Programs & Special Events

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

YALSA's Young Adult Services Symposium will takes place Nov. 1-3, 2019, in Memphis, TN. 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 on Civic Engagement, Friday, 9am-12pm, $79.  

Do you want to make a difference in your library, your community, or the world? Start making a change by incorporating civic engagement into your teen volunteer, teen council and teen programming! Come hear about how teens at different libraries are leading the change.  Participants will Learn how to engage library teens in civic engagement, create sustaining partnerships and collaborations for civic engagement, and earn how to host a civic discussion or program.

Los Angeles Public Library’s Teens Leading Change initiative works with and gives mini grants of $100-$5,000 to library Teen Council projects related to: Library Advocacy, Information Literacy, Community Conversations, Know Your Rights, Immigration & Citizenship, Net Neutrality / Privacy, and Voter Rights & Registration. So far, the initiative has launched nearly 20 projects across 24 branches.

TeenHQ, San José Public Library's teen space, has spearheaded SJ Engage, a civic engagement program for youth that utilizes an online curriculum to facilitate discussion and reflection in a Learning Circle format and then fund service-learning social action projects for their 24 community branch Teens Reach groups. The curriculum explores topics such as Gun Violence, Immigration, Homelessness and Poverty, Mental Health, Global Climate Change, and Youth Activism and aligns to the History Social Science Framework with an emphasis on Civic Learning Outcomes and 21st Century Skills.

PM Preconference:  Literacies You Didn’t Talk About in Library School, Friday, 1pm-4pm, $79.
Teens’ interest in social justice and in making a difference in their communities (and the world) provides library staff with the opportunity to support gaining of a wide variety of literacy skills. This includes research skills, where teens begin to understand public and demographic data, and the ability to develop research questions, make observations, and analyze and report on research findings. In this highly participatory session, join two IMLS project recipients Rachel Magee (iSchool at Illinois) and Kristin Fontichiaro (University of Michigan School of Information) in hands-on activities and conversation focused on supporting youth library staff, and the teens they work with, in development of literacies that lead to future academic, civic, and personal success.

Graceland Tour, 2 options. 9am - 1pm or 12-4pm, cost $76.  Includes transportation and Elvis Experience Pass (mansion, planes, auto museum, special exhibits, Visitors' Center).


Author Luncheon, Saturday, 12:00pm - 1:30pm, $49.  Enjoy lunch with authors and receive signed copies of their books. Participating authors Mitali Perkins, Tiffany Jackson, Jennifer Mathieu, and Vince Vawter.

Optional Free Activities

Free Evening Activities (included with registration)  All times are estimates and will be finalized before registration opens in April.

Opening Session: Fri. Nov. 1st at 5:00PM 

Really YA—authors Lauren Myracle, Sandhya Menon, Meredith Russo, and Kekla Magoon discuss how realistic stories accurately portray the lives of today’s teens and why adolescents need advocates.

Book Blitz and Galley Grab, Sat. Nov. 2nd, 5:45pm
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, Nov. 3rd, 12:00pm-1pm

Empowering Teens through Fantasy and Science Fiction—authors Renee Ahdieh, Marie Lu, Shaun David Hutchinson, and Veronica Roth discuss how YA science fiction and fantasy can inspire teens to advocate in a chaotic world.


Concurrent Sessions (included with registration)

Current sessions take place Saturday 8:00am-5:30pm and Sunday, 8:00am-12:00pm,

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

From Teen Lead to Manager: Making the Transition

From the other side of the desk, discover the possibilities and opportunities to support, advice, and advocate to strengthen teen departments and services that will help with our constantly changing times.  Learn ways to navigate and connect staff with the community that will generate and encourage civic dialogue and engagement.

Presenters: Shari Haskins

Collaboration and Beyond: Teen-Led Library Programming

Learn how two librarians in urban neighborhoods with vastly different resources are working to empower teens to design and implement their own library programs based on their interests and needs. Formal methods (such as youth committees and focus groups) and informal methods (impromptu programming and teens assisting with or leading planned programs) will be explored. Session will include discussion of the importance of youth engagement to successful programming with opportunities to engage and brainstorm how you can incorporate these methods in your library setting.

Presenters: Erin Hoopes; Lynne Haase

YAK About It!

YAK About It!: How the after-school Youth Advocating Kindness (YAK) talking circle program has nurtured relationships between staff and teen patrons and between teens and tweens and their peers. It has also encouraged teen leadership within the community, provided a platform for teen voices, and decreased behavioral issues at the library. Learn practical tips and tricks for creating your own talking circle program, how to create a structure for your own program, and participate in a model talking circle.

