I am please to share the following YALSA President’s Program at ALA Annual 2024 in San Diego. A reminder that the session will begin with a YALSA Membership meeting at 10:30 am. Makes sure to mark your calendars, or add it to your conference schedule via the scheduler app now live. I look forward to connecting with any of you that will be attending the conference!

ALA Annual 2024 logo

YALSA’s President Program: Teen Activists and the Freedom to Read

About: Learn how teens have successfully engaged with and activated their communities around the freedom to read. This moderated panel discussion will feature teen advocates and address book banning, censorship, and how they engaged in civic leadership and built coalitions in the face of challenges. The panel will be preceded by a YALSA Membership meeting from 10:30-11am. It will take place at ALA Annual in San Diego. All are welcome!

Date/time: Monday, July 1st from 10:30a.m.-12:00p.m.


Teen Activist: Nationally Recognized: Da’Taeveyon Daniels

Teen Activist: Midwest: Meghana Nakkanti

Teen Activist Group: California, Golden State Readers: Gianna Goodman-Bhyat, Anais Lee, Mirabelle Lee, and Elizabeth Goldman

Respectfully submitted by Colleen Seisser, YALSA President

YALSA members! Could you help us spread the word? We’d love to see some Mock Printz winners on the YMA page!

The 2023 Mock Youth Media Awards (YMA) results page is open over on the ALSC Blog. We’d love to see the results from your Mock discussions and elections! The process to submit your winning titles is quite simple. To add your mock election results, please use this form.

If you know of other groups that are having (or had!) a Mock Election program, please encourage them to submit their results. We accept results from libraries, classrooms, book discussion groups, schools, bookstores, online discussion groups, and more! Submissions are accepted through this form.

We look forward to seeing YOUR library’s results.

Respectively submitted by:

Mary R. Voors
ALSC Blog manager

Please do not judge the following. I am a Teen Services Librarian, and I read my first volume of manga last year. (In my defense, I am a very new librarian.) When I moved to Montrose, a rural community on Colorado’s Western Slope, for my first library job, it took approximately two working days to realize that manga was a pathway to engaging a broad, diverse swathe of teens in my town. At the local middle and high schools, I saw My Hero Academia t-shirts in every direction. The first time I book-talked Spy X Family to the high school book club, folks who had never talked to me before stayed long after the bell to describe their favorite manga and anime. (I nodded along and hoped I didn’t look too clueless.) I put out an anonymous suggestion box in the library’s Teen Space, and approximately 90% of those suggestions were manga.

The point: it took approximately two days to realize manga was vitally important, especially to the teen community, and it took approximately two days to realize I was woefully under-read and unknowledgeable.

Thus, when YALSA announced the program for its 2022 YA Symposium, I swooned upon seeing the half-day pre-conference sessions devoted to manga and anime. Swooned and then fired off emails asking when I might apply for the Symposium travel stipend. Those sessions not only seemed great fits for me in theory, they proved great fits in practice.

In addition to introducing me to a variety of new titles (e.g., Rooster Fighter, Wandance) and comprehensive resources (mangainlibraries.com), Jillian Rudes’ session led participants through some close reading of manga. I have never considered myself a great visual reader. I tend to spend little time on the art and barrel through the text, effectively missing half the book. In the Manga in Libraries session, we engaged in brief exercises that slowed me down in my reading and asked me to interpret what the text and the visuals were doing on the page together, particularly as they applied to emotional development or understanding of characters. I’m not a school librarian, so I’m not regularly in situations in which I closely read a text alongside teens, but taking some time to do this myself with manga gave me tools for becoming a better reader, which gave me tools for becoming a better recommender. Before my most recent visit to the high school’s book club, I re-read the manga I’d planned to share with those tools in mind – and then, during the book talks, I emphasized elements of the art, rather than merely describing plot. While this is purely anecdotal, more books were checked out during that visit than ever before.

The afternoon I spent in the Anime Boot Camp with Jake Ciarapica and Kevin Jayce gave me similarly concrete takeaways: I’ve got a list of popular publishers, a library account with Crunchyroll that I can use to start an anime club (independently requested by teens here months ago, but I was too intimidated to try), and ideas for our first programs (thank you, Anime Trivia and discussion). I also feel at least a tiny bit more “hip with the teens,” which the presenters assured us was one great reason to talk about anime.

