How to get YA library experience

Whether you’re just considering working as a teen librarian, you’re in library school, or you’re in the middle of an unending job search, getting experience in the YA world is essential. Finding a paid position in a library can be difficult, even if you’re just looking to be a page. But there are plenty of other ways to keep up to date with the skills and knowledge that a YA librarian needs so that you’re ready when you land a job interview.

  • Volunteer: Contact your local public library to see about volunteer opportunities. Let them know that you’re particularly interested in working with teens and that you’re considering being a librarian. Most libraries will be happy for any extra help. Some libraries have requirements for volunteers, like a specific time commitment or background checks, so make sure you get all the relevant information and follow up with the volunteer coordinator. Volunteering is a good way to get your foot in the door at a library without an extensive time commitment, which is good if you have another job.
  • Intern: Interning is a step up from volunteering. Internships vary in length, but typically run for several months and expect anywhere from 10-20 hours a week since they’re intended for students. Some libraries, especially those in areas with library schools, will have formal internship opportunities. Those that don’t will often set up something informally if you ask the right person. Try contacting the teen librarian at a local library to see what your options are.
  • Join a YALSA Committee: The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) depends on member volunteers to serve on its committees, juries, and task forces. While it may be difficult to hop right onto the Printz Committee as a fledgling librarian, there are plenty of others to choose from. Learn how to get involved at the YALSA wiki. They’re currently soliciting applications for selection committees.
  • Get involved with a local association: Find your local ALA State or Regional chapter. Most will have a teen or children’s division with committees you can volunteer for. Also check for local conferences to attend for networking with librarians.
  • Contribute to online discussions: Stay up to date with YA librarianship by reading and contributing to online discussion. YALSA-BK and YA-YAAC are two very active e-mail lists hosted by YALSA. Anyone can sign up for the lists. Read librarian blogs and comment on interesting posts or start your own. Post interesting YA links to Twitter and interact with other librarians.

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