Programs & Special Events

Participating AuthorsPrograms and Special Events | Registration | Sponsors  I  FAQ I 

YALSA's Young Adult Services Symposium will take place virtually Nov. 6-8, 2020. YALSA will host special events requiring additional registration on Friday, with concurrent sessions taking place all day on Saturday and for a half-day on Sunday morning.

All attendees are eligible to receive a continuing education certificate showing the number of contact hours. Certificates will be available on site.

Ticketed Events  I  Free Evening Activities  I  Concurrent Sessions

Ticketed Events (these are an extra fee, optional, separate from registration)


AM Preconference, Friday, 9am-12pm, $79. 

Using Fake News to Broaden Teens' Worlds
Increasingly youth need to be news literate because of fake news. Otherwise, they will not make reasoned decisions, and will suffer the consequences. As information professionals, librarians have unique skills to help teens discern and address fake news. This session explains media literacy, points out ways that news can be misleading and distorted, and suggests ways that librarians can help teens be news savvy and media literate, including how to address fake news through citizen journalists and citizen scientists.

PM Preconference, Friday, 1pm-4pm, $79.  

Beyond Borders: Immigration in YA Services
According to “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens,” “more than one-fifth of America’s children are immigrants or children of immigrants. Now is the time for the field of librarianship, the population of which is overwhelmingly Caucasian, to consider what these demographic changes mean to school and public library services and programs for and with teens.” This session will provide one way in which those children are provided with mirrors, showing their experience in a relatable, respected, and realistic way that does not sensationalize or demean anyone’s lived experience.  Over the course of this 3-hour preconference, attendees will learn about new and upcoming titles, hear from authors and will receive information on how to support and be inclusive of the growing immigrant populations in their communities.

Free Evening Activities (included with registration)

Please note: Times are subject to change.

Opening Session: Fri. Nov. 6th at 5:00PM 

Author Breakfast:  Saturday, Nov. 7th at 9am

Author breakfast:  Sunday, Nov. 8th at 9am

Closing Session: Sunday, Nov. 8th, 1:00pm-1pm

Concurrent Sessions (included with registration)

Current sessions take place Saturday 9:00am-5:30pm and Sunday, 9:00am-1:00pm,

There are three sessions to choose from in each of the time slots. Program descriptions for the concurrent sessions are listed below.

In Our #OwnVoices
A panel of diverse authors will discuss why #OwnVoices stories are crucial for teen readers and how to get them into the hands of teens. This panel will explore why disability and the human body experience are frequently overlooked when it comes to discussing inclusivity, as well as what qualifies as "good" disability representation.
Presenters:  Kelly Jensen (Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy), Anna-Marie McLemore (Dark and Deepest Red, Body Talk contributor), and I.W. Gregorio (This Is My Brain In Love, Body Talk contributor)

Our Teens Have a Voice: Methods in Planning and Executing a Youth Conference on Social Justice
Teens today are in constant contact with social issues and injustices - whether through their own experiences, or through their exposure to issues in print and digital media. But how often do they have access to a safe place to explore their thoughts and feelings about those injustices?
Meet two librarians who have identified these needs and have developed similar yet different approaches to establishing an annual Social Justice Youth Conference. You will leave this session with a clear idea on how to  plan your own conference, engage youth, and provide a safe and inclusive environment for all who attend.
Presenters:  Erin Hoopes, Branch Manager, Philadelphia Free Library; Gabrielle Miller, Assistant Branch Manager / Young Adult Librarian, Enoch Pratt Free Library

From A(ddiction) to Z(its): Supporting Teens with Health Information
When it comes to health issues teens, their friends, or their family, may be experiencing, it is important that they have access to reliable health information. Seeking that information can be difficult. This session will examine how social determinants of health affect teens and how libraries, schools, and communities can support youth health literacy. It will discuss health information resources for teens, best practices for answering difficult questions, and health-focused activities. This session will provide youth-serving staff with skills and knowledge related to health information and health-focused programming. It will present an overview of health information needs of teenagers and their information seeking behaviors, review communication skills needed during reference interviews with teenagers, and explore credible health information resources that are designed for teens.
Presenters:  Tess Wilson, Community Engagement Coordinator at the National Network of Libraries of Medicine - Middle Atlantic Region.

Anti-Prom: Celebrating LGBTQ Teens at your Library
Anti-Prom is a free, alternative prom for teens ages 12-18 that celebrates LGBTQ and low income teens who historically have not felt welcome at their school proms. Each year, NYPL partners with schools, community organizations, and YA staff across 90 locations to run an Anti-Prom in the Bronx, Staten Island, and Manhattan. This session will lay out the steps to run an inclusive event at your library including how to get staff buy-in, include teens in the process, connect with community partners, use library collections for inspiration, and support teens in their identity formation each and every day.  Presenters: Caitlyn Colman-McGaw, Manager of Young Adult Programs at the New York Public Library.

