Over the past few years, I have noticed that there has been a movement in YALSA to shift teen services in libraries. This shift has taken teen library staff from being mere program providers to being opportunity connectors and learning leaders. With the rise of connected learning, libraries are quickly moving into the forefront of informal learning and teen empowerment. Library staff have become vital elements in the empowerment of teens through relevant, outcome-based programming that develops the 21st century teen. This notable change in direction has made me extremely passionate about services for and with teens, and I noticed this theme in every session I attended this year in Orlando. Library staff all over the country are stepping up their programming in favor of interest-based learning and exploration that effectively engages today’s teens.
One of the first sessions I attended was a presentation on Raspberry Pi by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. I had visited their booth in the exhibit hall and wanted to learn more about their products and how to incorporate them into my programs. Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your tv or computer monitor and uses a keyboard and mouse. It’s a high-performance device that allows the user to explore computing, coding, and more. I was amazed at how such a small device has put the power of digital making into the hands of people all over the world. In addition to computer education, Raspberry Pi has an unlimited number of uses; everything from turning it into a personal wifi hotspot to creating advanced maker projects like a wearable camera or developing a multi-room music player. Recently, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has partnered with British ESA Astronaut, Tim Peake, to send two Raspberry Pis (dubbed the Astro Pi) into the International Space Station. Both devices were augmented and coded in part by school-age students to measure the environment inside the station, detect how it’s moving through space, and pick up the Earth’s magnetic field. Each Astro Pi is also equipped with a different kind of camera; one has an infrared camera and the other has a standard visible spectrum camera. I had absolutely no idea that a Raspberry Pi had this much potential for STEM and cross-curriculum learning, or that the same Raspberry Pi’s that were sent into space are the same as the ones you can purchase online. Not only is the potential for engaging STEM learning abundant, but The Raspberry Pi foundation makes its learning resources available for free on their website. You can download their magazine, MagPi, check out their books that will help you navigate a Raspberry Pi, or begin tinkering with a Pi by downloading the desktop interface, Raspbian. With all of this potential for making and learning packed into a compact, affordable package, Raspberry Pi’s are the next step in your library’s makerspace.
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As important as attending sessions at ALA conferences is, there’s another equally important activity that goes on almost constantly during conferences. Networking. Meeting new people happens in line for book singings, while tweeting about the conference, at socials, and before and after sessions. Four socials that I attended stuck out in my mind: one hosted by New Members’ Roundtable, another by Mango Languages, the Emerging Leaders Mix and Mingle, and the final social hosted by EveryLibrary. Conferences are one of the few instances in my life when I’m a social butterfly. During each of these socials, I met new people, exchanged business cards, and learned more about what the rest of the library world looks like. For those who have been in the profession for a while, networking may come easy, as natural as entering a room. But MLIS students, new librarians, and more introverted librarians may struggle with socializing at conferences. To help out, I’ve pulled together a few best practices (in my opinion) for networking based upon my attendance at ALA conference and others. I’m sure there are even more tips from even better networkers, but here’s what I got:
First, don’t be shy. I know that’s easy enough to write, but test out interacting with new people. It’s not as hard as it seems. Librarians are a friendly and engaged bunch. If walking up to a group full of strangers is too much for you, begin with introducing yourself to one or two people at a session or while wandering around a social. Even better if you can introduce someone you already know to a new friend. This takes a bit of pressure off since all the attention isn’t focused on you. This is a trick I use frequently. Now you’re not only networking, but you’re also a connector!
Second, bring business cards. I honestly didn’t share too many cards while at this past conference. But during my first Annual, I forgot my business cards and all of the sudden everyone wanted one. Just in case, I would recommend bringing at least 25 or so business cards for a conference. Depending upon what you’re attending or doing at the conference, you may need even more cards. If you’re presenting, definitely bring cards.