In terms of confidence, knowledge, and skills, the YA Symposium pre-conference gave me the boost I needed to embrace an area of Teen Services for which teens are clamoring. But, perhaps even better, I came to realize both how fun and how impactful manga and anime can be, and understanding that on a deeper level is already helping me connect on a deeper level with the teens in my community.

Amy Dickinson
Teen Services Librarian
Montrose Regional Library District

TeenTober is in full swing!  How is your library celebrating? TeenTober is a new, nationwide celebration hosted by libraries every October and aims to celebrate teens, promote year-round teen services and the innovative ways teen services helps teens learn new skills, and fuel their passions in and outside the library.  It’s not too late to join in on the fun.  Check out the YALSA Toolkit for TeenTober here.  Download the TeenTober graphics here.  Need program ideas or have a program you want to share with others?  Check out the free resources available or share your program at YALSA’s Programming HQ: http://hq.yalsa.net/  Share your library’s photos on Instagram, don’t forget to use the #TeenTober and tag @yalsa1957 

Check out these libraries! 

Buchanan County Public Library

Ardmore Public Library

Hillsboro Library

Let us know how you’re celebrating!  

Franklin Escobedo
YALSA President-Elect 2021-2022

BIPOC Mental Health

BIPOC Mental Health

Image from NAMI Seattle

In the last four months, our country has faced a barrage of racism and fear due to COVID-19. In addition to the pandemic, the death of George Floyd has fueled a movement to call out systematic racism and police brutality and demand justice. While teens all over the country are seeing and feeling the effects of these events, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) teens need support more than ever, which is why we need to talk about BIPOC Mental Health Month.

According to Mental Health America (MHA):

“Formally recognized in June 2008, Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed each July and was created to bring awareness to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face regarding mental illness in the United States.

Bebe Moore Campbell was an American author, journalist, teacher, and mental health advocate who worked tirelessly to shed light on the mental health needs of the Black community and other underrepresented communities.

People and language evolve, and Mental Health America (MHA) has chosen to remove the word “minority” from our toolkit and will be phasing it out on our materials. Instead, we are using a different designation – BIPOC – that we believe more fairly honors and distinguishes the experiences of Blacks, Indigenous People, and People of Color.

In an effort to continue the visionary work of Bebe Moore Campbell, each year MHA develops a public education campaign dedicated to addressing the needs of BIPOC.” Read More →

Hello everyone,

For December, we’re going to look at YALSA Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff #5, Youth Engagement and Leadership, considering the equity issues that involve civic engagement. Much has been discussed in the media about how so many opportunities for civic engagement intentionally or unintentionally leave out members of underrepresented citizens, including teens. A few examples of this include the exclusionary tactics within the US women’s suffrage movement; the preponderance of white men in elected posts throughout this country; and the concerns from women of color and those with disabilities regarding the Women’s March on Washington in 2017.

But all is not bad news. Libraries nationwide are doing their best to change the tide to a much more equitable future for all citizens and residents. Guest teen bloggers from the Waltham (MA) Public Library share their Civic Engagement experience with the help of their teen department head, Luke Kirkland.


By Real Talk teen leaders Alexis Sanford, Iris Alvarenga, Karina Diaz, and Christina Lafortune, with Waltham Public Library Teen Department Head Luke Kirkland

During the last two election seasons, teen leaders at the Waltham Public Library have partnered with the national arts and civic action organization For Freedoms to create an installation of lawn signs in the Library’s front lawn. Each pre-printed sign begins with a different prompt: Freedom To, Freedom Of, Freedom For, or Freedom From. Teens were invited to select one prompt and complete it with a statement they wanted adult voters and candidates to consider as Election Day approached. 

The result was a collection of statements from 350 unique teens communicating their fears and hopes for their lives, their communities, their country, and their world. And by displaying them in the Library lawn through October and up to Election Day, we invited the community to take time to reflect on teens’ thoughts and experiences, to consider the world teens will inherit, and to familiarize themselves with the world teens intend to create. Visit bit.ly/ffwpl2019 to view the entire collection.

The teen leaders driving this initiative are leaders from Real Talk, a youth-led conversation forum that is the centerpiece of Waltham Public Library Teen Room programming. After the signs came down, we took some time to reflect on the project. Here are five takeaways from our teens.