Making Your Case to Protect the Biggest Little Space: Writing Strategic Plans for Teen Services 
How do you ensure that your efforts to create safe, inclusive teen spaces in your library outlive you? Figure out where to start when developing a teen services strategy, implementing outcome-based planning and evaluation, creating a training plan for all staff, and writing program proposals. Learn how to craft strategic documents that allow you to not only convince internal stakeholders of the merits of inclusivity and safe space creation, but also allow you to embed these principles in your library’s policies and practices even after you move to your next position.
Presenters:  Emily Williams, Teen Services Manager for the Metropolitan Library System in Oklahoma and Leah Weyand, Teen Services Coordinator for the Tulsa City-County Library System in Oklahoma

Safe Place: Advocating for Teens Beyond the Library
Safe Place: Advocating for Teens Beyond the Library:  Safe Place is a national outreach program that connects teens in crisis with social service agencies. In Spring of 2019, as a library, we decided to partner with Huckleberry House--a licensed agency in Columbus OH, to become a Safe Place site and expand our services to teens.  After working deeply with Huck House, our library decided to refocus our efforts in building better relationships with our teens. Staff underwent new trainings about teen brain development, trauma informed care practices and developing stronger relationships with our teens. The results? A complete transformation in morale and relationships between teens and staff. 
Presenters:  Tara Shiman, Youth Services Librarian, Worthington Libraries; Stephanie Brand, Lead Librarian at Worthington Libraries in Ohio.

Equity in Action: Transforming Teen Services 

Leveling Up Your Volunteer Program: Expanding your teen's worlds with workforce preparedness and college readiness training
Volunteer programs are a great way to bring teens into libraries. But how do you ensure that your volunteers are getting something meaningful out of their time at the library?  In 2019, the Pikes Peak Library District worked with local agencies to develop a career and college readiness training that we implemented over the course of our summer reading program. In this session, we will share tips and tools for designing, implementing and evaluating a training program for your teen volunteers. Participants will leave with access to our full trainings.
Presenters:  Britt Bloom and Lauren Fellers are Senior Library Associates at the Pikes Peak Library District in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Our Voices, Our Protest: Migrant Stories in Latinx Young Adult Literature
During a moment in U.S. history with particularly heinous anti-immigrant and anti-Latinx sentiments, notions of safety for immigrant youth and their families have all but disappeared especially for migrants coming from the U.S. Mexican border. Last year, a group of Latinx children’s literature writers raised their voices to protest these injustices with a unified video statement and used the hashtag #OurVoicesOurProtest (View link here: This reading/panel will delve into how our Latinx #ownvoices books open up conversations not only about the injustices committed against migrants but also about a need for a larger capacity for empathy, love, and agency from members of our community and ally communities. Libraries become the perfect partner in nurturing these conversations especially if we understand that there is no one definitive migrant story but many and that voices from the affected communities are vital to creating positive inroads in this conversation.
Presenters:  Aida Salazar is an arts activist and award-winning author of the verse novels The Moon Within (International Latino Book Award), Land of the Cranes and others TBD

Facilitating Culturally Responsive Conversations about Diverse Young Adult Books
If you believe that every conversation about diverse books should include thoughtful considerations about culture, then please join this session. Together we will explore strategies for facilitating culturally relevant conversations about Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color (BIPOC) books with audio, video, and primary source digital materials.  Grounded in love of literature, as well as cultural humility and cross-cultural competencies, participants will leave this session ready to share loads of materials that we hope empower beautiful, honoring conversations about diversity, individuality, and books for all.
Presenters:  Nick is a nationally known educational partner, and is the Founder and Executive Director of TeachingBooks and Sulin Jones, LSTA Coordinator at the Nevada State Library, Archives, and Public Records

Computational Thinking: Empowering Teens to be Creators of Technology

Big Stars in Little Hollywood: Creating a Film Club at the Library
Learn how to start and run your very own filmmaking club for teens at your library. Even with minimal resources and experience, you can encourage your teens to make their own movies step by step through the filmmaking process, from script to screen. You can even organize your own film festival or world premiere night to share with friends, family, and the public.
Presenters:  Bill Stea, Young Adult Librarian, Waldorf West Library in the Charles County Public Library system in Maryland

Read the World: Collection Development Geography
Update your collection philosophy to help diversify and broaden your collection. Start a school-wide journey around the world through a competitive reading initiative that challenges patrons of all ages to read one book by an author from each continent. The Read the World program encourages community participation, a diversified collection, and global citizenship! This workshop will walk you through how we researched books and authors from around the world, curated a diverse collection for middle and upper school aged students, and created an expansive LibGuide of books listed by country. In addition, we will discuss how we used formal and guerilla marketing (from posters to announcements to music videos) to promote the project and create buy in from students and teachers.
Presenters:  Maggie Davidov is the Upper School Librarian at Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Expanding Our Reach: Connecting with Teens Through Outreach
Teen outreach programs are vital to engaging a library’s community. The session highlights librarians working in different demographic populations, including local youth that may be at-risk, incarcerated, or otherwise unable to visit the library. By meeting teens where they are, the library becomes more than just a building, and actively responds to the expanding world of teens today. 
The presenters will discuss best practices for outreach, partnerships formed in their communities, and how they overcame the barriers in developing these programs. The presenters will ask the audience to share their successes and failures in teen outreach. Shared experiences can be taken back to audience members’ libraries so that they have a foundation from which to begin or improve their outreach to teens in their communities.
Presenters:  Sophie Meridien is the Teen Librarian at the Mandel Public Library in West Palm Beach, Florida; Andrea Eckerson is the Teen Services Librarian and Manager at the Lewis & Clark Library East Helena Branch in East Helena, Montana; Heather Dickerson is the Te

