Since ALA Mid-Winter was conveniently located in Chicago this January, I decided to make the trip and attend the conference on Saturday. I had been to professional conferences before, but all for writing centers, not libraries. My first thought upon walking into the conference center was the same familiar feeling I got in writing center conferences: a bunch of people who are all passionate about one thing: libraries. I always love the energy at conferences; the energy that helps renew your passions and reminds you why you do what you do day in and day out.

My focus at Mid-Winter was seeing how ALA and the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation worked together to promote libraries to work with their communities to affect social change. They believe that public libraries should use their position in a community to help facilitate conversations that could lead to effective change. This is all under the ALA umbrella of Transforming Libraries. I was interested in these sessions because during my first semester in graduate school, I found myself drawn to and working with communities (both talking about community ideas in class and then working with a community for my assistantship). I’m currently taking a community engagement class and was interested to see Harwood’s spin on engagement.

After some freight congestion, I was able to attend two out of the four sessions: intentionality and sustaining yourself. Intentionality focused on the three As: authenticity, authority, and accountability. They wanted to make sure you deeply knew the community you were working with and followed through on promises. The final session, on sustaining yourself, focused on knowing personally what keeps you going (ways to destress and relax) and who you can talk to about frustrations and triumphs. Both sessions stressed small group discussion, which gave me the opportunity to meet other librarians (in all variety of roles). There was good discussion all afternoon however I left wishing I could have heard more from the pilot libraries who were coached by Harwood. Two different libraries gave short intros to start the sessions, but in five minutes, you can’t learn much about all the successes (and also the roadblocks).

In some ways, I felt out of my element at ALA. I was simply a student, one who didn’t have any long term experience in libraries. I could listen to conversations but sometimes felt I had nothing to add. However, at the same time, I got this great sneak peak into the professional world I’m preparing to jump with two feet into. Public libraries and communities are a big deal right now and if I can present a resume with experience in working with and for communities, then I help to separate myself from the rest of my peers competing for the job opening. What ALA and Harwood are picking up on isn’t a new concept — public libraries have been working with communities since they first began. These sessions serve as reminders that we as librarians are serving our community and should be an open, safe place to have tough conversations and conversations that begin to work towards social change.

Happy Monday, amazing YALSA members!

Can you believe it's already near the end of February?

For those who've made New Year's resolutions to be more involved in the profession, it's not too late!

The deadline to apply to join a YALSA strategic committee, jury, or taskforce is this Sunday, March 1st!

You can see the full list of committees and juries here.

Strategic committees are a great way to get involved with YALSA, as they are virtual committees. Or, if you are a new member and looking to try committee work for the first time, the strategic committees are a great way to learn about YALSA, connect with teen service professionals from around the country, and help you develop your virtual work skills and teen expertise. So, if travel and conference attendance aren't an option for you this year, please take a minute to fill out the volunteer form here and send it in before March 1st!

My Appointments Taskforce and I will begin the process to fill the over 200 open positions that help YALSA accomplish the work of the strategic plan and the work that moves the association and members forward immediately after March 1st, so please be sure to get your application in before then.

I strongly encourage all YALSA members to apply - it is an easy and great way to get more involved in this amazing association, especially if you are interested in joining a YALSA selection or award committee in the future.

Please feel free to contact me at candice.yalsa (at) gmail.com if you have any questions!

This is a guest post by Kristine Macalalad, a member of the Local Arrangements Committee for Annual 2015 in San Francisco.

Why do we attend conferences? Getting ourselves there - from making the case, finding the funding, pinning down all the details of travel and accommodations, leaving work in the middle of summer reading...all the way down to schlepping all those cardigans with us across a great distance - can be no small feat. So, why do we do it? Is it all that great swag? Is it the marvelous learning opportunities? Some might argue it’s all about the networking!

Some things are just done best in person, and one of those things is networking. For newbies and seasoned professionals alike, networking affords a chance to make beneficial connections. Imagine: hundreds of like-minded folks, many passionate about the same things, many friendly and wanting to help, and all under the same roof. Magic happens! Ideas are bounced around, brains are picked, burning questions are answered, and connections are made that can have lasting effects long after we return home.

