It’s Time to Tweak your YALSA Volunteer Form!

It’s time to volunteer for YALSA committees again! During the Spring, we’ll be appointing YALSA members to serve on virtual strategic committees.  To find out more about the committees, juries, and advisory task forces, click on this link. To learn more about the responsibilities of committee members, check out the Committee FAQ  and visit YALSA’s Handbook. If you decide that you have the necessary time to devote to an appointed group and want to use your skills to give back to the organization, consider filling out a Volunteer Form.

The volunteer form consists of the following parts:

  1. Number of Years You Have Been a YALSA Member
  2. Professional Experience (List previous positions and locations, most recent first)
  3. Special Skills (e.g. accounting, PR/marketing, fiscal planning, research, refereeing, editing, etc.)
  4. Selection Committee Qualifications (e.g., relevant coursework, materials evaluation experience, book reviews, articles and research published, previous selection committee experience, etc.)
  5. Current Professional Commitments in ALA/YALSA (please indicate volunteer activities, elected positions, committee work, etc.)
  6. Current Professional Commitments at State/Regional Level or Other Associations (please indicate volunteer activities, elected positions, committee work, etc.)
  7. Have you communicated with the current committee chair or committee members of the group you are interested in joining to find out what their responsibilities are? Yes or No?
  8. Have you ever attended a YALSA selection committee meeting? Yes or no?
  9. If appointed, can you attend each Midwinter and Annual Conference held during your 18-month-appointment, as is required of all selection committee members? Yes or no?
  10. At this time, do you have your supervisor’s support to serve on a YALSA selection committee? Yes or No or Not Applicable?

Notice that 4 bold questions on the volunteer form are for selection and award committees only, so no need to complete those right now!

In Fall 2015, I read hundreds of volunteer forms (you should see my spreadsheets!), and I felt like I should share some advice. Here’s how to make your volunteer form stand out and get noticed!

  • Spell out abbreviations.  I don’t know what all those initials mean for your state and regional library groups.
  • No need to explain why you weren’t a member in 2003–just give us your best guess for how many years you’ve been in YALSA or contact Letitia to find the exact number.
  • Be concise.  Adjectives aren’t important. Lists are awesome!
  • List everything you’ve done for YALSA, ALA, and other ALA division groups–that information isn’t automatically uploaded into the forms.
  • Be specific and only volunteer for what you really want to be on. It shows that you’ve thought about it.  If you apply for everything, it makes me think you’re not sure where your strengths lie.
  • Take a look at your volunteer form. There are character limits to the boxes–if you have words cut off, shorten it.
  • Be active in other organizations and tell us about it.
  • Let us know if you have experience working with younger or older teens, if applicable.
  • Make sure it’s clear that we can tell if you work in an academic, school, public, or some other type of institution.
  • We want diverse members on all committees–age, gender, ethnicity, urban/rural, library type, etc.
  • Let us know that you’re familiar with online tools like Google Hangouts, Skype, conference calls, etc.

You can also look over the Committee FAQ to get more advice.

You can gain valuable YALSA and professional development experience by volunteering to be on a YALSA strategic committee, task force, or jury. The online volunteer form opened Dec. 7, 2015. The work of most of these strategic groups is done virtually–no conference attendance required! The deadline for strategic committee applications is March 1, 2016, and I will be making those appointments in the spring.

As always, if you have any questions, please contact me at gsarahthelibrarian @

Published by

Sarah Hill

Sarah is the Information Services Librarian at Lake Land College, a rural community college in Illinois. She is happily serving as YALSA Immediate Past President. You can follow her on Twitter at @glibrarian.