About Chris Shoemaker

I'm a YALSA Past President. I blog about YA programming, technology instruction for people interested in teen services, and YALSA governance stuff. I like baking and dislike humidity.

Rethinking YALSA: Member engagement part 2

As YALSA works towards the new intended impact statement laid out in the 2016 – 2018 organizational plan, the board is looking at member engagement opportunities that best fit with the implementation plan to achieve the plan’s priorities. These member engagement opportunities are not only the way that the work of the association gets done, but also are ways to support member to member connections and foster leadership skills.

Right now, most associations are built around a traditional committee model, which were established before virtual work environments were popular. That model requires a long time commitment from members and leaders, demands oversight and input from boards and staff, and is slow to produce results. In many cases, it also limits professional development opportunities by sequestering volunteers away from additional networking and learning activities.

One trend associations are exploring are microvolunteering opportunities, or adhocracies, where interested parties gather together around a need and work for a short period of time to deliver timely, relevant resources. These volunteer experiences can impact a member community much more quickly than the standard model, increase the number of leadership opportunities, and allow members with similar interests to connect with one another. Volunteers are also able to give time as their schedule allows, stepping back and returning to projects as their schedules allow.

Different engagement methods also allow members to better connect with members. YALSA generally receives over 1,000 volunteers for just over 300 committee spots. That leaves at least 700 members interested in doing work that moves the mission of YALSA forward, but with the onus of work on them. They can connect with other members through interest groups, YALS, YALSA Blog, the Hub, Programming HQ, and JRLYA, but those activities aren’t necessarily built around networking and bonding either.

So what does this mean for right now? Well, the board is doing a limited pilot this fall with YALSA’s 7 juries. Sarah Hill blogged about the changes in April, and you can find that post here. It also means the board will be looking at the ways the work gets done, the activities laid out in the implementation plan, and best way to keep members engaged with the mission of YALSA!

Do you have feedback on the organizational plan? Fill out our brief survey here.

YALSA member townhall – Storify!

Happy Monday!

With different time zones, complicated work schedules, and programs to host, sometimes it’s hard to be part of a discussion. I wasn’t able to attend Candice’s first twitter town hall last week, but I wanted to check out the comments and the questions. And then I went and created a storify so that others who couldn’t attend were also able to see the discussion and find out what all was on the mind of our members who participated.

Please take a moment to check it out here!

If you have any comments or questions, please share them in surveylink, or in the comments below.

Board wrap-up from Annual 2015

I’m very proud of all the work that the 2014-2015 YALSA Board has accomplished, and wanted to share with you some of the highlights of our work from Annual last month.

  • The board approved the proposed Professional Values document, which outlines nine core values that define professionalism for those who work for and with teens through libraries
  • The board discussed Member Recruitment and directed the Standing Board committee on Member Recruitment & Engagement to explore the issue further and bring recommendations back to the board
  • The board discussed ways that YALSA might better support members in their Collection Development  and content curation efforts and determined a first step would be to compile resources on YALSA’s wiki
  • The board passed a policy designed to encourage a broader segment of the membership to participate in Selection Committees .  Beginning Feb. 1, 2016 any individual who has served on any YALSA award committee will need to wait two years before they’re eligible to serve on another YALSA award committee
  • The board voted to establish an Award & Selection Committees Oversight Committee to help ensure that these committees have the support they need to run smoothly
  • The board decided to put a proposal to the membership to vote on tying YALSA Dues to the Consumer Price Index, which will appear on the 2016 ballot
  • The board got an update on what is being done to align resources and activities with the Futures Report
  • The board approved a petition to establish a Teen Mental Health Interest Group.

To learn more, check out the Board agenda and documents as well as the meeting minutes.

At the conclusion of the board meeting, I turned over the reins to Candice Mack, who will be the awesome 2015 – 2016 YALSA President.

The Board’s next meeting will be at the 2016 ALA Midwinter Meeting, Jan. 8 – 12. We’re looking forward to seeing YALSA members in Boston! And remember, YALSA’s YA Services Symposium is coming up in Portland, Oregon, November 6 – 8.

