One highlight from YALSA’s Future of Library Services for and with Teens is the importance of “partnering strategically to reach beyond the library’s walls” for libraries and communities to successfully work for and with teens. (p. 21-24). In order to best help members do this, YALSA’s board approved the creation of a Community Connections Taskforce. For libraries looking to begin or build on existing partnerships, the work of the committee will help members answer questions about partnerships, including:

  • Why collaborate or partner? What are the benefits? Why do libraries need to do it?
  • How might libraries identify or assess needs in their community and how the library might play a role?
  • What partnerships might I want to replicate from other library partnerships – big, small, rural, urban, school, public?
  • What do libraries might offer to partners?
  • What are the outcomes to this partnership?
  • How do I reach out to potential partners?


The taskforce is currently accepting volunteers. You can volunteer by submitting a volunteer form here – just look for the committee volunteer form and get started.

The committee charge is below. Please reach out to me or Candice Mack if you have any questions!

Community Connections Taskforce
Charge: compile existing and, as needed, develop new resources for members on the topic of using community engagement and partnerships to address teen needs. Resources must address the following key topics: rationale for pursuing community partnerships; strategies for assessing teen and community needs and identifying possible partners; examples of organizations that could serve as potential partners; asset mapping of library resources to determine what the library can bring to a partnership; and turn-key resources libraries can adapt and use, such as sample email messages to potential partners, community needs assessment tools, asset map checklist, etc. As completed, promote the community connections resources with the assistance of YALSA staff and member leaders through a variety of YALSA and other channels, including but not limited to: YALSAblog posts, webinars, Academy videos, Google Hangouts, and presentations at conferences. Size: 5-7 virtual members, including the Chair. Term: from August 1, 2015 to January 31, 2017.

Thank you to all who ran for positions on the 2017 Edwards, Nonfiction & Printz Award Committees and congratulations to those who were elected!

These award committees are partially filled by elected spots and partially filled by appointed spots, so now through June 15th, YALSA is collecting volunteer forms for the 2017 Edwards, Nonfiction and Printz Award Committees that will begin work Feb. 1st, 2016 and for the 2016 YA Services Symposium Planning Taskforce that will begin work later this year .

If you are interested in one of these committees or the Symposium taskforce, the first thing to do is learn all about what the expectations are for members of these groups.

These resources can help:

YALSA is seeking individuals with the highest ethical standards, a passion for YALSA’s mission and expertise in evaluating YA literature to serve on these awards committees.

If you feel you have met the criteria and have the time available to serve on one of these YALSA award committees or the symposium taskforce, you are encouraged to fill out the Committee Volunteer Form between now and June 15th at

In order to be eligible to serve on a YALSA committee, you must be a current personal member.

To learn more about membership, or to join, go to

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at

Podcast length: 11 min 40 seconds

YALSA’s Cultural Competencies Task Force interviews Patrick Jones, retired young adult services guru, author, speaker, winner of the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Library Association and Catholic Library Association, and pro wrestling enthusiast. Patrick was a teen librarian for 20 years, and continues to be an advocate for teens and teen services. This podcast gives an overview of how best to reach out and serve young adults in juvenile correctional facilities and provides advice to librarians new to outreach to prisons.


Librarians Serving Youth in Custody:

The Beat Within: A Publication of Writing and Art from the Inside:

Contra Costa Times article about librarian Amy Cheney:

Literacy for Incarcerated Teens:

Reaching Out to Young Adults in Jail, p. 16:

School Library Journal article about literacy for incarcerated teens:


Follow us on Twitter:

Patrick Jones: @PatrickJonesYA.

Learn more about Patrick at his website:

Monnee Tong: @librarianmo.

Intro and Closing Music: Summer’s Coming from Dexter Britain’s Creative Commons Volume 2.


Thanks to technology and a wealth of resources available via the internet, youth have more ways to discover their interests and passions. Spaces across the YOUmedia Learning Labs Network, based on the principles of Connected Learning and HOMAGO (hanging out, messing around, and geeking out) provide spaces for youth to gather, collaborate, and learn by doing. With the guidance of caring, near-peer artist-mentors, teens explore animation, recording music, and writing poetry and music. YOUmedia successfully provides a way for youth to learn 21st century skills, which in turn can lead to more workplace opportunities. There is a need for developing a 21st century skillset, which includes “life and career skills, innovation, critical thinking, and information, media, and technology skills.” In essence, workers need to be able to adapt and think critically and differently about situations. YOUmedia has had success with this, encouraging youth to experiment with new technology and activities.

Given the success of YOUmedia, how does one transform the “geeking out” stage of creation and production into a viable career path? For example, Salvador Avila, the Manager of the Enterprise Branch of the Las Vegas Clark County Library District and mentor at the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, saw how youth were constantly plugged into their music players, so he began teaching DJ classes. Organizations tapping into the successes of the YOUmedia Network are the Cities of Learning Network and twelve new user-centered spaces funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the MacArthur Foundation. The Los Angeles Summer of Learning encourages youth to explore and develop their passions in coding, community action, media, sports, and other interests, and learn how it relates to their career or academic future. Youth aged 16-24 can participate in the Workforce Readiness Challenge, where they learn job skills, interview skills and financial literacy.

