ALA President Roberta Stevens launched the Why I Need My Library video contest for teens earlier this year, in which teens can win up to $3,000 for their school or public library. In an interview at I Love Libraries, Stevens talks about why she chose to reach out to this age group:

Q:’  Tell us why you why you elected to focus on a contest for young people as part of your ALA Presidential Initiative efforts?

A:’  Building support for libraries is the focus of all three of my Presidential initiatives: “Our Authors, Our Advocates,” “Frontline Fundraising” and the “Why I Need My Library Contest.” Millions of young people use school and local public libraries every day. The contest is an opportunity to hear their powerful voices on the critical role libraries are playing in their communities.

Q:’  How and why do you feel social media, like YouTube, can be a powerful tool for library advocacy?

A:’  The reach of social media, and YouTube in particular, is immediate, inexpensive and effective.’  I thought it would be a way to unleash the creativity of teens and share their messages. Libraries can also take the videos and include them on their websites! I’d love to have the contest’s videos go viral and build nationwide support for libraries.

Read the entire interview, and find out how teens at your library can enter the contest, at www.ILoveLibraries.org/whyineedmylibrary.

Last week, Hillel Italie of the Associated Press profiled Walter Dean Myers, one of a few authors to win both the Printz and Edwards awards from YALSA, on his enduring popularity with teen readers. Read on to see why YALSA chose Myers to be a featured speaker at Give Them What They Want: Reaching Reluctant Readers, YALSA’s half-day Annual preconference in New Orleans on June 24, 12:30 – 4:30 p.m.

Among the kids at the Promise Academy and around the country, Walter Dean Myers is a must-read whose books have sold millions of copies and have a special appeal for the toughest of people to reach, boys. He is able, like few writers, to relate to his readers as they live today.

And he is old enough to be their grandfather.

Myers, 73, has written dozens of novels, plays and biographies. He has received three National Book Award nominations and won many prizes, including a lifetime achievement honor from the American Library Association and five Coretta Scott King awards for African-American fiction. He is also the most engaged of writers, spending hours with young people at schools, libraries and prisons, giving talks and advice on life and work, his own rise from high-school dropout to best-selling author, a story that translates across generations.

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Could you use additional funding to launch your upcoming YA programs? Tell us how you successfully advocated for a YA public or secondary school program at your library, and you’ll be eligible to win YALSA’s Thinking Big About Advocacy Contest. YALSA President Kim Patton is challenging all YALSA members to Think Big during her term in office, so we’re kicking off the new year with this challenge. ‘ We want to hear your stories! ‘ Have you had an event, spearheaded a campaign, or collaborated with community groups to raise awareness of the importance for teen services? ‘ Submit a summary of your winning strategy (300 words or less) by February , 2011, and you could be awarded the $500.00 grand prize, or one of four $100 honorable mention awards.

In the coming weeks, members of the contest task force will be reaching out to some of YALSA’s well known advocates about topics like gaming, graphic novels, and YA programs, and asking them to share their best tips for launching successful initiatives.’  We’ll post their responses here on the YALSA blog, and’  hope that their experiences inspire all of you to think big and submit your stories!
Visit the YALSA website at www.ala.org/yalsa/awards&grants for complete contest rules .

Librarians know more than anyone how important it is right now for our profession and our advocates to speak up for libraries — to rally our communities behind our libraries and to encourage our elected officials to support funding and policies for libraries. Next Tuesday, June 29, the ALA Washington Office is sponsoring Library Advocacy Day on the Hill, beginning with a rally at 11 a.m. Eastern to which the public — and you — are invited.

If you’re attending ALA Annual Conference or live near DC: Join YALSA at the rally, wear read, and bring your teens and any other library advocates you k now! We would love to have your support. The more people we can bring to Library Advocacy Day, the more impact we have on legislators, letting them know that librarians are a force to be reckoned with.’  For more information on the rally, see the Library Advocacy Day website at www.ala.org/lad and YALSA’s information on participating in the rally.

Unable to attend: Of course, not everyone can make it to the rally in DC on Tuesday. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be part of Library Advocacy Day! We’re also hosting Virtual Library Advocacy Day.’  Show your support for libraries the week of June 28-July 2 by participating in Virtual Library Advocacy Week. A simple phone call or e-mail is all it takes.’  To send an e-mail, go to Capwiz and click on the issue you are interested in.’  The website will take you to a sample form letter.’  Customize it with stories on what your local library is doing to help people look for jobs or gain digital literacy skills as well as other programs. These examples truly matter to your elected officials. Looking for more tools for advocacy? See YALSA’s Advocacy Wiki and our District Days page. Learn more about how to participate in Virtual Library Advocacy Day!

In both cases, feel free to post to Twitter about what you’ve done and use the hashtag #LAD2010.

Thank you for all you do for teens and libraries in your community. Your voice, along with over a thousand advocates rallying on Capitol Hill on the 29th, will raise awareness about the important work that libraries and librarians do on a daily basis to help kids learn to read, help people find jobs, and so much more.

