YA Symposium In Review

By Lauren Regenhardt

With funds provided by the Arizona State Library’s CE Scholarship, I was able to attend the 2015 Young Adult Symposium in Portland, Oregon. The event was held at the Hilton from November 6-8, and it was an educational and fulfilling experience.

I arrived on Friday and first experienced Portland from the light rail. After an exciting run of false fire alarms, I attended the afternoon pre-conference session, “Panels & Pages: Learning, Inspiring, and Building Communities with Graphic Novels.” The session featured graphic novel artists and authors who discussed personal works as well as how to use them in the library. They provided some great resources for finding other appropriate materials as well as suggestions for collaborating with community businesses to make graphic novels even more prominent in my collection.

Following the pre-conference, I had the opportunity and honor to listen to Aija Mayrock discuss her new book, The Survival Guide To Bullying. She wrote this book when she was 16 after experiencing extreme bullying. She realized she had to do something about it to help herself and those who experienced the same thing. She read what she called a ‘roem’, a rap and poem combined. It was an extremely impactful moment and I was excited to discuss with her the opportunity to visit Yuma.

The opening reception that evening was a great opportunity to meet with other librarians in my field. I was able to connect with people I had only communicated with online as well as reconnect with other Arizona librarians that I already knew. Being able to mingle with my peers was a great experience and I’ve made some lasting connections.

The next day, Saturday, was a full day of sessions. The first was “Teens Without Borders,” where they discussed how to overcome difficulties and complications when reaching out to the community. It served as a reminder to me to really branch out and work with the schools despite the challenges.

The second session was one of my favorites: “Moving On Up: Introducing Middle Graders to the YA Collection.”  The special guest author was Carrie Ryan, whose zombie trilogy I had just finished rereading prior to the conference. She and the others on the panel discussed the differences between middle-grade and young adult books in terms of content and language, something that is definitely important to know for collection management.

Following that author experience, I had the chance to attend the luncheon with author Jack Gantos. The Hilton provided a delicious meal and a great host in Jack Gantos, who very enthusiastically discussed his new book, The Trouble In Me, which he took from personal experience. We received a free copy of his book, which he signed after his presentation. The session following the luncheon was a panel of debut authors, who discussed their books and how their ideas started.

The third session I attended was on maker spaces, entitled “Lessons from Learning Spaces: Challenges and Opportunities for Maker Programming in Libraries.” The panel gave examples of their makerspaces and shared success stories as well as setbacks. They talked about Youmedia, which is an outside organization that they brought in to provide tech programming and instruction.

That evening was the Book Blitz. It was a large event with 25 authors (some more well-known than others). Each of us were given 6 tickets for free, signed books. It was chaotic but also a truly fun experience to be able to meet big-name YA authors such as Laini Taylor and David Levithan. I will be donating many of my books to teens as prizes during the next SRP.

Of the last two sessions I went to – “Acting and Beyond” and “Elevating Teen Volunteers To Loftier Roles” – “Acting and Beyond” was the most relevant session for me and my programming. We have a successful annual Teen Summer Theatre Camp and this session gave me some excellent ideas for next summer. The Teen Volunteers program gave some examples of how to start a Teen Advisory Group.

This was an amazing opportunity that I was given courtesy of the Arizona State Library and the administration of the Yuma County Library District. I gained not just ideas and knowledge but lasting relationships with my peers. I am very grateful and appreciative for the chance I had to attend the Young Adult Library Services Association’s Young Adult Symposium in Portland.

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