How to do it? Read More →

YALSA sponsored a variety of programs and events at this year’s ALA Midwinter Conference held in snowy Chicago.  On Saturday morning, the YALSA Past Presidents held their Trends Impacting YA Services session.  This year’s program featured Dr. Mega Subramaniam, assistant professor at the College of Information Studies, University of Maryland.  Dr. Subramaniam’s research focuses on participatory design and connected learning; in an ALA press release she states:

“Surveys, interviews, and forming a youth advisory council are no longer sufficient when designing programs for young adults. This paper calls for a substantial paradigm shift in how librarians are trained and how libraries can be used to serve diverse youth. It is time to involve the young adults themselves as co-designers.”

Mega’s presentation slides from the session can be found here.  She discussed the transition from traditional, “in-situ” learning experiences (such as formal education) to a new landscape of “learning in the wild.”  Librarians can bridge this transition, especially in a profession newly shaped by the Future of Library Services for and With Teens report.  So, how do we design FOR teens, WITH teens?

Enter participatory design; Dr. Subramaniam shared seven methods that get teens directly involved with planning, other than the traditional “librarian asks what we should do next.”  These methods include use of sticky notes to shape idea processes, “bags of stuff” where teens build and create with provided supplies to see what ideas bubble up, a big-paper approach to teen-led brainstorming, layered elaboration, fictional inquiry, “the cool wall,” and storytelling.  At the end of the program Mega asked each table in the room to think about a current design process we use when working with youth and how we might reshape that in the lens of participatory design.  I came away from the session with a whole new idea of how to work with my TAB as we plan future events.

On Sunday afternoon YALSA members gathered for the Moving YALSA Forward session.  This program was planned in conjunction with the YALSA Board’s strategic planning process which was also taking place during the midwinter conference.  The board’s strategic planning facilitator, Alan Brickman, also facilitated this member session.  Instead of tacking the full strategic plan, Sunday’s discussion focused on the area of advocacy.  While advocacy can mean many things, Brickman framed it for this purpose as “a direct effort to impact policy, impact public awareness, and build libraries’ capacity to further both these impacts.”

Attendees were divided into four groups, each with an advocacy area of either awareness or capacity building.  The groups brainstormed what the optimal outcomes would be and what direct actions would lead to those outcomes.  As we worked our way through the still relatively new idea of planning with outcomes as opposed to activities, several great ideas rose to the surface.  After working together, each group posted their ideas on the wall and with sticky dots in hand attendees chose their five priorities.  Brickman will be consolidating the results of this session and sharing with the YALSA Board as they continue their strategic planning process.

Both of these programs felt very much in line with YALSA’s current work of assisting members to redefine their teen programs and also be advocates for the valuable services we offer our communities.  Check out YALSA’s page on advocacy to find useful resources, and the Future of Library Services for and with Teens report to see how connected learning can fit into your teen services.

During the Annual 2014 Conference, the YALSA Board approved an agenda item that proposed a new framework to formally include the voices of professionals in related fields with similar goals and objectives. The Advocates Advisory Panel will be charged with tackling a specific area of focus related to the Strategic Plan, the Future of Library Services for and with Teens report, or other topics as identified by the Board each year. The hope is that through this process, YALSA will gain valuable outside perspective on topics that are important for teens, expand its reach through new and/or strengthened relationships, and model the kind of collaborative, collective work that is called out in the Future report.

Because the Board approved the proposal in concept, as the author, I’ve been tasked with working with the Board Standing Committee on Capacity Building to create an inaugural focus and to hammer out some of the logistics. Although there’s obviously any number of topics that might be interesting to pursue with this, we decided that one viable option would be for the panel to consider strategies that YALSA might pursue in order to connect key principles and guidelines (such as the those presented in the Future report) to LIS education. We determined that this might be a sensible place to start because:

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Last fall, YALSA conducted a survey to get member input on the next strategic plan. The Strategic Planning Taskforce’s official report is now available as part of the YALSA Board’s 2015 Midwinter Meeting Board Documents. You can find it at item #26 on the agenda. If you have any responses to share on the survey, we would love to hear from you!

There are lots of strategic planning activities happening at Midwinter! The Board will be dedicating its Board Planning and Board I meetings to strategic planning sessions with consultant Alan Brickman (item #1 on the agenda). Like all Board meetings, these are open to all conference attendees, and you are welcome to drop in and observe. We’ll also be live tweeting from board meetings, so please follow @yalsa for more details.

Member involvement is a key part of successful strategic planning, so YALSA’s also hosting a member planning session at Midwinter: Moving YALSA Forward on Sunday, February 1, from 1-2:30 pm. This session will be facilitated by Alan Brickman as well. Advocacy emerged as an important theme in our member survey results, and it will be the main topic explored here. We hope you’ll come and participate in this session: we need to hear from as many members as possible to make it a success! Light refreshments will be available.

