In February, I posted about changes that were made to YALSA’s website that required a login to reach the selected lists and awards. I explained the rationale and indicated that there would be refinements in the process.
There have been refinements, but we haven’t done a very good job of sharing that information with you, so I want to apologize for that lack of timely communication and try to remedy it now.
First of all, I do apologize for the early glitches and for the unfriendliness of ALA’s web interface. It can be very discouraging to click on a link that says “login” and immediately get an “access denied” message. However, if you just click on the ALA login link in the upper right corner of the screen, all will be well.
Second, the award and list content other than the lists themselves is now outside the login area. If you click on “Book Awards and Book/Media Lists” on the homepage, you get a drop-down menu. This menu includes links to selection and award list contacts. If you click on an individual award, like the Michael L. Printz Award or the Odyssey Award, you are taken to a page that includes policies and procedures and a link to the form for submitting suggested titles.
Third, the form for nonmembers to fill out has been streamlined. When anyone fills out the form (which now requires only name, email address, and two questions) they receive an automated email response that gives them links to bookmark so that they don’t need to fill out the form more than once. We have contacted the developer of the form module we use and requested that it be updated so that if you fill out the form once, you are automatically directed to the content, but we don’t have that functionality yet.
Members who want to access the lists on reference desk computers or other non-personal computers and don’t want to login with personal information can also bookmark the links for the lists and awards. These URLs are now posted in the “Members Only” section of the website.
Fourth, several people have raised the question about whether it is worth it to ask for this information. The answer is we’re not sure yet, but we think it might be. We have collected more than 16,000 email addresses since mid-February. We have used these addresses to encourage people to participate in the Tweet Your Senator campaign and virtual library legislative day (1,600 people requested more info on advocacy), for member recruitment, and to advertise subscriptions to YALS (4,000 asked for information on buying YALSA publications), deriving lists from areas of interest that people marked.
Keep in mind that addresses are not shared outside of YALSA, and anyone who doesn’t want to receive any further email from YALSA need only say so.
Fifth, some members have indicated that they are against this change because they feel that YALSA is restricting or putting up barriers to information. In fact, YALSA is doing the same thing that most of you do every day in your own libraries. If I want to access my local library’s databases from home, I have to put in my library card number and PIN. I don’t regard that as the library putting up barriers to my access. I recognize that the library needs to collect statistics about database use and they use those statistics to help justify the work they do and the cost of the databases. YALSA, like libraries, is in the business of sharing information, but, as with libraries, that information is not really free. (See Fiscal Officer Penny Johnson’s blog post for more details about the costs of YALSA’s “free” resources.) In fact, for most libraries, I can’t use the databases at all if I don’t have a library card; YALSA is offering its resources free for simply signing in with an email address.
I hope these comments help members understand better the rationale for requiring a login for access to the lists. Again, my apologies for taking so long to get back to you on the updated information. Thank you for your patience, and thank you again for all that you do to promote YALSA’s lists and awards to teens and their parents.
Sarah Flowers, YALSA President