National Youth Participation Guidelines


Involvement of young adults, ages 12 through 18, in responsible action and significant services for their peers and the community.


Although the concept of youth participation is neither foreign nor new, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) recognizes the need for a framework to facilitate the process of having young adults, ages 12 through 18, participate in any American Library Association activities at the national level.

Each committee or program chair 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 committee and young adult input. Neither committee decisions nor program content will be made based solely on young adult input but through a combination of professional knowledge and youth participation.


To solicit the input of young adults and promote their participation in the creation and development of library activities, programs and publications, thus insuring the relevance of these products and services to the population we serve.


  • To organize and implement youth participation to support division and committee goals,
  • To collect a wide range of ideas from as diverse a young adult population as possible,
  • To create valuable experiences for the participating young adults in which they can gain knowledge and/or skills useful in future endeavors,
  • To find opportunities for collaboration with other organizations that foster youth leadership.


Conference participation:

Identification of youth participation groups near conference sites: The Youth Participation Coordinator will make available to any ALA committee a list of local contacts six months prior to the event. Committees and programs are urged to draw from more than one group and to seek diverse input.

Requests to attend: Invitations to attend a committee meeting or participate in programs or other events will be extended by the committee chair.

Registration: Committee or program chairs should make name badges for young adults attending their programs, and send requests to the YALSA Office for guest exhibitor passes.

Conference expenses: Any expense relating to conference attendance is the responsibility of the youth participant, unless other arrangements have been approved by the division or unit.

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


Creation of a YALSA teen advisory board

  • Creation of an interactive Internet feature where teens can share ideas with each other and with librarians
  • Training for youth as advocates for library services
  • Development of materials to recruit for and inform about the library profession
  • Observation of youth participation programs in conference city tours
  • Involvement of local teens in planning and/or staffing exhibit booths
  • Involvement of teens on the Local Arrangements Committee
  • Involvement of teens in evaluating the market potential of library promotional materials
  • Consideration of teens as presenters and participants in YALSA programs

Approved by the YALSA Board of Directors, July, 1997, Revised June, 2001.

For further information contact: YALSA/ALA, 50 E. Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611. Phone 1-800-545-2433, ext. 4390; e-mail: