I was one of the lucky few to win a Teen Tech Week grant this year! I am excited, but I have to say, my teens are even more excited than I am. Why? Because we’re starting a Let’s Play club!

‘Let’s Play’ is a web video genre in which people record themselves playing video games, and then post their creations online for others to view. Our teens will be involved in, and in many cases, in charge of, every aspect of the process – channel branding, game selection, set-up, digital and audio editing, uploading, creating metadata and captions, and social media marketing.

There are a lot of people creating Let’s Plays, and a lot of variety within the genre. Some use face-cams, others are just voice-over narration and commentary. Some play retro games, while others showcase games long before they’re released. Some play anything a fan will send in, while others ‘speed-run’ by taking advantage of glitches and expertise to finish a game as quickly as possible. Many Let’s Players also livestream for hours on Twitch.tv to live audiences of followers and paid subscribers, posting these to Youtube in addition to their normal content.

Below are some Let’s Players to check out if you’d like to learn more about this ever-growing genre of online video!


Felicia Day’s Co-Optitude was my introduction to Let’s Plays. Hosted on Geek & Sundry, Felicia plays mostly retro and indie games with her brother Ryon, generally very badly and to much hilarity. The production value is high – the set is remarkable and there is a lot of editing involved, including clever use of video game sounds to bleep any mature language.


Zach Drapala is GhostRobo, a Let’s Player who often gets early access to a variety of highly sought after games. His full walk-throughs are full of gratitude for his viewers, and he often gives away copies of the games he’s playing to lucky subscribers. His second channel, GhostRoboJr, focuses on games specifically for kids.


Holly Conrad is a professional cosplayer and special effects artist, appearing on the short-lived Syfy documentary series ‘Heroes of Cosplay’. As Commander Holly, her infectious sweetness seeps through as she plays a variety of games with friends. She also plays a lot of World of Warcraft, and posts the occasional real-life video featuring her cosplay and other creations.


The hankgames Youtube channel is the Let’s Play home of bestselling teen fiction author John Green. Once upon a time, his brother Hank created this channel and played a variety of games, with John occassionally joining him. In 2011, John began playing the yearly FIFA (a soccer league) game, and since that time, the channel has mostly featured this (Hank has an occasionally-updated channel now called GamesWithHank) Ever the storyteller, John has back stories for most of the players and continues to update viewers on their news, from the arrival of babies to marriages and more. He also answers a variety of questions, often passed on from donors to the annual Project for Awesome. Although originally he played as the Swindon Town ‘Swoodilypoopers,’ in 2014 he was ‘fired’ as their ‘manager’ and instead began playing as the AFC Wimbledon ‘Wimbly-Womblys’ (neither of these names are accurate). It’s a long and hilarious story (you can read more here), but John’s love of the actual AFC Wimbledon team in England has inspired him to give the proceeds of this Let’s Play channel to the team, most of which supports the youth team. There is now a Nerdfighteria billboard in the AFC Wimbledon stadium, and the Nerdfighteria logo is on the official team uniform.

Minecraft Let’s Players

As the audience for Minecraft tends to be younger, the majority of Let’s Players who play Minecraft tend to keep their channels clean of any mature language. These folks often have some of the largest audiences, with subscribers in the many millions.


Welcome to the Sky Army! Adam Dahlberg, otherwise known as Sky, specializes in Minecraft roleplay, creating and playing in specially created Minecraft environments (also known as ‘mods’) that look like superheroes, other video games, etc.


Dan Middleton is a British Let’s Player who also focuses on mods and other mini-games and challenges. In 2015 he received a Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Award.

Mr Stampy Cat

Joseph Garrett is a Let’s Player from the UK who uploads “a bunch of different games, including a new Minecraft video, every single day.” Known mostly as Stampy, he often works with Let’s Player iBallisticSquid and recently published his first book, Stampy’s Lovely Book.


David Spencer, also from the UK, posts Minecraft Let’s Plays from both the XBox and PC versions. He often attempts to complete challenges created by his best friend, Stampy.  Together they have a joint channel, Magical Animal Club, where they post a variety of content including a series of videos on tough topics such as bullying, confidence, and online safety.


Jordan Maron, otherwise known as Captain Sparklez, plays a variety of games but mostly focuses on Minecraft and is well-known for his animated Minecraft videos that parody popular music. Minecraft Style was featured in a variety of tech publications. He also maintains a second channel where he posts his Minecraft livestreams.

You can’t really talk about Let’s Players without mentioning the big names: Rooster Teeth’s Achievement Hunter (their show Rage Quit is the epitome of what it’s like to be frustrated with games, and a personal favorite), Markiplier, PewDiePieDodger, Best Friends Play, and Game Grumps, to name just a few. Your teens are watching at least some of these gamers (and will probably debate the merits of their favorites), but I must stress that these are not channels you can watch as a group in a library setting. They are important names to know, but remember: the average age of a gamer is 35. These are adults creating things for themselves and mostly for other adults. If swearing in all cases and a lot of mature language and situations in most are not things you are comfortable with, stick with the channels I’ve highlighted above.

Sarah Amazing is the teen librarian at the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library. She blogs at zen-teen.com and falls asleep almost every night to the sounds of Danny and Arin’s colorful commentary on Game Grumps.


