Youth Services: How to Build Relationships, Programs, and Engagement

This online youth services course brings together experts to discuss the most pressing issues for school and youth services librarians today.



Course Overview

Guest speaker sessions via Zoom:
Thursdays, May 2, 9, and 16, from 2:00-4:00 pm ET (recordings available)

Asynchronous, facilitator-led workshop over 3 weeks

The people shaping the future of youth services are creating the future of libraries. This online youth services course brings together experts to discuss the most pressing issues for school and youth services librarians today.

This 3-week online course will tackle hot topics such as graphic novel collections and LGBTQIA+ programming and services, while also teaching you innovative ways to co-design programs with youth, engage youth in programs, and connect goals to learning initiatives. You will also learn tenets of conflict resolution and trauma-informed practices that will help you better manage teen behavioral challenges in your libraries. 

Designed for school and public youth services librarians, this course will leave you with practical ideas for how to engage youth in your library in new and authentic ways.  

You’ll complete assignments over 3+ weeks in an interactive online classroom environment with personal coaching from an expert in the field. In addition, you’ll have access to our foundational bonus content—rich supporting materials you can explore at your own pace, including a series of webinars from Library Journal and School Library Journal contributors, readings, activities, and videos.

The live sessions run on Thursdays, May 2, 9, and 16, 2024 from 2:00-4:00 pm ET (recordings available) with an ongoing facilitator-led workshop over 3 weeks. Don’t miss this opportunity!


When you sign up early, you’ll have immediate access to our Early Access On Demand Resources—a series of webinars from Library Journal and School Library Journal contributors along with rich, supporting materials in the form of readings, activities, and videos—to explore at your own pace.

Learning Objectives 

After you leave this course, you should have the ability to:

  • Identify and work through age-based biases

  • Understand adolescent brain development

  • Advocate for teens in your library 

  • Manage teen behavior challenges in a trauma-informed way

  • Try new methods and techniques to engage youth in library programs

  • Create and maintain a youth advisory board

  • Partner with local schools/public libraries and create complementary services 


Who should take this course

This course is for public youth services librarians, grades 7-12 school librarians, and other stakeholders in youth library programs and management. 

Live sessions are also available on demand for six months

Can’t make a live session? All guest speaker sessions are recorded and available on demand for six months following the initial broadcast. 

Certificate of completion provided

15 professional development credits are available

For support with online courses, please contact


All guest speaker sessions feature live captioning and are made available on demand after the initial broadcast. Please email upon registration if you require any special accommodations and we will make our best efforts to facilitate them.


Course Curriculum Advisor


Emma Karin Eriksson, Senior Young Adult Librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library





Group Rates

Have a team attend and increase your impact!

Discounted registration fees are available for groups of 3 or more. When you register your team for our online courses, they will be placed in the same small workshop group, where discussions and project-based assignments receive feedback from an experienced librarian.


Send us a request for a quote.

If your group prefers to work separately, just let us know.


By registering for this event you confirm that you have read and agree to our Code of Conduct.

For support with online courses, please contact





Week 1: Understanding, Advocating for, and Managing Youth


Thursday, May 2, 2024

Session 1 | 2:00-3:00 pm ET

Managing Teen Behavioral Challenges, Pt. 1: Understanding and Advocating for Teens

What should youth services librarians know about adolescent brain development to improve teen advocacy and to help proactively prevent behavior challenges? How do you advocate for youth inside and outside of your library? And how can you establish clear boundaries and expectations to help set everyone up for success? This session will discuss tangible ways to better understand, advocate for, and mitigate challenges with youth. 


Christi Showman Farrar, Library Consultant, Massachusetts Library System (MLS)


Break and Workshop Q&A | 3:00-3:15 pm pm ET

An introduction to this week’s assignment and an overview of what to expect from the online workshop in this course


Session 2 | 3:15-4:00 pm ET

Managing Teen Behavioral Challenges, Pt. 2: Restorative Practices 

How can you respond to teen behavior challenges in a trauma-informed way? And how can you use restorative justice practices to encourage accountability and relationship building when harm is caused? This session will discuss ways to handle behavior issues with youth, both during and after an incident. We will also discuss proactive strategies such as how to be an effective mentor and how to build meaningful relationships with young people.


Laurel Dooley, Teen Services Manager


Session 3 | 4:00-4:30 pm ET

Perceptions of Youth: Recognizing and Removing Biases

What perceptions do we have of adolescence, and how do those perceptions impact how we treat young people? This session will discuss how to recognize and work through age-based biases to improve your services with and for youth.