Presenters: Shanel Slater, Teen Services Specialist at the Marion Public Library in Marion, Iowa; Rachel Pollari, a Teen Services Assistant II at the Marion Public Library in Marion, Iowa

LARP at Your Library: teaching life skills through play

Live Action Role Play (LARP) has a long history of bringing people from different backgrounds together through epic fantasy, improv, and creative storytelling. LARPing creates a unique space where teens can try something new, learn how to have a “Yes, and” attitude, explore who they are, and experience how their decisions affect the world and people around them. This session will discuss LARP programs, and how they can be used to create an inclusive environment, teach life skills, and foster play in your library.

Presenters: Shelbie Marks

Out-Of-The-Box Outreach

Tired of visiting schools and promoting electronic resources? The St. Charles City-County Library has begun expanding its teen outreach services to special communities in unique ways, connecting with teens who never come to the library but need community love and support. From juvenile detention centers, to at-risk youth social services, to teens with disabilities, discover who you can reach out to and how you can support them. Learn from our successes and mistakes as we navigate supporting teens outside the library and school.

Presenters: Elizabeth Lippoldt, Teen Services Librarian, St. Charles City-County Library, Kathryn Linnemann Branch; Kristin Kern, Teen Services Librarian, St. Charles City-County Library, Corporate Parkway Branch; Mindy Schmidt, Teen Services Paraprofessional, St. Charles City-County Library, McClay Branch.

Mental Health in YA Lit and Serving Teen Readers: What's There & What's Not

Contributors to the YA anthology (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY will highlight some of the best books depicting mental health in YA lit, discuss the necessity and power of #ownvoices stories, highlight where the literature is lacking, the challenges of writing about mental health, and how to use these books -- and this knowledge -- to best serve teen readers.

Presenters: Christine Heppermann, Hannah Bae, Kelly Jensen, and S Jae Jones

Read Eat Grow

Read Eat Grow is a culinary initiative, the goal of which is to teach people about food and the culinary skills necessary to be successful. Culinary programming engages teens, giving them a voice, and a space to create. Through culinary programming teens learn skills such as food prep, kitchen safety, recipe reading, teamwork, leadership, and more. In this session we will address food-related issues that teens face and how libraries can combat them. We will discuss benefits for teens, cooking demonstrations, potential programs, forming valuable partnerships, related resources and how to implement successful culinary literacy and programming.

Presenters: Ryan Easterbrooks; Rebecca Antill; Andersen Cook

“Man, the library will keep you outta jail!” A public library/youth detention partnership

Library staff from the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries in Columbus, GA will share their experiences working with their local regional youth detention center. Learn how to balance expectations with reality, the benefits and challenges of working with incarcerated youth, and the personal and professional outcomes of establishing this partnership. Audience members will be challenged to think on their feet in small group discussion, have fun playing an interactive game, and will have time for Q&A. By the end you’ll understand why one young man said, “Man, the library will keep you outta jail!”

Presenters: Megan Aarant; Lindsay Sheppard

Teens, Zines & the Library: Empowering Youth through Self-Expression

Zines are self-published 'magazines' that are a great addition to any teen department. They are often works by people from marginalized and underrepresented communities. Zines expose teens to new ideas and teach them how to use art and self-expression as a tool to both help them connect with their peers and cope with tough issues. In this session, learn the benefits to starting a zine collection at your library on any budget. We will share ideas for inclusive programming, from passive displays to an ongoing club. 

Presenters:  Nicole Rambo, Youth Services Librarian, Middle Country Public Library; Kristine Tanzi, Coordinator for Teen Services, Middle Country Public Library; Liz Allen, Youth Services Librarian, Middle Country Public Library

LGBTQIA+ in YA: Representing All Teens

In this collaboration with the Children's Book Council, this panel and Q&A pairs YA authors with librarians to discuss the portrayal of LGBTQIA+ teens in YA literature and how public and school librarians can use their collections and programs to increase support and services to this marginalized group. YA authors will highlight a book discussing queer teen experiences. YA librarians with knowledge about the topic will then present programming ideas inspired by the authors’ works that can be easily implemented in schools and public libraries.

