Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries

MLA-Children and Young People’s UnConference

The MLA-CYP UnConference, held this year on March 29th, 2019 at Rochester Public Library in Rochester, Minnesota, is a day filled with learning about youth development, networking, and soaking in every ounce of inspiration and creative juices you can from other youth services librarians!

“Be the person you needed when you were younger.” —Ayesha Siddiqi.

One of the key takeaways from this day of learning is that as youth workers, not only should we focus our efforts on programming but also advocating for their presence within the library!  Youth should feel welcome and safe when they are at the library. Investing in services for teens is not only important for their development, but also for the future of the library! As youth workers we want to foster a love for the library while also encouraging teens to become invested library users- both today, tomorrow, and in the future!

It is important to offer programming that is relevant and of interest to youth and teenagers, but will also continually foster their growth and development.  Including teens in creating their own space, services, resources and programs should be a priority. Teens will feel valued if they are part of the planning process.

The Unconference “brainstorming breakout sessions” offered a multitude of ideas to develop and promote intergenerational programming, creative teen programs, and supporting at-risk youth.  Some of the creative ideas that were offered included:

  • Teen/Adult Craft programs such as Zentangles or Zen Gardens
  • Read-a-Latte Book Club- offering a space for discussion of all things books, music, movies, and books.. And of course, don’t forget the coffee & snacks!
  • Unplugged Trivia
  • Create & Play- offering space and materials for youth to create what they want to create or supplying kits, STEM materials etc.
  • Establishing community partnerships with local businesses and hosting a Teen Job Fair!
  • Adulting 101 Classes
  • Mental Health Education Panel and offering Good Books for Tough Topics

As youth workers, we have the privilege to “be the person we needed when we were younger” by providing opportunities, and a safe space for teens to demonstrate their independence, stretch their thinking and offer creative learning experiences that will lead them through their journey of self-discovery and to start planning for their future!

Special thanks to Renee Grassi for planning such a great UnConference day and to our presenters MN Department of Education, Leah Larson, and Tasha Nins for sharing their knowledge of youth development and programming!

This blog post relates to ALSC Core Competency of Professionalism and Professional Development.

Amber Sternitzke, guest blogger of Unconference post, standing and reading a copy of Wonder
Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Today’s guest blogger is Amber Sternitzke. Amber is the Children’s & Young Adult Librarian at Martin County Library in Fairmont, MN. She has served with Minnesota Reading Corps and the Upward Bound Program. She loves Mountain Dew, llamas, photography, geocaching, Harry Potter, and reading outdoors!

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at


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