A project that our office is involved in is the GRIT Lab – a teen community center in the South Bronx that will be a place to connect youth to out of school learning and workforce opportunities. Across New York City, there are 172,000 out-of school and out-of-work 18-24 year olds. Some of the challenges that out-of-school and out-of-work youth face result from a lack of interest-driven opportunities, workforce development programs, and a supportive learning environment. Working with key organizations in the South Bronx like DreamYard and New Visions for Public Schools, we observed how an advisor figure positively affects the student’s academic and personal growth and chances for success. Advisors are a crucial aspect of the youth development process because they are instrumental in advocating for and making sure students are on a path to success in their education. An advisor who works with and supports the student’s customized pathway from the interest-driven to career-driven stages would be ideal, and they could be a resource to connect different resources.

Read More →

YALSA wants to support you as you implement “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: a Call to Action,” and is currently considering publishing books focused on major topics in the report.

The YALSA Publications Advisory Board has identified some of the topics from the Futures report that are the most under-represented in professional literature, and we want your input. Fill out this brief poll to let us know which subjects and formats you would find the most useful in future publications from YALSA.

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Do you have a great idea for a book? Knowledge you want to share? A desire to give back to your professional community? Consider publishing with YALSA! Find more information about submitting publication proposals or writing queries for Young Adult Library Services (YALS) here.

I learned about the YALSA The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action report through colleagues in the YOUmedia Learning Lab Network when I was managing the Maker Jawn Initiative at the Free Library of Philadelphia. The report affirmed so much of what we had been discussing as a network; connected learning, librarians taking on the role of facilitators and co-learners rather than experts, rethinking staff models, and more. But in Philly, the report didn’t go far enough. We wanted more than a paradigm shift. Maker Jawn’s goal was to break down hierarchies in libraries by eliminating the top-down approach to staff management, and top-down teaching in a library (where knowledge is typically transferred from librarian to youth). Our team believed that while these institutional hierarchies existed, they would continually reinforce each other resulting in no true innovation, regardless of new technology or language to reframe learning in informal spaces.

Maker Jawn’s solution to this problem was to collectively rethink staffing. At its heart was the concept of the co-op: a team where everyone involved has a stake in the maintenance, effectiveness and deepening of the group as a whole. It required everyone in Maker Jawn to be completely on board. This involved a lot of collegiality and community-building amongst the staff themselves; they had to respect each other as equals, and acknowledge that they all brought different strengths and ways-of-getting-things-done. This also involved a lot of collective learning. We developed “tinkering sessions” in addition to weekly administrative meetings, where each week one member of the Maker Jawn team brought a new medium, tool, or technique they wanted to teach.

Read More →

In this second blog post on creating inclusive libraries, we examine the need to identify and remove barriers, and have an expanded definition of ‘the library as a safe space’.

Identifying and Removing Barriers

Paramount to our goal of creating inclusive libraries is removing barriers that prevent diverse youth from feeling welcome. In her research, Kafi Kumasi (2012) found that many youth of color feel like outsiders in library spaces, describing the school library as the sole “property” of the librarian. Kumasi argues that “these feelings of disconnect and exclusion should be attended to by school librarians, if they want to make all of their students feel welcome.”

Physical barriers can be easy to spot and can include, for example, detectors and late fees. Consider the unwelcoming message that detectors—particularly those with a ‘push’ gate—can send about libraries, especially for teens who may regularly be followed in department stores. We must recognize that these kinds of microaggressions are daily experiences for many youth, especially male youth of color, and must be mindful not to replicate them in our libraries. We must also realize that late fees represent a financial burden for some teens and their families causing teens to forego visiting the library, and ask ourselves, what other strategies might we use? Finally, our libraries must be physically and intellectually accessible for teens with disabilities (and, of course, stocked with literature that reflects their lived experiences). Project ENABLE provides free training to help librarians create more inclusive libraries that address the needs of youth with disabilities.

Other barriers are more difficult to unpack, but include library policies or procedures that inhibit teens from visiting or participating. For public libraries, this could manifest as an address requirement for receiving a library card. Teens experiencing homelessness would be unable to fulfill this requirement and thus be denied access to essential public library resources including computer time and material checkouts. For school libraries, perhaps a strict atmosphere of ‘shhh-ing’ is excluding teens from joining in library activities. Janice Hale (2001) reminds us, for example, that African American youth “participate in a culture that is highly dynamic. They thrive in settings that use multimedia and multimodal teaching strategies. And they favor instruction that is variable, energetic, vigorous, and captivating.” Do our libraries support this?

Barriers can also exist in programming. Are we scheduling programs at times that allow teen participation? Are we taking into consideration the public transportation schedules? Are we offering programs at locations in the community, rather than expecting teens to always come to the library? Are we coordinating our teen programs with our programs for children so that teens who are responsible for taking care of siblings can attend? Breaking Barriers: Libraries and Socially Excluded Communities explores ideas related to this topic specific to public libraries.

