2019 YALSA Election: An Interview with Board Member-at-Large Candidate Charli Osborne

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 check out the YALSA Candidates’ Forum on March 7th!

Serving three-year terms, YALSA Board Members-at-Large are responsible for jointly determining YALSA’s current and future programs, policies, and serving as liaisons to YALSA’s committees, juries, taskforces and advisory boards. Members work year-round, and attend in-person meetings at ALA’s Midwinter and Annual Conferences. A full description of Board duties and responsibilities can be found here. You can learn more about ALA elections here.

Name and current position: My name is Charli Osborne and I’m the Youth Services Coordinator at Southfield Public Library, which is in an inner ring suburb of Detroit, Michigan.

What best qualifies you for being Board Member-at-Large?
As an inveterate volunteer, I’ve been an active member of YALSA for more than twenty years. In that time I have served on numerous process and award committees – everything from Organization and Bylaws to the Volunteer Award Jury to the Printz Award Committee, so I am familiar with the organization, its mission and its goals. This past year I was honored to serve as the chair of the Morris Award Committee. I temper my organizational experience with twenty-two years of public library service focused on youth and teens.

How do you envision furthering the mission of YALSA as Board Member-at-Large?
Not every library is supportive of staff that work with teens and youth, or of teens in general. My real world experience working within my library, my library cooperative, my state library association and YALSA help me to be an effective advocate for teens and the library staff that serve, encourage and mentor them. I believe that experience is an asset to further the mission of YALSA.

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 want to help teens become the best they can be – the best students, the best members of their community, the best people. Part of that is allowing them the freedom to suggest and to fail, to dream and to attempt. Not everyone is going to win the first time, or every time, or even any time, but providing the space and opportunities for our teens to become the humans they are meant to be is one of the things that is most fulfilling to me, personally as well as professionally. Having the library be the space that helps those things happen? That is the heart of it all. Being a YALSA Board member would help me to serve teens in a larger than my own community way.

How would you embed the concept of “teens first” in the work of the board?
I have a standard teens first concept, in both my library and my work with YALSA. At my library, we are constantly looking for ways to tie the library into the greater world at large, by working within our library community and by bringing our teens’ experiences and knowledge in to help expand library services. My advocacy for teens led me to gather statistics and lead focus groups to justify and create one of three fully staffed Teen Areas (at the time) in the state of Michigan. I helped create the strategic plan for my first library and made sure that teens’ voices were heard in that planning.

Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of the board of directors?
I believe librarianship is a service profession. Those services don’t stop in that in-between age when children age out of youth programs before they become adults. I’ve always been an advocate for teens and their rights, including teen specific spaces and services in the library. Bottom line is that I want teens to succeed and become well-rounded individuals with a taste for reading and a love for the public library. That’s why I am a public librarian and belong to YALSA. Working on the Board would give me a first-hand chance to help further the goal of teen service by helping other librarians to also foster those values.

About Meaghan Darling

Meaghan is the Youth Services Librarian at the Sparta Public Library in Sparta, New Jersey.
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