Everyone’s talking about STEM (or the arts-added version showcased in the October issue of School Library Journal), and YALSA’s STEM task force produced an updated toolkit earlier this year to provide 41 pages of STEM programming resources just for young adult librarians.


If you’re stumped for ideas and looking how to integrate science, technology, engineering and math into your program schedule, look no further than YALSA’s STEM Toolkit.

It includes step-by-step program plans, advocacy information if you need to justify your program plans, resources, and dozens of ideas to get your program going.’ ‘ Chock-full of research on best practices and “why” STEM should be a priority for library professionals, the toolkit highlights the importance of developing a thorough program plan and guides you through initial brainstorming efforts to an adaptable teenprogram evaluation. Passive and active programming ideas from around the country are included,including three immediately replicable projects.

Check it out today! ‘ And ‘ thanks to STEM Task Force Member Jennifer Knight for the heads-up on this great resource.


At our library, we would like to fit more STEM ‘ into our programming, but I struggle with coming up with STEM projects that appeal to our service age group. Anything that sounds remotely like a classroom activity is dismissed by teens.

I was pleasantly surprised when the Science Experiments You Can Eat program passed through our TAG (teen advisory group) vetting! Perhaps the appeal involved using food, as our annual Teen Top Chef competition in the fall is one of our most popular events of the year.

713 Science Experiments You Can Eat

The program had the advantage of being inexpensive, because the supplies were all household ingredients and supplies.

The experiments we carried out included:

Straw through Potato

photo Read More →

Solve the Outbreak LogoTitle: Solve the Outbreak
Platform: iPad with iOS 5.1 or above
Cost: Free

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a new iPad app that lets you take a stab at solving the types of outbreaks that the CDC’s “disease detectives” must respond to at a moment’s notice. Right now, there are three outbreaks to choose from with more planned for the future. In each, you are presented with the same sort of data and information that would be collected in a realworld outbreak. Using these clues, you must decide what actions to take to limit the spread of the disease and to determine what caused the outbreak in the first place. Each correct choice that you make earns you points and allows you to advance from a Trainee to a Disease Detective along the way. Read More →

Even if you don’t work in a school media center, I’m guessing your life still tends to run on an academic schedule when you work with teens. So welcome to the new school year! Here’s what I think might be interesting, useful, or intriguing to you and your patrons this month.

  • If your teens are interested in what’s new in the going green movement, have them look more globally to see what’s going on. In coastal Ecuador, young people from farming families are heading up efforts to save, cultivate, and redistribute heirloom seeds to revitalize the environment and help farmers prosper. Part of an organization called FOCCAHL, 20-year-old Cesar Guale Vasquez travels throughout nearby areas collecting seeds from farmers and also hosts swapping events so that farmers can trade seeds with each other in order to have more vibrant and diverse crops. Now take that for inspiration and add to it your own library’s resources on climate change, farming, and nutrition and plan an interesting program that combines science with activism and see what your advisory board wants to do with it. Many libraries now are creating their own seed libraries, and whether they’re for wildflowers or corn, they can be a great way to bring communities together, get young people to work with older people, and freshen up your local environment while doing your small part to keep the world cleaner and greener.
    Matthews, J. (2012). Ecuador’s seed savior. World Ark, May 2012: 10-15. Read More →

I’ve had STEM on the brain a lot lately. (For those of you who haven’t yet become familiar with this acronym, it stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.) The library in which I work has fully embraced STEM programming, providing informal hands on science classes for students in Kindergarten through High School. I’m also privileged to be working on the YALSA STEM Task Force. At our library, we’ve done lots of traditional science experiments, held building clubs, and offered teens the chance to learn new technology. But in all this, I find myself asking, “Where’s the math?” I came up with an unexpected answer.

The single place I use math the most, other than basic household bills, is when I craft. Read More →

Recently on a discussion board I follow there have been numerous requests (and responses) for free, unique, or new programming ideas for teens. I have been following these threads quite closely because I, too, am always looking for fresh ideas. Plenty of us find craft ideas on Pinterest (and collaborate on this board), discover great titles on blogs, and hear from experts on webinars. But there are so many more ways to discover programming. In fact, you need look no further than your personal life. Read More →

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had conversations with library school students and colleagues about teens and libraries that have made me want to scream and cry simultaneously. But, really what these conversations make me most want to do is speak out for the importance of serving teens in libraries, and in the community overall. Here’s what’s happened:

  • I’m talking with a group of librarians and one of them recounts the story of a conversation she had with a colleague. The librarian noted that the conversation went something like this, “I wish the library in my town provided better services to teens.” The response, “Maybe they don’t need to, the teens in that community have a lot of other resources, activities, etc. that they can take part in.” I heard this and just wanted to scream, I may have actually done that. Would a librarian say that about adults or children? What’s the message that the library sends to teens when it has a host of programs, resources, and services for every other age group?
  • While talking on Twitter with some library school students about library services to teens the conversation turned to the way teens are treated in some libraries. Students recounted stories of librarians taking away chairs so that the teens wouldn’t be able to sit and therefore would not stay in the library. Or, library staff saying negative things about teens when talking with other library staff. These posts made me want to cry and I felt like some students and library staff take for granted that this happens in libraries. It felt and feels like staff diss the teen age group and it’s just to be expected. But, how can that be OK? Would it be OK to do that with any other age group or group within the community? Read More →

Get a pair of x-ray goggles that really work! While these may not see through a steel plate, they can see right through the Internet!

YALSA is pleased to host a demonstration of one of the Mozilla Foundation’s newest tools: the Hackasaurus web x-ray goggles. This javascript app gives teens – and anybody else – the tools to discover the rich world of code hiding just beneath the surface and gives them the ability to remix the web. Read More →

What is the buzz about STEM? From listservs to blogs to Twitter, everyone is talking about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. Join YALSA for a discussion of what STEM is, and how you can incorporate it into your library. We’ll share ideas on STEM programming and how to build collaborative STEM partnerships with other organizations. We’ll also look toward the future and talk about how librarians can easily implement STEM initiatives during Teen Tech Week.

The forum ‘ will open at 10am EST on Monday, October 3rd and will close Friday, October 7th at 3pm EST. This discussion will be moderated by Shannon Peterson, Youth Services Librarian at Kitsap Regional Library.

To Access the Forum
1. Login into ALA Connect
2. Select the YALSA division page under “My ALA Groups”
3. On the right hand side menu select “Discussions” and then select the month’s discussion thread.
4. To contribute to the discussion click on “Post new discussion” link

If you have trouble accessing the discussion board or have questions or a suggestion for a future YA Talk forum, please contact Eve Gaus at egaus@ala.org