weekend, but here they are all in one place. You’ll notice that this blog and The Hub will be covering a lot of these events–both live and shortly after–so even if you’re not in Dallas you’ll have a chance to participate.

Friday, January 20

Innovations in Essential Teen Services
12:30 to 4:30pm, Omni, Dallas C Room
This year’s Midwinter Institute offers tips on programming, reader’s advisory, evaluation, homework help and more. This is a ticketed event. The YALSA Blog will be covering this event live!

YA Lit Trivia Night FUNdraiser
8:00 to 10:00pm, Omni, Dallas B Room
Think you know all there is to know about young adult literature and YALSA’s book awards and book lists? Then come show off your knowledge at this event! Cash bar and light refreshments. Donations will be collected at the event for YALSA’s Leadership Endowment, which will fund future leadership-focused efforts, such as student scholarships, mentoring programs, leadership institutes and more. You do not need to register for ALA’s Midwinter Meeting to attend this event. Sign up your team at the YALSA Wiki (teams of ten will have reserved seating).

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6:45 AM – Arrive at school. Realize that with all of yesterday’s meetings, I never prepped for the class coming in for first block. Frantically create a book list in the OPAC, but fail to pull books onto a physical cart.

7:30 AM – First class arrives. Deliver instruction on using the catalog, using call numbers, a brief introduction to web indices and databases, and try to convince students not to print every article they find. Spend about half the class helping students find and check out books, and the other half adding titles to a future Follett order when I realize we have no books on some subjects.

8:47 AM – Run to the main office, where the secretary is paging seniors who are missing yearbook items. About half the students paged arrive. Get into a shouting match with a senior who is trying to convince a classmate that he shouldn’t turn anything in to the yearbook at all. Feel stupid for getting in a shouting match.
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Do you have a passion for teen services? Would you like to provide up-to-the-minute coverage of YALSA programs and events? Can you see yourself scouring the web for the best apps, games and websites for teens? The YALSA Blog wants YOU!

We’re looking to expand our ranks of regular bloggers. We need dedicated, talented writers with strong communication skills and a willingness to collaborate. You must be a current YALSA member who can commit to posting at least once a month, on topics of your choosing as well as on rotating themes and month-long projects. Podcast and video skills are a big plus.

Being a YALSA blogger helps your fellow librarians, by providing timely, cutting edge content on teen services and youth library resources, but it can also help you. Many of us who write for the blog have gone on to manage or edit YALSA publications, chair committees and task forces, and even serve as YALSA President. I started posting when I was still in grad school, and my work with the blog (both as an author and as a manager) has led to presenting at national conferences and writing a book for YALSA and Neal-Schuman.

For more information on blogging for YALSA, read the blogger guidelines and contact YB manager mk Eagle at

I recently held a program for teens called “Library of the Living Dead” at Grafton-Midview Public Library, located in Grafton, OH.’  I had the idea for the program a few months ago; I wanted to teach the teens Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance.’  I had learned the dance myself on a cruise and had so much fun I thought the teens would love it too!’  I decided to tie it in with Halloween since the music video features zombies.’  I found a local professional makeup artist that works at the haunted houses in the Cleveland area to come and do zombie makeup on the teens as well.

I ended up having 31 teens at the program, which is a great turnout for our Library.’  Not only did they love getting bloody gore and makeup on their face, they absolutely loved learning the dance!’  It was hard to teach the dance in only an hour, but by the end I think they really got the hang of it.’  We recorded it on a FlipCam and posted it on the Library’s Facebook page for everyone to see.’  I highly recommend this program for other librarians working with teens.’  It is easy to find instructional videos to learn the “Thriller” dance on YouTube, and also to find a local person to come do the zombie makeup.’  It was fairly low-cost, and the turnout was incredible!’  I will definitely try repeating this program again next year after the feedback I received from my teens!

Posted on behalf of Lesley Lard, Teen Services Librarian

On Beyond Stonewall: Young Adult Literature with LGBTQ Content

On Monday, October 3, 2011, over fifty students, staff and community members gathered to hear Dr. Christine Jenkins speak on the topic of the history of LGBTQ in young adult literature at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN. Titled “On Beyond Stonewall: Young Adult Literature with LGBTQ Content,” Dr. Jenkins took the audience back to 1969, when the first novel was published (I’ll Get There. It Better Be Worth the Trip) and discussed the developments of the literature since then up through the present day. Through Dr. Jenkins’ talk, we learned about the development – glacial though its pace may be – of young adult literature with LGBTQ content, and whether or not and to what extent it provides meaningful and accurate reflections for young people.

