In her opening remarks at ALA Annual 2020, Tracie D. Hall (ALA Executive Director) stated that, “If our institutions and profession is to be sustainable, all of us must devote ourselves to the diversification of the next generation workforce.” (Hall, 2020)

The Spectrum Scholarship Program was developed to do just that. The program actively recruits and provides scholarships to American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Middle Eastern and North African, and/or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander students to assist them with obtaining a graduate degree and leadership positions within the profession and ALA.

Each year, YALSA sponsors two Spectrum Scholars who have an interest in serving youth aged 12-18 in a library setting. See the list of past scholars. Those interested in applying for the program should visit The application process runs from October to March each year.

To be eligible for a Spectrum Scholarship, you should:

  • Be a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S. or Canada
  • Identify as American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Middle Eastern/North African, and/or Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander
  • Attend an ALA-accredited graduate program in library and information studies or an AASL-recognized School Library Media Program
  • Be enrolled in an accredited program and begin no later than September 1st or Fall semester
  • Have full or part-time status
  • Plan to maintain a minimum course load of two classes per semester while receiving your scholarship funds

If you are interested in donating to the program, please visit YALSA’s Give to YALSA page. Donating to YALSA’s Leadership Endowment directly sponsors our Spectrum Scholars. Your donation will help YALSA and ALA reach the goal of building a more diverse workforce, ensuring that kids and teens of color see themselves represented at the library.

Hall, Tracie D., (2020, June 24-26). Let Our Legacy Be Justice [Conference Opening Session]. ALA Annual Conference 2020.

–Celeste Swanson
Financial Advancement Committee

I was a YALSA Spectrum Scholar in 2009. I can’t believe that was 6 years ago! When I was considering librarianship as a profession, I was thrilled that ALA had a program like the Spectrum Scholarship. It signaled very clearly that racial and ethnic diversity within the profession was a core value of ALA. In other words, I felt like the profession was saying to me, “Welcome. You have a place here.” It’s incredible what an award like the Spectrum Scholarship can do for one’s pride and confidence – particularly for a young adult woman of color. On my mother’s side, I’m a 3rd generation Mexican American/Chicana and on my father’s side, I’m a 1st generation Filipino American. No one in my immediate family has attended graduate school.

When I received news of my YALSA Spectrum Scholarship, I was over the moon! It validated my choice to become a librarian and I’ve never regretted the decision. As a result of the scholarship, I was able to financially afford to attend and complete my MLIS program while also living in my very expensive hometown of San Francisco, CA. I was able to take part-time jobs that were diverse and interesting: First, at an urban high school serving low-income teens and then at a non-profit that served people with disabilities with workforce development. Because of the support of Spectrum, I had the freedom to grow my professional experience in library settings without the burden of worrying about only choosing a job based on pay alone. Even though I entered library school without any library school experience, Spectrum indirectly helped me leave library school with fresh work experience that I could speak about in job interviews.

For the last four years, I’ve been a youth-serving librarian at San Francisco Public Library. My driving motivation for becoming a librarian has always been to serve home communities of immigrant working class people of color. In applying to library school, I wrote about my desire for patrons from my home communities to see a reflection of themselves on the other side of the reference desk. Now, four years into the profession, I’m so proud that I can say that I have realized that vision. As a native Spanish speaker, I soon found out just how valuable of a resource I was the Latino/a patrons in the neighborhood surrounding my branch library. Word of mouth spreads fast! Soon after starting at my first library, I was helping Spanish-speaking teens with reader’s advisory, teaching their parents how to use e-books, and instructing their cousins how to access storytime schedules at the library.

The Spectrum Scholarship helps ensure that more and more communities of color find help in their neighborhoods that meet their distinct needs. This #GivingTuesday, please consider giving to this incredible program!
Cristina Mitra is Family Engagement Coordinator at the San Francisco Public Library.

While I’m sure you’re already worn out pulling out your wallet for all those end-of-the-year donations and holiday shopping, I hope you’ll consider taking it out for a good cause today, for Giving Tuesday. And when you do, please consider donating to Friends of YALSA. This year, the goal is to raise at least $2000, which will help send two advocates for teen services to Washington.

