Rethinking YALSA — Member Engagement

If you haven’t heard, the YALSA Board just approved the association’s new 3-year organizational plan. If you haven’t read it yet, you’re seriously missing out on some exciting news, not to mention a great advocacy piece. It’ll invigorate you to take action and empower change in teen services nationally and in your community.

Read it here:  http://www.ala.org/yalsa/aboutyalsa/strategicplan

During the planning sessions for the Board, YALSA’s top priorities were structured into three categories:  (1) Leading the Transformation of Teen Services, (2) Advocacy, and (3) Funder and Partner Development.

When reading the new plan, you’ll notice an emphasis placed on leveraging relationships and building a field of knowledge.  A strategy of “Leading the Transformation” is to leverage relationships with state and regional associations to promote the transformation of teen library services. Part of this member engagement strategy is to take a look at YALSA’s presence at state and regional conferences.  This is not to say that YALSA will be confined to only state conferences (or conferences for that matter), but other related associations and local library group meetups as well. The purpose of this strategy is to engage teen library leaders at the local level so that we can not only learn what members and potential members want and need from YALSA, but to better help carry out the work of the association.  

While YALSA currently exhibits at some conferences other than ALA, there hasn’t been an official plan to connect with state and regional associations.  These are essential assets and gateways to member engagement. State and regional associations are other avenues to engage with members outside of ALA sponsored events and rally together on issues relating to teen services.  Through this, we’ll hopefully answer the question, “What do state associations want, and how can YALSA help?”

Apart from being physically present at state conferences, YALSA is also looking for ways to highlight the great work being done locally. This could be something shared through YALSA communications (such as a publication or a virtual honoring), or at local events where attendees may personally recognize teen service leaders and staff from those highlighted libraries. One of the ways we’ll try to approach this is to develop a 50-state engagement strategy, with specific offerings and focus on specific leaders at the state level, including but not limited to state library association leaders and state library agency youth services consultants.

Of course, we’ll also consider YALSA’s capacity. We will seek ways to identify state and local library leaders and leverage existing member resources to state and regional associations. These strategies will help engage members, spread the word about YALSA’s resources, encourage local conversations and sharing of resources, and increase member growth. If this plan is successful, by the year 2018, we estimate there would be YALSA presence at a minimum of 10 state or regional conferences per year and YALSA membership will grow by at least 15%.

Why is this important?  

Membership growth + capacity & knowledge growth = achieve more things for teens!

To view a full list of YALSA’s presence at State and Regional Conferences, see

http://wikis.ala.org/yalsa/index.php/YALSA_at_State_%26_Regional_Conferences

If you would like to get involved or have questions about the plan implementation, please share your thoughts via this short survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/R7MMRSG.

What meetups or conferences do you attend?

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Jane Gov is a Youth Services Librarian at Pasadena Public Library, California. She is currently Financial Advancement Committee Chair and serving on the YALSA Board. You can tweet her @missjanegov.

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