Please use ALA’s super easy web page and take a minute to email and Tweet your members of Congress and ask them to support library funding in the FY17 federal budget. The messages are pre-populated—all you need to do is provide your name and contact information to ensure it goes to the proper members of Congress. If you have the time, you’re also encouraged to phone their offices. Your help, and these funds, make a huge difference in what libraries and library staff can do for their patrons.

It’s that time of year when Congressional cost-cutters sharpen their budget knives and go looking for under-supported federal programs to slash or discontinue. Last year, Paul Ryan, who is now Speaker of the House, proposed completely eliminating the federal agency for libraries (IMLS) and with it over $200 million in funding for libraries (the Library Services and Technology Act—LSTA, and Innovative Approaches to Literacy–IAL). Both of these critical funding streams for libraries are potentially on the chopping block this year and it’s up to you to help save them.   Read More →

Now is the time of year when most state legislatures are in session, and the teens in your state are relying on you to speak up for them!  Here’s what you can do:

  • Find out what dates your state’s legislature is in session, by visiting the National Conference of State Legislatures’ web site.
  • Visit your state library association’s web site to find out if they are hosting an advocacy day in your state’s capitol and learn how you can get involved.
  • Stay up to date on the issues by visiting your state legislature’s web site or downloading and using one of these free apps: Congress, Countable, or icitizen.
  • Build your legislative advocacy skills.  A great starting point is YALSA’s free Legislative Advocacy Guide (.pdf).
  • Take action and mobilize others to do so, too.  Connect with your state library association to find out what calls to action they are focusing on this year.  Check out www.ala.org/yalsa/advocacy for tips and resources.  Consider asking your elected official if they will sponsor a resolution in support of libraries (a resolution is not legislation or a bill–just a feel good message that state legislatures pass all of the time in an effort to make nice with the voters).  YALSA has a few sample documents compiled into one file that you can adapt and use, including a sample resolution, emails and a press release.  Access the MS Word file today for an easy way to raise awareness about libraries with the elected officials in your state!
  • Engage the teens in your community, help them learn about the legislative process and encourage them to become active around the issues that matter most to them.  Read “Help Youth Take Action” and share this free Youth Activists’ Toolkit (.pdf).

And don’t forget that National Library Legislative Day is May 3rd!  If you can’t make it to Washington DC, ALA has several ways that you can participate virtually.

-Beth Yoke

President Obama released his draft FY17 budget today.  The next step is for Congress to take it up.  Congress will spend the spring and summer working on their version, with the ultimate goal to have a final budget passed in fall.  In the President’s budget, proposed funding for the Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) is down by $500,000 over last year, grants to state libraries are down $900,000, and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy grant program (a funding opportunity for school libraries) is level funded at $27 million.  These are all vital programs that support the nation’s libraries.  ALA’s President, Sari Feldman, issued a statement today expressing disappointment.

Read More →

Happy post-Midwinter!

The YALSA board started off Midwinter on Friday with training session on best practices in association governance. All day Saturday, Board members worked with a consultant from the Whole Mind Strategy Group on organizational planning.

Based on those discussions, several key topics rose to the top as ones most likely to become the focus of the organizational plan. They were: advocacy, continuing education, cultural competency promotion, leadership development, partner/funder relations, and state level outreach.

The goal is to develop a focused and responsive plan which will help YALSA meet the needs of members and advance teen services in libraries across the country. Based on the outcomes of the organizational planning discussions, the consultant will help the Board draft a new, 3 year plan.

We hope to have that in place by March 1st.

While the planning discussion took up all of the Board’s meeting time on Saturday, there were still other topics that the Board discussed at the business portion of their meeting on Sun. and Mon.

Those topics included:

  • Diversity on YALSA’s Board: the board voted to approved the taskforce’s recommended updates to the nominating committees’ charges and asked the taskforce to submit a formal request to the board for adoption of a diversity definition for YALSA. The board had some questions and feedback regarding the proposed checklist for nominating committees’ use and sent that document back to the taskforce for further work
  • Dues categories & rates: the board voted to table this issue until after organizational planning is complete
  • Updating YALSA’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth: the board reviewed the latest draft and had further recommendations for refinement
  • YALSA’s portfolio of guidelines and position papers: the board approved the proposal to have staff work on updating some of these documents in the short-term

Check out the full board agenda and documents online to get the details of what the board talked about. We will also be posting meeting minutes there in the next week or so. You can also read the accompanying blog posts on the YALSAblog that other Board members have been sharing out since we’ve returned from Boston.

If you have question about a particular agenda item or issue or would like more details about it, feel free to e-mail me or any of YALSA’s Board members.

I will also be hosting another virtual town hall via a Twitter chat on Fri. February 5th from noon to 1:00 p.m., Eastern, and I hope you can join in!

Drop in any time during the hour to learn more about organizational planning and board activities and follow along with #yalsachat.

I would love to hear your thoughts about the potential focus areas for the new plan: advocacy, continuing education, cultural competency promotion, leadership development, partner/funder relations, and state level outreach.

Also, feel free to follow Executive Director Beth Yoke (@yalsa_director), myself (@tinylibrarian), and/or other YALSA Board members for tweets about the work of the board!