Read More →

We have all been in a situation where a manager or someone in a decision-making position makes a change that leaves everyone else saying, “What were they thinking? This is a mistake!” However, once the details of the decision process are learned, everyone usually agrees that it makes sense. The lack of information shared upfront when the change is announced can cause lots of unnecessary stress.

Change management was a phrase I have heard before and thought was corporate jargon. I started reading up on it to discuss it at the recent YALSA Exec Board fall meeting and realized how important it can be to lay a foundation for success. Change management is all about creating a well-thought out plan to see a change to fruition. One important part of that plan is communication. If the decision maker not only tells you what the change is, but also why it is happening, how it will be a positive change, the potential hazards of not making the change, and what everyone can do to help make the change happen smoothly, it can iron out the speed bumps created by misunderstanding and frustration.

In an effort to spread the idea of effective change management at a time when YALSA members are working to implement the ideas in The Future of Library Services For and With Teens report, the YALSA Board at Midwinter 2015 will be discussing a proposal to establish communication best practices. You can read the full document and all additional board docs on the YALSA governance page. If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions about this topic, please feel free to contact me, Carrie Kausch, at ckausch@gmail.com, or any other board member. If you will be attending Midwinter in Chicago, find us at the Saturday YALSA happy hour at Tavern Tap Pub at the Congress Plaza Hotel located at 520 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60605. Drop in any time between 5:30 and 7pm Saturday night!

Have you wanted to serve on a selection committee, but couldn’t manage to attend both Midwinter and Annual conferences? You’re not alone! In the 2014 Member Survey, several members stated they were looking for ways to get involved with YALSA virtually. For the past two years, YALSA has piloted the Margaret A. Edwards Award committee and the Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults committee as virtual committees. Virtual committees allow members who are not able to attend conferences to participate in selection committees, thereby making the organization stronger as more members are engaged in YALSA’s mission and work. Members of both committees were surveyed in April 2014 and their comments were mostly positive. Some members mentioned that communication on their virtual committees was more frequent than was their experience on traditional face-to-face committees. Board document #15 recommends that going forward, Margaret A. Edwards and PPYA should be virtual committees. The document also explores what other committees might be candidates for a future pilot and what additional support or training members of virtual committees might need. Remember, we’ll be live tweeting from board meetings, so please follow @yalsa for more details.

Questions, concerns or suggestions? Please send them to the following members of the YALSA Board Standing Committee on Membership:

Krista McKenzie (Chair)

Carla Land

Nicola McDonald

Rachel McDonald

http://www.ala.org/yalsa/board-directors

By Nicola McDonald

My role as YALSA Board Fellow has been such a rewarding learning and sharing experience! This Midwinter will be my first official full meeting as a board member and I’m looking forward to it.

Over the past six months, in addition to some wonderful things I’ve been able to do like work with specific chairs to help their committee work run smoothly and participating in various board and topic discussions, I was also able to write a board proposal around diversity on the YALSA board. All recent board documents will be presented during the YALSA Board meeting in Chicago at ALA Midwinter.

Originating as a Mega Issue that was discussed during ALA's 2014 conference, I decided to continue with the topic as a part of my YALSA board project. I'm proposing that YALSA focuses on taking steps to increase and maintain diversity on the board.

If you're heading to Chicago, be sure to stop in and check out this and other topics that will be discussed and decided on. Check out YALSA events in Chicago during Midwinter. Even if you won't be joining us in Chicago, you can follow @YALSA for updates on board actions as there will be live Tweets from the meetings.

This is a guest post from Susy Moorhead, a member of the Local Arrangements Committee for Annual 2015 in San Francisco.

In full disclosure: As I cannot mention all of the movements that call the Bay Area home nor can I give them full justice. I am going to briefly discuss a few of my favorites and I fully admit that Oakland, where I work, and San Francisco, where I live, will figure prominently.

The San Francisco Bay Area has long been an important spot for progressive social change. Many of the movements that started here or had this Area as an epicenter of activity you may already be familiar with. Some of the ones I find especially interesting are the Black Panthers, the American Indian occupation of Alcatraz, the push for equal opportunities for undocumented students and educational justice for all, and LGBT rights. Youth have been and continue to be very important parts of these movements. I will share brief overviews with you and give you links so you can find more information before your trip to the 2015 American Library Association conference and perhaps even visit some of these places. Read More →