Thanks for all that you do to make YALSA an amazing association and I enjoyed working with you all this past year!

Board Preview for Annual 2015

Board Activities at ALA Annual

YALSA’s Board has been hard at work since Chicago; working on the strategic planning process, continuing the roll-out of activities related to the Futures report, planning for ALA Annual at San Francisco. And now, the Annual Conference is fast approaching, and I’m looking forward to the Printz Ceremony on Friday night, brunching with Sharon Draper at the Edwards Award Event on Saturday morning, talking with members at Saturday’s Member Happy Hour, and so much more. You can find the details about these events and many more YALSA activities on the YALSA wiki.

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Call for volunteers – community Connections Taskforce

One highlight from YALSA’s Future of Library Services for and with Teens is the importance of “partnering strategically to reach beyond the library’s walls” for libraries and communities to successfully work for and with teens. (p. 21-24). In order to best help members do this, YALSA’s board approved the creation of a Community Connections Taskforce. For libraries looking to begin or build on existing partnerships, the work of the committee will help members answer questions about partnerships, including:

  • Why collaborate or partner? What are the benefits? Why do libraries need to do it?
  • How might libraries identify or assess needs in their community and how the library might play a role?
  • What partnerships might I want to replicate from other library partnerships – big, small, rural, urban, school, public?
  • What do libraries might offer to partners?
  • What are the outcomes to this partnership?
  • How do I reach out to potential partners?


The taskforce is currently accepting volunteers. You can volunteer by submitting a volunteer form here – just look for the committee volunteer form and get started.

The committee charge is below. Please reach out to me or Candice Mack if you have any questions!

Community Connections Taskforce
Charge: compile existing and, as needed, develop new resources for members on the topic of using community engagement and partnerships to address teen needs. Resources must address the following key topics: rationale for pursuing community partnerships; strategies for assessing teen and community needs and identifying possible partners; examples of organizations that could serve as potential partners; asset mapping of library resources to determine what the library can bring to a partnership; and turn-key resources libraries can adapt and use, such as sample email messages to potential partners, community needs assessment tools, asset map checklist, etc. As completed, promote the community connections resources with the assistance of YALSA staff and member leaders through a variety of YALSA and other channels, including but not limited to: YALSAblog posts, webinars, Academy videos, Google Hangouts, and presentations at conferences. Size: 5-7 virtual members, including the Chair. Term: from August 1, 2015 to January 31, 2017.

YALSA Member Town Hall – May 14th

I hope you will join me from 8:00 – 9:00pm, eastern, on Thursday May 14th for the next YALSA Member Virtual Town Hall!

I’ll be providing an update on what YALSA leaders and staff have been doing to realign YALSA’s programs and services towards the Futures Report in order to better serve members.  Some exciting new resources are coming, so don’t miss the chance to get the inside scoop!  I’ll also build in lots of time so members can share their thoughts on other actions you’d like YALSA to take to better support you in your efforts to implement the recommendations in the report.

Advance registration is not required and the event will be held via YALSA’s webinar platform, Adobe Connect.  The event will be recorded for anyone who cannot attend some or all of the live session.

Looking forward to chatting with you soon!

YALSA Exec committee Update

On April 17th YALSA’s Executive Committee met by conference call for its semi-annual meeting to discuss several ongoing and two new issues.  The agenda and related documents for this meeting can be found in theGovernance section of YALSA’s web  site.  Some highlights from the meeting include:

  • Talking through possible next steps in order to advance YALSA’s strategic planning effort.  YALSA will be putting out an RFP to identify a consultant who can support YALSA leaders as we work to become more outcomes focused and to develop a new plan for YALSA that aligns with the Futures Report
  • Thinking about how the work of the relatively new board standing committees can be organized to best support the mission of YALSA and increase the impact of the great work that member committees, juries, taskforces and advisory boards do
  • Discussing the draft FY16 budget and talking about how best to prioritize activities and align resources in order to best support members in the coming fiscal year
  • Reviewing the recommendations from the Selection Committee Evaluation Taskforce, whose work has focused on examining the six award committees to look for opportunities to improve or streamline processes in order to make the work of these groups easier and more coordinated.

