YALSA’s Three-Year Organizational Plan and New Librarians

YALSA recently released their three-year organizational plan, which will stretch from now until 2018. It’s ambitious and builds off of the YALSA Futures report, published in December 2013. This plan calls for an understanding of a YALSA librarian’s changing role and the need for YALSA to adapt to these changes in the next three years. This plan has been getting a lot of buzz, especially on this blog (see why librarians are excited for this plan, Candice Mack’s great overview of the plan, and a post about member engagement).

In order to evolve and adapt, the plan picks three priorities that fit within both YALSA’s mission and vision statement. These priorities are

  • Leading the transformation of teen library services,
  • Advocacy to policy makers at all levels to increase support for teen library services, AND
  • Funder partner development

With each of the three priorities, YALSA has outlined strategies to reach their priorities and tangible ways to measure three-year outcomes. These outcomes are paired with a learning agenda, recognizing the fact that in order for these outcomes to happen, we as librarians need to keep learning to reach these goals. Finally, there is an implementation plan, which gives activities for 2016 and potential activities post 2016. This implementation plan promises to be a flexible and living document, so it can evolve as the priorities listed above are put into place.

I think this is a great organizational plan and I am curious to see the implementation. As a newly-degreed librarian, I think this document is important for not only people like myself to read, but any librarian who wants to serve teens the best. This document can be used as a framework and a way to to gauge if new programs they want to implement will be complimentary to this organizational plan. As the plan states, “If YALSA is not thoughtful about what it will and will not do, then it may continue to see its efforts spread so thin as to dilute its actual impact on the issues that matter the most.” This statement is incredibly important. We should use 2016 to really refocus on what our priorities are and how we can create spaces and programming that serve those priorities.

I am especially drawn towards the YALSA mission and vision statement, which I think is an important aspect we need to revisit from time to time. This will help us once again think critically about the work we are doing and how it fits into YALSA and more broadly, ALA. In the plan, under Theory of Change, the mission and vision statements are:

Mission: Our mission is to support library staff in alleviating the challenges teens face, and in putting all teens ‒ especially those with the greatest needs ‒ on the path to successful and fulfilling lives.

Vision: Our vision is that all teens have access to quality library programs and services ‒ no matter where they occur ‒ that link them to resources, connected learning opportunities, coaching, and mentoring that are tailored to the unique circumstances of the community and that create new opportunities for all teens’ personal growth, academic success, and career development.

I think these are great ideas to aspire to. They have a defined purpose but also keep things vague for each librarian to make decision about (example: “quality library programs and services”). Even just keeping these in mind when designing and thinking about programs could help towards reaching YALSA’s organizational priorities.

What is important to remember about this plan is that it is just that…a plan. It will be up to YALSA librarians to really implement and create a change in the field. This plan is also especially important for my peers and I as we step into this field. Knowing what YALSA’s goals are will be helpful in thinking about our place in the greater scheme of teen librarians. If we know of YALSA initiatives, such as a three-track leadership development curriculum they are hoping to roll out, we know what to ask our bosses and supervisors about. Perhaps some of us are even in a place where we can find a way to the YALSA planning table, bringing in some of our recent coursework to make a splash in our librarian careers. Even though in July I’ll be starting down an academic librarian path, understanding what teen librarians are striving for will be helpful in shaping my programming for some of those same teens as they enter college. I think collaboration and cooperation from not only YALSA members, but other ALA sub-sections will be crucial in having the impact this organizational plan strives for.

What do you think of the organizational plan? What aspects of the plan are you most excited for or which ones do you think will be the most challenging? If you haven’t given the plan a glance, you definitely should. I think YALSA’s next three years will be bright and exciting and I’m curious to see where we end up in 2018.

Featured image from Jurgen Appelo on Flickr Commons. Licensed under CC 2.0

About Hailley Fargo

Hi, I'm a new professional working as the Student Engagement Librarian at Penn State University, University Park campus. As someone who provides reference to undergraduate students and teach information literacy to primarily freshman, I'm curious about the intersections of the work of YALSA and academic libraries (and how we can collaborate and work together to help our teens). In my spare time, I like to bike, read memoirs, watch TV shows, and consider myself an oatmeal connoisseur.
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