rusq: Vol. 51 Issue 1: p. 89
Sources: Young Adults Deserve the Best: YALSA’s Competencies in Action
Jenny Foster Stenis

Jenny Foster Stenis, Coordinator of Children’s Services, Pioneer Library System, Norman, Oklahoma

Young adults are among most underserved populations in the public library sector, and youth services librarians are often the only advocates for teens in their libraries. Librarians who often struggle with how to provide the best services to teens would do well to start with Sarah Flowers’s Young Adults Deserve the Best: YALSA’s Competencies in Action. This book is a companion to YALSA’s updated Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth, published in 2010 on the YALSA website. Flowers addresses each of the seven competency areas directly. The information is based on her long experience at the Santa Clara County Library and her years of active YALSA participation.

One chapter is devoted to each of the seven competency areas. With great skill, Flowers expands on the competencies and discusses how each can be achieved by librarians. One could not provide a better roadmap for either the newest or the most experienced professional. The chapters include strategies and step-by-step directions for implementing the competencies with staff in the library. Examples of best practices from youth services librarians around the country are included as sidebars in each chapter. Other sidebars include examples of library strategic plans and philosophies of service for young adults. Each chapter also provides a comprehensive “further reading” list containing important articles and books from young adult librarianship. In the last chapter, “Starting from Scratch,” Flowers outlines a specific plan for implementing youth services in any library.

Appendixes include the Library Bill of Rights with interpretations of “Free Access to Minors,” “Access for Children and Young Adults to Nonprint Materials” and “Access to Resources and Services in the School Library Media Program,” among others. A frank discussion in the appendix “Questions and Answers on Labels and Rating Systems” gives fresh and thoughtful insight into this issue. The ALA Code of Ethics and YALSA’s Guidelines for Library Services to Teens Ages 12 to 18 are also included as appendixes. These important intellectual freedom documents, partnered with the in-depth discussion of the competencies, comprise an excellent handbook. This book offers the knowledge and support needed to the young adult librarian to bring best practices to any public or school library setting. It brings a much-needed practical approach to youth librarianship and serves as an important resource for every school and public library.

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