LGBTQ Literature!After her talk, students and other attendees browsed through over 100 LGBTQ YA books that were displayed on the stage. It was quite striking to see a visual presentation of the growth of the literature over the years. The organizers of the event (me – assistant professor Sarah Park and my student assistant Laura Camp) created placards indicating the decades in which the books were published: 1 in 1969, a handful in the 1970s; a handful more in the 1980s and 1990s, and then an explosion in the 2000s. Audience members repeatedly commented on how wonderful it was to see this visual representation and to be able to look through so many of the books.

In an effort to get more of our students involved in YALSA, we displayed YALSA posters on the walls and placed flyers and other materials alongside refreshments prepared by members of the St. Kate’s Library and Information Science program.

Dr. Jenkins, an associate professor at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has written extensively about LGBTQ YA literature. She is the co-author (with Michael Cart) of The Heart Has Its Reasons: Young Adult Literature with Gay/Lesbian/Queer Content, 1969-2004(Scarecrow Press, 2006).Christine Jenkins

The event was hosted by St. Catherine University’s Master of Library and Information Science Program.

Posted on behalf of Sarah Park, Ph.D.

If you’ve ever bumped into a teen you serve out in the “real” world, outside of the comfortable confines of the library, the interaction may have left you a little unsettled. Your personal life–your private life–is yours, right? You do things outside of work that you wouldn’t do in front of (or with) teens.

So what happens when you bump into a teen in the online world?

The way I see it, you have three choices when it comes to interacting with teens via social media.

1. Don’t Do It. Just don’t. Lock down your Facebook profile, never accept a friend request from a teen, keep your Twitter stream private and don’t allow any teens to follow you. I know plenty of librarians and educators who choose this option, and in fact an increasing number of of school districts are enacting policies to discourage (or outright forbid) teachers from “fraternizing” with students online.

2. Keep It Professional. Either maintain separate profiles for your work self and your personal self–interacting with teens only through the work profiles–or lock down your settings so that teens can only access so much. One of the easiest ways to do this is to create a list for students in your Facebook settings. Any teen you add as a friend automatically gets the most stringent settings–no access to your photos or videos, no access to your wall, no interaction with your other friends.

3. Take the Plunge. Let teens follow you on Twitter. Make mistakes, and learn from them. Find out why teens want to interact with you online. Is it because this is the way they prefer to communicate? If so, your library is making a mistake if you don’t have a presence in this world. Is it because they like what you have to say, and are taking the opportunity to “hang out” with you outside of the library?

If the thought of teens finding you on Facebook or Twitter strikes fear in your heart, maybe you should take a long, hard look at your profile and figure out why. If it’s because you want to keep your life to yourself, consider option 2; that way, you can reach out to teens on behalf of the library without compromising your own boundaries. But if you want the chance to see what teens are really saying to each other online, take a deep breath, and try option three.

Particularly in a school setting, where teachers may tend to socialize mostly with other members of their department or discipline, it can be really hard for librarians not to isolate ourselves. Heck, the library itself might be isolated–some buildings stick the library on a separate floor, or off in a corner, or on modular campuses the library might be out in the boonies.

The architecture of your library might be working against you, too. Maybe your circulation system or reference computer is located behind a formidable desk. Maybe the teen area is on a separate level, or lumped in with the children’s area but apart from adult services.

So how do you make sure you don’t become your own little lonely island, only seeing your colleagues (or your teens) if they happen to come by your desk?

Simple: leave your desk.
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All this month the YALSA Blog will feature posts that tell you how to do it–whatever it is! From technology to crafts to advocacy, these daily posts will give you the tips, tricks and tools to spice up your teen programs and resources.

Leading up to Teen Read Week, the 30 Days project will also feature weekly posts geared toward creating your best Teen Read Week ever.

We hope you’ll also take this opportunity to ask our experts whatever you want to know after reading their How-To posts. Comment early and comment often!