Presenters: Elizabeth Lippoldt, Teen Services Librarian, St. Charles City-County Library; Jake Bowen, Teen Services Librarian, Kenosha Public Library; M’issa Fleming, Teen Zone Librarian, New Orleans Public Library

Participating Authors:  Ryan La Sala, Kacen Callender, Gabby Rivera

Build Relationships, Not Barriers: Creating a Welcoming Teen Space through Programming

We opened a new library in a diverse, low-income community featuring a Teen Center attracting many teens without prior library experience. We built relationships with them by implementing daily mini-programs in our Teen Center allowing us to be present and set expectations in a positive way instead of being “watchdogs” behind a desk monitoring behavior. Our session will focus on how we overcame challenges, engaged teens, gained support from non-teen staff, came up with successful programs, and how strong relationships with the teens created a welcoming space and informal learning environment that promotes positive behavior and boosts teen program attendance.

Presenters: Nikki Dompke, Maria Kinney, Jaimie Crawford

From A(ddiction) to Z(its): Health Information and Programs for Teens

Body image, identity, depression, sexuality, and stress are just some of the issues facing teens as they experience many physical and mental changes. It is important that they have access to reliable and relatable health information. This session will look how social determinants of health affect teens and how libraries can support youth health literacy. We will discuss health information resources for teens, best practices for answering difficult questions, and program examples that can be used in your library, school, or organization. Attendees will walk away with resources and low-to-no cost ways to engage teens with health and wellness topics.

Presenter: Jarrod Irwin, Consumer Health Coordinator, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Southeastern/Atlantic Region

Fostering Community through Picture Books: How one public/school library collaboration is working to develop teen leaders in our community.

How do you help teens develop the skills to advocate on issues that matter?  By letting teens lead the process.  In this session you will learn how to collaborate with public-school libraries to develop a program that engages teens in community advocacy, teaches them how to present to large groups, and helps build their confidence in using the library to develop their cultural competence. Discover how teens identified underrepresented voices in picture books, shared the books through a storytime, and facilitated difficult conversations to advocate for voices that are not always heard.

Presenters: Megan Koppitch, Media Specialist and Executive Internship Coordinator, Gainseville, Florida; Erin Phemester,  Programming and Youth Services Director, Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County

Increasing Teen Resilience through Trauma Sensitive Approaches

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) have been shown to have long-lasting effects on the health of our communities. The ability to understand and react to ACEs is the first step to a healthy community. This session will help you learn to recognize trauma and toxic stress in teens. We will facilitate a discussion on what you are already doing to help your teens become more resilient. Attendees will leave with practical ideas to implement in their spaces.

Presenters:  Scott Rader; Michael Willis; Mackenzie Ahlberg Elliot

Staff Vs. Teens: Ensuring the Odds are Ever in Your Favor

With 20,359 cardholders aged 13-19 and 11,000 teens attending programs, teens represent a significant percentage of our patrons; however we found that a large percentage of our staff felt unprepared to meet their needs. We used the opportunity of staff training to break down walls and misconceptions while working toward equitable service. We know that policies and patrons aren’t one-size-fits-all; teen brains are not always up to the adult size expectations placed upon them. Teens need help navigating from childhood to adulthood but staff often need help with adapting space or services to accommodate teens’ unique needs.

Presenters: Erin Durrett, YA Services Librarian, Clinton-Macomb Public Library; Colleen McWhinnie, YA Services Specialist, Clinton-Macomb Public Library

Zeroing In: Focusing on Teen Needs

Many school and public libraries are being asked to do more with less. Identifying and honing in on teens’ greatest needs can help prioritize service and mobilize resources. While teen needs often vary from community to community, all teens can benefit from building social and emotional skills that will help them succeed in school, college, and future careers. Libraries can leverage collections, services, programs, community partnerships and more to help teens build skills around self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, relationships, and social awareness. In this session, we will explore how libraries can best support teens’ social and emotional learning to help them effectively navigate a challenging world.

Presenters: Dr. Abigail L. Phillips, Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Dr. Amelia M. Anderson, Assistant Professor at Old Dominion University

Adventures in LGBTQ Advocacy and Programming

Want to serve the LGBTQ youth in your community but don’t know how? Come hear the success story of how one library and one LGBTQ organization came together to form an alliance and  serve their community in a variety of ways! Presenters will share their own stories on how their partnership came to be and the hurdles they are (still) overcoming. Additionally, they will arm you with facts and tips for navigating your own journey for advocacy. Learn from their successes and failures and become the ally your youth deserve.