For a limited time only at the ALA Online Store, if you buy a copy of YALSA’s Cool Teen Programs for under $100, edited by Jenine Lillian, or Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults, 5th edition, edited by Amy Alessio, you’ll receive a free copy of Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults, 4th edition, edited by Renee Vaillancourt McGrath.

All three books offer the examples of high-quality programming, submitted by YALSA members and YA librarians and public and school libraries across the country. Both editions of Excellence were sponsored by the Margaret A. Edwards Trust and honored the best 25 programs for teens across the country. Cool Teen Programs highlights high-quality programs for libraries that cost less than $100, with tips for adjusting the programs to your budget needs (categories include no money, some money, and lots of money). Cool Teen Programs also includes helpful chapters on budgeting and marketing for youth librarians.

This offer is only available at the ALA Online Store (you won’t be able to take advantage of it at the ALA Store in DC), so be sure to order your copy of Excellence 5 or Cool Teen Programs today!

YALSA is pleased to offer the following professional development opportunities in June. If you have questions about YALSA’s professional development, please contact Eve Gaus, YALSA’s program officer for continuing education, at egaus@ala.org or 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5293.

June 2, First Wednesdays with YALSA: YALSA’s First Wednesdays continue with an online chat this month at 8 p.m. Eastern, this time on managing your teen advisory board, hosted by Evie Wilson-Lingbloom. We will be using a private room in Meebo for the chat; the password to log in is available to YALSA members at this ALA Connect post. See you next Wednesday!

June 17, YA Classics Webinar: Join Sarah Debraski, YALSA past president, for a discussion of YA classics. Sarah will highlight YA novels from 1951 -2003, discussing their themes and issues and how YA librarians can connect teens with these classics. Participants will receive a list of 25 go-to titles that they can use for readers advisory or to add to their collection.’  This webinar will take place Thursday, June 17, at 2 p.m. Eastern. Register today! Registration costs $39 for individual YALSA members, $49 for all other individuals. A group rate of $195 is available. Learn more about YALSA webinars at www.ala.org/yalsa/webinars.

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YALSA will be launching a new section of its website focusing on recruiting young adult and secondary school librarians — and we need your stories! There’s no better recruitment tool than the experience and wisdom of people in the field itself.

How can you help?

Visit the wiki page we’ve created and add your answers to these three questions:

  1. Why did you decide to become a young adult or secondary school librarian?
  2. What motivates you on a daily basis?
  3. What do you enjoy most about being a librarian who serves teens?

Thanks for all you do to support teen services at your library.

The Emerging Leaders Project T has been and will be hosting weekly discussions during the month of May regarding getting more involved in YALSA. We want to hear from you, those that know best about what “getting involved” looks like.

These conversations will be held in ALA Connect in the YALSA section. Here’s what we’re discussing (please note that you can comment on any of these posts even if it’s not their designated week):

May 3rd – 9th: How did you begin your involvement with YALSA? Was it full tilt committee work, using the YALSA resources, following their listserv/blog, or something else?

May 10th – 16th: How is money (or the lack there of) been a barrier to involvement? How do you work with or around it?

Coming soon:

May 17th – 23rd: Best practices for communication from YALSA to the membership, what’s working and what could be different.

May 24th – 30th: Regional Youth Library Services organizations options and how YALSA fits in there.

The information gathered during these discussions will help YALSA improve service to its members. We invite all YALSA members to participate in this conversation.’  We want to know how you are involved, your barriers to involvement, what you want to achieve from being involved and anything else you are interested in sharing.

Thank you!

The world championships for this year’s WrestleMania Reading Challenge were held on Sat. March 27th at the Burton Barr Library in Phoenix.’  The winners are:

  • For grades 5&6: Gabe Murrell from Courtice, Ontario, who represented the Oshawa Public Library
  • For grades 7&8: Liam Jose from Oshawa, Ontario, who represented the Oshawa Public Library
  • For grades 9-12: La’Quan Deen from Homestead, PA, who represented the Carnegie Library of Homestead

They all won ring-side seats to WrestleMania XXVI as well as $2,000 for their libraries to use towards the purchase of materials for their tween and teen collections.’  Attending the event was award winning author Will Weaver, who served as judge, and four WWE Superstars.’  More information and photos’ are available from WWE’s web site.’ 

Librarians can register to participate in the’ next WrestleMania Reading Challenge beginning in April.’  Look for information on YALSA’s home page.

It’s time to vote in the ALA/YALSA Election! On March 16, ALA began emailing ballot information to all members whose memberships were current as of Jan. 31 of this year. The email contains the URL and login for your specific ballot. It is the only way for you to access your ballot.

If you haven’t received your election information via email, contact ALA at membership@ala.org or by phone at 1-800-545-2433,’  ext. 5, to verify your eligibility and get your ballot information sent to you.

Voting will be open until April 23, and results will be available on April 30.

As you prepare to vote, you may find the following links helpful: