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Christian Zabriskie's picture

Serving Young Adults in Large Urban Populations Midwinter 2010 Discussion Notes

Serving Young Adults in Large Urban Populations

YALSA Discussion Group

ALA Midwinter Meeting                       Held on January 19, 2010

Present: Christian Zabriskie Queens Library, Laura Koenig Boston Public Library, Sylvia Shaffer Cesar Chavez PCS, L. Lee Butler Randolph Community Middle School, Candice Mack Los Angeles Public Library


ALA Connects: Ideas for use

- ALA Connects has listserv and document sharing abilities – this is the best single purpose spot for our communications.

- Facebook and Google for Orgs were both suggested as possibilities but  ALA Connects would put everything in one place. This is the best


Collection Development

- More work needs to be done to get publishers to accurately reflect our population.

- There is little currently being published which speaks directly to New Americans and ethnically mixed populations.

  • The best way to start to address this and to generally start getting our populations more in the forefront is to begin to get participants in this group to start sitting on ALA book committees
  • Only by being present in these meetings and being vocal supporters of urban youth can we hope to being to increase the influence of Urban YAs on publishing and the ALA community
  • This discussion group needs to build strong connections to the various ALA Ethnic Caucuses. These groups may be motivated to help our young people.
  • Speak to reps at booths on the trade show floor and express our concerns about inclusion and representation.

-         Immigrant does not always equate to Spanish speaker.

-         There is a considerable void in non-fiction. Some stuff from Rosen is good but needs to be edgier. Need to find informative books which, though not promoting unhealthy choices, will inform young people without castigating or diminishing them.

Members of the discussion group volunteered to start developing working bibliographies. The following is a short list of topic areas and the individuals who have begun work in them:

  • Sex Ed => Sylvie & Lee
  • Street Art => Christian
  • Gangs => Christian
  • Drama Books => Laura

Topics which still need people to work on them include

  • Drugs, the real deal
  • Gen Teen Psych
  • Sports
  • Music

These are just a start, there are many topics of particular interest to our populations which need to be identified and booklists developed to match.



 - “Gaming is the one thing that teens will actually come to my library for” Laura

 - Sylvie is particularly interested in duel use facilities and would like to hear from

            librarians working in similar circumstances.

-         Lee has had very good results with an “open door policy” using the school library as a safe, non-judgmental hang out space during the school day.

-         Card games have been popular at some school libraries.

-         Kaplan has a budget for charitable stuff so libraries are encouraged to reach out to them and capitalize on that.

-         Likewise Dominoes does a special rate for organizations making it cheaper to buy stacks of pizza for programs

-         Food is a winner in every library system or type that was discussed and lots of food programming work well, Candice “usually tries to have pizza”

-         other food programs include cupcake decorating and candy making


YA Librarian Support

-         Sylvie suggested that we begin looking into librarian support the main ideas being to get support and minimize burnout.

-         Candice pointed out that Workplace Wellness is definitely on the radar and that Lorraine Roy would be a good resource for further information.


Other Business and Future Plans

 - The Discussion Group Serving Young Adults in Large Urban Populations is reinstated and back to active status.

 - The group’s convener will be Christian Zabriskie (christian_zabriskie@yahoo.com) who will field questions and concerns for the group.

 - All members were encouraged to sign up on ALA Connect and to encourage the participation of others in the ALA Connect community for this discussion group.

 - Members are further encouraged to keep researching and writing about issues that are relevant to our urban Young Adults and to keep the discussion group and ALA connect community appraised of their work.

 - It was a highly-motivated high-energy group which met in Boston. It is our hope that this can be the beginning of a level of activism for this discussion group. The members who were present walked away galvanized and ready to increase their ALA and YALSA presences with the interest of YAs in Large Urban centers at the forefront of those efforts.

 - There will be a more formal meeting of the group at ALA Annual in Washington DC. We will be on the schedule, in a meeting room, hopefully with the same energy and dynamism that we had in our guerilla meeting in the lobby of the Fairmount Copley Hotel.




Sylvie Shaffer's picture

Hey guys,

Great to meetup in Boston back in January. I'm looking forward to working more with you in the coming months/years.


Lee and I have talked, a little anyway, about getting together a bibliography of resources dealing with sexual health. The thing that jogged my memory is that during bagchecks for our middle schoolers (10-14 years old) I was pleased (and inwardly cringed) to see that some of our students had condoms in thier schoolbags.


Can we do an group online chat or a round of emails setting our agenda for Annual?