This post was written by Carrie Sanders, Youth Services Coordinator at the Maryland State Library

annual 2019 logoI was fortunate to be able to attend the PLA pre-conference focusing on the partnerships library staff and social workers can build in order to support all members of a community. The session opened with a reference to Eric Klinenberg who wrote, “Libraries don’t just provide free access to books and other cultural materials, they also offer things like companionship for older adults, de facto child care for busy parents, language instruction for immigrants and welcoming public spaces for the poor, the homeless and young people.”

Social workers in libraries provide support for library patrons through crisis intervention, outreach and engagement, referral services, community programming, and advocacy. They also support library staff. Their presence creates a culture shift that moves the question regarding those in need from, “How do we remove?” to “How can we connect those with specific needs to services?”
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If you work in a public library and care about young adult services, there is something simple you can do to help advocate for teen services.

March 30 is the deadline for the 2012 PLDS (Public Library Data Service) survey. Published yearly by PLA, the PLDS Statistical Report contains a wealth of information about public library finances, collections, annual use figures and technology. If you’ve never looked at the PLDS Statistical Report, it’s worth checking out. Your library director probably has a copy.

In 2007, the PLDS survey included a series of questions about young adult services. This was the first national survey about young adult library services since 1994, when the National Center for Education Statistics did a survey. In 2007, 1,672 libraries received the survey, and 904 responded. Of those, 890 responded to the YA services questions. This was good information, but we could do better, and we have a chance, because PLDS is including the young adult services questions again in this year’s survey.
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About 10 days ago I was in Portland, OR co-facilitating a preconference at the Public Library Association (PLA) Conference. The title of the preconference was 360 Degrees of Teen Advocacy and my co-facilitator, Francisca Goldsmith, and I focused a good deal of our discussions with participants on how story plays an important part in successful advocacy efforts for teen library services.

Francisca talked with participants about what advocacy is and what is required in order to be a strong advocate for teens and library services. I talked about how technology such as Google Alerts, Twitter, Poll Anywhere, and Animoto can help in advocacy efforts. The group discussed the difference between advocacy and marketing and Francisca and I told our own teen advocacy stories. Read More →

I recently attended my first ever Public Library Association conference.’  I consider myself a seasoned veteran when it comes to attending ALA’s annual conference, but I had never had the chance to go to PLA before.’  I was excited to see the differences!

One major difference was in the exhibit hall.’  Most of the young adult divisions of the major publication houses chose not to have a conference booth.’  But I still found some great ARC titles’ from’ Little & Brown, Macmillian, Simon and Schuster, and Zondervan.’  I really appreciated them being there.’  I also had some great chats and made some good connections with representatives from Tor Teen and Harlequin Teen, who made exciting cases for the relevancy of their specialty lines.

I also had a chance to find some new librarian tweeps and even meet one in person.’  It was also, of course, great to see YALSA staff at the booth.’  Conferences are most fun, I think, when you have the chance to make some human connections with your librarian colleagues and friends.

Were any of you there?’  What were some highlights for you?

I attended some great programs and encourage you to check out the available online handouts from the sessions.’  ‘ ‘ I’d like to talk briefly here about one session that was especially inspiring to me and that I think will have a lot of appeal to YALSA members, Maryann Mori’s Pregnant/Parenting Teens: Promoting Library Services Among the Underserved.

Maryann inspired ME to ask “What does my library have to offer pregnant/parenting teens?” and maybe she can do the same for you.’  Behind the cut, you’ll find a session description and links!

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ALA Presidential Citations on Gaming Available ALA President Loriene Roy is giving out presidential citations to libraries that use games and gaming as tools for learning, literacy development and community development. YALSA members use gaming in creative ways—so nominate your library through the Presidential Citation Nomination Form in one of three categories: recreation, education or innovation. Applications must be submitted through April 21.

Come See Us at PLA We’ll be exhibiting in the ALA Booth (#1621) at the Public Library Association National Conference. Stop by and pick up cool YALSA freebies, your member ribbon, and enter a raffle to win a FREE online course from YALSA. On Thursday from 1 to 2 and on Friday from 11 to noon, meet YALSA President Paula Brehm-Heeger—bring your questions and ideas because she’s eager to hear them! We’ll also be hosting a happy hour at The Local, 931 Nicollet Mall, on Thursday from 5-7. (And make sure to mark your calendars for the Beginners’ Guide to Serving Teens preconference on Tuesday and the Reference Guide for Teens program on Saturday). To learn more about the conference visit We’ll see you there!

Deadlines, Deadlines Remember, applications for the Support Diversity Conference Stipends are due March 31—we’re giving out two $1,000 stipends to come to Annual Conference in Anaheim, so get your application together today. And send your teens to their computers! The Teen Technology Survey is taking answers from teens through March 31.

We’re Moving The YALSA blog is migrating to a new location and a new blogging system (WordPress) in April. So what’s that mean? The YALSA blog will be located at (it’s, uh, not ready yet), and our move to WordPress will give us some really great new features for both our intrepid bloggers and all of our readers. The YALSA blog will be unavailable March 31-April 4 while we move content from this blog to the new site. Keep an eye on the current YALSA blog for more information (including RSS updates and more). If you have questions about the YALSA Blog makeover, please contact blog manager Linda Braun ( or myself at

Check back to the YALSA blog each week for a rundown of news and events from the YALSA Office. Comments? Questions? Contact YALSA Communications Specialist Stephanie Kuenn at

At PLA in Boston. My first session of the day: The Denver Public Library presented a program on how they reinventing their libraries with a target service model – different library brands to meet the needs of various demographics (users who want a central library, an online library, a contemporary library, a learning & language library, etc).

My final session of the day: In “From Good to Great,” Cate McNeely said “Everything we do send messages to our customers, even desks: intimidating, welcoming, hostile, inviting.”

I put these two ideas together and came up with this question: what kind of message does it send to your community–and your profession–when you don’t design a library specifically for teens, but you do have TWO types of libraries specifically focused on serving children? Children’s libraries are designed for latchkey kids, and Family Libraries for, well, families.

The FAQ in the handout from the AM session said Denver did use teens in their focus groups, and decided that teens were included in the “Contemporary” category – they were likely to choose the Contemporary brand because it was about multiple copies available now, computers, and media. We of all people should know that words matter, and so do the absence of words.

Having a library marketed to ALL other segments of your population – except teens – sends a clear message about teens in this community: that they are not valued enough to be considered or served in a physical space.

I was a little pacificed to see that teens are targeted online at Are there any Denver YA librarians out there who want to shed a little insight?

On a hopeful note, one of the speakers said that in each quadrant of the community, there is at least one of each type of library, and in each quadrant, there seems to be an “orphan branch” that isn’t flourishing. I’d be advocating for those branches to become the teen centers.

~posted by Beth Gallaway