Professional Tools for Librarians Serving Youth

A list of resources by subject area for librarians serving youth.

Access | Advocacy | Book Lists |  Common Core State Standards | Competencies for Librarians Serving Children | Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act | Copyright | Digital Media | Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion | Early Literacy | Environmental Scan | Intellectual Freedom | Junior Maker Space | LIS Educators | Mentoring | Partnerships | Programming and Services for Youth | Research | School Age Programs and Services | Services to Special Population Children | Summer Reading | Technology

Access 

Access to library materials should not be restricted for any reason. Unfortunately, children and teens suffer when policies are put in place that hinder their access to all types of information. Several sections of the ALA Web site pertain to access and intellectual freedom and revolve around The Library Bill of Rights. Sections of importance to children and those who serve them are:

Free Access to Libraries for Minors
Access for Children and Young Adults to Nonprint Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights (Adopted by ALA Council, 1989/Amended, 2004)
Access to Electronic Information, Services, and Networks 
Access to Library Resources and Services Regardless of Sex, Gender Identity, or Sexual Orientation
ALSC and Equity of Access Presidential Initiative

"Giving Children Access to Print Materials Improves Reading Performance," June 2010
An article from Reading is Fundamental, highlighting the positive outcomes for children who have an abundance of materials from which to choose.

Advocacy 

Everyday Advocacy is a website offering a collection of resources designed to empower librarians and library staff to take action in their libraries, communities, and beyond. Advocacy is so important, but that doesn’t mean it has to be intimidating. Everyday Advocacy highlights ideas and tips that are quick, easy to implement, and highly doable. The site’s goal is to develop powerful advocates for children and library service to children. This go-to resource is for both day-to-day advocacy and crisis advocacy, providing resources that address a variety of advocacy circumstances.

Check out helpful information and resources posted by the Advocacy & Legislation Committee on the ALSC Blog.

How Americans Value Public Libraries in Their Communities. This report is part of the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, which is exploring the role of libraries in the lives of individuals and communities. 

In 2014, the ALSC Emerging Leader Team E examined methods of appraising and communicating the full range of youth services and the resulting outputs and outcomes. Their final report, entitled Ask, Assess, Advocate: Demonstrating the Value of Library Youth Services, was submitted to the ALSC Board of Directors and available for download as a PDF.

A is for Advocacy

Librarians are called to embrace diversity and inclusion. Many of us take action by “Reading Without Walls” for “Windows and Mirrors” because we agree #WeNeedDiverseBooks. What do these mean, what does the research say, and what can we do to be more proactive and informed in advocating, decision-making, and working with all stakeholders to promote diverse literature? We present our perspectives and action steps to bring diverse literature front and center in libraries and classrooms. Check out this recorded session from the 2018 ALSC Institute. Video recording sponsored by the Carole D. Fiore Leadership Fund

Book Lists 

Through its many book lists, ALSC promotes literacy, reading for enjoyment, and books.

Common Core State Standards 

Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have been adopted in a majority of states, and librarians and teachers are scrambling for resources and knowledge to embrace the new paradigm. In response, ALSC's School-Age Programs and Services Committee has compiled a list of essential resources (articles, blogs, websites), which provide a starting point for becoming more familiar with CCSS in order to gain confidence in serving the educational community.

During the spring of 2014, the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Task Force on Common Core developed a toolkit and webinar on the common core and the public librarian.

Competencies for librarians serving children in public libraries 

Children's librarian must do more than simply provide age-appropriate service. Effective library service for children entails a broad range of experience and professional skills.  ALSC's Competencies seek to define the role of the librarian serving children.  Use the Competencies  to develop job descriptions for your open positions or as a training resource with your youth services staff.

Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) 

In 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act was passed as a way to protect children from the harmful effects of lead. One of the consequences of its passage was concerns raised about library books.

In-depth and up-to-date information from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission
ALSC's last CPSIA Update -- 6/1/2009

Copyright 

Cornell University Copyright Information
Current copyright information for all ages.

What Youth Librarians Need to Know about Copyright
Information about copyright issues for children's librarians.

Digital Media 

Digital Media Resources
A go-to list of current articles, blog posts, and websites, about iPads, tablets, eBooks, apps, and more, for children's librarians navigating their way through the evolving digital landscape.