Friends of YALSA funds important YALSA initiatives, including the Spectrum Scholarship, which I was a recipient of. Spectrum supports library students from under-recognized groups in order to diversify the workforce, and I was proud to be a part of the program. It made me a member of two powerful and vibrant groups: my Spectrum cohort and YALSA. Being a part of a group of colleagues who were also going through school, finding out their specific niches in library science, going on first job interviews, and all the while concerning themselves with issues of representation and privilege, was invaluable while I was going through those things, too. And being named YALSA’s Spectrum Scholar made me a member of arguably the most fun-loving and dynamic division of ALA. Some of the best people I’ve ever met (some only online, some also in person) welcomed me into the fold and let me blog, join committees, go out for dinner with them at conferences, and generally get to know what YALSA and YA services are all about. That empowered me through out my graduate school experience and helped me land my first job out of library school before I had even graduated. I had a distinct experience in school, thanks to my Spectrum Scholarship.

I owe YALSA and Spectrum a huge debt of gratitude for giving me a community to count on and learn from. Please consider making a donation to YALSA so that other future librarians can have the opportunities I’ve had. Click here to learn about your giving options, and please consider at least Tweeting about the importance of #GivingTuesday to pass on the word!

Thank you for your support.

Image courtesy of Border Zero on FlickrIf you were like me, you heralded November 7th as a chance to get away from all the political attacks and posturing. Alas, it seems it cannot be escaped. We may be done with another election cycle but as the media reminds us, we are too close to the “fiscal cliff” for comfort. Several politicians have proposed changes to the tax code in 2013 that would affect charitable donations. With that uncertainty in the future, now is the time to donate to the Friends of YALSA and support a Spectrum Scholar like Hannah Gomez (a YALSA blogger).

I am so excited to be joining YALSA as the 2011-2012 Spectrum Scholar. My best memories are linked to books, writing, or libraries. I grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and attended the University of Arizona, where I studied music, creative writing, and Spanish. My parents and sister are teachers. Education and progressivism are family traditions. With my love of literature and experience working with at-risk youth, becoming a youth services librarian seems like a natural choice. It’s my way of contributing to the field of education and social justice.

I’m a school and book nerd, so I chose Simmons College’s dual degree in children’s literature and library science. Combining literacy services with literature scholarship will satisfy my personal and professional interests. Outside of school, I am working on a novel and a collection of short stories. I adore traveling: I’ve been to nine countries in the past six years. I’m also a classically trained pianist and singer. I hope to be able to draw on all my experiences and interests in library services. I can’t wait to begin!

Help us raise $6,500 by the end of 2012 to help the Friends of YALSA support Spectrum Scholars like Hannah.

Image courtesy of Destinys Agent

Last week, we worked together to raise over $800 for the Friends of YALSA. Through the end of the year we will work to raise $6,500 to support a Spectrum Scholar. Every year, YALSA selects a library student or worker from and underrepresented group who will help shape the future of library services for young adults. This opportunity changes lives as 2010 Spectrum Scholar Hoan-Vu Do explains:

“It was not until I visited a public library in the sixth grade did I know the word for library in Vietnamese, “thu vien.” My local library has been instrumental in helping me as a student through out mu school years. If it weren’t for the library I would not have been where I am today. My local library have inspired me as a student and taught me many skills. I was drawn to librarianship after working as a library clerk for the San Diego Public Library system. I really enjoy serving my diverse community and being around the fusion that is created through its diversity.

I feel that when I start my MLIS program in the fall at San Jose State University I have come full circle. My local library has inspired me when I was a youth now I want to become a youth services and science librarian so I can inspire the next generation of youths in my community. Now more than ever I strongly believe that libraries and librarians are needed to teach and provide a place to explore, create, and produce the next generations of academics. I would like to thank YALSA for selecting me as their 2010 Spectrum Scholar, it is a great honor.”

Help us change the lives of librarians and donate today to the Friends of YALSA and support future generations of Spectrum Scholars.

Thanksgiving is a time to take a moment to reflect on the things that enrich our lives.’ This year I thought about how lucky I was to have such a wonderful profession with such supportive colleagues. My entire professional life I have been surrounded by coworkers who have pushed me to be the best librarian I can be. They have given me countless opportunities to try something new, to (sometimes) fail, and to learn. I can’t imagine what my life would look like without their support (actually I would probably be working in bookstore somewhere spending half my income on merchandise with my employee discount, which is where I was before I found the library).

Think about all the people that have supported you along the way, to help you become the best librarian you can be. Now is the time to pay it forward. Today is #GivingTuesday, and Friends of YALSA is asking for your help to support future librarians. We are raising $6,500 to support a Spectrum Scholar‘ between now and December 31st.

