An interview with Jenifer Phillips by Izabel Gronski

This post is part of the YALSA Presidential Theme: Youth Activism through Community Engagement

Most of my networking and professional development happens on social media. There are excellent conversations happening about librarianship on Twitter and Facebook. One group in particular that I enjoy watching for collaboration and idea curation is Teen Librarians. That is where I “met” Jenifer Phillips, the Teen Program Coordinator at the Haverford Township Free Library in Haverford, PA. There was a great conversation going about teen activism programs in the weeks leading up to the student-led walkouts on gun violence, so I popped in to promote the Youth Activism through Community Engagement wiki that this Presidential Advisory Taskforce has been working on. Jenifer commented a little bit later about her Stay Woke program and I knew we had to touch base and asked her to share her knowledge in a blog post. Her insights are especially helpful for those of us who just don’t know where to to start, but feel the need that our teens have for activism based programming. Hopefully, Jenifer will inspire you to take the leap as well!
Read More →

An interview with Jackie Lockwood by Trent McLees

This post is part of the YALSA Presidential Theme: Youth Activism through Community Engagement

Jackie Lockwood is a Teen Services Librarian for the King County Library System, outside Seattle. She has been with KCLS for seven years, and has been in her current role at the Newcastle Library branch for over two years. Through collaboration and community partnering, Jackie’s work provides a meaningful example of one way we as librarians can support teen leadership and self-direction, both in the library and beyond its walls. By supporting the ideas of Teen Advisory Boards, and connecting with community partners to help teens’ make their ideas and goals a reality, Jackie’s work is focused explicitly on empowering teen voices.

I had an incredibly edifying and enjoyable conversation with Jackie, and if there is one huge takeaway I had from our chat it’s this: the best thing we can do to advocate for our teens is talk. Community partnerships can only happen if the community knows about the teens we serve and their needs, and the best way to let the community know what we know is to get out there and talk, talk, talk! When I asked her what she’d want to have librarians know about doing Teen Advisory Board work, she had this to say: “The biggest thing I’d want to tell another librarian is just to not get discouraged. Doing this kind of work, in what I’ve observed so far, takes a lot of stepping out on a  limb, entering into uncharted waters basically…There may be a certain amount of risk, and you may feel nervous about it, but as long as you’ve done your research and you know the reason why the program is important and will be valuable to the community, you can stand by that, you can get the support of your management and go for it, because it’s really important work.”

Read on for an abbreviated transcript of my conversation with Jackie, and be sure to check out her article detailing some of the work happening at King County Library System from the June 2017 issue of VOYA!
Read More →

Written By Chris Tuttell

This post is part of the YALSA Presidential Theme: Youth Activism through Community Engagement

When the #EnoughisEnough movement began, many of our first thoughts may have been: how can I help? How can I support these courageous teens? As librarians, we are uniquely situated to support teens as they engage with social justice through our comfort with both the power of story and the importance of information literacy.

My journey to passionately advocating for the students calling for gun reform began because I believe that every student deserves to feel safe in their home, neighborhood, and school. I have been following @WhyWakeWalks—a local group of high school students in Raleigh, NC—as they have worked to gain awareness for the rally they are single-handedly organizing on April 20.

In an effort to raise awareness, gain district support,  and elevate the voices of these students, I interviewed the Why Wake Walks leaders on my podcast. The podcast, In Their Best Interest, is dedicated to elevating student voices and centering teens in education and advocacy conversations. This was a natural fit.

The teens in our #WhyWakeWalks podcast [] powerfully articulate their platform and reference research and data. As librarians, we can help amplify teen voices in our communities—through social media, through the use of our library recording spaces and resources, through help with research, and most importantly, through lending our time to their causes.

Please consider ways in which you can support teens in your area as they advocate for safety in their schools and communities.

Visit the Youth Activism through Community Engagement wiki page for resources to help you and the teens you work with start conversations in your community.


Chris Tuttell is a Librarian and Instructional Tech Facilitator in Wake County, NC. For the past 18 years, she has been an elementary school teacher, librarian, and instructional technology facilitator working with kindergarten through fifth grade students. Even though she works solely with elementary-aged students, she was so inspired by the teens advocating for safety from gun violence—both nationally and locally—she sought out teens in her district to support. Follow her at @ChrisTuttell.

