As a part of the Young Adult Library Services Assocation (YALSA)’s year-long National Forum on Libraries & Teens project, the association is sponsoring three virtual town halls via its Adobe Connect space. The first session, scheduled for March 19 at 2:00 PM ET, will focus on partnerships. As facilitator Linda Braun explains, library staff are encouraged to invite stakeholders from their communities to join the conversation. YALSA also be using Twitter (#yalsaforum) and Facebook to encourage participation.
For the first part of the project—a two-day summit before the American Library Association’s midwinter meeting in Seattle—YALSA hosted in person about 60 people, including library staff, academics, researchers, administrators, educators, and representatives from the technology and non-profit realms, Braun tells School Library Journal. “So that was the first piece of it, [which] brought together a whole host of different people to start talking about the future of libraries and teens,” she says.
Adding the town halls, Braun says, allows YALSA to expand the conversation beyond that narrow first group that had been selected for the summit, noting, “The town halls will open it up to many more people who can have their voices heard, and help YALSA understand what libraries need to be doing and thinking about for the future of teen services.”
The open sessions are direct follow-ups to topics that arose during the summit, Braun explains.
In next week’s first session, YALSA will focus the discussion on partnerships, and “how important it is for library staff to be working with all these other stakeholders in the community and determining the best ways to successfully serve teens and work together,” Braun says. “We want to hear more from people about that.” In preparation, YALSA is encouraging participants to view and prepare answers to its discussion questions posted on the YALSA blog, and read some current articles on the topic, especially Collective Impact and How to Strike Effective Alliances and Partnerships.
The second town hall, scheduled for April 16, will focus on “who teens are,” Braun says. “At the summit, we had a panel of teens talk about how they spent their time, how they used technology, what their lives are like, those kinds of things.” So this follow-up discussion will explore ideas such as formal and informal learning, what teens’ needs are in these areas, and how they use digital materials.
And the third town hall, scheduled for May 21, will focus on the overarching theme of the project: the future of teen library services, Braun says.
YALSA would “love” to have more administrators participate in the discussion, Braun says, noting that “a really important part of this is stakeholder involvement.” But YALSA is also hoping for a wide spectrum of types of library staff to join in, whether they are brand new to the discussion or even some veterans of the original summit. “We’re hoping to get a mix, so people who had that experience will be able to make [the conversation] a little richer,” she says. “But then also to get these people who haven’t had their voices heard. So having the two together, I think, is going to be really powerful.”
In the meantime, YALSA will continue to blog on the project both before and after its town halls and on into the summer, Braun says. “We’ll do more of that kind of thing, helping to process the information a little bit and getting the conversation going throughout,” she says, adding that Twitter comments and questions and Facebook feedback are encouraged both before and after as well.
YALSA hopes to have a draft of the project’s white paper available for comment by August, adds Braun. “We’ll be constantly giving people a chance to have a voice and give feedback.”