I am giving to Friends of YALSA because of how much others have given to me. Donate today and help Friends of YALSA support our profession. Take a picture of yourself with why you are giving, tag it #GivingTuesday and post it on our Facebook or tweet us! Happy #GivingTuesday!

-Kate McNair, Financial Advancement Committee Chair

Hello! I’m Hannah Gómez, a new blogger and new member of YALSA, thanks in part to the Spectrum Scholarship. I’ll be blogging regularly about research and other topics, but today I wanted to start by telling you who I am, what I do, and why I’m here. Also, I’ll let you know why I find YALSA’s new research agenda so interesting, and why you should as well.

First things first. I’m a Tucson, Arizona, native who went to the University of Arizona for undergrad, studying creative writing, music, and Spanish. A few months ago, an airplane I was on touched down in Boston, the last flight to be allowed into the closed airport before Hurricane Irene hit. I’ve just started graduate school here at Simmons College, where I’m enrolled in their dual degree program, which will leave me with an MA in children’s literature and an MLS with a focus on youth services.

The future in library science just hit me one day. I had been answering people’s “So what will you do with your Bachelor’s?” with a general “Dunno. Go to grad school” for so long and all of a sudden I just blurted out “Be a librarian.” But it made since. In high school I never had to work at the mall or the car wash–I was lucky enough to get a job in social services, and though I held a variety of different jobs and internships over high school and college, most of them were related to the world of non-profits and at-risk youth. My favorite job was when I got promoted to community service project leader, supervising 8-14-year-olds who had been arrested and had court-ordered service hours to perform. I, at 19, was deemed responsible enough to oversee their work, keep them on task, and, I hoped, help them see something meaningful in what they were doing, whether it was painting in a community art project or picking up trash at a neighborhood park. I got to be a big sister type to the kids I worked with, and while doing our work we would also talk about the books, music, and movies they liked. So it seems to make sense. I love teenagers, especially middle schoolers, and I am a huge nerd who is always trying to find the right book for someone. I’m also the child of two teachers and the sister of a teacher, so I know how much, especially in these times, both teachers and students need the help of librarians, and both school and library settings are essential to developing youths. Compound that with my interest in social justice and non-profits, and voila! I want to be something like all of you.

So why the extra degree? Why the crit classes where you read as much Freud and Barthes as you do Virginia Hamilton and nursery rhymes? Well, Read More →

Library student, Jamie Young is a YALSA Spectrum Scholar from 2009. Each year, YALSA sponsors one scholar. Funds for the scholars come from the Friends of YALSA. From Stevie Kuenn’s previous post, “the Spectrum Scholarship was established in 1997, and is ALA’s national diversity and recruitment effort designed to address the specific issue of under-representation of critically needed ethnic librarians within the profession while serving as a model for ways to bring attention to larger diversity issues in the future.” In order to get to know Jamie better, she agreed to an interview here. Read More →

YA Lit Symposium Housing Now Open! Make your reservations at the Millennium Maxwell House in Nashville, Tenn. at a special rate for the inaugural Young Adult Literature Symposium today—register by phone, fax, or online using the information available on the YA Lit Symposium Web site. The symposium is Nov. 7-9 with a theme of “How We Read Now.” Registration for the symposium will open May 1.

Spectrum Applications Due! On March 1, Spectrum Scholar applications are due. Learn more about the Spectrum Scholars program at the Spectrum Web site.

Starting in fiscal year 2008, YALSA will support one Spectrum Scholar, as part of YALSA Unity: A Diversity Initiative, courtesy a grant from ALA for initiatives that support the ALA Ahead to 2010 Strategic Plan.

Committee Volunteer Forms—Get ‘Em In! YALSA President-elect Sarah Cornish Debraski is hard at work appointing YALSA’s process committees, juries and task forces. Submit your committee volunteer form by March 1 to be considered.

To learn more about YALSA committees, juries, and task forces, check out the committee descriptions or reread a few helpful blog posts about this very topic.

Teen Tech Week is nearly here! We’ve got little more than a week before Teen Tech Week, March 2-8. Beth Saxton lists some book display ideas, and make sure to check the Teen Tech Week Wiki and the Teen Tech Week Web site for more ideas.

Also, if you haven’t already, encourage your teens to enter the Teen Tech Week Promotional Song contest!

(And send your teens to the Teen Tech Week Web site March 2-8 to vote on next year’s theme and give us their thoughts on technology and libraries).

Early Bird Registration for Annual! Early bird registration for ALA Annual ends on March 7—that’s two weeks and one day from today. You’ll save significantly on advanced and onsite registration fees by registering now, and we want you to join YALSA in Anaheim, June 26-July 2!

