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yalsa's young adult literature symposium

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YALSA's Young Adult Services Symposium will take place Nov. 6-8, 2015, in Portland, Oregon. YALSA will host special events requiring additional registration on Friday, with symposium programs taking place all day on Saturday and for a half-day on Sunday.

All symposium attendees are eligible to receive a continuing education certificate showing the number of contact hours each person received. There will be a signup sheet near registration and certificates will be e mailed out two weeks following the Symposium. Join the conversation about the event on Twitter with this hashtag: #yalsa15

Friday Preconferences

Preconferences will take place Friday, Nov. 6. Additional registration required.

Supporting Youth Learning Through Building Sustainable Partnerships, Friday, 9:00am-12:00pm

What do Seattle Public Library, Multnomah County Library, the Pacific Science Center, the Portland Art Museum, Game Education PDX, and the National Writing Project have in common? They've all recognized that working closely with community partners can maximize the impact of their work. However, sometimes it can be difficult to build and sustain those partnerships. In this interactive preconference, discover how you can use the partnership lessons learned by a wide variety of institutions to achieve success in your work for and with teens. You'll find out what not to do as well as what to do and leave with tools for building trust, relationships, collective impact and community outcomes.

Hip Hop Dance and Scratch: Facilitating Connected Learning in Libraries, Friday, 1:30-4:30pm

Although coding is often viewed as an activity for a tech-savvy minority, creating and expressing oneself with technology are key fluencies for participation in society today. How can we support youth in their creative digital work, both in the physical library space as well as in their community? This hands-on workshop will present an approach for offering interest-driven coding workshops using Scratch (a creative coding environment), based on the connected learning framework. Based on this design experience, we will discuss ways to develop and facilitate connected learning activities for youth in libraries. We will share ideas, resources, and best practices from implementing these workshops, as well as lessons learned. All levels of experience welcome, from newcomers to those experienced using Scratch. Bring a laptop (if available) to this hands-on session. To learn more about Scratch, visit

Graphic Novels, Friday, 1:30-4:30pm

Graphic Novels are often seen as a stepping stone to entice reluctant readers into “real reading”, but today’s graphic novels deserve much more credit. Come learn about the growing diversity in comics, how to get the right graphic novel into the hands of readers, how librarians can use graphic novels to spark their programming ideas, and how to use graphic novels in the classroom. Hear from librarians, teachers, and creators in this half day event and leave with recommended titles, creators to seek out, and further resources to consult.

Special Events

Additional registration is required for special events. More information coming soon!

Preliminary Program

Customize to connect - small libraries build participatory learning environments for teens

Teens across the country explore educational, professional, and personal passions through a range of service models at public libraries, such as Learning Labs and makerspaces, blending traditional and digital resources. Public libraries in small communities, however, may not yet be connected to resources or networks to provide services that meet unique learning goals or technology practices of youth in their communities. In this interactive workshop, participants will explore programming and partnership practices essential to establishing unique and technologically relevant learning environments for teens, and begin to build their own action plans for doing so, emphasizing teen participation throughout.

Diverse Teen Fiction: Getting Beyond The Labels

Diverse YA fiction can often be segregated into niches based around tags -- LGBTQIA, Disabled, Latino, etc -- limiting circulation. Join members of the We Need Diverse Books team to discuss how librarians can emphasize the universal, highlight how texts can be “windows” for some and “mirrors” for others, and repurpose tags to maximize circulation. Participants will be presented with a “toolkit,” including comparative title strategies, event connections, creative shelf-labeling, and the art of the enticing one-line pitch.

Full STEAM Ahead: Lessons Learned From a Library Coding Camp

During the summer of 2014 partnered with two public libraries in the Los Angeles area to host coding camps designed for junior high and high school students. It was Pursuitery's goal to teach the basics of coding via Scratch, a visual programming language, to children who might otherwise not have a chance to learn about the fundamentals of computer science. In this interactive presentation, Crystle Martin and Evan Jones will discuss what went right, what went wrong, and describe what they found out about teaching technical skills in less than optimal venues with limited staff and resources.

If You Build It, They Will Come: Establishing Teen Services in Public Libraries

What does it take to start a new Teen Services Department in the 21st century? For practitioners from public libraries of all shapes and sizes, we’ll explore best practices for creating and activating physical, virtual, and cultural spaces for teens. Featuring hands-on activities, we’ll draw upon research and experience in a large urban library system and small suburban library district to explore lessons learned and obstacles overcome on the path to comprehensive service for teens.

Lessons from Learning Spaces: Challenges and Opportunities for Maker Programming in Libraries

Makerspaces and learning labs in libraries have generated a great deal of interest over the past few years, but also many questions. Among them, there are issues of professional development, evaluation, sustainability, and institutional philosophies of making. This panel will address how three libraries are approaching these issues as they manage IMLS-funded projects to expand youth-driven, participatory programming within their diverse institutions. With perspectives from large urban, suburban, and rural libraries, the panel will share promising practices, lessons learned, communities of practice, IMLS funded resources and research. The format will allow ample time for audience Q&A.