The Fashion Project: Engaging Teens Through Creative Programming
Get inspired to be bold and creative with teen programming that teens actually want! Gwinnett County Public Library staff members present a case study on The Fashion Project, an innovative, 7-week fashion design intensive culminating in a runway show. Get advice on how to get administrators on board, how to move through uncertainty to success, and tips on mentoring teens through a skill-building creative process to a showstopping final product.
Presenters:  Katharine Russell, Teen Services Librarian; Shandy Frey, Learning Lab Specialist and Kate Delaney, Learning Lab Specialists at the Gwinnett County Public Library system in Lawrenceville, GA.

Reading is really going to the Dogs!
Therapy dogs are making a slow climb into both school and public libraries which is wonderful. Often, these services are only used with elementary children. In my high school, we have taken our canine pals and created a therapy program for special needs students, ESOL, and identified low readers in our main population. It works as an actual therapy since the students come the same day every week to practice their literacy, instead of just a haphazard visit here and there. It has expanded our library outreach to our most diverse students.
Presenters:  Erica Grohoski is in her 4th year of school librarianship in  Charleston, SC.

Expanding Our Minds: Mental Illness and Recovery in YA Literature
In this session, participants will learn about three types of narratives that emerge when one examines recent YA novels of mental illness: stories of failed cures, stories of symptoms, and stories of recovery. Participants will see how an understanding of disability narrative theory allows librarians to discern among the many stories of mental illness that come across our desks and how to recommend the most empowering ones to patrons.
Presenters:  Diane Scrofano is an English instructor at Moorpark College in California

Reaching Marginalized Teens Through Novels in Verse
Novels in verse are a terrific resource for teachers and librarians as a way of reaching all teens, especially marginalized teens and those who may be struggling or reluctant readers. They also provide a more modern, practical alternative to the classic canon, which may not appeal to many teens or may intimidate them by the sheer number of words per page. Participants will discover ways to pair verse novels with teens based upon their needs, interests, and specific situations, discuss advocacy strategies for rethinking the canon, and gather ideas for engaging poetry activities related to the novels in verse.
Presenters:  Lisa Krok, Adult/Teen Services Manager, Morley Library, Cleveland, Ohio

Biggest Little Spaces: How Libraries Serve the Expanding Worlds of Teens
Biggest Little Spaces: How Libraries Serve the Expanding Worlds of Teens:  Led by New York Public Library’s Head of Teen Services, a panel of award-winning authors will discuss the importance of Upper MG as a safe space for a wide range of young readers to explore complex and sometimes controversial issues within age and developmentally appropriate stories featuring characters aged 12-15 years old.
Presenters:  Moderator:  Elisa Garcia, Authors: Paula Chase Hyman, Barbara Dee, Aida Salazar, Melanie Sumrow, Alicia Williams (Tentative)

Engaging and Viable Programming for your School Library! Advocate! Market! Innovate!
Are you a school librarian looking for some new innovative and creative programming to pique the interest of your students, faculty and staff? Look no further! Learn how you can both connect with your pubic librarian and empower yourself to build upon existing programming in your library. You'll learn about some amazing programs to take back to your library and easily implement. You'll be given a detailed road map to successful library programming! You will not go away disappointed!
Presenters:  Janine Asmus, school librarian, West Leyden High School, Northlake, Illinois.

Getting Teens Excited about Reading- Thinking Inside the Teen Book Box
A recent trend is the desire for subscription boxes for books. These boxes consist of a new book in a particular genre/age range and fun trinkets that are themed with the book. Most subscriptions such as OWL Crate and Lit Joy are available as a paid subscription. As a library, we can offer this service for free while promoting our services and materials to our teen patrons. We will describe how our libraries got started with this service, obstacles we found along the way, tips to get stakeholders on board and how our teens reacted to the service.
Presenters:  Stephanie Brand, Lead Librarian, Worthington Libraries in Ohio

We’re All in This Together: Building Partnerships Between Public and School Libraries
We will discuss our partnerships between school libraries and public libraries, including specific programs and events that have been successful, the challenges we’ve faced, and ideas on how to get started.
Presenters:  Ashleigh Torres and Sandra Kelsey both work in Youth Services at the El Dorado County Library in California. Donna Martin is the Teacher Librarian at Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills, California

Adulting is the New Teen Advisory Board
This presentation focuses on how an adulting program for teens can make a difference in getting teens to participate at any library.  Offering an Adulting program can reach out to teens and interest and engage them.  Teens can even design their own workshops and Adulting topics help them to expand their minds and think more about community engagement.  This makes Adulting a more engaging and proactive way to connect with teens.
Presenters:  Kimberli Buckley is the Senior Community Library Manager of the Concord Library in Concord, California in the Contra Costa County Library system

William C. Morris program for first time authors.