This webpage provides resources to help support children's librarians in their role as media mentor to children and their families. - The number of children and families who use digital media is growing, and children require mediated and guided experiences with digital media for the experiences to translate into positive and productive digital literacy skills. Libraries have the capacity to support families with all their literacy needs, traditional and digital.
Young Children, New Media & Libraries 2018 Survey Infographic
ALSC’s first national survey of libraries and new media, administered in 2014 (see below), demonstrated a strong commitment among libraries to providing a range of technology for families with young children. An updated and expanded 2018 survey delivers exciting results that provide compelling, widespread insights into the changes to this still largely uncharted and disparate landscape. This inforgraphic summarizes the findings. 

Young Children, New Media & Libraries 2014 Survey Infographic
Between August 1 and August 18, 2014, 415 children’s librarians responded to a survey of 9 questions concerning the use of new media with young children in libraries. The survey was created as a collaborative effort between Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), LittleeLit.com, and the iSchool at the University of Washington. Preliminary finding are presented through this infographic created by ALSC’s Public Awareness Committee.

Ebook Resources for Libraries
Compiled by the ALSC Children & Technology Committee and presented at the 2013 ALA Midwinter Meeting.

Slides and audio from Sue Polanka's Leadership and ALSC presentation at the 2013 ALA Midwinter Meeting.

Early literacy 

The Babies Need Words Every Day initiative, created by the ALSC Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee, represents ALSC’s commitment to bridging the 30 million word gap. Launched in August 2015, the visually appealing posters deliver simple, effective rhymes, games and other ways for parents and caregivers to communicate with babies. A customizable book list provides suggestion of books that parents can request at their local library. Over the course of the year, ALSC will encourage librarians to get the word out to their community partners about these free resources to engage them in the effort to bridge the word gap.

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood celebrates families. ALSC collaborated with Fred Rogers Productions and Grand Communications to develop a series of materials to support the theme of “Family” for new episodes of the PBS KIDS series Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood that will premiere in September. ALSC encourages children’s librarians to incorporate the resources into programming with children and their families. ALSC’s Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee and the Quicklists Consulting Committee contributed to content development.

The Importance of Play in Early Literacy
ALSC is committed to examining the role of play in early literacy.  This web resource was developed as part of a former partnership with LEGO® DUPLO®. It provides programming ideas, a librarian toolkit, and a white paper that addresses the importance of play in the lives of young children. 

Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion 

ALA & ALSC Strategic Plans
As represented in both the ALA Strategic Plan and the ALSC 2017-2020 Strategic Plan, ALA and ALSC are working to expand our membership so it is more reflective of the communities we serve and ensuring that the library profession has the tools needed to advocate for equity, diversity and inclusion in all areas of librarianship and our library communities. Here are the objectives for ALSC's startegic direction in Diversity & Incusion:
  • Increase diversity in ALSC membership and reduce barriers to participation as measured against the Diversity in ALSC baseline survey by September 2019. Transforming ALSC
  • Expand opportunities for existing members from underrepresented experiences to serve in ALSC activities, as measured by longitudinal studies and/or focus groups, by September 2020. Transforming ALSC
  • Increase the cultural competency of library staff serving youth by developing an accessible online cultural competency training series by September 2018. Transforming Children’s Librarianship

ALSC Equity Diversity & Inclusion Statement and Resources

ALSC released an equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) statement along with new resources, located on a dedicated EDI webpage, that support the EDI-related work of the association. These materials, part of an ongoing commitment to EDI within the division and throughout the youth services library profession, further articulate and amplify ALSC’s commitment to EDI. The EDI statement and materials will be continually updated and further developed as living resources for ALSC members.

Social Justice in Youth Librarianship Resources:

Toxic Stress in the Library: The Upstream Impact of Life Adversity on Children

The impact of stress toxicity on the lifespan of children can be observed throughout educational and community settings, affecting families disproportionally over time. In this presentation, Dr. Janina Fariñas and Johanna Ulloa Girón MSW, will introduce how current knowledge on toxic stress and its impact is shaping the way Public libraries provide services and programs for children and their families. The presentation will offer a brief overview of the research, as well as clear, practical approaches for implementing solutions that support the critical role of libraries in diverse communities.

View Dr. Janina Fariñas and Johanna Ulloa Girón's Leadership & ALSC Midwinter 2018 presentationPlease note, due to technical difficulties the concluding five minutes of the presentation are not on the video recording.