Maker Space Programming without the Space (or How Hollywood Came to Indiana and Brought a Community Together)

What happens when you combine experts from the community and a small budget and teens with a video camera? Movie Magic, of course. Find out how one small branch library developed a year-long teen program that brought a community together and created original movies written by, direct by, and starring teens. This session is perfect for libraries wanting to engage in Maker Space programs but don’t have the space to do so or are looking to develop collaborative teen programming.

Moving On Up: Introducing Middle Schoolers to the YA Collection

A panel of public and school librarians will share ideas for programs and services to transition middle school students to the YA collection. A variety of programs including alternative book club formats, technology based programs, and collaborations with classroom teachers will be included as well as specific ideas for readers’ advisory to those caught in the middle.

New Adulthood: Literature & Services for NA Patrons

New Adult literature has been an emerging publishing trend in recent years, featuring protagonists aged 18-25. This genre explores the unique territory that older teens encounter as they become adults: new relationships, shifting dynamics with friends and parents, moving away from home, peer pressure, bullying, college, career, and other life choices. This panel of authors and librarians will discuss the unique needs of the new adult audience. Attendees will come away with practical ideas about how to best serve patrons in this age bracket, who are often reading from both the YA and NA genres.

Teaching Urban Teens Valuable Skills: A Teen Job Fair

Hosting a Teen Job Fair is a great way to improve the economic success of teens in urban environments. We will discuss our experience in developing and hosting a series of career preparation workshops for teens that culminated in a Teen Job Fair. We will discuss how we encouraged teens to participate as well as how we created partnerships with local businesses in our community.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Connecting School and Public Libraries to Enhance Teen Services

Limitless Libraries works to remove students’ barriers to public library resources. In this session, we will describe the ways school and public librarians collaborate to give middle and high school students access to print, digital, and programming resources through Nashville Public Library (NPL). Limitless Libraries staff, NPL’s teen services manager, and a local middle school librarian will highlight the most successful portions of the partnership, including delivering materials to schools, collaborative collection development, and offering NPL programming at schools.

Teen Services without Borders

The map of boundaries involved in serving a community’s teens can be tricky to navigate. Public libraries, school libraries, youth services, adult services, and branches are just a few of the territories to consider. The Teen Services without Borders panel shines a light on these challenges and offers examples of successful partnerships that cross library, departmental, and district lines. Set your GPS for awesome!

Acting and Beyond: Helping Teens and Libraries Establish Connections through Theatre

Theatre programs can forge lasting connections among librarians, teens, and the community. This session would include a presentation providing details of various theatre programs and performances that we have put on at our own library (and the lasting impact they have had on our teens and the overall community), examples of acting games and exercises, and a practical guide for incorporating theatre into your own teen programming by tailoring it to fit an individual library’s capacity, resources, and population. We will also include hands-on group activities that would demonstrate a few acting games and exercises and allot time for a Q&A.

Using Digital Literacy Trends with Teens

The session will cover current digital literacy trends that can be used for teen programs and services. Programs using the Makey Makey, Arduino, and MIT's Scratch website will cover how teens can create, experiment, and succeed in the library. Examples will highlight the "Teen Tech Lab" series at the Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach. Some of the examples will also include how to create book-related videos, digital art portfolios, stop motion challenges, video game creation, and much more.

Elevating Teen Volunteers to Loftier Roles

Most libraries offer teens opportunities to meet high school service learning graduation requirements, but many teens are looking for experiences beyond stamping books. As teen advocates the library should not only help them to track enough hours, but also provide a quality experience that will enhance their skills and increase the likelihood of future successes. This session will share experiences of libraries who have transformed their teen volunteering programs into opportunities for teens to learn crucial skills and connect with the community while helping their library.

Teens As Parents: Library and Early Literacy Connections

Working with teen parents allows youth services librarians to leverage their expertise in early literacy, building relationships with schools and community organizations, and connecting with young people. This panel of Hennepin County Library staff will share our framework of best practices for reaching teen parents as teens while supporting them as parents. Learn about early literacy education activities designed to engage teen parents, and discuss the challenges and opportunities in working with these young people.

Starting From Scratch: My 18-Month Quest to Fill the Library with Teens, Convert my Colleagues, and Keep My Sanity

In March of 2013, Jenn inherited a great YA collection, one weekly program, and an empty “Teen Den.” She now averages 200 teens a month at her programs. Jenn will reveal the simple steps she took to change the culture at her library and will share strategies for building and maintaining your teen programs, utilizing your space, and bringing your colleagues on board. There will be a brainstorming session at the end to ensure that everyone leaves confident in the small changes they can make to increase teen comfort and participation at the library.

Paper Presentations

Skin Deep: Hispanic and African American Experiences in Young Adult Literature; Teaching digital, media and information literacies to foster youth at a university curriculum materials library; Writing within Community: How Mentoring Works in Online Fan Fiction