YALSA Board: Organization & Bylaws Committee Update

For a while now, the YALSA Board has been looking at the new Organizational plan and considering ways to move forward and best serve our members. One change that we have decided to implement is standardizing the way that members come to serve on Awards Committees. Historically, the Alex, Morris, and Odyssey committee members have been appointed to committees, while the Edwards, Printz, and Nonfiction members have been varied–some members were appointed while other were elected by YALSA members.

After a vote by YALSA membership, the change has become official: where Edwards, Printz, and Nonfiction committee members once had multiple paths to follow, now all committee members will be appointed.

What these changes mean:

  • There is now only one path to the award committees. Each member will now go through the same appointments process at the same time
  • There is no longer any need for an Awards Nominating Committee as well as the second round of appointments that now happens after the election is over
  • There will hopefully be less eligibility issues, because oftentimes members put their name forward both through the nominating committee process and via the Committee Volunteer form. In the past, the nominating committee has not always known what other award committees the candidate may have signed up for

This change will simplify the process of serving on an awards committee for our members, as well as for members at large.

Another change that the YALSA Board has decided to implement in accordance with our Organizational Plan is the refocusing and renaming of the Governance Nominating Committee to instead become a Board Development Committee. This refocused committee will take on the role of board training and assessment, and will cultivate new leaders in YALSA. This change will also shift the responsibilities of the Executive Committee, allowing them to give more emphasis to ALA relations and fiscal oversight.

The Board Development Committee will begin their work on January 1, 2018, and will be evaluated after a year of work in order to assess the success of these changes.

These changes are meant to make YALSA more aligned with our Organizational Plan, and to make our organization simpler to navigate and more efficient for our members.

Please contact Melissa McBride, Chair of Organization & Bylaws, at mcbride.melissa[@]gmail.com or Sarah Hill, YALSA President, at gsarahthelibrarian[@]gmail.com with any questions or concerns.

Kelsey Socha is a member of the Organization & Bylaws Committee, a SLIS Master’s Candidate at Simmons College, and a librarian at several libraries in the Boston area.

YALS Spring 2017: ADVOCACY: A FOCUS ON PRIVACY AND SURVEILLANCE

This post is an invitation to check the Research Roundup column in the Spring issue of YALS. The column focuses on advocacy, activism and technology and provides a short overview on three resources and some ideas about how you might integrate the findings and recommendations into your work with youth.

Although I wrote the print column back in January, the column’s topic could not be more relevant. As I have been re-writing this post, both ALA and YALSA’s efforts to create awareness and action about the cuts in funding reveal the different forms that advocacy takes as well as its importance for libraries. At the same time, Congress decided not to pass a set of rules that would give consumers more control over what happens to the data regularly collected by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). While the exact consequences of this decision are not yet clear, this setback highlights the many challenges related to internet privacy. Coincidently, also in January, esteemed colleague Dr. Chelton published a Position Paper for YALSA on the protection of teens’ privacy from government surveillance. The paper examined the potential threats of a set of FBI guidelines that recommend the surveillance of Internet use by at-risk students in secondary schools in connection with recruitment by terrorist organizations. Among her suggestions, I would like to highlight the following two:

  • Take advantage of technology that protects library patrons’ privacy
  • Identify and work with community partners who are also committed to protecting teens’ rights

These two suggestions are directly connected to this month’s Research Roundup column and the two projects and the researcher that I invited teen librarians to explore. The two projects I discuss offer a manageable starting point for information professionals; easy for newbies and for those already involved in this type of tech-focused advocacy. Hopefully they will also strengthen teen librarians’ knowledge about privacy protection and data surveillance issues to feel more comfortable creating events and activities for and with teens about these topics.

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Gimme a C (for Collaboration!): Expanding Partnerships

I’ve been fortunate to be part of Limitless Libraries, Nashville’s groundbreaking collaboration between school and public libraries, from both the school and public library perspectives.  Students and teachers in Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) are automatically enrolled in Limitless Libraries, meaning their student and teacher ID numbers are also public library card numbers.  They can access all of Nashville Public Library’s (NPL’s) digital resources, and request physical materials that arrive through school delivery.  Additionally, Limitless Libraries supplements local schools’ library budgets to ensure all MNPS libraries have recent and relevant collections.

Shortly after Limitless Libraries began, a private donor, inspired by the collaborative spirit of the program, donated $1 million through the Nashville Public Library Foundation to renovate two MNPS libraries—one high school and one middle school.  NPL’s funding and renovation experience combined with MNPS’s knowledge of their students and best school library practices to produce welcoming and functional school libraries. As the librarian at the selected middle school, I worked with MNPS and NPL to create a student-centered, flexible-use space to meet the needs of our school.  We surveyed students and teachers to find out what they wanted in their library; their responses became part of the architect’s design.  Students selected the color scheme.  They told us they wanted a place to hang out in comfy chairs.  When the library opened the following school year, students saw how much their input mattered, and how integral they were to the design.  Needless to say, they LOVED it.

