Guidelines for Youth Participation in YALSA

Although the concept of youth participation is neither foreign nor new, YALSA recognizes the need for a framework to facilitate the process of having young adults, ages 12 through 18, participate in conferences and activities at the national level.

Each committee chair or individual planning a YALSA program or event, including those for a conference, is responsible for assessing the potential for the involvement of young adults, setting parameters for participation that specify objectives and outcomes and providing a balance between program/event planner(s) and young adult input. Decisions will not be made based solely on any one stakeholder’s opinions, be it program/event planners, committee members or young adults.


To solicit the input of young adults and promote their participation in the creation and development of programs and events, thus insuring the relevance of these services to YALSA members.


  • To organize and implement youth participation to support division goals,
  • To collect a wide range of ideas from as diverse a young adult population as possible,
  • To incorporate youth participation into programs and services in order to provide a richer experience for YALSA members,
  • To create valuable experiences for the participating young adults in which they can gain knowledge and/or skills useful in future endeavors.

Procedures for Conference Participation

Youth Participants: participants must come from the area in which the conference is being held. As ALA and YALSA move conferences to different locations throughout the country, this allows YALSA to gather opinions and perspectives from a geographically diverse group of teens. Incorporating local teen participation also ensures that travel and other expenses related to participating are minimal.

Identification of youth participation groups near conference sites: Upon request, YALSA’s Youth Participation Coordinator will make available to any committee or member group a list of local contacts six months prior to the event. Program and event planners are urged to draw from more than one contact or group and to seek diverse input. Contact the Youth Participation Coordinator through the YALSA office at or 1-800-545-2433 x 4390. The Youth Participation Coordinator serves on YALSA’s Local Arrangements Committee.

Requests to attend: Invitations to attend a meeting or participate in programs or other events will be extended by the designated program planner and must occur at least four weeks prior to the start of the conference.

Registration: Committee or program chairs must contact YALSA’s Program Officer for Conferences and Events at least one month prior to the conference with the names of teens who will be participating in conference programs or events. The Program Officer will see that name badges and/or exhibit passes for young adults attending or participating in YALSA programs are created and will make them available in the ALA Office area on-site at the convention center.

Conference expenses: Any expense relating to conference attendance is the responsibility of the youth participant and his/her parent or guardian, unless YALSA has pre-approved other arrangements.

Evaluation: As a part of the evaluation for programs and committee activities, chairs will assess the impact of youth participation and provide feedback to the Youth Participation Coordinator.

—revised and approved by the YALSA Board of Directors, January 8, 2011