Guest Blog Post: Youth Activism Through Community Engagement—YALSA’s Presidential Task Force

I thought I should share this article I drafted up as a member the YALSA’s Presidential Task Force. Please let me know if you want to chat more or have any questions or concerns.


After the horrors of Charlottesville unfolded, we saw powerful and moving responses via social media, petitions, and public demonstrations. Recently, YALSA President Sandra Hughes-Hassell wrote a blog post about what library staff can do to help. The 2017-2018 YALSA Presidential Year theme of Youth Activism through Community Engagement is an appropriate call to action for library staff to support teens in developing the necessary skills and confidence to engage in their communities.

Advocacy and civic engagement are not activities solely for adults but have been taken up by youth across the world. Age is not a barrier for participation but an opportunity for teens to learn more about what they believe and how they can make an impact. More and more teens are organizing for social change and demonstrating a compassion for those in need. As library staff, we can encourage this excitement by sharing resources, offering a brave and welcoming space, providing opportunities for leadership, promoting thoughtful and #ownvoices reading, and facilitating teen engagement in their communities.

We—the Presidential Advisory Task Force—have collected a sampling of resources to help further support youth activism in your library, in addition to including resources that can help foster conversations with teens about Charlottesville,  race, institutionalized racism, and systemic oppression.

Teen Activism

Youth Activism Project

Teen Vogue: 20 Small Acts of Resistance to Make Your Voice Heard Over the Next 4 Years

10 Trans and Gender-Nonconforming Youth Activists of Color Making a Huge Difference

The Forefront of Resistance

Medium: A Nervous Wreck’s Disabled Guide to Stepping Up

Life Hacker: 30 Young Adult Books for Activists in Training

Resources and Book Lists

Book Riot: How I’ll Teach Reading after Charlottesville

My #GoodReads Series on Racial Equity

Fortune: raceAhead Summer Reading List

Rookie: A Reading List on Charlottesville and White Supremacy

Teen Librarian Toolbox: Talking with Teens about Charlottesville

We are excited about the work that YALSA members can do this year—and beyond—along this crucial theme of Youth Activism through Community Engagement and we look forward to working with you across various YALSA platforms. If you have questions, suggestions, or comments, please reach out to us!

Presidential Advisory Task Force Contact Information:

Izabel Gronski, YA Librarian at Oak Lawn Public Library: igronski@olpl.org or @izag

Elise Martinez, Teen Services Specialist at Zion-Benton Public Library: elisem@zblibrary.org or @elisereneem

Trent McLees, Library Media Specialist at Cedar Bluff Middle School: tmclees112@gmail.com

Abigail Phillips, Postdoctoral Fellow at USU ITLS: abigail.leighphillips@gmail.com or @abigailleigh

Casey Rawson, Postdoc & Adjunct Instructor at UNC Chapel Hill SILS: crheld@gmail.com or @CaseyHRawson

Julie Stivers (Chair), Librarian at Mount Vernon Middle School: jstivers@wcpss.net or @BespokeLib

Regina Townsend, Teen Services Librarian at Forest Park Public Library: rtownsend@fppl.org

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