At ALA Annual this year, YALSA held information sessions on how to get involved with the organization, both as a new volunteer and as someone seeking leadership opportunities. Here’s a recap of the event.
If you’re just starting out, volunteering for one of YALSA’s committees is an excellent first step. All YALSA members are encouraged to fill out the Committee Volunteer Form once a year. Here is a list of committees and the link to the form.
Committees come in two flavors: one, Strategic Committees and Advisory Boards, and two, Award and Selection Committees. Award committees have many interested applicants, so if you’ve never been on a committee before, it’s a good idea to start with a strategic committee to get some experience. Strategic committees have a large need for members, teach valuable skills, and are often less work than award committees. They are also all 100% virtual, except for the Board of Directors. Award committees are a great option if you are interested in reading a lot of newly released titles and giving the best of the best their due. These require attendance at both ALA Annual and the Midwinter Meeting. Committees have varying lengths of service and time commitments, so you can choose one that fits into your schedule. Once you’re comfortable with committees, you might want to apply to be a committee chair.
When you’ve got the committee thing down, try running in a YALSA election. Serving on the Board of Directors is a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in YALSA. Current Board members said that their roles have allowed them to do things they can’t do in their place of employment, given them a chance to think big and help teens nationally, and given them skills that led to better jobs. Board Meetings held at the Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting are open to all, so you can go to watch and see if you think the Board is for you.
There are lots of other things you can do too, like serve on a jury, volunteer to represent YALSA at a regional conference, join or start an interest group, write for the literature blog The Hub, or write for teen services blog YALSABlog. To volunteer for non-committee opportunities, fill out the YALSA Member Opt-in Opportunities Form. If you want to write for YALSABlog, also fill out this interest survey.
If you have any questions about any opportunities, feel free to e-mail the group chairs and managers for more information. I always like to ask what the average weekly time commitment is before I start something new.
Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t selected for something; it doesn’t mean YALSA doesn’t value your skills! Many YALSA leaders attained their positions through persistence. Volunteer for something else and apply again next time. YALSA is always in need of volunteers, and the more you contribute and get your name out there, the greater the opportunities that will be offered to you. With YALSA, you can improve library services to teen on a national level.
For more information on how to get involved, visit http://www.ala.org/yalsa/getinvolved/participate.