The YALSA Executive Committee met in Portland, Oregon, on Nov. 8 and 9, and one of the items on the agenda was to discuss Board Member Exit Interviews. As a result of the discussion, some changes are going to made in the Board Leadership Training. Evaluation of the training is nothing new–changes are usually made fairly regularly in order to continue to improve and fine-tune this effort.
During the Board Leadership Training that will be held at 2016 Annual in Orlando, we will make more of an effort to discuss board member expectations and procedures. Often, board members have varying degrees of board procedure knowledge in their background, so we’ll need to get all members on the same page. If you’re new to board process, it might be a shock when process takes a bit longer than it does at your library. The word “quickly” for a national organization and “quickly” for a library can be two different things! Things can move a bit slower at the national organizational level, but being deliberate means that multiple people are fact-checking, complying with policies, and thinking things through in order to ensure the board is making informed decisions. My experience on my state school library organization introduced me to working with boards, and the various task forces and committees that go with it. Committee chairpersons are vital because they drive the group to get things done. In YALSA, board members serve as liaisons to task forces and committees and help move things along, too. Then the board members serve on standing board committees that meet on a regular basis to ensure that the smaller groups are effective.
At the board member training, we’ll talk about how “newbies” can begin contributing to board work–asking questions, speaking up online and during the monthly board chats, and stepping up to move YALSA forward by developing and proposals that will help YALSA achieve its mission and goals. I’m new to the YALSA board this year, too, and I’m trying to make a concerted effort to speak up online. If you know me in real life, you know I don’t have any trouble speaking up in a meeting, but I’ve found that I tend to sit back and read online posts and not contribute. And that’s not helping anyone!
When was the last time you attended a formal board meeting? If it’s been awhile, and you’re considering running for YALSA board, you might want to familiarize yourself with board procedures. Attend a board meeting in your community at a library, school system or nonprofit. Of course, you’ll want to come to a YALSA board meeting at Midwinter or Annual. I attended YALSA board meetings at Midwinter 2015 and Annual 2016, even though I didn’t “have” to. When entering the room, I was asked to sign in as a guest and sit in designated seats for guests, but it was pain-free! Sometimes it is difficult to sit quietly during interesting discussion, but you can always take notes and approach board members later, in person or online. There’s also an “Information Forum” at the start of every board meeting where anyone who’s present can share ideas, ask questions, etc.
I’m excited to work with members of the YALSA 2016 Slate and preparing them to serve on the Board. If you’re attending Midwinter in Boston, please pencil in the Coffee with the Candidates session on Sunday, January 10. I’m looking forward to seeing you there!