Written by: Nicholas DellaVecchia, Laila Key, Timmy Lawrence, and Ali Shabazz, Teen Patrons of the Philadelphia City Institute Branch, Free Library of Philadelphia

This post is part of the YALSA Presidential Theme: Youth Activism through Community Engagement

At the Philadelphia City Institute Library, we have a weekly Teen Reading Lounge (TRL) program where teens come in to talk about current events and problems in society in a safe space. This program helps us find things that are really interesting to us and express our real concerns. We find topics we can argue and talk about, and learn how to make points on things we care about.

We’ve read books on topics ranging from teenagers who were sentenced to the death penalty to the lives of transgender teens. These intricate and personal stories are stories we don’t think we would have learned in school. That’s the beauty of this program. It fills the gaps between the narratives of real life people and what school teaches.

At TRL, we allow ourselves to broaden our minds about issues concerning immigration and people of other cultures. We have become more open minded and also more aware of concerns in the LGBTQ community. Not only are the books we read insightful, but the workshops introduce new topics in a fun way and help us see things from different points of view.
Read More →

This post is part of the YALSA Presidential Theme: Youth Activism through Community Engagement

“We are wondering whether we can show documentary films and have discussions at the library.”  That’s how it all started in 2013.

Events at the national level and at school were having an emotional impact on the teens and stimulating them to start conversations among themselves.  Two of my Teen Advisory Board (TAB) members wanted to do more.  They wanted to educate their peers about issues affecting teens, the community, and the world.  They also wanted to bring the community into the conversations.  And so began Reel Time – Community Discussions About Difficult Topics.

Initially, the discussions were adult-led. The teens generated the topics. The library planned and hosted the documentary viewings, including inviting experts—people working with folks impacted by the issues addressed in the films—to provide information and answer questions. For example, for a discussion about hunger following a viewing of A Place at the Table, we invited representatives from Teen Feed, a local organization that supports homeless youth, to share their experiences. The community events, at this point, were a product of the teens’ ideas, but not really owned by them. However, as I learned to step back, the teens began to step up.

Over time, the teens began to not only generate the topics, but to create the context for the documentary viewings, including the format of the discussions. As a first step, the TAB members co-facilitated the discussions with another adult. Ultimately, the teens began to organize and facilitate discussions on their own.

Read More →


February may have been only 28 days long, but it was a busy month. Here are some highlights.


  • Attended ALA Midwinter in Denver where I:
  • Worked with YALSA Board and ALA HR to begin process of hiring a new YALSA Executive Director. For an update click here.
  • Wrote thank you letters to outgoing chairs of committees, taskforces, and juries.
  • Prepared for the March Board chat where we discussed concerns brought forward by YALSA members re: appropriate volunteer behavior and the committee appointment process. Be on the lookout for Board actions in response to both of these topics.
  • Wrote President’s column for the spring issue of YALS focused on small, rural, and tribal libraries

Read More →


It’s that time of the year again – YALSA/ALA Elections!

Before you vote, please check out the following resources YALSA has compiled:

You should have received an email from ALA with a link to your YALSA/ALA ballot.  If you can’t locate the email from ALA, please contact JoAnne Kempf at or 312.280.3212.

The elections are often decided by narrow margins – make sure your voice is heard and vote today! I did!


Sandra Hughes-Hassell
YALSA President 2017-2018


As you know, Beth Yoke tendered her resignation as YALSA Executive Director in January. The search for the new Executive Director is currently underway.

The search committee includes three members of the YALSA Executive Committee and four ALA staff members:

  • Sandra Hughes-Hassell, YALSA President
  • Crystle Martin, YALSA President Elect
  • Todd Krueger, YALSA Division Councilor
  • Mary Ghikas, ALA Executive Director
  • Dan Hoppe, ALA AED of Human Resources
  • Aimee Strittmatter, ALSC Executive Director
  • Beatrice Calvin, ALA Manager of Professional Development.

The job was posted Friday, March 2, on the ALAJobList. It is also being posted to other sites, including sites that are frequented by individuals seeking association executive director positions.

