2019 YALSA Election: An Interview with President-Elect Candidate Matthew Layne

Get ready to vote in this year’s YALSA election! To help you make informed decisions, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2019 YALSA Governance candidates. Voting will take place from Monday, March 11 through Wednesday, April 3. To help you further prepare for the election, be sure to listen to the recording of the YALSA Candidates’ Forum from March 7th!

The President-Elect serves a three-year term — first as the President-Elect, then as the President during the second year, and finally as the Immediate Past President during the third year. The President-Elect is a member of the Executive Committee alongside the President, Immediate Past President, Division Councilor, Fiscal Officer, Secretary, and Executive Director. The Executive Committee works with its ALA counterpart to build ties between the two organizations and helps with the fiscal oversight of YALSA.  A full description of the President-Elect’s duties and responsibilities can be found here.You can learn more about ALA elections here.

Name and current position: Matthew Layne – Young Adult Librarian – Emmet O’Neal Library

What best qualifies you for being President-elect?
I thrive on creating meaningful change in our local and state library communities, and I look forward to utilizing my vision, experience, and expertise in enacting meaningful change for librarians and most especially for our young people across the United States. I wish to use my years of experience as a leader of a non-profit organization combined with my leadership experience at the state and local library levels to lead YALSA into the future as the next President-elect.

How do you envision furthering the mission of YALSA as President-elect?
Through the resources of YALSA, I will work to educate librarians around the US and world on how to best empower and give voice to our young people. I will strive to ensure that the needs of our young adult librarians and young adults in general are being best served by the American Library Association.

What are some ways that being a member of the YALSA Board can help you serve as an even better connector to helping libraries become thriving learning environments for/with teens?
I am a firm believer in the power of teens to articulate their own needs; therefore, I will make a push to establish a national teen advisory board comprised of young people from diverse backgrounds around the country. There is so much great information on the YALSA website that serves to make me a better teen librarian. I will work with our board in an effort to better disseminate that information to our membership and to those who work with teen populations.

What about YALSA’s Organizational Plan excites you most and why?
I’m most excited by YALSA’s Mission and Vision: 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 want to see more libraries reaching out beyond their walls to the teens in their communities. We must meet our young people when and where they are.

How would you embed the concept of “teens first” in the work of the board?
As I stated, I think it is of utmost importance that we add actual teen voices to our work. The formation of a National Teen Advisory Board for YALSA would be a major step in that direction. As we witnessed in this past year with the Parkland students, teens have the abilities and skills to lead. As librarians, we can help facilitate and guide them on their journeys.

Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of the board of directors?
I have proven leadership skills in both the for-profit and non-profit worlds. I ran a successful French bakery and cafe for 10 years before becoming a librarian. I headed a non-profit board and led the organization from the brink of being disbanded to becoming a thriving self-sustaining community organization. I look forward to sharing my skills and expertise with YALSA as we boldly move forward into the future. Thank you for your consideration and your vote!

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