Dr. Laurel Krapivkin, Ph.D. (she, her) Adjunct Professor of Writing & Literature


Week 2: Engaging Youth in Library Programs

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Session 1 | 2:00-3:00 pm ET

Engaging Teens in Library Programs

How do you get young people involved in library programs and services? What are the best outreach strategies to make sure they know about what the library offers? This session will discuss practical outreach and engagement strategies to reach teens where they are and encourage them to participate in the library. 


Isaiah West, (he, him)  Teen Services Specialist, Prince George's County Memorial Library System (MD)

Donna Gray, Bronx Library Coordinator for the NYC School Library System


Break and Workshop Q&A | 3:00-3:15 pm ET

An introduction to this week’s assignment and an overview of what to expect from the online workshop in this course


Session 2 | 3:15-4:00 pm ET

Including Youth Voices: Partnering with Students for Youth Programs

The best way to know what young people want and need is to ask them directly. Many librarians are struggling to engage youth in programs, but this session will help you solve this problem by teaching you how to create meaningful youth partnerships. You will learn tangible ways to involve youth directly in the conception and development of youth programs, from focus groups to youth advisory boards and more. Join this session and hear from experts about innovative ways that they’ve involved youth to co-create successful, sustainable programs. 


Jane Gov, Senior Librarian, System-Wide Youth Services at Pasadena Public Library and Branch Manager at Jefferson Branch Library


Week 3: Enhancing Youth Services through Partnerships

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Session 1 | 2:00-2:45 pm ET

Establishing Partnerships Between Schools and Public Libraries

How can schools and public libraries partner together to share resources and provide more robust offerings for young people? How can public libraries connect their youth services with local and state learning initiatives? This session will discuss ways to work smarter not harder when establishing programs for youth in your community. You'll learn how to de-conflict with your local school or public library to ensure you are complementing each other's services instead of competing for student engagement. 

Julie Koslowsky (she, they) Director of Teen Services at Chicago Public Library

Kara Thorstenson, (she, her) Director of Digital Learning and Libraries at Chicago Public Schools


Break and Workshop Q&A | 2:45-3:00 pm ET

An introduction to this week’s assignment and an overview of what to expect from the online workshop in this course


Session 2 | 3:00-4:00 pm ET

Innovative Youth Programs: A Roundtable

Do you want new ideas for programs to develop in your library? Hear from a panel of librarians about programs they've run that have successful engaged teens.  


Robin Brenner, (she, her), Teen Librarian, Public Library of Brookline and Creator & Editor in Chief, No Flying No Tights

Olisha James, (she, her) Manager, Teen Ambassador Programs, The New York Public Library

Tess Wilson, Deputy Director of Library Freedom Project






For support with online courses, please contact





Online Course Preview

A preview of how we build your library skills and bring inspiration to your projects with our online learning experience.

Course Format

One-Week Timeline (Course Runs 3+ Weeks)


DAYS 1-2

On Demand


2.5 hours

DAYS 4-7

1-2 hours (optional)



- Resources

- Discussions

- Bonus Content


- Guest speakers via webcast

- Q&A via chat

- Recordings available on demand


- Project-based homework, applied to your job

- Personalized feedback from a facilitator

- Group discussion in an asynchronous workshop setting via discussion forum


- Facilitator-led feedback




Inspiring Live Guest Speakers + Facilitated Group Workshop for Project-Based Learning



Live session with Andrea Blackman and Tasneem Ansariyah Grace

Live Guest Speakers Each Week

  • Expert speaker presentations with audience Q&A (session recordings available on demand for six months if you can’t join live)
  • Project-based, asynchronous workshop assignments to practice and apply new skills for 3 weeks after the live sessions
  • Expert, individualized feedback on asynchronous work for 3 weeks


Online Course Features


Recordings of guest speakers

Recordings Available After The Live Session

  • Real-time guest speakers and conversation via live video stream (with recordings available afterward)
  • Instructor-led online course features personalized interaction over 3+ weeks


Facilitator-led workshop

Online Classroom Organizes All Materials

  • Workshop assignments to help you make progress on your goals
  • Individualized attention from course facilitators who work with you in a coaching environment in the workshop to help sort out challenges
  • Ongoing group conversation via discussion forums


Early Access On Demand Resources

Early Access and Ongoing Resources To Support Learning

  • Supporting resources (articles, videos, worksheets) in the online classroom to provide a foundation for your work
  • Access all course content for six months after the course ends
  • Bonus: Register early and get immediate access to archival video recordings from related courses and other bonus content




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