The committee will review and rank applications as they are received – we have already received a number of applications. On April 17th, the committee will have a conference call to determine which 8-11 of the applicants will move on to the next step in the process.

Our goal is to have a new Executive Director in place by August 31, 2018. As the process moves forward, I will continue to keep you updated. If you have any questions about the process, please reach out to me, Crystle, or Todd.

Sandra Hughes-Hassell
YALSA President 2017-2018

Want to get involved in YALSA? Don’t have lots of time? Here’s the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.

YALSA has a two short-term member volunteer opportunities available right now!

We are looking for:

  1. Three to five members to serve on a virtual taskforce charged with developing a new member Innovation Award. This award will recognize a member who has embraced YALSA’s vision for teen services. The award proposal will be due to the Board for review at our June 2018 meeting.
  2. Three to five members to serve on a virtual taskforce charged with developing a new Mid-Career Travel Stipend to be used by a YALSA member who expresses need and has not had the opportunity to attend an ALA Annual Conference or YALSA Symposium for five years. The stipend proposal will be due to the Board for review at our June 2018 meeting.

These are two great ways to get involved in the work of YALSA without having to attend in-person meetings or make a lengthy commitment. Plus, you’ll be helping to craft proposals for awards that will directly benefit members.

If you are interested in volunteering for either of these short-term volunteer opportunities, please fill out the Committee Volunteer Form

If you have any questions, please contact me (


Sandra Hughes-Hassell
YALSA President 2017-2018


In a December blog post, we alerted you that a petition was circulating among ALA members to put a measure on the ALA 2018 ballot to overturn the decision by ALA Council to change the language of the job announcement for the next ALA Executive Director from “MLIS preferred” (or CAEP/school librarian equivalent) back to MLIS required.  The petition received the requisite number of signatures, which means ALA members will be asked to vote on this issue during the elections, which run from March 12 – April 4.

YALSA’s Board of Directors strongly encourages our members to vote no on this ballot measure.  The YALSA Board unanimously supports the recommendations of the ALA Executive Board, the ALA Search Committee, ten of the eleven ALA divisions, and the ALA Council, that the MLIS is preferred but not required for Executive Director candidates.

The rationale for our decision includes the following:

  • 38.3% of ALA members do not have an MLIS.
  • ALA is not a library. It is an association that represents and advocates for libraries.  Industry best practice indicates that the executive director position of a nonprofit organization, especially one as large and complex as ALA, requires expertise in nonprofit and association leadership.
  • If ALA limits the pool of candidates by requiring all applicants to have an MLIS, it will exclude qualified people of diverse backgrounds who, for whatever reason, chose not to dedicate their education to librarianship.  According to ALA’s Diversity Counts report, 88% of credentialed librarians are white and 83% are female. Since diversity is a key action area for ALA, the executive director search should be conducted in a manner that allows for the greatest potential of attracting qualified applicants from underrepresented communities.
  • Talented, mission-driven nonprofit leaders want to be part of ALA because they value libraries and the good work ALA does. Requiring a MLIS limits the pool of qualified candidates by excluding this group of experts. As ALA President Jim Neal explained, “The search firm and the search committee were contacted by such individuals but they were not able to be considered.  Individuals with other educational backgrounds were recommended to the search committee, but they could not be recruited as candidates.”

For additional perspectives on why the MLIS should be preferred and not required, please see the statements issued by ALSC and PLA.

As you know, the search for a new ALA Executive Director was declared a failed search, and the ALA Executive Board has appointed long-time ALA Senior Associate Executive Director Mary Ghikas to serve as ALA Executive Director until 2020.

The search for the new executive director will be reopened this summer. During this current political climate, when institutions like libraries are under attack, ALA needs a strong leader and  we cannot afford to put up unnecessary barriers to highly qualified and diverse individuals to applying for this job. We hope you will join us and vote no on this ballot measure.  A “no” vote means that you want to keep the current language approved by ALA Council last year, which states and MLIS is preferred, but not required.

Sandra Hughes-Hassell, 2017 – 2018 YALSA President
Todd Krueger, YALSA Division Councilor