There were two items we did not have time to get to, but that we plan to explore in our virtual work space: determining an oversight process for YALSA’s upcoming teen programming database and thinking about targeted member recruitment.  The minutes of this meeting can be found in the Governance section of YALSA’s web site.  It’s important to note that YALSA’s Executive Committee is not the decision making body of the organization, and that no decisions were made during the meeting.  The Committee may, however, decide to advance some of the discussions and/or make some recommendations to the board for their meeting in June.  YALSA’s Board of Directors has just begun to explore the topics and issues they feel are a priority to discuss at their June meeting,  If you have any recommendations for areas of focus for the board, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.  It’s an exciting time for YALSA and I’m grateful to be able to work on behalf of such enthusiastic and creative members!

YALSA President’s Report – February 2015

February President’s Report
Just a quick update from a short month! The Board has been having quite a number of conversations related to strategic planning, and I invite you to the next town hall – May 14th at 8pm EST to be part of the discussions!

  • Hosted YALSA member town hall to discuss member implementation of the recommendations from the Futures report.
  • Led a Board Planning Session which focused on outcomes training and ways to incorporate outcomes into YALSA’s strategic planning process.
  • Prepared board standing committees for revised quarterly chair report review process
  • Appointed members to fill vacancies on various committees.
  • Facilitated online discussion and voting for student engagement taskforce, programming guidelines, and the president’s program.
  • Spoke with Santa Rose Press about teens and library usage


  • Elections begin March 24 and run through May 1.
  • Congratulations to the winners of YALSA’s writing awards: Shari Lee, Sarah Ludwig, Jaina Shaw, and Anna Tschetter.
  • See you in San Francisco, Lisa Castellano, Lauren Lancaster, and Alicia Tate, the winners of YALSA’s Conference Travel Grants.
  • Happy collection development to Kay Hones, Christy James, and Joan Yarsa, whose libraries are receipts of materials from YALSA’s Great Books Giveaway
  • Special shout out to Sarah Hashimoto and Robin Fogle Kurz, the winners of YALSA’s Volunteer of the Year award.
  • Peggy Hendershot brought diversity to the forefront of her teen discussions and won the MAE award for best literature program
  • Smooth ordering to Brandt Ensor, Jean Forness, Graig Henshaw, Carolann MacMaster, Emma McCandless, Brooke Nelson, Emily Otis, and LaRaie Zimm, the winners of the MAE collection development grants.


  • Membership – 5,168 members in Jan, up 1% over this time last year
  • Donations – $2,029.21

YALSA President’s Report – January 2015

Thanks again to all who braved the snowy weather to be part of the 2015 Midwinter Meetings, as well as those who chose to participate virtually with the board and other activities. It was a busy January, and I’m thrilled with all the work that members and the YALSA Board accomplished. Here’s a peek at what I’ve been doing:


  • Currently appointing to the new Board Diversity Taskforce, which will look at and make recommendations regarding the selection and recruitment of YALSA leaders. If you’re interested in serving, please send me an e-mail and/or submit a volunteer form.
  • With Executive Director Beth Yoke and the board, finalized agendas for Midwinter YALSA Executive Committee and Board meetings.
  • Led discussions at YALSA Board meetings. Draft minutes of those discussions will be posted here.
  • Led discussions during two YALSA Executive Committee meetings. Draft minutes of those discussions will be posted here.
  • Led a Board Planning Session which focused on outcomes training and ways to incorporate outcomes into YALSA’s strategic planning process.
  • Attended formal and informal meetings with Division and ALA leaders at the Midwinter conference.
  • Highlighted the work of YALSA selection committees at the Youth Media Awards.
  • Hosted and celebrated Nonfiction and Morris award winners and finalists at the Midwinter reception.
  • Appointed members to fill vacancies on various committees.
  • Spoke with CNN regarding the importance of the Morris Award and recognizing new authors.
  • Spoke with U.S. News and World Report about teen library engagement.

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