2019 YALSA Election: An Interview with President-Elect Candidate Amanda Barnhart

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!

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: Amanda Barnhart – North East Branch Manager – Kansas City Public Library

What best qualifies you for being President-elect?
I believe my two year experience as the YALSA liaison best qualifies me for the role of President-elect. My service in this capacity has provided me with an insight into the functions of eleven ALA groups and has impressed upon me the importance of collaboration to accomplish varying goals. In this role, I have contributed to such activities as developing the form for reporting on liaison conference activities and participating in ALA working groups to update six documents for the upcoming Intellectual Freedom manual (10th ed.). In addition to supporting the eleven ALA groups, I have solicited input from them on our initiatives and shared our work. All of these efforts require staying abreast of YALSA board work and sharing information in a timely manner to YALSA leadership, the YALSA membership, and the ALA groups by phone, email, e-lists, the YALSA e-newsletter, the YALSAblog, and ALA Connect. It also requires attendance for the related conference calls, virtual meetings and in-person conference meetings scheduled by these ALA groups. Also, I have served on YALSA committees for the Advancing Diversity Task Force (6 month term), Organization and Bylaws (1 year term), and Teen Read Week (2 year chair term and 2 year member term). Your vote for me would be supporting an individual who is knowledgeable on current YALSA board work and has experience in connecting YALSA’s accomplishments to ALA groups.

How do you envision furthering the mission of YALSA as the President-elect?
I would continue to support the furthering of collaboration with partners. My effort invested towards building stronger ties to the ALA groups demonstrated the importance of working together to increase our impact.

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 have fifteen years of experience in library services and programs for and with teens, nine of which I was a library support staff member. In addition, my role shifted into branch management this past year where I support staff in our work and in the concept that “We All Serve Youth.” We can best serve our teen populations when everyone has a hand in contributing towards that goal and those combined efforts enrich the opportunities we provide for continuous learning in libraries.

What about YALSA’s Organizational Plan excites you most and why?
Knowing that the current YALSA 3-year organizational plan will be reinvisioned and aligned with the strategic plan that the board is working on, I am most excited to see a new organizational plan that continues to emphasize the importance of diversity, but further incorporates equity and inclusion into its focus. YALSA’s new Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) plan supports the development of continued conversation and education in these areas as well as provides opportunities for greater action, evaluation and accountability for activities around these concepts. The work we put into increasing our knowledge around EDI will strengthen our efforts in library services for and with teens. I am also eager to continue to see our work impacting continuing education opportunities for all library staff. At every level of my career I have found YALSA resources to benefit my work and community’s needs and in my latest managerial role I continue to take a cue from YALSA’s Recommended Actions for Stakeholders, which can be found in the resource Transforming Library Services For and With Teens Through Continuing Education.

How would you embed the concept of “teens first” in the work of the board?
The “teens first” mindset provides a wholistic approach in supporting the youth in our communities and this foundation is crucial in reaching some of our most vulnerable teen populations. These two words are the core of who we are and what we do and I would continue to articulate this emphasis throughout the membership.

Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of the board of directors?
I committed myself to supporting teens in libraries for many years, even before I realized I wanted to continue to do so as a career choice. It is with pride that I run for office and pledge my service to YALSA in this role for an organization that has created numerous resources that guide my work. I thank you for your time in reading my comments and in participating in this next electoral process.

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