The deadline for YALSA’s Thinking Big About Advocacy Contest is February 1.’  The goal of the contest it to create and share a collection of advocacy best practices.’  During the past two months the Contest Task Force members have highlighted the efforts of dedicated librarians who have successfully worked to improve YA services at their libraries.’  If you haven’t submitted your entry’  yet, there is still time to get involved.’  We’ll be awarding prizes to five YALSA members in recognition of truly outstanding efforts, so if you could use $500 for you next program, check out the application at YALSA’s Thinking Big About Advocacy Contest.

What do you do with middle school students acting like…well, middle school students? Give them a Room of Their Own! Teen spaces are becoming an increasingly common means to keep teens coming into the library once they reach that awkward age of too old for the kids section, but needing their own space. The path to teen-centered spaces in libraries has been paved by advocacy.

“When I wrote the first edition of Teen Spaces in 2002, no one was even really thinking about teen spaces with the exception of a few like Phoenix and Los Angeles,” says author and consultant Kim Cullin. “In the mid to late 90’s I had worked to create teen spaces in a several rural libraries and ended up doing a ton of public speaking on the topic to motivate others to do the same. It became a mission!” ‘ Cullin goes on to say that by the time she started working on the second edition, teen spaces had become increasingly commonplace. ‘ â€œI had so many wonderful examples to show people as compared to the few and far between that were out there while writing the first edition.”
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Many of our teen patrons come in to the library for one reason and one reason only – to use the public computers. They shouldn’t be faulted for taking advantage of a technology that is almost absolutely necessary for everyday life. Teens need computers and technology for research, homework, and communication. Oh, and probably for games too. What many people forget is that while teens are using this technology, they are in fact reading. They are reading their friends’ status update on Facebook; they are reading the lyrics to their favorite songs; they are reading the detailed instructions for that online game that seems entirely too complicated. The young adults that we see every day are using this technology and they are making connections online…shouldn’t we bring our services to them? Read More →

Have you ever planned and implemented a program for the young adults of your library only to have a handful of teens show up or worse, none at all? There is nothing more disheartening than to pour your time, expertise and heart into a program only to have it go thud. To paraphrase Mr. Burns, the poet not the Machiavellian owner of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, the best laid plans of mice and young adult librarians oft go awry. So what’s a librarian to do? One solution that has worked remarkably well at our library is to create a Teen Advisory Board (TAB).

A Teen Advisory Board is a win/win situation for you and your library. It incorporates your teens as direct stakeholders in their library, instilling a greater sense of pride and responsibility for the programming and collection, and by having a monthly meeting with your TAB, you are granted a direct link to the inner workings of the teenage mind while also fostering deeper relationships with your young adult patrons. Read More →

While some critics still consider graphic novels “comic books” they have proven to be worthwhile collections that are necessary for libraries.’  However, despite a growing acceptance, there are still complaints about their content. The sometimes stark visual images presented in graphic novels can disturb an audience more than the written word. How can you be an advocate for graphic novels in your library?

Among some of the top ten graphic novel complaints include Jeff Smith’s Bone series for “sexually explicit content” and the Pulitzer-prize winning Maus for “anti ethnic” content. To help show your community the value of such books, the ALA has come out with a document on “Dealing with Challenges to Graphic Novels.”Having good customer service and a intact library policy will go a long way to handling complaints.

Teens can also be a big advocate for graphic novels. Those teens that come into your library and check out a couple of feet high stack of manga can prove to administration and others that graphic novels are not only wanted but needed. Starting a graphic novel book club or featuring specific titles on display can also help spread awareness. Many complaints come out of ignorance and promotion of graphic novels can help dispel that.

If you have advocated for graphic novels in your library, consider entering YALSA’s Thinking Big About Advocacy Contest. Contest rules and electronic applications are available at

As we get closer to the deadline for submitting entries for YALSA’s Thinking Big About Advocacy Contest,’  we’d like everyone to take a minute and think about your YA Book collection.’  Every library has one now, don’t they?’  Young adult books have never been more popular, and almost every major publisher has established an imprint devoted to the genre, but this was not always the case. Read More →

Last week, we posted about YALSA’s Thinking Big About Advocacy Contest, an opportunity for you to share your advocacy successes, inspire your fellow librarians, and win $500.00 for your efforts. Today, we are highlighting one of the biggest advocacy movements championed by librarians in the past five years: Gaming in Libraries.

In reality, gaming in libraries is not a new idea: chess has been played in libraries for nearly 150 years, and during the Great Depression, toys and games were often circulated in public libraries. What has changed over the years are the games themselves. While board games are still in the mix, the presence of gaming consoles (Xbox, Wii) in libraries has been on the rise since 2006. Read More →