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YX Librarians to present at ALA Annual: Bridging the Tech Knowledge Gap

Heather Thompson, Shannon Lake, Jennifer Ilardi, and Rachel McDonald are a few of the innovative children’s and teen librarians who are part of the inaugural cohort of YX Librarians, a post-graduate certificate program offered by the University of Maryland. Alongside with their instructor, Dr. Mega Subramaniam, and ALA Washington Office’s Associate Director and Senior Policy Advisor Marijke Visser, these front-line librarians will discuss implementing new technology programs for and with today’s youth. In their presentation, they will discuss how they have transformed their library’s services to youth by shedding the title of ‘expert’ and stepping into the role of a facilitator with the Youth Experience (YX) design approach. Through real-life examples and hands-on activities, participants will learn how to incorporate youth as co-designers and peer mentors in technology-rich library programs.

five librarians sitting around a table discussing topics on colorful sticky notes
YX librarians participate in a design thinking activity during the 2018 Human Computer Interaction Lab symposium at the University of Maryland. Photo credit: Craig Taylor


The YX librarians will share the technology-enabled capstone projects they facilitated in their communities for the YX post-graduate certificate and will share tips for how even the most budget-constrained libraries can begin redesigning their tech programs for and with youth. Attendees of this presentation will learn how to facilitate youth learning programs involving technology and other 21st century skills. This includes gaining an understanding of connected learning and design thinking, and how to incorporate those concepts into library programs. Attendees will leave the presentation with concrete ideas on how to implement technology-enabled programs that are co-designed with youth in their communities.

Come see the YX Librarians present Bridging the Tech Knowledge Gap: Empowering Your Community Through a Seamless Youth Experience (YX) Design on Friday, June 22, 2018, at 9 a.m. and noon in MCC Room 223.

a woman holding sticky notes with tech-related topics written on them
Photo credit: Craig Taylor

Interested in becoming part of the next cohort of YX librarians? More information can be found at There is also a YX specialization within University of Maryland’s online MLIS program for aspiring youth service librarians to integrate the latest research on learning, technology, community partnerships, and design thinking into their practices with youth ages 0-18.




About the Presenters:

  • Heather Thompson is the Youth Services Programming Librarian at the Kenosha Public Library and co-creator of the blog She can be reached at
  • Rachel McDonald is a Teen Services Librarian at King County Library System in Washington, where she works primarily with refugee and immigrant youth. She can be reached at
  • Jennifer Ilardi is a Youth Services Librarian at the Florissant Valley Branch of the St. Louis County Library where she works with students ages birth through 17 years old. She can be reached at
  • Shannon Lake is an independent youth services consultant residing in Atlanta. She can be reached at
  • Mega Subramaniam is an Associate Professor at the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. She can be reached at
  • Marijke Visser is Associate Director and Senior Policy Advocate with ALA’s Public Policy Office in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at
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Marijke Visser

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One Comment

  1. The ALA Annual is a thing to be experienced! I have been to it just once and I am glad that I did visit a fest such vibrant and progressive!

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