Rethinking YALSA–Juries

During the organizational planning session at the 2016 Midwinter Meeting, the consultants encouraged the Board to embrace newer member engagement models that would allow YALSA to be faster and more flexible, while at the same time better meet member needs.

The YALSA Volunteer Form for strategic committees, juries, and task forces closed on March 1, and so I’ve been busy appointing chairs and members to fill the empty spots. The most important thing I’ve learned? We have awesomely qualified volunteers and too many committees! And so I was more than willing to bring a proposal to the board last week to improve the volunteer process for YALSA juries.

YALSA has 7 juries:

  • Collection Development Grant Jury
  • Conference Travel Scholarships Jury
  • Frances Henne Research Grant Jury
  • Great Books Giveaway Jury
  • MAE Award for Best YA Literature Program for Teens Jury
  • Volunteer of the Year Award Jury
  • Writing Award Jury

The Board approved the proposal as stated: “For 2016, the Board will experiment for one year with a new model for juries wherein they are only assembled for 3 months (Nov. – Jan.) and that jury members opt-in to participating instead of being appointed. Chairs will be the only appointed members, and will continue to be appointed by the President-Elect. This proposal is specifically for those juries that vet the member grant and award applications that have a Dec. 1 due date.”

Look for a call for jury volunteers in the YALSA eNews in September! If you already volunteered for a jury through the volunteer form, you’ll be given the first opportunity to opt-in to serve. Jury members will be selected on a first-come, first-serve basis and begin work on Nov. 1. Volunteers will still need to comply with existing eligibility requirements, such as current personal membership in YALSA and concurrent service on three or fewer appointed groups.

The Membership Engagement standing board committee will review the process in early 2017 and submit a recommendation to the Board for moving forward with juries. Of course, we anticipate that the process will go smoothly and that YALSA members will appreciate the short three-month term!

Over the next year, we’re hoping to find more ways to streamline YALSA procedures, while improving member experiences with the organization. Please let me know if you have any ideas! If you have any concerns or questions, feel free to comment below or email me at gsarahthelibrarian at

The YALSA Election: CPI Ballot Measure and More

vote image with check-mark
ALA/YALSA elections open today. On the YALSA ballot (a sample ballot is available), along with candidates for elected positions, there is also a ballot measure about dues. This is a proposal to determine dues rates according to the Consumer Price Index. If you want to know more about the YALSA Board decision-making process that led to this proposal, check out the document discussed by the YALSA Board at ALA Annual 2015.

We expect that some YALSA members probably have questions about this measure so the Capacity Building Committee of the YALSA Board put together a set of Frequently Asked Questions.
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YALSA Division Councilor’s Report – 2016 Midwinter Conference, Boston

Before I provide a short wrap-up of the ALA Council proceedings at the 2016 Midwinter conference in Boston, please let me start by sharing what an honor it is to begin service as the YALSA Division Councilor. Previous YALSA Division Councilor Vicki Emery (who continues to serve as an at-large member of Council) is a tough act to follow, but I will do my best to continue to bring the issues that affect YALSA members to ALA Council, and communicate any “big ALA” issues that are of interest to the YALSA Board and membership as appropriate.


At the 2016 Boston Midwinter Council meetings, the first resolution brought before the body was a resolution that condemned Islamophobia. This measure was taken as staff and patrons who appear to be Muslim have been victims of Islamophobia. Council passed the resolution unanimously.

The next topic discussed was a resolution concerning accessibility to ALA conferences and meetings by people with disabilities. This received a resounding approval, and a task force (appointed by ALA President Sari Feldman) to has quickly been formed since the Boston conference. The Conference Accessibility Task Force will:

  •       Collect data from ALA members and conference attendees with disabilities;
  •       Establish a process for reviewing and addressing accessibility problems;
  •       Draft accessibility guidelines to be used by ALA in reviewing contracts, to ensure ADA and WCAG compliance;
  •       Research best practices for accessibility training and make a recommendation for implementation;
  •       Report progress to Council during the ALA Annual Conference 2016 in Orlando and ALA Midwinter Meeting 2017 in Atlanta; and,
  •       Make a final report, with recommendations, to Council at the ALA Annual Conference 2017 in Chicago.

The Library of Congress subject heading “illegal aliens” was decried in another resolution, with those supporting a resolution favoring the term “undocumented immigrants”. This also easily passed.

A resolution supporting the 2015 Advocacy Implementation Plan was discussed and passed. This recommends communication among all bodies of ALA when making advocacy efforts so that there is a consistent message to lawmakers and constituents when it comes to library issues.

Among the Memorial resolutions was one in honor of former YALSA Deputy Executive Director Linda Waddle, moved by the Division Councilor and seconded by past president Kim Patton.

All of the Council actions taken at Midwinter can be found here.