We’re offering two preconferences, Got Tweens? Serving Younger Teens and Tweens and Turn Teens on to Reading through Booktalks, plus a few special events: Edwards Award Luncheon, the Printz Awards Reception, and the Young Adult Authors Coffee Klatch. And, of course, we’ve got great programming at conference: advocacy, gaming, YALSA 101, young adult literature and more.

Find more details about registration and housing at the ALA Annual Web site or the YALSA @ ALA Annual Conference Wiki.

ALA Elections Coming Up. Voting starts online on March 17. See the YALSA slate, read up on YALSA presidential candidates, and check out election news on the YALSA blog. To learn more about the election process and candidates for ALA Council and ALA President, visit the ALA Elections Web site.

YALSA at PLA! Coming to Minneapolis? So is YALSA! YALSA will be exhibiting in Booth 1621, you can buy YALSA t-shirts and publications in the PLA Store, and a number of your fellow YALSA members will be presenting programs and preconferences. We plan to have a happy hour for members as well—location and place TBD! Stay tuned to the blog for more details (and if you’re thinking of registering, PLA’s Advanced Registration and Housing close on Feb. 29).

Tell Your Librarian You Love Them

This Valentine’s Day, have your teens, parents, children and library supporters flood federal elected officials’ district offices with Valentines that express love for your library and its staff and ask for support for important legislation.

The ALA Youth Divisions – AASL, ALSC and YALSA – are sending out a call to action to library workers to have teens, children, parents and library supporters in their community send “I Love My Teen Services Librarian” or “I Love My School Librarian” Valentine cards to their U.S. Senators and Representatives, and to ask their elected officials to co-sponsor the SKILLS Act &/or support LSTA funding for libraries.

Learn more on how to participate at the I Love My Librarian Campaign Wiki.

Great Stories Club Applications Due Next Week!
Apply by February 15 for a Great Stories Club program grant!

The Great Stories CLUB (Connecting Libraries, Underserved teens, and Books) is organized by the American Library Association Public Programs Office (PPO), in cooperation with YALSA. Major funding for the Great Stories CLUB has been provided by Oprah’s Angel Network.

Connect with hard-to-reach, underserved teens by conducting a Great Stories Club reading and discussion program in your library. All libraries located within or working in partnership with facilities serving troubled teens are eligible to apply.

For a list of the titles included, guidelines and the online application, visit You may also wish to review the Great Stories Club Resource Guide posted on this site as you plan your library’s application.

With questions, please contact the ALA Public Programs Office,

Be A 2008-2009 Spectrum Scholar!
Starting in fiscal year 2008, YALSA will support one Spectrum Scholar! Applications for 2008-2009 scholars are due at ALA by March 1. To learn more about requirements and how to apply, visit the Spectrum Web site!

Established in 1997, the Spectrum Scholarship Program is ALA’s national diversity and recruitment effort designed to address the specific issue of under-representation of critically needed ethnic librarians within the profession while serving as a model for ways to bring attention to larger diversity issues in the future.

Want to Get Involved? Join a YALSA Process Committee!
President Elect Sarah Cornish Debraski will begin appointing process committees (such as Teen Read Week, Intellectual Freedom, YA Galley and 25 others) and award juries (such as the BWI/YALSA Collection Development Grant and six others) this spring. So if you want to get involved, make sure to fill out a Committee Volunteer Form and submit it to the YALSA Office by March 1.

To learn more about YALSA committees, juries, and task forces, check out the committee descriptions or reread a few helpful blog posts about this very topic.

Early Registration & Housing for Annual
Annual Conference is just four months away! Make your plans to join us in Anaheim. Registration and housing for ALA Annual Conference 2008 is now open; for the best pricing, register by March 7.

What does YALSA have planned for Annual? Plenty! We’ll offer two preconferences—Got Tweens? Serving Younger Teens and Tweens and Turn Teens on to Reading through Booktalks—as well as the Edwards Award Luncheon, the Printz Awards Reception, and the Young Adult Authors Coffee Clatch. Find out about our special events at the Special Events page at ALA’s Annual Conference Web site.

Save the Date for the First Young Adult Literature Symposium
YALSA’s first biennial Young Adult Literature Symposium, How We Read Now, will be Nov. 7-9 in Nashville! Details on registration and more will be posted later, but you can find out the program slate now (and see the papers to be presented) by visiting the Young Adult Literature Symposium Web site.