There has been some discussion on blogs and in the Twitterverse about a recent change on YALSA’s website.
First, let me state that all of YALSA’s awards and annotated lists are open to anyone for free. YALSA members simply log in to the site (which you have to do anyway if you are going to access ALA Connect, for example). Non-members are asked to provide their name and email address, and answer two questions about their interest in YALSA resources.
The purpose of this change, which is not expected to be temporary, is three-fold. On the one hand, one of YALSA’s Strategic Plan goals is member recruitment. Obviously people who are already coming to our website are candidates to become members. By collecting their email addresses, we can send them information targeted to their areas of interest, and perhaps gain some new YALSA members in the process. The second purpose is to find out more about who is using the website and how, so that we can do an even better job of serving both members and non-members. The third purpose is to identify and cultivate a list of advocates for teen services. Now more than ever we need to reach beyond the library community to engage people in advocating on behalf of libraries. Advocacy and activism is another goal in YALSA’s strategic plan, and organizations such as NTEN (The Nonprofit Technology Network) identify what YALSA is doing—collecting email addresses of those who support our cause—as a best practice for not-for-profits.
In less than two weeks, we have already collected over 1,100 names and email addresses, so clearly a lot of people think that providing this information is a fair trade for what they get from YALSA’s lists. Moreover, these teachers, parents, teens and others can be tapped by YALSA to support the great work that you do. We are proud of the work that you, the members, do for YALSA in creating these lists and awards, and we want to make sure that we’re promoting them—and YALSA—effectively beyond our own membership. YALSA depends on donations, sales from products and fees from CE to support the majority of the services that we provide and the work we do. Without avenues to promote these products and services, YALSA would not have enough funding to continue the same level of service it has been providing.
We are continuing to make refinements in the process. For example, our intention is to have some areas of the awards and lists section available without a login, primarily the areas that are used mainly by our members, such as field nomination forms, policies and procedures, and so on. Please know that YALSA does not have a full time web master. That responsibility is just one third of one staff person’s job. Additionally, YALSA can only work with the technology that ALA provides to Divisions. We are doing the best that we can with the resources we have, and we greatly appreciate everyone’s patience as we refine the changes to the web site.
As YALSA President, I deeply appreciate all the work that our members do to ensure teens have access to great libraries, and in promoting YALSA’s awards and lists to teens and their parents. The YALSA Board and staff are open to suggestions for promoting our lists, for recruiting new members and for engaging the broader community in advocating for the great work that you do.
Sarah Flowers, YALSA President