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Update from the Diversity Taskforce

YALSA’s commitment to serving the needs of our ever changing teen population informs everything we do. Our Vision Statement says in part:

“In every library in the nation, quality library service to young adults is provided by a staff that understands and respects the unique informational, educational and recreational needs of teenagers. Equal access to information, services and materials is recognized as a right not a privilege.  

To fulfill this vision YALSA realized the need to be more intentional about efforts to make our leadership reflect the population we serve. In other words, to provide the best possible leadership for our organization and the best possible service to teens, voices that represent the teens we serve must be at the table.

Overall the US population is getting more and more diverse, but the population of those under 18 is already close to “majority minority.” As of 2014, 48% of the US population aged 18 and under belong to a racial or ethnic minority group. The percentage is expected to rise to 64.4% by 2060. Staying mindful of our vision, YALSA’s leadership created the Board Diversity Task Force, charged with studying the question, examining our practices, and making recommendations for addressing this issue. The Task Force is chaired by former YALSA Board Fellow Nicola MacDonald, currently a Library Manager at New York Public Library. Task Force members include Trixie Dantis, a Teen Librarian at Arlington Heights Memorial Library in Illinois and an incoming YALSA Board Fellow; Alexandra Annen, Adult Services manager at Homer Township Library in Illinois; and Carla Riemer, a librarian at Claremont Middle School in Oakland, CA.

The first step was to agree on a working definition of diversity. It was critical to  formalize our understanding that diversity goes far beyond culture. We proposed the following:

YALSA strives to be inclusive of a range of libraries and youth-serving organizations within a variety of geographic locations. YALSA further commits to being inclusive of representation from diverse cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds, professional skill and experience levels, economic statuses, ages, ideologies, gender, sexual orientations, and abilities.

The next step was to examine our process for nominating board members. It became clear early on that the task force also needed to examine the committee appointment process. Given that board members serve on committees before reaching this level of leadership, it was important to put diversity aware practices in place here too, in order to fill the pipeline.

The board has approved the following updates to the Board Governance Nominating Committee and Awards Nominating Committee charges, as recommended by the task force:

  • the process of selecting candidates will incorporate attention to YALSA’s working definition of diversity
  • education about committee and board service will include outreach via multiple social outlets as well as partnership with round tables and interest groups to enable reaching a broader range of potential candidates
  • a commitment to diversity and inclusion will be added to the list of candidate qualifications
  • experience working with diverse populations will be incorporated into candidate evaluations
  • the process will be examined after each election cycle with an eye to making any changes needed to improve effectiveness

The Board Diversity Task Force will continue working through June and will submit further recommendations to the board regarding ways to help reach our goal of improving leadership diversity. The end result should be opening the door wider and giving voice to more points of view. We firmly believe that this is not a zero sum game. Adding voices to our leadership enhances our ability to grow and change along with our teen population, keeping us relevant and able to provide the support teen librarians need in order to “understand and respect the unique informational, educational and recreational needs of teenagers.”


YALSA NEEDS YOU – for our Competencies Update Taskforce!

What skills, qualities and competencies do library staff need in order to provide the best services and support to the teens and tweens in our communities?

Volunteer to help YALSA update its “Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth” document, with particular emphasis on aligning the document to the principles in the Futures Report, since the document was last updated in 2010!

More information about the document, taskforce charge and more may be found below:

YALSA’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth: Young Adults Deserve the Best (2010)

Competencies Update Task Force (Charge)

Review the current document called “Young Adults Deserve the Best: Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth” and update the language and content, as needed, to ensure it reflects the mission and core values of teens services as described in The Future of Library Service for and With Teens: A Call to Action. Provide a draft for the Spring Executive meeting, and submit a final report with recommended changes for Board consideration by Annual 2016. Task force size: 5 – 7 virtual members, including the Chair.

Previous Competencies Update drafts:

Please email me at candice.yalsa [at] if you are interested in serving on this important taskforce!

President’s Report – November & December 2015

Happy Winter!

Can you believe it’s already February?!

It’s been a whirlwind since ALA Annual, and here’s what I’ve worked on in November & December 2015:


  • Attended YALSA’s inaugural YA Services Symposium in Portland, OR, and welcomed participants at Opening Reception, Author Luncheon for Jack Gantos (who I like to call the “Johnny Cash of YA Lit”) and Closing Ceremony Poetry Slam
  • Solicited feedback and topics for the Fall Executive Meeting from Board members.
  • Recruit board members to take the lead on various proposals, discussions, and more
  • Participated in, coordinated and led discussions at YALSA Fall Executive Meeting, which was held in Portland, OR, after the YA Services Symposium
  • Assigned Executive Committee members to blog about different topics from the YALSA Fall Executive Committee Meeting and Strategic Planning sessions
  • Called for discussion and vote on adoption of YALSA’s revised Board Meeting Guidelines
    • Motion passed, the guidelines have been adopted and will be added to the YALSA Handbook
  • Called for discussion and vote on
  • Hosted first YALSA Member Townhall Tweet-up of the year on November 30th, 2015
  • Hosted second YALSA Member Townhall Tweet-up on December 18th, 2015
  • Filled chair and member vacancies on YALSA’s Financial Advancement Committee (Thanks so much, Jane Gov, Alida Hanson and Tiffany Williams!!!)
  • Filled vacancy on 2017 Alex award committee (Thank you Diana Tixier Herald!)

