Midwinter 2013: Ballyhoos, Love Bombs and the Board!

Midwinter was only a week ago, but so much of it is still fresh in my mind. Not just all the ballyhoos and love bombs, but all the really important work the YALSA Board did during the conference.

First, over the next few weeks I’ll be making appointments. Lots of appointments to lots of awesome new taskforces. Just like our Teen Space Guidelines, we’re looking for some ace teen librarians to help YALSA create some Programming Guidelines to help members and non-members alike ramp up, fundraise or create some library programs for teens. We’re also looking for some help from the membership to help evaluate two of our largest projects: Teen Read Week and Teen Tech Week. Not only are we looking to analyze how we’re doing with these projects, but we’re also looking for fresh ideas to try. Interested in volunteering? All you need to do is complete this form! And drop me a note if you have any questions!

The Board also had a meaty discussion around a possible name change for our association. First, we talked about how people inside and outside of YALSA think about our association. What do they assume the term “young adult” means? Does it mean ages twelve and up? Does it mean younger adults, as in college students? When describing library services for youth aged twelve to eighteen, is the word “teen” a better fit than “young adult?” Or “youth,” for that matter? If we’re trying to connect with larger world of teen services outside libraries (and I just used the word “teen”), what’s the best way to position ourselves–both philosophically and visibly–to help the rest of the world understand what we do and why we do it? It’s all good stuff, and we’re not the only division of the American Library Association who’s looking to rebrand itself with a new name and new marketing.

One of the most important and eye-opening discussions the board had last week was around the goals of our Strategic Plan, namely the Capacity Building goal. We know that YALSA needs to build capacity in order to keep the association dynamic, nimble and forward-thinking. But what exactly does capacity building mean? It doesn’t necessarily mean we should take on a whole bunch of new projects, but rather, in the words of Board Member Chris Shoemaker, it means that we should be “trimming the bonsai,” so to speak. In other words, how can we take a thoughtful look at all of our activities, analyze which ones are the most vital and which ones have less impact? Then, how can we either let the ones with less impact go completely (or make them take up less time) so we can then focus on bigger, better, cooler stuff? The Midwinter agenda was chock full of capacity building agenda items, and the board did make some tough decisions to help YALSA move forward into the 21st Century.

Over the next couple of weeks, you’ll be hearing lots more about what we did over Midwinter: the future of the YA Lit Symposium, the amazing Forum on Teen Services in Libraries, The Road Trip Reboot and some recent changes to our bylaws that you’ll be voting on this spring. Stay tuned!

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