Everyone agrees that the beauty of the project is its simplicity. Alexis observes “Everyone was able to share their story through something so seemingly simple.” Teens get to make only one sign, but everyone was able to use it as an opportunity to share their story. For Iris, For Freedoms’ prompts offer enough to spark ideas, but they leave plenty of room for inspired creativity—and for upending the expectations of adults. “Even though the signs were simple and had simple phrases, so many of the phrases were so powerful. Adults didn’t expect it from us, and they were like ‘Whoa, sis!’”


On the other hand, finding 350 unique teens and convincing them to fill out signs with serious expressions of their perspectives is decidedly not simple. To accomplish the feat this year we spent a week engaging teens across the city: we held sign-making programs at the Library and the Boys & Girls Club; we visited Waltham High School classes and afterschool clubs; we set up stations in the WHS school library and cafeteria to make signs during lunches.

Still—at each location, it took effort to sell the project. “It’s hard to really get them to do it,” says Iris. “It’s hard to do it in a way that makes them really care.” The turning point was when teens really understood that this was an opportunity to share their unique voice without interference—that there was no grade or rubric and that no response would be censored or restricted to any specific partisan agenda. Iris observes: “Teens shut down when you tell them what to say. But when it’s about something they care about, that sells it for them.” 

In the cafeteria, Alexis noticed that people would come make signs once a crowd formed, and that teens who made signs early would go recruit friends to do the same. “Other people wanted to participate when they saw their friends participating.” So teen leaders started going directly to tables and pulling people over. Christina even employed an imperative call to action. “I started just going up to people and telling them ‘Your voice matters and it’s time for you to share it!’ It worked!”

However teens started making signs, once they started, they just wanted to make more. (Sorry! Just one per person!) In the end, says Iris, “It’s an opportunity for them to share their experiences with adults.” And teens had A LOT they wanted to say to adults!


By installing the signs in the front lawn just off of Main Street, the spectacle caught the eye of every pedestrian and driver for five full weeks. And at the installation event, Karina and Iris had the opportunity to deliver a brave address with candidates for mayor, city council, and the school committee in the crowd.

“Waltham youth demand to be heard. We may be young, but our experiences are real…Do not belittle us, our opinions, or experiences solely because you may see us as just kids…The world has changed, and we young people will no longer sit on the sidelines…We are watching and we are listening and we will hold you accountable to your roles as policymakers…We aren’t just names on paper—we are living, breathing members of this city. We have dreams, aspirations, and needs just like anyone else here…Listen to our voices and include us in the decision-making process because only by including everyone in this city can we achieve democratic harmony.”

For Karina, that experience was the most powerful part of the project. “Delivering speeches and sharing our views and having adults actually listen felt amazing!”


Even though adults were the intended audience, reading the signs had a powerful impact on the teens who created them. “I was really moved to see the problems that we have and be able to relate to them and support each other,” says Karina. Christina agrees: “It showed that what we experienced is valid because other people were experiencing it too.” Seeing signs they could have written themselves was a cathartic reminder that they aren’t alone in the challenges they face. But Christina also points out that it was a gift they could have only received from their peers. “All youth no matter where they were from were brought together through their struggles and found support in each other that they wouldn’t have found in adults.”


Whether teens or kids or adults were reading the signs, the intent was always to bring to light the unseen experiences youth in our community are having. So while some signs were validating, others were eye-opening. “Seeing unique signs and realizing that people have these problems and you never knew they did” was a transformative experience for Karina. It made a difference in the way she thought about the people she sees around her every day. “It’s a moment of awakening. It makes you feel more open-minded about understanding other people’s problems.” Mission accomplished.

Want to make lawn signs with us in 2020? Visit bit.ly/lawnsigntips to get a closer picture of how we helped youth create their signs. Email Waltham Public Library Teen Department Head Luke Kirkland at lkirkland@minlib.net with questions. Contact emma@forfreedoms.org and pola@forfreedoms.org to learn more about becoming an official For Freedoms partner. And visit realtalkteens.org to check out our toolkit for developing your own youth-led conversation forum.

Thanks Alexis, Iris, Karina, and Christina! And special thanks for Waltham (MA) PL teen department lead Luke Kirkland for sharing the efforts of this amazing group of teens!

And remember, free webinars for this and each competency are available from YALSA.

Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020 | Twitter: @toddbcpl