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Are you a member of YALSA? If you are not, you should be. YALSA’s newly adopted organizational plan is creating an organization that is “more nimble, more modern and more reflective of the needs of teens and
our members”, according to Past-President, Candace Mack. The changes in YALSA are daring to imagine a new vision of teen services in any library that serves teens.
On Saturday, at ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, YALSA’s leadership held an informational and focus finding meeting, “What’s New with YALSA” for membership. Those who attended the session served as a focus group of members who had the opportunity to hear the organizational plan, and then provide feedback about what that plan looks like to them.
The first question posed to the group: “What opportunities for member engagement do you find most useful?
- Members were quick to point out that YALSA’s trainings provided wonderful opportunities for meaningful and timely learning.
- YALSA offered so much to members in terms of grants and awards. Several people in the room indicated that they had applied and received a YALSA grant or award in the past.
- YALSA’s blogs are all content meaningful, never fluff. Whether a quick glance or an in depth read, a visit to the blogs always provided useful information.
- Serving on a committee, taskforce, jury, or in an office, afforded them an opportunity to demonstrate and develop leadership opportunities that may not have been available in their workplace.
- YALSA’s programming at conferences and the YALSA Symposium continue to provide the best quality to dollars spent among all of the affiliates under the ALA umbrella.
The next question for the group: What have you found specifically meaningful about these opportunities?
Webinars and Trainings: Experienced members pointed out that YALSA’s webinars, trainings, and blogs seem to always provide the timeliest information to address what is going on in their libraries now. Serving the Underserved trainings were timely when services to teens were in question in many libraries in the country. These trainings provided an advocacy and programming approach for librarians on the front lines to use to demand more for teens. When those trainings had met their purpose and teen services began to gain a foothold in libraries across the country YALSA was not afraid to say that they had served their purpose and move on. When studies showed that boys reading was lagging behind their female counterparts, YALSA began offering programming ideas and training to draw the young male reader. In addition, YALSA has never been afraid to embrace our teens and promote equality, diversity, visibility, and inclusion no matter how teens identified themselves or what they may be facing in life.
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My second ALA annual conference is done and I am starting to feel like a seasoned pro. However, I am still learning so many new things I missed my first time around. I attended YALSA 101 last year and was inspired to be more active. A few months later though, I had forgotten about time requirements for “book” committees, what exactly were award committees, and there was something about badges. I decided to attend YALSA 101 again this year to brush up on what is offered in my YALSA membership and learn where I could volunteer my services.
Speaking of selection versus award committees, I have some clarification. Juries select grant or award winners, like the Great Books Giveaway. Selection committees are the book committees that select specific media and booklists such as Great Graphic Novels for Teens or Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. Book committee members are responsible for obtaining review copies, but many are provided by publishers or shared by committee members. Selection committees usually have a two-year commitment. Being a selection committee administrative assistant, the person who distributes the nomination lists, organizes the committee and acts as its secretary, is a lot of work. However, it can be a foot in the door to join a selection committee. Strategic committees run the business of YALSA. Strategic committees carry out many roles like planning Teen Read Week and Teen Tech Week, membership recruitment, running The Hub and YALSA Blog, and more. Except for the Executive Committee, all strategic committees meet virtually, with no requirements to attend conferences. Most strategic committee appointments last for one year.
One topic of YALSA 101 was advocacy. I did not realize how many options there are to easily approach our legislators to advocate for libraries. I can participate in National Library Legislative Day by going to the offices of my legislators in my state or Washington, D.C. I can tweet or email them if I am unable to travel and I can do this anytime I want to. One idea I came away with is inviting a local politician who is a stakeholder such as a school superintendent, town selectman, or school board member to come be “Librarian for Day” so they can see my job in action.
I had forgotten about YALSA’s YouTube channel. YALSA Academy has a series of short, five minute long videos for training or inspiration. You can take a quick break and get ideas for maker spaces, coding, Twitter basics, or starting a mock Printz award program. Any librarian can create a video for YALSA Academy, so think about showing off something you do for summer learning/reading, Teen Read Week or Teen Tech Week. As a brand new feature, the YouTube channel also has “snack break” videos that are about fifteen minutes long. These videos give guidance on partnering with a local museum or assessing program impact.
