Programs & Special Events


Participating Authors | Housing and Travel | Programs and Special Events | Registration | Sponsors  I  FAQ I 

YALSA's Young Adult Services Symposium takes place Nov. 2-4, 2018, in Salt Lake City, Utah. 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. There will be a signup sheet at registration and certificates will be e-mailed out two weeks following the Symposium. 

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.  Media Literacy, News Literacy, and Civics Education: Empowering Librarians and Teens to Navigate a Complex Landscape

This session aims to empower librarians to navigate an area that poses a number of challenges and opportunities for both teens and librarians: the complex arena of media and news literacy and civics education. In this interactive session librarians will be introduced to professional development resources and ideas inspired by Participate and the Consume, Create, Connect Framework from Convergence Design Lab. Attendees will discuss ideas, explore resources, and engage with professionals, inside and outside of libraries, who work to equip teens with vital news and media literacy skills that help them engage in a complicated civic landscape.

PM Preconference, Friday, 1pm-4pm, $79. Life Skills - Program-in-a-Box

It’s no secret that teens lack the life skills necessary to survive in the real world and teen librarians are working to address this gap. Let’s make it even easier by working together! We will teach you how to create life skills program-in-a-box kits for your library to use, share, and reshare, saving you time and energy while teaching life skills to teens. Plus, play around with existing program kits from two different library systems and learn how to share program kits whether you’re a big library system or a standalone operation.

Squatters Brew Pub Dinner, Friday 7:30pm, $49.
Join fellow attendees for a casual dinner at a local brew pub  Buffet dinner is included, cash bar available. Although much has changed since the first Squatters beer was poured in 1989, we remain firmly dedicated to our original goal of providing our customers world-class handcrafted beer and food in a warm, friendly environment. As we have grown, we have continued to embrace our Triple Bottom Line philosophy of People Planet Profit, where supporting a healthy community is a priority. Some of the organizations with whom we partner include: The Downtown Alliance, Utahns Against Hunger, Equality Utah, Alliance House, and Green Bike SLC. We procure healthy ingredients and use environmentally friendly products and services from within our local eco-region and develop long-lasting relationships with farmers, growers and suppliers so that we know exactly what is and is not in the products that we buy. We purchase Blue Sky Wind Power and are continuously working to reduce our carbon footprint by procuring products produced from post-consumer recycled materials and purchasing goods that are environmentally friendly, sending less waste to our landfills. These efforts have resulted in Squatters being recognized locally and state-wide for its efforts.   

Author Luncheon, Saturday, 12pm-1:30pm, $49. Featured authors TBD.  Enjoy lunch, listen to authors, and receive signed copies of their books. 

Optional free activities

Discovery Experience at the Family History Library, Friday, 2:00pm.  Limited number of spots available, please sign up here. Participants will go through a guided family discovery workshop. The focus of the Family History Library is to help guests make personal family discoveries. The Discovery Center is a family-friendly area where families can begin their journey of self and family discovery through fun and engaging activities. We encourage each guest to enter some family information in the Family Tree on FamilySearch before their visit. In addition to listing the basic information about your family members, be sure to include a few photos and stories in the Memories section. Please note: Having a FamilySearch account is NOT required to enjoy the Discovery experience, however, guests will have a more meaningful experience if they have an account and their family tree started.  A free FamilySearch account can be obtained at   

Family History Library Tour, Friday, 7:00pm. Come take a guided tour of The Family History Library.  While there will not be any guided family history activities, the library will be open until 9:00pm if you wish to do some research after the tour. Sign up here.  

Free Evening Activities (included with registration)

Family History Library Tour, Friday, 7:00pm. 

Opening Session: Fri. Nov. 2nd at 5:00PM

Book Blitz and Galley Grab, Sat. Nov. 3rd, 5:00pm

Immediately following the concurrent sessions on Saturday, registrants can grab a free YALSA bag and attend the Book Blitz and Galley Grab where they can score free books, advanced reading copies, and rub elbows with authors.  Hors d'oeuvres served. Cash bar.

Closing Session:  Sunday, November 4th 12-1pm 

Concurrent Sessions (included with registration) Saturday 8:00am-5:30pm and Sunday, 8:00am-12:00pm, Closing session 12-1:30pm

There will be three sessions to choose from in each of the time slots.  Then, the Closing Session is from 12-1:30pm on Sunday.  Program descriptions are below.  