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Future Ready with the Library: How to … and Survive

This content was originally posted on the YALSA Future Ready with the Library Cohort Community of Practice and written by Stephanie Loiselle. The Future Ready with the Library project is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

image of circle of stick people of different colors cheeringMarch was a month that kept me hopping. I really enjoyed meeting so many people in the community, and hearing their concerns and interests. I met this month with people from the economic development committee, school board, superintendent, our business owners who belong to the Main Street organization, a couple of teen groups, and some interested parents. I still have meetings lined up with the school librarian, PTO, and our state rep who has been working with our manufacturing locations on how to attract more employees.

As I’ve talked with other Future Ready with the Library cohort members, I’ve expressed some frustration with the tendency of people to associate libraries with early literacy exclusively, which is actually my LEAST successful service area. Because of the conversations I’ve had, I look forward to really turning up my advocacy and letting the entirety of the town know what we are up to in serving middle school youth, and other teens too. Part of this will involve taking the library outside the walls for programs.
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Future Ready with the Library: College Career Readiness Community Roundtable

This content was originally posted on the YALSA Future Ready with the Library Cohort 1 community of practice and written by Christina Boyles. The YALSA Future Ready project is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services

On Monday, March 20th, my library hosted our first College and Career Readiness programming roundtable event. Our goal was to find out what our community members feel the youth in our community need in order to be successful. We personally invited community members (including teachers, school administrators, school counselors, school board members, county commissioners and parents) to the meeting, we encouraged youth to attend and it was advertised on Facebook, at the school literacy night and through word of mouth. We had food – I ordered pizza and breadsticks and had water available. We only had five adults and two middle school students attend. It was definitely not the turnout I was looking for – I had a lot more people say they were coming than who actually came – but that is okay. I know the people who attended care, I know they had opinions that they wanted to share and I was there to listen.

image of first page of handout from roundtableI started with a brief discussion on what the Future Ready with the Library project is all about and what the library’s goals are as a part of that project. As each person walked in I gave them a copy of the pamphlet I created that provides information on the project. I also gave everyone an article from Forbes on the top 10 things employers are looking for in employees and an article on the seven skills students need to succeed. Then I opened the floor for open discussion to the public and what followed was a fantastic two hour discussion.
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ALA Annual Visit: Chicago Coffee

To be honest, I just really need to tell you about this toasted marshmallow latte. Seriously, that’s the whole point of this post.

I’m not sorry. In fact, you’re welcome in advance!

Typically, I’m not a latte drinker. Instead, I tend to favor coffee. Plain and simple. The less frills the better, really. Except we all know some of the best roasts and roasting methods are quite fancy and the resulting flavors and aromas are often worth the wait. And, since we’re heading to Chicago I thought it might be fun to profile a few of my favorite coffee shops.

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Future Ready with the Library: On the Value of Risk

This content was originally posted on the YALSA Future Ready with the Library Cohort Community of Practice and written by Hannah Buckland. The Future Ready with the Library project is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

the setup getting ready to hike photoOne of my personal goals is to visit all 50 states before turning 30. After working every single day from January 2 through March 17 (thank you, second job), I took a week off to address this ambition. Off-beat road trips are my favorite–last summer I drove south along the Mississippi River until the road ended; in December, I followed an amazing secondary highway from Sterling, North Dakota down into Nebraska to visit Bailey Yard; this summer, I’ll be in Wyoming, camping in a fire tower–so of course I drove away on March 18 with goals of solo-hiking a very small stretch of the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina (plus a bonus detour to South Carolina). I would be lying by omission if I didn’t say I was nervous: I spent my first mile of trail with pepper spray at-the-ready and came embarrassingly close to incapacitating a squirrel that ran out in front of me. But as this fear subsided, I soon found myself enjoying the risk of walking alone through an unfamiliar place.
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Gimme a C (for Collaboration!): Book Clubs with Heart

Collaboration. In theory, an easy concept. As a school librarian, I understand the importance of collaborating with my public librarians, and I try my best. But if you are anything like me, sometimes knowing what you should do and actually being able to execute it are two totally different things.

When it came time to think of a topic to write about for this collaboration-themed post, I immediately thought of the program that is run jointly by Mira Johnson, the HS librarian in my district and Penny Kelley, our YA librarian at the public library. I thought I’d interview them about the program, the work involved, and the benefits and challenges.

Tell me about the book club:

We run a book discussion program with students in grades 5 to 7 based on the Jane Addams Peace Association’s book awards. These are “given annually to the children’s books published the preceding year that effectively promote the cause of peace, social justice, world community, and the equality of the sexes and all races as well as meeting conventional standards for excellence.” After reading and talking about the books together, we took a trip into New York City to attend the awards ceremony. We listened to the authors and illustrators make speeches and then we got to talk to them ourselves. We hold meetings at both libraries and we’ve made presentations about our club to the Board of Education, the Friends of the Library, the PTA, and other grade levels in the district.  

Where did the idea to start a book club focused on a book award come from and how did you decide to work together?

Penny’s been involved with the Jane Addams Peace Association for many years, and she always thought the ceremony would be great to bring kids to. Also, the books are always so good, and full of so many things to talk about. When she mentioned it to me, I said, yes, let’s go for it.

