Meet the YALSA Presidential Candidates

Welcome back to Election Forum on the YALSA blog! For the past two years we have utilized our blog to help members get to know the candidates for the various YALSA offices a bit better. This has been such a great success that we’ll once again be posting questions for our candidates, beginning with questions for Sarah Flowers, Linda Braun, and Nick Buron, our candidates for YALSA Vice-President/President-Elect.
The outcome of the election will affect everyone, so please use this forum as a chance to learn about candidates running on the spring ballot.
I will be posting questions for the President-Elect category. This year bloggers will be posting additional questions to the Board, MAE and Printz Candidates! YALSA members are welcome to follow up on their responses with further questions.
We encourage lively discussion and debate as appropriate to the topic, but of course no personal comments or attacks will be allowed.

Polls for the ALA 2008 election open on March 17 and close on April 24 at 11:59 p.m. CST on!

Here is the first round of questions for Sarah, Linda, and Nick:

Tell us about your experience within YALSA and ALA, including what positions you have held in our Division and in the larger ALA structure.

Which positions were your favorites and why, and how did those experiences help you develop the important skills necessary to be YALSA President?

Sarah Debraski
YALSA President-Elect

About Sarah Debraski

YALSA President, 2008-2009
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3 Comments

  1. Sarah Flowers [Visitor]

    I have been active in YALSA since 1996. My first committee assignment was Youth Participation, and I was chair of that committee for a year. I have also been on Outstanding Books for the College Bound, Selected DVDs and Videos, and Michael L. Printz 2004 (The First Part Last). I was also chair of Local Arrangements (San Francisco, 2001), and chair of a YALSA/RUSA task force on Guidelines for Library Service to Teens. Finally, I was on the YALSA Board of Directors from 2004-2007 and am currently an ALA Councilor.

    I have enjoyed every committee I’ve ever been on in YALSA. Of course, it was a special thrill to be on the Printz Committee, and I think one of the important skills I honed there was the skill of working with a group to come to consensus. It’s a great experience in coming to a group decision that is truly everyone’s decision. I also loved being on YALSA Board. It taught me an enormous amount about the workings of the division and of “Big ALA,” which is helping now on ALA Council. I find it fascinating to watch how organizations work, and my Board experience showed me how YALSA must balance the needs and desires of the members with fiscal responsibility and with the division’s position in the greater organization. Knowing the actual process of how things happen in YALSA is probably one of the main skills needed for the YALSA president.

    Sarah Flowers
    Candidate for YALSA President-Elect

  2. Linda Braun [Member]

    Tell us about your experience within YALSA and ALA, including what positions you have held in our Division and in the larger ALA structure.
    My first experience with YALSA was in the late 1980s when I helped the Division develop their first ever web presence. At that time the web was pretty new to everyone and we worked to figure out what resources YALSA members needed and wanted to have available online. I also helped develop YALSA’s web presence for teens – Teen Hoopla. The site was intended to provide quality web resources to them. Several years later the site was discontinued because teens were using other resources to locate online information.

    I’ve served as Chair of a number of YALSA Committees including:

    • Web Site Advisory Committee
    • Midwinter Institute Committee
    • Teen Tech Week Committee
    • Midwinter Social Event Committee

    I’ve also been a member of Committees including:

    • Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
    • Web Site Advisory Committee

    I served as a member of the YALSA Board and in that capacity worked on several Task Forces including:

    • Web site policies and guidelines task force
    • Electronic mailing lists task force
    • Communications plan task force

    In 2006 I worked with the YALSA Office and YALSA Board to setup the Division’s blog. In the spring of 2006 I was selected for the position of YALSA Blog Manager and continue to hold that position. In that position I participate in development of blog policies and guidelines including the recently passed guidelines for teen bloggers.

    As YALSA’s representative, I served on the ALA Office of Information Technology Policy Committee and on the ALA Web Site Advisory Committee. These two positions gave me a great chance to experience big ALA processes. As a member of the ALA Web Site Advisory Committee I participated in a meeting, held in Chicago in late 2006, about the usability of and future plans for the ALA web site.