Works in Progress

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YALSA Board @ Midwinter: Nominating Committees

Have you considered running for YALSA governance? Do you know someone who would be great on the board? or would you like to nominate someone to be on the Printz, Nonfiction, or Edwards committee?

If so, take a look at the names listed below.  They are on the 2017 Nominating Committees for Governance or Awards. Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 1 2016, the Governance & Award Nominating Committees will be seeking and vetting candidates for the following positions: President-Elect, Fiscal Officer, Board Member-at-large, Edwards Award Committee member, Nonfiction Award Committee member, and Printz Award committee member.  It is their responsibility to recruit, vet, and select candidates for the slate. When building the slate, they seek out the most qualified individuals as well as provide for broad representation, including but not limited to representation of the membership by diverse background, type of library, special interest, and geographic location.

Please contact the chairs of the committees if you have any questions about serving or would like to nominate someone.

Governance Nominating: Chair Paula Brehm-Heeger (paula.brehm-heeger @, Abigail Phillips, Shannon Peterson, Christopher Shoemaker, Sarah Sogigian

Awards Nominating: Chair Franklin Escobedo (adrithian @, Amber Creger, Valerie Davis, Barbara Moon, Elizabeth Schneider

YALSA Board @ Midwinter – Overview

Happy post-Midwinter!

The YALSA board started off Midwinter on Friday with training session on best practices in association governance. All day Saturday, Board members worked with a consultant from the Whole Mind Strategy Group on organizational planning.

Based on those discussions, several key topics rose to the top as ones most likely to become the focus of the organizational plan. They were: advocacy, continuing education, cultural competency promotion, leadership development, partner/funder relations, and state level outreach.

The goal is to develop a focused and responsive plan which will help YALSA meet the needs of members and advance teen services in libraries across the country. Based on the outcomes of the organizational planning discussions, the consultant will help the Board draft a new, 3 year plan.

We hope to have that in place by March 1st.

While the planning discussion took up all of the Board’s meeting time on Saturday, there were still other topics that the Board discussed at the business portion of their meeting on Sun. and Mon.

Those topics included:

  • Diversity on YALSA’s Board: the board voted to approved the taskforce’s recommended updates to the nominating committees’ charges and asked the taskforce to submit a formal request to the board for adoption of a diversity definition for YALSA. The board had some questions and feedback regarding the proposed checklist for nominating committees’ use and sent that document back to the taskforce for further work
  • Dues categories & rates: the board voted to table this issue until after organizational planning is complete
  • Updating YALSA’s Competencies for Librarians Serving Youth: the board reviewed the latest draft and had further recommendations for refinement
  • YALSA’s portfolio of guidelines and position papers: the board approved the proposal to have staff work on updating some of these documents in the short-term

Check out the full board agenda and documents online to get the details of what the board talked about. We will also be posting meeting minutes there in the next week or so. You can also read the accompanying blog posts on the YALSAblog that other Board members have been sharing out since we’ve returned from Boston.

If you have question about a particular agenda item or issue or would like more details about it, feel free to e-mail me or any of YALSA’s Board members.

I will also be hosting another virtual town hall via a Twitter chat on Fri. February 5th from noon to 1:00 p.m., Eastern, and I hope you can join in!

Drop in any time during the hour to learn more about organizational planning and board activities and follow along with #yalsachat.

I would love to hear your thoughts about the potential focus areas for the new plan: advocacy, continuing education, cultural competency promotion, leadership development, partner/funder relations, and state level outreach.

Also, feel free to follow Executive Director Beth Yoke (@yalsa_director), myself (@tinylibrarian), and/or other YALSA Board members for tweets about the work of the board!

Thoughts about Book Selection Lists

enhanced-buzz-24540-1374618713-43In the afterglow of the Youth Media Awards comes the distribution of YALSA’s latest selection lists. These lists have long been resources for both readers’ advisory and collection development, keeping library staff abreast with the new and wonderful. There was a time when the Best Books for Young Adults list (now re-envisioned as the more narrowly focused Best Fiction for Young Adults) delivered many new book choices for library staff to add to the young adult collection.