2019 Arbuthnot Lecture with Dr. Debbie Reese: "An Indigenous Critique of Whiteness in Children's Literature"

Blogger and educator Debbie Reese, PhD, founder of American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL) blog, delivered the 2019 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture on April 13, 2019. Dr. Reese is a longtime advocate for Native representation and is a former teacher and university professor. She earned her PhD in Education from the University of Illinois, where she also helped establish the Native American House and American Indian Studies program. Dr. Reese also holds an M.Ed degree in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University. She is tribally enrolled at Nambe Owingeh Pueblo in New Mexico.  

Dia Website Action Tab

As part of ALSC’s commitment to diversity in library programming and material collections for children, an Action tab was developed on our Día website as a clearinghouse of multicultural resources for youth service librarians. Resources in the Action section fall under categories including advocacy tools, action steps, awards, Day of Diversity materials, professional development, and more. Content in this section includes free webinars, links to useful articles and websites, ideas on how YOU can move the diversity needle forward, and so much more!

Serving Diverse Communities Resources
Since the 2016 election, families of diverse backgrounds are facing increased uncertainty and are turning to their public libraries as a resource for information on navigating issues in our changing times. ALSC has compiled a list of resources to help librarians support children and families through times of unrest and uncertainty. ALSC’s Core Values include Responsiveness, Inclusiveness, Integrity and Respect. Therefore, when many are feeling vulnerable, disenfranchised, or wary of what the future holds, librarians and ALSC members stand resolute in their commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion. This list, in no way exhaustive, provides some places to start. It is a living document, currently authored by ALSC committee members and curated by the ALSC Public Awareness Committee. To check out the resources and learn more about contributing content, visit the Google document.
If you are interested in having a version of this Google document available for distribution at your library, please print this PDF.
 
Considering All Children: A New Ideal in Evaluating and Engaging around Books for Youth 
Awards, best-of-the-year lists and reviews focus on "quality" and "excellence" in literature for youth, but what do “quality” and “excellence” really mean in the canon of American literature for children? Who is deciding which books stand out? How are some critics and some children privileged in our field’s thinking? How are some dismissed or made invisible? What does “American literature for children” even mean?  What are common assumptions and current discourse, and what it would look like if we truly considered all children as we evaluate books and single out titles for distinction both within and beyond ALSC?
For this resource guide, the program panelists and moderator were each asked to share suggested critical readings and 5 to 7 must-have books for libraries. Download PDF.
ALSC Program Presentation Recordings
The following video recordings are from select, relevant presentations at ALSC's January 2017 Mini-Institute in Atlanta and last fall's Virtual Institute. These education programs, led by respected professionals and experts in their field, and filled with practical information, strategies, and thought-provoking insights, are: Serving ALL Families in Your Library: Inclusive Library Collections and Programs for LGBTQ Families & Children; Why is it so Difficult to Talk about Race, Culture, and Other Marginalizations in Children’s Literature?; and Passing the Mic: Muslim Voices in Children’s Literature and Lessons Learned in the Pursuit of Equity and Inclusion
Cultural Competency in Youth Librarianship - 2018 Emerging Leaders Project 
How can ALSC help increase the cultural competence of librarians serving youth and reduce barriers to member participation in ALSC? The 2018 ALSC Emerging Leader Team helped ALSC deliver on its Diversity and Inclusion objectives by developing the framework for a cultural competency training video.
The team built a repertoire of resources that will inform an ALSC cultural competency training series and, specifically, enhance the understanding of microaggressions – what we say and how we say it- and the impact they have on common workplace and social interactions. The team employed research skills to locate relevant examples of cultural competency training, collaboration to develop training messages for individuals and groups engaged in ALSC committee work, and creativity to identify innovative media strategies to deliver an authentic and informative training video script that can be implemented by ALSC staff. Located in this final report is also the brochure distributed during their poster session at the 2018 ALA Annual Conference on What is a Microagression.
View the 2018 Emerging Leader Final Report | View the Emerging Leader brochure on Microagressions 

 

Environmental scan 

The 2016 ALSC Emerging Leaders Team created an environmental scan [PDF] for the ALSC Board of Directors. The group gathered research on the trends and needs that will impact the future of youth services. This document presents the results of the group’s research. This research includes qualitative data gathered from a specialized survey created by the EL group, quantitative data from the survey, case studies gathered in literature reviews, and interviews with ALSC members and other stakeholders from around the country.

Intellectual freedom 

Intellectual freedom is the right of all individuals to read, view, or listen to whatever materials they choose and to speak and write the beliefs and opinions they hold. Intellectual freedom is the basis of democracy and is the core concept upon which libraries are built.

