Imposter Syndrome

Do you want to be one of those expert librarians who have written articles in American Libraries, presented a training at a YALSA Symposium, or even written a professional book published by ALA?

Do you want to be a library leader like those who have served on the actual Printz Award Committee, were recognized as a Mover & Shaker by Library Journal, or been elected YALSA President?

Do you want to change the field of librarianship so it is more inclusive, equitable, and accessible for diverse library staff and patrons–especially teens?

But… you don’t feel like an expert now, don’t think you’ve had enough experience yet, or don’t know where to start.

At a recent Renée Watson author talk, she told her story about transitioning from writer to paid and published author. Her message to teens (and adults!) was you are doing the real work now, building your skills and experiences. If you work hard to improve and grow, then you will be ready when you get your dream opportunity. Getting involved in OYAN is a great place to get started!

Don’t feel like an expert? Share anyway. by Sara Wachter-Boettcher, is a great, quick read with practical advice and perspective. Here are a few highlights:

  • You don’t have to know everything about a topic to give a talk about it… Or to write an article. Or be on a panel. Or present at a meetup.”
  • It’s often harder to learn from people with tons of expertise… The longer someone’s been doing something, the less likely they are to remember what it was like to learn how to do it for the first time.”
  • Don’t present to or write for the experts and leaders in the field.
  • Present or write about what would have helped you 6 months or a year ago when you “didn’t know a damn thing about this topic.” Present or write for the people who are “staring at the problem for the first time” and could really benefit from your recent experience, perspective, and work addressing the same problem.
  • “Different people come at a topic with a different experience and perspective to bring to the table…” Your experience, perspective, and style might be just what someone else needs to have their “ah-ha” learning moment.
  • Your work may be obvious to you, but “To everyone else, it [may be] a revelation—a new way of looking at challenges.” What seems straightforward in your everyday work, may seem innovative to someone else and help them improve their Teen Advisory Board, teen summer reading, collection, or workload planning.
  •  “We desperately need more voices, and different voices, if we want this industry to change — and those ideas could absolutely be yours.”

To learn more about getting involved in OYAN and start building your skills and experiences, contact the Chair at

Winter 2019 OYAN Review and More SEL!


The Winter 2019 OYAN Review is now available! It includes great program ideas, the 2019 Mock Printz results, professional learning about leadership, behavior management, and more. Two articles offer good examples of social emotional learning (SEL).

SEL includes establishing and maintaining positive relationships, and feeling empathy for others. Putting devices away, looking into the faces of other people, and trying to read their feelings are important for this aspect of social emotional learning. Read “Teen Poker Games” by Marian Rose, Seaside Public Library, to learn about a program that provides teens this SEL opportunity.

SEL also includes understanding and managing one’s own emotions and making responsible decisions. Providing teens and staff a forum to share their feelings about past conflicts, think about the needs of other kinds of patrons, and brainstorm ideas of what behavior looks like in the library if everyone’s needs are met helps teens develop these SEL skills. Read “Restorative Practices at Hillsboro Public Library” by Emily Smith to learn more about how to turn behavior management into an SEL opportunity—that effectively improves behavior too!

Leadership and Teen Services

Many libraries promote teen services, especially Teen Advisory Council positions, as leadership opportunities—great for college applications! Participating teens provide input on program planning, teen spaces, collection development, and more. In some cases, they make decisions about programming and marketing, and are responsible for much of the implementation. These are great leadership experiences for teens. However, we rarely talk about the leadership skill the librarians need to successfully organize and facilitate this work with teens.

Mark Richardson, in his article Stepping Up: Applying Situational Leadership Concepts to Public Library Work With Teens, describes how librarians can use Situational Leadership to implement effective teen leadership opportunities. Situational Leadership includes four styles of leadership: directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating. Effective leaders utilize all four styles, and know when to use which style depending on the task or situation.

As you read the following description of each style, think about when you might use that style with teens and why. What you might do to implement each style? What do you hope teens gain from experiencing each style as you implement it?

  • “Directing, is used whenever one trains a new person or teaches a new skill.”
  • “Coaching… is still directive, but more time is given to explaining our goals and why we have them. Input is requested and integrated into plans when possible.”
  • “Supporting… [is] trying to get the teens to make decisions on their own without as much help.”
  • When “delegating, people are empowered to act independently with less input from the leader.”

Read Stepping Up: Applying Situational Leadership Concepts to Public Library Work With Teens for more information about Situational Leadership and examples of how Mark has and plans to apply Situational Leadership to teen services at Cedar Mill Community Library.

OYAN Review: Four Days in Pendleton

This post is an article from the Summer 2018 issue of the OYAN Review and has been edited slightly for publication on the blog. It was written by Stephanie Goodwin at the Klamath County Library.

I have never been one to keep a bucket list of things I want to accomplish or experience in life; instead I choose to take advantage of opportunities as they land in front of me. Throughout my library career I have known several who have had the opportunity to attend various leadership trainings. Every time one of them went, I was intrigued and would think how someday I’d like to go one myself. Then one day I saw an email about a new leadership training opportunity called LIOLA (Leadership Institute of the Oregon Library Association). I decided that this was my opportunity, so I quickly submitted my application. I was delighted when I was accepted and began my hunt for scholarships. The OYAN scholarship was ideal. For anyone out there who is looking for scholarships to library trainings or conferences, this is an easy application. The only requirements are that the conference relates to serving young adults in Oregon and to do a brief report when you get back so others can get a glimpse of what you learned.

After receiving the scholarship I eagerly anticipated the approach of LIOLA by reading the book Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath and taking the StrengthsFinder 2.0 test. Continue reading