That was then. Now it’s not unusual for library staff working for and with teens to discover books before they are even published, via web sites like NetGalley, Edelweiss, or by direct publisher contact. There are many networking opportunities, including the yalsa-bk listserv, that crackle with vitality, producing on-the-spot book recommendations and compiled lists.  The YALSA Hub has hundreds of lists on current topics. In addition, there are fabulous blogs about young adult literature, some by library workers, and some by teens. Surely YALSA’s carefully chosen book selections should be somewhere in this swell of activity. Unfortunately, they don’t generate the buzz of online exploration and discovery.

We can do better. It’s time for transformation!

8792688521_2f7538d895_mrHere’s an example. In 1988, YALSA (then YASD) compiled five annual genre lists, covering  Horror, Mystery, Romance, Sports, and Science Fiction. Eventually, Fantasy, Humor, and Historical Fiction were also included. In 1996, these lists were replaced by the Popular Paperbacks selection committee.

The Popular Paperbacks list continues the process of compiling  topical lists. The committee chooses topics that might be of ongoing interest to teens, such as the genres above. The books must be available in paperback, to keep them within easy purchasing range. It allowed libraries to stay on top of teen reading fads without breaking the budget.

It was a fabulous idea – twenty years ago.

But the appeal of paperbacks has changed over the past two decades. They used to look cool stuffed in the back pocket of blue jeans. Tucked inside a textbook, they allowed teens to read Judy Blume instead of history. Those paperback spinners that once housed countless volumes of Babysitter’s Club and Fear Street serials now are storage headaches. Current paperbacks are often too large to fit in the spinners. Add in the growing popularity of e-books, and Popular Paperbacks just doesn’t sound very hip.

girl readingBut dynamic lists on fascinating topics? Always in demand.

I certainly don’t mean to pick on the Popular Paperbacks committee. It’s dear to my heart because I served on that committee for three years; I met a lot of great library folk and learned much from them. And the 2016 chair, Katie Salo, led her committee in developing some awesome lists. Thank you, and all of those who worked so hard on this year’s impressive selection lists.

The YALSA Board is currently involved in organizational planning, driven by the call to action in YALSA’s Futures Report. In taking a step back, we can really focus on how best to build YALSA so that it is aligned with the vision of teen services as outlined in the report. With that momentum, we are well-positioned to support members as we all strive to build a futures-focused teen program at our libraries.  The Board is working with an expert on organizational planning who has encouraged us to embrace an “everything is on the table” approach that allows us to think about  the kinds of support members need most, including collection development and content curation, and how we best provide that.

This topic and its relation to selected lists like PPYA is actually just one example of what the board will be considering once a new plan is in place and the work of aligning existing programs, services, initiatives and resources begins.  The goal is to have a draft plan put together by early Feb., work throughout the month to refine it and have a final, new plan in place by March 1.  The aligning work will take place after that and lead to the development of proposals for the board’s consideration, most likely at their meeting in June.

To keep up to date on the organizational planning process, check the YALSAblog for regular updates. And join YALSA president Candice Mack for her Member Town Halls on Twitter via the #yalsachat hashtag. The next one will be Friday, Feb. 5, noon to 1:00 pm (Eastern).

It’s a good time to look ahead.

YALSA Board @ Midwinter 2016: The Fundraising Plan

The Charge of the YALSA Financial Advancement Committee (FAC) states that the Committee “provide[s] oversight and continued enhancement of the Friends of YALSA (FOY) program, including fundraising efforts and donor recognition”.  As a part of that work, FAC develops and presents a fundraising plan to the YALSA Board for approval each year. At their Midwinter meetings in Boston, the YALSA Board will review and take action on item 22, FAC’s proposed 2016 plan.  The Board wants to act on the item during their Midwinter Meetings so that FAC is able to move forward with their plans without interruption.

An effective Fundraising Plan is integral to YALSA’s ability to support several FOY initiatives. These include the Advocacy Travel Stipend, support of the ALA Emerging Leader Program, support of the ALA Spectrum Scholar Program, and the association’s Board Fellow.  All of these give YALSA the opportunity to help members grow professionally.

For the 2016 plan, FAC outlined a set of year-long virtual and face-to-face initiatives that provide YALSA advocates a variety of opportunities to give to FOY.  If you have questions about FAC, FOY, or other YALSA financial topics feel free to get in touch with FAC Chair Jane Gov or YALSA’s Fiscal Officer Linda W. Braun.

All YALSA Board Meetings are open to Midwinter Meeting attendees. Feel free to drop by for a short or long period of time. The meetings are an excellent way to learn what YALSA is working on and get a sense of how the association’s governance works. If you’re not in Boston, follow @yalsa for live Tweets from the meetings.  


Jane Gov is a librarian in the City of Pasadena, CA and Financial Advisement Committee Chair.