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At Annual Conference in Orlando YALSA and YOUmedia co-sponsored a program titled, “The YOUmedia Network & YALSA Forum: Connecting around Connected Learning.” The focus of the event was to bring YALSA members and the YOUmedia community together to learn about each other and discover ways to connect and collaborate. K-Fai Steele, the point person for the YOUmedia Network at the National Writing Project, and Jack Martin, YALSA Past President, facilitated the conversation.
After a short introduction to the program the conversation began with participants talking about what skills they had that they would be able to share with others AND what they would want to learn from someone else. One of the things I loved about this conversation was that it quickly demonstrated that among the group there was a lot of knowledge and skill and there were many opportunities for learning together and from each other. To me this was a great example of one way that connected learning can manifest itself. Read More →
When I first opened the schedule for ALA, I added at least five panels at the same time slots.
Photo by Rachel Weiss
There was the need to be everywhere and to see everything. After all, Margaret Atwood would be there, and Diane Guerrero! But to see them, I would have to miss panels that I wanted to see. There was an overwhelming pressure not to miss anything, and I still needed to make time to see the exhibit hall.
I was scared to miss out on anything because I wanted to make sure that sending me to the conference instead of someone else was justified. YALSA offered me the Dorothy Broderick Scholarship to attend, and I wanted to make every minute count. I’ve been to the New Jersey Library Association conference before, so I thought I knew what this would be like, but I was wholly unprepared.
I tried a little bit of everything. I was fortunate enough to attend the Michael L. Printz Award Ceremony Friday night. It can be expensive to go to awards dinners, but it was the perfect kickoff to my conference. Laura Ruby got up to speak, and I was enchanted. One thing I definitely learned was that you’re never going to meet all the authors you want to, so seeing them accept an award means you hear more of their beautiful words. I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t read her book yet, but after hearing her talk about it, it’s moved up my list. It was just one of the many highlights of the conference.
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Greetings from your YALSA Councilor!
Here is an update of ALA Council highlights since the 2016 Midwinter meeting in Boston:
- Jenna Nemec-Loise, ALSC Councilor, announced the cancellation of the ALSC Institute slated to take place in Charlotte NC in September. The background and details of this decision can be found at http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blogs/the-scoop/alsc-board-votes-cancelnational-institute-charlotte/
- Diane Chen, AASL Councilor, has created an ALA Connect Member Community called Equity for All to School Libraries. Jenna Nemec-Loise, ALSC Councilor and Todd Krueger, YALSA Councilor, among a number of other Councilors and interested parties, are supporting Diane in this resolution. The Resolution in its current state can be found at http://connect.ala.org/node/254174 . We will be working together to bring this resolution to the floor of Council, with input from Councilors at Council Forum.
- Andrew Hart, ALCTS Division Councilor, submitted a resolution titled “Resolution in Support of the Professional Cataloging Processes and Determinations of the Library of Congress.” A recent U.S. House of Representatives appropriations bill included an amendment to force the Library of Congress to return to the “aliens” and “illegal aliens” subject headings – headings ALA Council urged the Library of Congress to change (resolution 2015-2016 ALA CD#34_11216_FINAL). The legislation has not been embraced by the U.S. Senate but is nonetheless a disturbing YALSA Board of Directors – Annual 2016 Pre-Meeting Division Councilor Report action. This resolution calls on ALA to advocate on behalf of the Library of Congress and respect for the non-partisan professional work of librarianship. This resolution has been formally endorsed by ALCTS and reflects work by the Committee on Legislation and the ALA Washington Office.