Teen Civic Engagement: Action to Inspire Change

Now more than ever teens are inspired to engage in community issues and make their voice heard. But how can that power be harnessed when they are too young to vote and don't feel like their elected officials take them seriously? Building Civic Engagement to address community issues is a priority in Snohomish and Island Counties. Through partnerships with the Auditors office, Young Voters of Snohomish County and local organizations, the library has helped young activists and volunteers look beyond the library and transform through a restructured Teen Advisory Board Program, Civic University classes, social media, and library programs about mental illness, homelessness, and teen suicide.

Hello is an Open Door: Using Readers’ Advisory to Create Welcoming Libraries for Teens

How do you create an exceptional library experience for teens and increase your impact in the community?  Through readers’ advisory!  Jefferson County Public Library made it a priority to train all frontline staff on Teen Readers’ Advisory in 2017.  In this session we will discuss how we determined competencies, designed an online interactive training and created follow up exercises and coaching to ensure concept retention and integration into frontline service in order to ensure a welcoming environment for all teens in our community.

Leveraging Fandom to Build STEAM and Youth and Community Engagement, Proposed by:  Nyssa Fleig

The Salt Lake County (UT) Library has built a following of thousands designing fandom based programs, including a Harry Potter Yule Ball, anime convention ToshoCON, and a summer Hogwarts STEAM camp. In this session we’ll discuss the process of design planning and youth involvement, and introduce our model of “zucchini bread” programs. At the end of this session, participants will be prepared to integrate social, emotional, and educational learning into a fandom based program package, regardless of the size of program, budget, or library.

It’s True: Computational Thinking & Libraries are a Perfect Match

When you think, computational thinking (CT) do you think “No way, not me, not in my library?” In this participatory session, we’ll change that mindset.  How? By connecting learning gained through the Libraries Ready to Code project and IMLS projects centered on CT and coding.  Participants learn strategies for successfully bringing CT learning to libraries by embracing the role of facilitator and co-learner.   And through  exchange of concrete CT learning examples, participants will be exposed to a variety of approaches that connect teens with community experts and mentors and support acquisition of a variety of social emotional skills.

William C. Morris Author Forum

Debut YA authors will discuss what led them to write for teens, their creative process, and the experience of publishing a novel.  

Late Literacy: Engaging Teens in Books and Stories

Early literacy, early literacy, early literacy! Do you work with teens? Are you sick of hearing about talking, writing, reading, playing, and singing for the under 5 set? Award-winning YA author Jason Reynolds has shared that he was 17 before he read a book cover to cover. It’s time to focus on late literacy and practices that will engage youth in books and stories. This session will include

Using Teens to Create Effective Community Change

Are you struggling to incorporate youth voice into your teen programs?  Queens Library demonstrates how its Teen Leadership Council gave a needed forum to other youth; impacted the behavior and attitudes of local community members and redefined the role of teen engagement within the library.

In this session, participants learn how to create a Youth Leadership Council and impact community by changing behaviors and attitudes towards common problems.  Participants will identify three environmental strategies for community change; implement five best practices to facilitate youth involvement, and deliver a persuasive argument for increasing youth involvement in creating adolescent programs.

Teen Led Community Leader Dialogues in Public Libraries

The STAR Library Education Network team has developed and piloted a successful Community Leader Dialogue strategy to empower libraries to reach out to new community partners in support of shared goals. These dialogues have helped libraries reach out to underserved audiences, identify barriers to access, and create new long-term partnerships for their venues. This session will focus on the results of previous STAR Net efforts, but will also solicit feedback and discussion on how teens could be leaders in this process. This session will include a panel presentation, small group discussion and Q&A.

Friends with Benefits: Programming to help develop social and emotional skills in teens

No, not those kind of benefits! Joanna and Becca from Pikes Peak Library District will walk you through programming designed to help your teens grow. We’ll talk about a wide variety of programming for all budgets and sizes of libraries, everything from Dungeons & Dragons to MakerSpaces to a Yo-Yo club! We’ll also show you how your summer reading program can address this issue, plus discuss how to take on reluctant admins who are hesitant to greenlight ‘just for fun’ programs.

