Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff

Teen Services CompetenciesIntroduction  |  Competencies  |  Supplementary Materials  |  Acknowledgements  |

Download the full Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff. View the Teen Competencies "at a glance" via this chart, or view this quick, one-page snapshot.


YALSA’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth was first published in 1981 and last updated in 2010. Since that time the role libraries play in teen lives has gone through a paradigm shift, wherein library staff have been called upon to take a co-learner role in facilitating teen learning that is hands-on and interest-based. In addition, research revealed that the vast majority of public libraries and an increasing number of school libraries do not have full time staff dedicated to serving teens. In response to the paradigm shift and to current library staffing models, YALSA has published key documents over the past few years to help library staff transition to new models of service. These documents include:

YALSA’s Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff, which replaces Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth, is the latest resource developed to help graduate schools, library administrators, and library staff guarantee that all teens receive high quality service from their public and school libraries, regardless of whether the library has the capacity to dedicate a full-time position to serving teens. It is intended to set a foundation for the education and professional development of all library staff, regardless of job title, and to provide guidance for determining practitioner skills and knowledge. It is also meant to provide a framework to enable those within and outside the field to understand the unique role library staff can play in helping teens prepare for college, careers and life, and to communicate that role to others.


The 10 competencies are listed below. Download (.pdf) the complete document, Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff for free. A quick, one page snapshot is also available for download.

  1. Teen Growth and Development: Knows the typical benchmarks for growth and development and uses this knowledge to plan, provide and evaluate library resources, programs, and services that meet the multiple needs of teens.
  1. Interactions with Teens: Recognizes the importance of relationships and communication in the development and implementation of quality teen library services, and implements techniques and strategies to support teens individually and in group experiences to develop self-concept, identity, coping mechanisms, and positive interactions with peers and adults.
  1. Learning Environments (formal & informal): Cultivates high-quality, developmentally appropriate, flexible learning environments that support teens individually and in group experiences as they engage in formal and informal learning activities.
  1. Learning Experiences (formal & informal): Works with teens, volunteers, community partners and others to plan, implement and evaluate high-quality, developmentally appropriate formal and informal learning activities that support teens’ personal and academic interests.
  1. Youth Engagement and Leadership: Responds to all teens’ interests and needs, and acts in partnership with teens to create and implement teen activities and to foster teen leadership.
  1. Community and Family Engagement: Builds respectful, reciprocal relationships with community organizations and families to promote optimal development for teens and to enhance the quality of library services.
  1. Cultural Competency and Responsiveness: Actively promotes respect for cultural diversity and creates an inclusive, welcoming, and respectful library atmosphere that embraces diversity.
  1. Equity of Access: Ensures access to a wide variety of library resources, services, and activities for and with all teens, especially those facing challenges to access.
  1. Outcomes and Assessment: Focuses on the impact of library programs for and with teens and uses data to inform service development, implementation, and continuous improvement.
  1. Continuous Learning: Acts ethically, is committed to continuous learning, and advocates for best library practices and policies for teen services.

Supplementary Materials

  • Competencies at a Glance (.pdf): A chart of the Competencies
  • Competencies Snapshot (.pdf): A quick, one page snapshot of the Competencies.
  • Ready  to Go Presentation (PowerPoint) this slide deck provides an overview of the Competencies and reflective activities for library staff to use when facilitating learning related to the Competencies.
  • Professional Tools: a curated list of resources organized by competency area
  • Free webinars: beginning in March 2018. Each one will be facilitated by knowledgeable youth development experts and library staff and focus on a different competencyAll free webinars will be held from 2:00 – 3:00pm, eastern, the second Thursday of the month.  Webinar recordings will be available for those who can’t participate in the live session.
  • Twitter chats: the last Thursday of each month beginning in March wil serve as a follow-up to the webinars, for those who have questions, want to share ideas, etc. 
  • YALSAblog posts: check out the YALSAblog for periodic posts that dig into the competencies


YALSA would like to thank Linda Braun, Sarah Park Dahlen, Valerie Davis, Maureen Hartman, Sandra Hughes-Hassell, Vanessa Irwin, Crystle Martin, Lynda Salem-Poling, and Erin Wyatt for their critical role in creating this document.