YALSA’s National Forum on Teens and Libraries (Winter 2013)

YALSA National Forum on Libraries and Teens logoThe winter issue of YALS includes an article on the YALSA Forum on Teens and Libraries. At the time of the issue’s publication the summit, discussed in the article, was just taking place. The summit brought together a group of people from inside and outside of libraries to consider the future of libraries. Participants included library administrators, library staff working directly with teens, educators, publishers, members of the technology community, teen advocates, youth development experts, and more. (You can see the full list of participants.) It was an amazing group who spent two full days thinking about the world of teens and how libraries, and other youth serving organizations, can support those needs.

Some of the major themes that came out of the two days include:

  • The importance of building strong partnerships in order to guarantee teens are well served in the community.Stakeholders and library staff at the summit noted their realization that they don’t always think about working with each other in order to serve teens. Through the conversations of the two day summit the importance of strong partnerships became incredibly clear.
  • The need to re-think the role of library staff serving teens. Participants talked about a paradigm shift in teen services and the need for staff to be ready, and willing, to take on that shift – and even help make it happen.
  • The need to connect teens to valuable and meaningful informal and formal learning experiences in schools, libraries, and other organizations. The ideas of connected learning were discussed by participants and this model of learning resonated with many at the summit
  • The role of popular culture and technology in teen lives. Both of these are natural parts of teen lives and those working with the age group need to embrace and accept their value – while at the same time helping teens understand how to be safe and smart within these arenas.

Following the summit I created two Storify presentations with highlights from each of the two days. You can see them in the slideshows below.

The work of the National Forum is just starting. Now that the summit is over the group managing the project is planning three Virtual Town Hall Meetings that anyone can take part in. These online gatherings will give teens, library staff, and stakeholders the chance to talk about some of the big ideas generated by the summit, and help answer questions about the future of library services to teens. The summits are scheduled for 2PM-3PM Eastern on March 19, April 16, and May 21. Prior to each town hall YALSA will publish materials for participants to check out in order to prepare for the conversation.

You can learn more about the YALSA project on the National Forum on Libraries and Teens website and in the Winter 2013 issue of YALS.

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