- Keri Cascio, Executive Director, ALCTS updated Council on the ongoing LCSH illegal aliens issue:
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Would you like increased networking opportunities? What about member-driven knowledge and idea-sharing? How about opportunities to contribute to our profession’s growth and success on your own terms? Did you know you can do all of this and more with YALSA’s Interest Groups?
YALSA interest groups are developed and led entirely by YALSA members and can cover any relevant topic without the formality of a Strategic Committee, Task Force, or Selection or Award committee. All members are welcome to opt in and opt out of Interest Groups as their capacity allows. Interest Groups can be focused on teen service trends, academic research, and more. Or, Interest Groups can focus on particular populations or geographic regions. Work is conducted virtually and informally. Members can use the information gained in the way they best see fit. Maybe that’s implementing a new program at your work, or maybe it’s submitting a proposal to present at conference or writing a YALSA blog post! Interest Groups have incredible potential to support member needs and provide meaningful and achievable engagement opportunities, but they are currently underutilized.
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Happy LGBTQIA Pride Month & Happy National Week of Making!
YALSA’s Board has been hard at work since their last meeting in Boston: finalizing and adopting a new organizational plan, continuing the roll-out of activities related to the Futures Report, and planning for ALA Annual in Orlando!
Now, the Annual Conference is fast approaching, and I’m looking forward to the Printz Ceremony on Friday night, honoring David Levithan at the Edwards Award Brunch on Saturday morning, talking with members at Saturday’s Member Happy Hour and at our Membership Meeting and President’s Program and so much more! You can find the details about these events and many more YALSA activities on the YALSA wiki.
The Board agenda is up online, and nearly all of the documents have been posted. Members can check them out in advance and send comments or feedback to me at email@example.com. If you’ll be in Orlando for the conference, the first ten minutes of each of our board meetings are open to public comment. If you have a question for a particular board member about a document they’ve written, you can reach out to them here.
At Annual, the board will spend most of its time discussing how the Board needs to be re-envisioned in order to be well-positioned to achieve the work laid out in the new organizational plan. This is a first step in a bigger process of organizational realignment. It makes sense for the Board to get its own house in order before looking outward to the rest of YALSA. The Board will be thinking about what needs to change about its own structure and processes, as well as what knowledge and skills will Board members need to gain in order to best lead YALSA and support its members.
Also on the agenda for Annual
You can stay up to date with all the conversations by following Executive Director Beth Yoke (@yalsa_director), myself (@tinylibrarian), and/or other YALSA board members for live tweets of adopted actions and discussion highlights. In addition, there will be follow-up blog posts explaining decisions and board actions once the conference is done.
Thanks for all that you do to make YALSA an awesome association, safe travels and hope to see you in Orlando!
#alaannual16 is almost here! YALSA leaders have been busy preparing for Annual Conference–you can find the agenda and documents here. On Saturday, June 24, at YALSA Board I, the Board will discuss the future of board self-assessments. Not sure what a board self-assessment is? Take a look at the Board Document–the currently approved Self-Assessment starts on Page 2. The objective of board self-assessment is to help board members build a stronger understanding of their roles and responsibilities and to gain skills to increase their effectiveness as leaders in association governance. Often, the feedback received from first-year board members is that they are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. The self-assessment was intended to give new board members a focus for their professional development throughout the year. Then, after new board members take the self-assessment, they complete the Learning Plan (found on Page 12 of the Board Document) to map out activities to strengthen their role in association leadership.
The Board hasn’t used the Self-Assessment and Learning Plan in a few years, but after attending ASAE’s Symposium for Chief Executive & Chief Elected Officers with YALSA’s Executive Director Beth Yoke earlier this year, I understand the importance of reinstating the process. I’m a firm believer in using assessment results to instigate positive institutional change, so I wanted to bring this document to the Board. At the meeting, Board members will discuss the Questions to Consider (listed in the Board Document) and determine the next steps. I’m looking forward to the discussion! And don’t forget that you are welcome to attend any of the YALSA Board meetings at conference–find out all the details at the YALSA wiki.