Crushing it in the Classroom: Instruction Skills for Public Library Staff

We entertain and inform with storytimes and booktalks, but what do you do when you need to go into full teacher mode? April will share strategies honed through over a decade of speaking in local middle and high school classrooms.  Set in the context of developmental stages, this session will include best practices on keeping students engaged and teachers satisfied while providing instruction on information literacy and research skills. An audience-based Q and A period will allow attendees to share their own experiences.

Beyond Blueprints: 36 Ideas to Take Your Space from Layout to Hangout

Virtually visit the newly remodeled Teen Hub at the Headquarters Library in Spartanburg, SC! Hear how we designed a flexible space for teens (while keeping costs down), and about the many programs, collections, and services we offer. Highlights include our teen internship program, our popular non-fiction collection, our personalized book suggestion service, and our button maker. You’ll leave this idea-packed session with new ways to serve your teen population, whether or not you have a dedicated teen space!

Disability in YA: Representing All Teens

This panel and Q&A pairs YA authors with librarians to discuss the portrayal of disability – physical, mental, and invisible – in YA literature and how public and school librarians can use their collections and programs to increase awareness and accessibility. YA creators will highlight a book discussing disability in teen lives. YA librarians with knowledge about the topic will then present programming ideas inspired by the the book that can be easily implemented in schools and public libraries.

The session will end with a moderated audience Q&A and group brainstorming.

Alt RA: Video Games, Apps, Music, Movies, and TV Shows as Reader's Advisory

Not sure what book to recommend to the teen that LOVES Taylor Swift, but hasn’t read a book in years? Or the teen that can quote every episode of Stranger Things. What about the teen with every Call of Duty stage memorized? Learn to use appeal factors and other RA standbys to connect teens to their perfect book that matches the appeal of their current non-book related media obsession. We'll give you the tools, tips and tricks needed to transform your already amazing RA skills into using non-traditional media as a means of inspiring lifelong readers through better book suggestions.

Part of the Story: A Model for Engaging Teen Voices in Community Conversations

In 2017, York County Libraries piloted a program designed to give teens the opportunity to contribute to the community conversation on a current social issue. Teens read the book, ‘Smack’ by Melvin Burgess and met with representatives of organizations involved in addressing the escalating heroin addiction crisis in York County. The program culminated in a public Town Hall event hosted by the teen participants. The session will describe the program, its epic fails and incandescent successes and will show how the program can be used as a model for engaging teens in conversations around issues that teens identify as important in their communities.

Meaningful Teen Programming

Teen Voices was a 2016-17 initiative of the King County Library System designed to promote youth voice and give youth an opportunity to learn valuable skills for future success. KCLS librarians leveraged the involvement of existing Teen Advisory Boards by providing them with Foundation funding to plan and promote regional summits for youth in their communities. Youth learned skills such as project management, budgeting, public speaking, decision making, time management, and leadership, and gained the social and emotional benefits of working together on a meaningful project. KCLS librarians will share their process and framework of peer-supported, interest-powered, connected learning.

Building Self and Social Awareness and Acceptance in Your Library

Diverse books - not only characters different from you, but formats and subject matter that are outside one's typical preferences - are a great way to walk a mile in someone else's shoes, build compassion and empathy, and experience something new. A variety of time-tested options for displays, activities, programs, policies & practices and other strategies to increase reading, provide a safe space for diverse individuals and encourage teens to recognize their own bias and explore perspective will be presented.

Teen Nonfiction That Matters

Nonfiction allows readers to engage with true and moving stories that helps them better understand themselves and their world. Lawrence Goldstone, Deborah Hopkinson, and other nonfiction authors will speak to their upcoming books that tackle timely, complex, and challenging subjects—including how history shapes our world, identity, the struggle for racial justice, and so much more—in a way that is engaging and relevant to young readers. By pairing these books with supporting materials, this session will help you learn how to engage teens, build community, and start important conversations in your library. Attendees will receive copies of the FOCUS on Nonfiction Toolkit with guides and other materials.

Roll for Initiative: Facilitating Learning with Tabletop Games, Proposed by:  Kelsey Bates

The Kansas City Public Library has embraced the many aspects of tabletop gaming, including breakout boxes and gaming circles, and has created an initiative using tabletop games as a tool to engage teens’ development of leadership and job readiness skills.  With the help of local experts in the community, library staff has used experimental professional development to tailor learning experiences to their teens’ diverse needs.  This session will offer hands-on methods on how to play and modify tabletop games in order to target 21st century skill development as well as cultivate a culture of learning among library staff.