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that these basic policies should guide their services, as outlined in the Library Bill of Rights.

Kids! Know Your Rights (PDF) 

A publication created for children and young people, introducing concepts central to intellectual freedom and the library's role in protecting First Amendment Rights. A companion piece, created for parents and caregivers, is also available.

Written by Alan Bern, member of the 2017 ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee, this think piece explores the realms of fake news and alternative facts, including quotes from, and links to, a host of online resources on the topic. This is a companion piece to a March 18, 2017, ALSC blog post from the Intellectual Freedom committee: "Find Your Footing Despite the Flood of Fake News."

ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom 
Established December 1, 1967, this office is charged with implementing ALA policies concerning the concept of intellectual freedom. This site includes contact information for OIF staff. Do not hesitate to contact this office; the OIF works for you, as a paying member of ALA and its divisions!  Also of interest in this section is basic information, publications, policies, statements and guidelines which can be found in Intellectual Freedom.  

Check out resources and helpful information posted by ALSC's Intellectual Freedom Committee on the ALSC Blog.

Three Bombs, Two Lips, and a Martini Glass Revisited 
From Booklist, a caution against book ratings, with informative discussion of specific, potentially harmful effects of that practice. (March 31, 2016) by ALSC Past-President Pat Scales.

Respect for Minors is Key to Intellectual Freedom
Excellent discussion of how attitudes toward young people shape censorship, written by Maren Williams for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Other groups supporting First Amendment rights and intellectual freedom:
 
National Coalition Against Censorship- NCAC’s Resource Guide on the First Amendment in Schools
American Civil Liberties Union ACLU’s take on Student Speech and Privacy
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund 
The Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison shares Intellectual Freedom 101 and offers even more IF Resources here.    

Guidelines, policies, and other materials to help librarians and others deal with challenges can be found at:

Frequently Challenged Books

Top 10 most-challenged books for years past, and additional statistics dating back to 2000.
 
Coping with Challenges: Kids and Libraries 
Family- and child-focused considerations related to book challenges.
 
Challenge Support
A one-stop shop for information and support, with links to a toolkit, recommendations for responding to a materials challenge, tips for proactively guarding against censorship, and more.
 
Selection & Reconsideration Policy Toolkit for Public, School, & Academic Libraries
Comprehensive IF support for a range of library types. Includes components of selection policies, and ready to use samples of forms and letters related to selection and reconsideration.
 
Banned Books Week from a Grad Student's Perspective 
This article written by Sania Zaffar, 2017 ALSC intern and Loyola University Grad Student, reflects on the discussion of frequently challenged children's books with Kristin Pekoll, Assistant Director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF). Some frequently challenged titles have received an ALSC award or honor, so what does that say to a caregiver, if anything? In this article, Sania discusses this point along with resources to help librarians and teacher have important conversations about challenged books.

What You Can Do and How to Organize
Celebrate the freedom to read, seek ways to combat censorship, and join other advocates of intellectual freedom. 

Expurgation of Library Materials
The expurgation of library materials is a violation of the Library Bill of Rights. Expurgation as defined by this interpretation includes any deletion, excision, alteration, editing, or obliteration of any part(s) of books or other library resources by the library, its agent, or its parent institution (if any). 

Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)
Contains information for librarians implementing CIPA filtering at their libraries, including a legislative history of CIPA.

Privacy Resources for Librarians, Library Users, and Families
Educational resources for parents and children.

Junior Maker Space 

The Association for Library Service to Children is happy to be working with LEGO Systems, Inc. to bring Junior Maker Spaces to libraries across the country. This project will focus on giving children ages 4 to 6 areas to make and create in their local libraries.

LIS educators 

ALSC offers the following resources to professors of library and information science that will help classes and students dig deeper into the field of library service to children.

Mentoring 

ALSC Mentoring Program
The ALSC Mentoring Program matches mentors and mentees for one year of collaboration. The program, which is open to members and non-members, is intended to help build a new collection of leaders in the field of library service to children. 

