YA Programming and Technology

Who are Young Adults (YA)?

The dictionary provides two definitions for a young adult: 1. “a teenager” and 2. “a person in the early years of adulthood.” For this presentation, we will be focusing on the young adult age ranges set by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) which are ages 12 to 18. All young adults are not the same or have the same interests and their developmental stage vary between younger adults ages 13 to 15 and older teens ages 16-18. As libraries strive to become inclusive places, their library staff needs to develop an understanding to serve teens because teens are neither children nor adults.

For efficiently serving teens, librarians are presented with many challenges and opportunities for providing teens with engaging programs and learning opportunities.  As an effort to inform librarians on how to serve teens efficiently, YALSA established some guidelines for serving young adults.

The Stats

A report/article published by YALSA, The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: Call to Action,  stated that “There are over 40 million adolescents, aged 12-17, living in the United States today, and they use libraries.”  

According to a Pew research study conducted in 2013, “72% of 16 -to 17-year-olds had used a public library in 2012.” Some of the reasons youth visit libraries are to use the computer, attend programs or hang out.    

The same Pew research study stated that “57% of youth ages 16 to 17 read a book on a typical day.” As the bar graphic shows, youth read the most when compared to other other groups.

The Challenges

Providing programing and services for youth can have various obstacles. These barriers come from various levels of the organization but does not mean they can’t be surpasses. Below are a few issues librarians, administrators, communities and patrons are grappling with.

Space | Budget | Staffing | Attendance |

How are libraries playing a role?

Services and Competencies

This link provides ten competencies for teen services.


If you want to work with teens make sure you understand these competencies. They provide a context to how you should approach working with youth in the library.

According to YALSA: these ten core knowledge areas define what all library staff—regardless of job title or position—need to know and do to provide quality library resources, programs and services for and with teens.

Program Guidelines

When creating programs for young adults librarians can follow YALSA program guidelines. These guidelines serve as a reference to review and establish important outcomes for teen social and educational development.


Reimagines Library Services

This Infographic  provides an overview and description of 6 outcomes, teens gain from library services. These outcomes are important for the development of YA and can be used as a checkpoint for creating library programs.

It also gives librarians strategies to begin implementing into their programing. For example, creativity as an outcome is essential for teens to express themselves but also to problem solve.  Libraries are platforms for teens to create various content.


21st Century Skills

A  gap exists between the necessary skills that students need to develop to be successful in the future. Unfortunately, the education system is not preparing their students with the necessary skills. According to the World Economic Forum article, “What are the 21st-century skills student needs?” a student needs to develop 16 skills.


Term coined by Mimi Ito Cultural Anthropologist professor at UC Irvine she conducted a three-year ethnographic investigation into how young people are living and learning with new media in different settings—at home, in after-school programs, and in online spaces

Sometimes other staff parents might not understand why it is important for teens to hang out at the library and just play video games they are not doing anything productive.

While playing games  teens  are communicating, working together, expressing their ideas and developing social emotional skills. For more information please follow the link below. 


Connected Learning

An educational approach designed to make learning relevant by focusing on the interests of the learner and connecting those interests with academics via inspiring adult and peer facilitators, coaches or mentors. Connected learning incorporates relevant technology, encourages experimentation, and is hands-on and entrepreneurial in orientation. (What Is Connected Learning? MacArthur Research Network on Connected Learning. Accessed January 23, 2015).


Types of Library Programs

Learning Labs

“Innovations spaces that prepare youth to meet the challenges of a complex global economy and gain the skills they need to succeed in a rapidly changing world while allowing them to follow their passions and to inspire one another.” (Learning Labs in Libraries and Museums).     

Centralized Programing

The planning and conducting of programming is done by one group (teen librarian and teen advisory group) or the teen administration at a remote location. Then these program plans are administered at multiple  libraries.

Community Service/Volunteer Programing

  • Give YA the opportunity to earn community service hours, build up their resume and self-esteem for helping out.
  • Research shows that “Students who participated in school required community service were 22 percentage points more likely to graduate from college than those that did not and were more likely to have improved their Reading, Math, Science, and History scores” (Godoy 2011).


Technology at Libraries

Technology used for programing at libraries can help develop 21st century skills for teens. Below are examples of the equipment being used at many libraries around the country, this can be a starting point if you are creating a media space in your library.

    • Audio Technica headphones
    • Focusrite Scarlet interface
    • Akai Professional MPK249 Keyboard
    • Casio Digital Piano
    • Yeti or Snowball Microphone
    • Rode Condenser Microphones
    • KRK ROKIT Speakers
    • Software: Logic Pro X, Adobe Audition, Propellerhead Reason 8, Pro Tools 12, and Garageband


    • DSLR Canon Camera and  various lenses
    • Professional grade tripod
    • Audio-Technica lavalier mics
    • Green screen and accessories
    • Software: Adobe Premiere, Photoshop
    • GoPro cameras
    • Lighting kit equipment

  • Gaming Consoles like Sony PS4, Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo Switch and WiU
  • Variety of genre games rated Teen
  • Virtual Reality
  • PC games
  • STEM games

  • Vinyl cutters
  • 3D Printers
  • Laser cutters
  • Sewing machines
  • Heat Press
  • Soldering kit

Libraries as a  Platform 

Teen create an abundance of creative content at the library. They have started blogs, YouTube channels, recorded and released albums, published stories and developed video games. This creativity is shared through various forms of media. Some of the best way for librarians to begin thinking of programs and services to create at their library is by drawing inspiration from what is happening around them. Below are free open source resources they can use to begin their media creation journey.

Free Open Source websites





Resources for Teen Programming

Calendar of Teen Programming


TPib programs- TPiB programs lists suggestions for programming for teens that includes book based programs, craft programs, food based programs, interactive programs, nontraditional programs. These programs are “repackaged” and easy to adapt. http://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/tpib-programs/

YALSA has established teen programming guidelines http://www.ala.org/yalsa/teen-programming-guidelines

For understanding the impact internet, and digital media have on education, civic engagement and youth.




LIS 722 Young Adult Programing and Technology Presentation