    Which positions were your favorites and why, and how did those experiences help you develop the important skills necessary to be YALSA President?
    This is not an easy question to answer. All of the positions were interesting, and gave me the opportunity to learn about teen services and librarianship, and think about the role libraries play in teen lives and in the larger community.

    Since I believe technology is an important part of teen lives, and something that libraries have to embrace and pay attention to, all of the positions that gave me the chance to explore technology use by teens and librarians, help YALSA develop policies and guidelines along with plans for supporting teen librarians in their search for smart and effective use of technology have been important to me.

    As the YALSA Blog Manager I worked with Frances Jacobson Harris and Kelly Czarnecki on YALSA’s Social Networking Toolkit. That was a very rewarding experience because it is a resource that helps librarians and educators better understand social networking, educate their communities about social networking, and advocate for social networking as a valid resource in teen lives.

    Being on the YALSA Board was also a very positive experience. It gave me a clear understanding of how the Division works and what is required in order to serve teen librarians, from a national level. I enjoy helping organizations set direction and plan for the future. Being a Board member definitely gave me a chance to do that and I am pleased with some of the decisions made for YALSA while I served.

    In all of the activities that I’ve been a part of in YALSA, and in the larger ALA, I’ve worked with many types of people and learned what it takes to achieve goals when working with a diverse group and within a large organization.

    I am well versed in the workings of YALSA. Over the two decades in which I’ve been involved in the Division, I’ve had an opportunity to learn about the organization from a variety of vantage points. I know how process and materials committees function. I know how the governance of YALSA functions. And, I know how the technology of the Division works. The variety of experiences that I’ve had within the Division, and ALA, help make me a well-rounded candidate for the position of YALSA President.

  3. Nick Buron [Visitor]

    First, I would like to take the opportunity to thank Sarah Debraski, our President-Elect, and YALSA for providing this forum for the Presidential candidates to better communicate with the members.
    My experience with YASLA and ALA including what positions I have held in our Division and the larger ALA structure: I have been a YALSA member since 1999 and in that time I dove into active membership and committee assignments:
    – Best Books for Young Adults
    – Teen Read Week Committee
    – President’s Program
    – Serving Young Adults in Large Urban Populations
    – Board of Director, current

    I came into ALA as a member in 1993 and started committee work in LAMA where I learned about the ALA structure and I am still a non-active member (Note: I think it is worthwhile to maintain cross-division relationships within ALA to strengthen our own YALSA).
    In the larger ALA, I have served on:
    – Publishing committee
    – Major League Baseball@your library committee
    – Graphic Advisory Board
    Most recently, in 2005, I was elected to a seat as an ALA Councilor-at-Large, where I will conclude that service at the end of Annual 2008.

    Which positions were my favorites and why, and how did those experiences help you develop the important skills necessary to be YALSA President?
    For this question, I would like to focus on three examples:

    1. I was the chair of Teen Read Week when we first gave teens the opportunity to choose their Teen Read Week theme. This was different in that the committee gave up the decision making process to the teens our members serve and allowed them the chance to have a say in programs dedicated to them. That was the year the teens chose Get Real@your library.
    2. In 2000 I attended YALSAs Serving the Underserved training which provided resources and pointers to train librarians in their libraries. Of course, not everyone who wants to attend ALA conferences have the opportunity to do so. Being able to bring YALSA dedicated training to them has allowed me to interact with librarian, and other library staff, in places such as Little Rock, Louisville, Columbus, Long Island as well as the Kentucky Library Association. To date, I have interacted with hundreds of library workers serving teens and passed on my training while hearing their feedback. My next training will be at the PLA conference in Minneapolis with Amy Alessio, the Teen Coordinator of the Schaumburg Twp District Library in Illinois.
    3. My service on the YALSA Board of Directors is coming to close and I have worked with great individuals who have dedicated their time and energy to making the fastest growing division in ALA the best one. I have been a part in involving more members in committees (both traditional and virtual), engaging student members and moving to more 2.0 technologies. We are in the process of a new five year strategic plan to help set the tone for growth and excellence.

    Again, thank you for this opportunity to answer these important questions. I look forward to the next one.

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