Presenters: CHELSEA HERNANDEZ-GARCIA; Melinda Mathis; Eduardo Rivera

Racing Toward a Better World: Exploring Racial Hierarchy and Uniting in our Common Humanity through Literature

Learn about ALA’s Great Stories Club: Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation. With support from Kellogg Foundation, this program is designed to inspire at-risk teens, confront racism, provide healing, and give voice to the underrepresented. Hear from librarians who have conducted the program in schools, juvenile detention centers, and with community partners. Find out what worked and what didn’t work. Get ideas for your own teen book clubs, outreach, and social justice programs from presenters and structured conversation with other attendees. See how you can utilize the racial healing and literature-based outreach models in your library.

Presenters: Susan Wakefield, Youth Services Librarian, Rum River Library, Anoka County Library, Anoka, Minnesota with Anoka High School; Wini Ashooh, Youth Services Librarian Teen Specialist, Central Rappahannock Regional Library, Fredericksburg, Virginia and the Rappahannock Juvenile Center; Amelia Jenkins, Youth Services staff, Juneau Public Library, Juneau, Alaska with an alternative high school.

Using Latinx Literature Past and Present to Cultivate, Activate, and Amplify Teen Voices

Our session will address how Latinx books from both past and present can be curated and used to promote what YALSA calls the “cultural competency” of librarians, educators, and readers. Vital to the emotional, social, and intellectual well-being of all our children of color, our LGBTQIAP+ children, and those whose identities intersect, is exposure to a wide-range of Latinx books that validate the paradox of marginalized identities as separate from the abuses of racism, sexism, colorism, and homophobia yet inextricably connected to them. YA authors will discuss how Latinx YA can be used to “engage, serve, and empower” all teens.

Presenters: NoNieqa Ramos, educator and author of The Truth Is and The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary; Alexandra Villasante, author of The Grief Keeper; Michelle Ruiz Keil, author of All of Us with Wings; Tehlor Mejia, author of We Set the Dark on Fire; Claribel Ortega, author of Ghost Squad; and Yamile Mendez, author of Blizzard Besties.

Working Together: Libraries Actively Addressing Youth Homelessness

This panel presentation will begin with background on the real lives of unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness, with an emphasis on LGBTQ+ youth homelessness. Specific examples of how libraries are addressing the youths’ needs through partnerships, services and resources will be included. Following this background, attendees will work either in groups or individually on creating one Action Step library staff can take in their own libraries, by taking into account their assets, possible barriers, and ideas for overcoming these barriers. The program will conclude with a sharing of these ideas and discussions about how each participant can move forward in a way that is effective and achievable.

Presenters: Julie Winkelstein

Seeking Justice Through Nonfiction

Nonfiction allows readers to engage with true and moving stories that helps them better understand themselves and their world. Books by Deborah Wiles, Lawrence Goldstone, Carole Boston Weatherford, and Zetta Elliott tackle timely, complex, and challenging subjects—including identity, the struggle for racial justice, so much more—in a way that is engaging and relevant to young readers. By pairing these books with actionable toolkit items and discussion-based brainstorming, this session will help attendees engage teens, build community, and start important conversations in libraries and schools.

Presenters: Deborah Wiles, Lawrence Goldstone, Carole Boston Weatherford, and Zetta Elliott

Collaborating & Debating: Social Topics in Teen Programming

How can libraries encourage serious play, foster social emotional development, and push comfort zones in conversation? This session explores low-tech, low-budget solutions with invaluable possibilities! At Fairfax County Library,“Hear Me Out,” blends debate and improv. Teens choose topics, such as income inequality or a pop culture trend, and are assigned to the supporting or opposing position. “Tea & Topics” is co-created with teens and staff at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to generate conversation and action around topics like relationships, gerrymandering, gun violence, and immigration. We’ll compare these examples and explore best practices for discussing social topics in library programming.

Presenters:  Angela Wiley, Children's & Teen Librarian, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - Squirrel Hill; Hallie Jackson, Youth & Teen Services Coordinator, Fairfax County Public Library

Memphis Public Libraries: An Institutional Learning Journey

Come learn how the Memphis Public Library revamped the process for creating, implementing and evaluating programs. Gone are the days where the number of teens determine if a program was successful. Learn how we partnered with a local agency to focus on the evolution and continuous improvement of our most effective programs. This session provides a snapshot of the learning journey MPL launched in November 2016 and examples of newly developed tools and resources that support the next phases of our work.

Presenter: Dr. Tamika C. Richmond, Teen Services Coordinator, Memphis Public Libraries