Because our community is so small, we decided to collaborate for some programs, so we wouldn’t compete for the same kids’ very limited time. Also, sometimes a school can be a more captive audience. We took advantage of this when we brought the JAB club to the high school’s public speaking class for practice on their presentation. That was a magical collaboration.

What challenges did you face?

Sometimes there was confusion over which library we’re meeting at, or slightly different equipment/WiFi in a different space. I think the kids got used to our different teaching styles and accommodated well. I also think it’s a good bridge—they get to see school and public libraries working together and see how we’re both working toward the same big goals!

The biggest challenge was probably getting approval from the school to miss school on a Friday. Also coordinating the permission slips was a little tricky. Technically, it was officially a public library trip, but because it was a school day, the school still needed copies of the permission slips, etc.

What has the response from the kids been?

I think they really get a lot out of it. The first year, we also visited the UN, and, although that made for an exhausting trip (!), they really “got” the ideas of peace and social justice that the Jane Addams Peace Association is all about. They connected the books to the art that’s all over the UN and the things the guide was saying as well.

Have you noticed an impact with the students because of the collaboration?

We now have a “social justice” vocabulary, a small collection of shared books in our brains, and some really fun, moving experiences. It’s such a great experience to meet and hear from authors and illustrators that you’ve met through their work.

Melissa McBride is a school librarian in Southold, NY. She is a member of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School-Public Library Cooperation and the YALSA Board of Directors. You can follow her on Twitter @SESLibraryLand.

Community Engagement, Workforce Development, and the Oboe

This post was originally published as a monthly reflection by Future Ready with the Library cohort member Hannah Buckland.

From last February through this February, I participated in the Native Community Development Institute (NCDI), an opportunity organized by the Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP). Three northern MN tribes each appointed seven-member teams, and MHP supported each team in planning a community-based project of our choice. The Leech Lake team–with representatives from K-12 education, telecom, HR, gaming, housing, planning, and the library–selected the huge task of building a workforce development center. Over the year, MHP guided our work through six in-person, two-day NCDI workshops where we learned about project management, leadership, partnerships, policy advocacy, and community engagement. When I first read the call for Future Ready applicants, I immediately connected these two projects.

Future Ready has us viewing community engagement from the perspective of librarians; however, for a sliver of time each week, I’m not a librarian but rather a person living in Bemidji, Minnesota. During this time, personally, community engagement happens through music, specifically through playing the oboe in a community concert band. When I first began playing at age ten, a band director told me that to form a proper embouchure, I should whisper the word “home” and close my mouth around the reed just as I reached the M sound, lips curling softly over teeth. I spent years teaching myself oboe, sitting on my bedroom floor with method books (ILL-ed through my public library before I knew what ILL was), awkwardly and repeatedly whispering “home” until muscle memory finally took hold. After high school band ended, I joined my first community band and have found one everywhere I’ve lived since. Without music, I’m not sure how I would create my sense of community, of home. Continue reading

ALA Annual Visit: Nature and Outdoor Fun

Chicago is a beautiful place in the summertime. After a long, cold (although in this year’s case not so snowy) winter the city comes alive. The cultural, cuisine, and sports attractions are all wonderful ways to pass a summer day, but it would be a shame to visit this city without also taking advantage of what nature has to offer.

Of course, the largest natural feature of the Chicagoland area is the Lake Michigan shoreline. On a warm day hitting the beach is a great option. North Avenue Beach, right on Lake Shore Drive, is a popular destination. With amenities like jetski, bike, and kayak rentals, volleyball courts, lockers, as well as concessions, there is something for everyone. The beach’s most iconic feature is the beach house, a blue and white building, built to look like an ocean liner.

North Avenue Beach

Also on Lake Shore Drive, but a little closer to downtown is Oak Street Beach. With great views of the city skyline and all the amenities of concession and rental, it does tend to be a little more crowded on hot days and there is only street parking. Farther south is Montrose Beach, another wonderful place to while away a summer day. A unique feature of this beach is a bird sanctuary. Over 300 species have been sighted there with early morning being the best time for bird watching. But, anytime of day the meadow and dunes is a peaceful contrast to the manicured park and busy city that surrounds.

For those who wish for a less sandy outdoor experience the Lincoln Park Conservatory is not to be missed. There are multiple display rooms within a Victorian style glass conservatory as well as beautiful surrounding gardens. Part of this large complex, that is attached to the Lincoln Park Zoo, is a hidden lily pond. Called the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, there is a stone walkway with prairie-style architectural structures, a pavilion, council ring, lots of shady trees, it’s a sanctuary in the midst of a bustling city.

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

The Chicago River is a natural feature nestled right in the middle of a cityscape that also offers opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Take a boat architecture tour led by Chicago Architecture Foundation docents. For those who desire more adventure, book a tour (the Ghosts and Gangsters of Hustlertown is one example) with Wateriders, or simply rent a kayak and paddle at your own pace.

However you choose to spend your time in Chicago, remember that even in the midst of the crowd and concrete of the city there are still opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and find some refuge in the more natural world.

Bridget Farrell is a middle school librarian in a northern suburb of Chicago.