Partnerships 

AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School/Public Library Cooperation Resources
* Toolkit including context and suggestions for creating partnerships of all sizes
* List highlighting past successful partnerships between school & public libraries

Building Partnerships Infographic and Checklist
Created by ALSC's Building Partnerships Committee to help libraries assess, plan, and manage community partnerships
*Print-ready version

External Organizations Serving Youth
Contact information and descriptions of organizations serving youth

Programming & services for youth 

Curiosity Creates began as a grant-funded project and has since turned into a proclamation for librarians doing innovative work with children. In 2015, ALSC used an $800,000 grant from Disney to issue 79 minigrants of up to $7,500 each to public libraries for the implementation for creativity programming. ALSC also developed resources that will continue to support the ongoing work of librarians seeking to start similar programs in their communities. Visit the Curiosity Creates page to view a video compilation of some of the grant-funded programs, download the informative best practices resource, Curiosity Creates: Innovative Library Programming for Children, and learn about the 79 library recipients. ALSC librarians are also welcome to share their creativity programming ideas and photos on twitter using the hashtag #alsccreates.

The Importance of Diversity in Library Programs and Material Collections for Children 
The Importance of Diversity in Library Programs and Material Collections for Children white paper explores the critical role libraries play in helping children make cross-cultural connections and develop skills necessary to function in a culturally pluralistic society. This white paper, written for the Association for Library Service to Children by Jamie Campbell Naidoo, PhD, was adopted by ALSC's Board of Directors on April 5, 2014.

Public awareness 

Kids! @ your library
ALSC's 2006-2010 public awareness campaign generated a tool kit filled with resources to help librarians position their library as a valuable and important community center for kids and their families. Although the campaign is no longer active, many of the tool kit resources are still relevant and valuable and can be found here.

Research 

ALSC committees were asked to identify topics/issues on which they would like to see research done, the results of which could assist and/or guide them in their work. This is a summary of responses [PDF: 37 KB], intended to provide potential researchers and students with ideas for relevant, practical research topics. Please note: This list will be updated on an annual basis during the summer months.

School Age Programs and Services 

Check out resources and helpful information posted by the School Age Programs and Service Committee on the ALSC Blog

Service to Special Population Children 

Access Inclusive Spaces and Services for Children of All Abilities Community Forum presented by Jason Driver, Renee Grassi, Eva Thaler-Sroussi, and ALSC President Nina Lindsay. (please note, access is limited to ALSC members using their ALA username and password) - January 2018

Library Services to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers: A Toolkit for Librarians and Library Workers - created January 2015
This toolkit is designed to help librarians develop or enhance library services to special populations of children and families. It is the culmination of a year-long project by the ALSC committee, Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers. The resource covers a variety of special populations including home school families and Spanish-speaking families. For each special population, there is a brief introduction; subject headings and keywords for catalog and online searching; resources for further study including organizations, online and print resources; subject matter experts within the library community; and examples of existing partnerships between libraries and community organizations.

 
Autistic Self Advocacy Network: The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization run by and for autistic people. ASAN was created to serve as a national grassroots disability rights organization for the autistic community run by and for autistic Americans, advocating for systems change and ensuring that the voices of autistic people are heard in policy debates and the halls of power. Our staff work to educate communities, support self-advocacy in all its forms, and improve public perceptions of autism. ASAN’s members and supporters include autistic adults and youth, cross-disability advocates, and non-autistic family members, professionals, educators, and friends. ("About" section on ASAN website)

State and local conferences 

ALSC Roadshow
ALSC provides funding to members who represent the division at local and state conferences through a program called ALSC Roadshow. Members can apply for funding by presenting a program, hosting a social event or staffing a booth. 

Summer reading 

Summer reading is an integral part of most public libraries. But what's the importance of these programs? Find out more below.

Dominican University study on the impact of summer reading programs
The Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University received a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for a three-year research study (2006-2009) to answer the question: do public library summer reading programs impact student achievement? 

The Importance of Summer Reading: Public Library Summer Reading Programs and Learning
This research paper and bibliography was created by the New York State Library and focuses on the advantages of reading over the summer months, access to books, time spent reading, and use of public libraries during the summer months.

Technology 

Children are bombarded with choices about where to get their information. Librarians and parents can help them find the best materials by accessing some of the following resources, as well as informing them about the way children access the Internet.   

Technology Statement
ALSC's technology statement affirms its commitment in supporting children and parents in their use of technology.

Check out resources and helpful information posted by the Children and Technology Committee on the ALSC Blog.

Web Resources about the Internet & Technology

Navigating the 'Net with Your Kids (PDF) 
An informative PDF brochure for parents (downloadable).

Children and the Internet: Policies that Work
A collaborative electronic publication from ALSC and the Public Library Association

Guides to Cyberspace for Parents and Children
Links to resources that have useful information for librarians and parents about online safety.