Read More →

The preliminary schedule for the 2015 YA Services Symposium has been announced!  This year, we’ve expanded our focus to cover the entire spectrum of topics related to providing services to young adults… and boy, do we have an exceptional list of programs for you!

First, there will be three half-day preconferences.  One preconference session, “Hip Hop Dance and Scratch: Facilitating Connected Learning in Libraries,” will focus on resources and best practices for implementing interest-driven coding workshops, with some hands on experience.  More information to come about the other preconferences.

Program topics:

  • Customize to connect – small libraries build participatory learning environments for teens
  • Diverse Teen Fiction: Getting Beyond The Labels
  • Full STEAM Ahead: Lessons Learned From a Library Coding Camp
  • If You Build It, They Will Come: Establishing Teen Services in Public Libraries
  • Lessons from Learning Spaces: Challenges and Opportunities for Maker Programming in Libraries
  • Maker Space Programming without the Space (or How Hollywood Came to Indiana and Brought a Community Together)
  • Moving On Up: Introducing Middle Schoolers to the YA Collection
  • New Adulthood: Literature & Services for NA Patrons
  • Teaching Urban Teens Valuable Skills: A Teen Job Fair
  • Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Connecting School and Public Libraries to Enhance Teen Services
  • Teen Services without Borders
  • Acting and Beyond: Helping Teens and Libraries Establish Connections through Theatre
  • Using Digital Literacy Trends with Teens
  • Elevating Teen Volunteers to Loftier Roles
  • Teens As Parents: Library and Early Literacy Connections
  • Starting From Scratch: My 18-Month Quest to Fill the Library with Teens, Convert my Colleagues, and Keep My Sanity

Paper Presentations

  • Skin Deep:  Hispanic and African American Experiences in Young Adult Literature
  • Teaching digital, media and information literacies to foster youth at a university curriculum materials library
  • Writing within Community:  How Mentoring Works in Online Fan Fiction

See the extended program descriptions and updates at

The symposium will take place November 6–8, 2015 in Portland, Oregon at the Hilton with a theme of: Bringing it All Together: Connecting Libraries, Teens & Communities.  Early Bird registration starts April 1, 2015.

There’s also a stipend available for two YALSA members.  Each stipend offers up to $1,000.  Applications are due by June 15.  To apply, view details at:

Want to help advocate?  Grab a flyer.  Help us promote; tell your colleagues!

Join YALSA as we explore how to connect teens to their community and beyond!

–Jane Gov for YA Services Symposium Marketing and Planning Task Force

The growing conversation surrounding the need for diversity in teen literature is wonderful—it is essential, it is long overdue, but it is only a starting point. Wait, what? Yes, a starting point. If we are not using those diverse collections in our library promotions, programming, and reader’s advisory with all students, we are diluting their influence. Furthermore, if diverse collections are housed in libraries that are not inclusive and welcoming to all youth, then we are negating the power of those collections.

“Diversity is not ‘praiseworthy’: it is reality.” Malinda Lo’s recent statement  can serve to remind librarians that focusing on diversity is not an extra facet of our job. It is central to what we do. Consider these facts:

  • In the 2014-2015 school year, youth of color were projected to make up the majority of students attending American public schools (not just urban public schools, but ALL public schools)
  • Approximately 9.1% of students attending America’s schools are English Language Learners
  • Approximately 10% of the general youth population in the United States identifies as LGBTQ+
  • One in 45 youth experience homelessness in America each year [references for all of these statistics can be found here]

YALSA’s The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action details even further the significant shift in the demographics of teens. To paraphrase Ernest Morrell (2015), our multicultural America is in our libraries no matter where we are.

Library collections obviously need to reflect the diversity of our nation. But that is just the beginning. Public and school libraries must be inclusive. Inclusive libraries are staffed by librarians who are culturally competent, use their diverse collections with all teens, identify and remove barriers, and have an expanded definition of ‘the library as a safe space’. In this two-part blog post, we will briefly examine these components. Our goal is broaden the conversation about the needs of diverse youth beyond diverse literature, and to highlight the need for librarians to engage in discussions about equity and inclusivity.

Read More →

Happy Monday, amazing YALSA members!

Can you believe it’s already near the end of February?

For those who’ve made New Year’s resolutions to be more involved in the profession, it’s not too late!

The deadline to apply to join a YALSA strategic committee, jury, or taskforce is this Sunday, March 1st!

You can see the full list of committees and juries here.

Strategic committees are a great way to get involved with YALSA, as they are virtual committees. Or, if you are a new member and looking to try committee work for the first time, the strategic committees are a great way to learn about YALSA, connect with teen service professionals from around the country, and help you develop your virtual work skills and teen expertise. So, if travel and conference attendance aren’t an option for you this year, please take a minute to fill out the volunteer form here and send it in before March 1st!

My Appointments Taskforce and I will begin the process to fill the over 200 open positions that help YALSA accomplish the work of the strategic plan and the work that moves the association and members forward immediately after March 1st, so please be sure to get your application in before then.

I strongly encourage all YALSA members to apply – it is an easy and great way to get more involved in this amazing association, especially if you are interested in joining a YALSA selection or award committee in the future.

Please feel free to contact me at candice.yalsa (at) if you have any questions!