Questions for Coffee with the Candidates

This year’s candidates for YALSA leadership will talk with members and share ideas for YALSA’s future during the Coffee with the Candidates event on Sunday, Jan. 22 from 10:30 – 11:30 in GWCC B202.

We hope to spend a good deal of this year’s candidate discussion hearing from members about your ideas/challenges for YALSA.  If you can’t make the Midwinter event in Atlanta, take a minute to review the 3-year organizational plan and post your questions for the candidates here on the blog.  We will be sure that the candidates take the time to address the questions received by those attending in-person and also any posted to the blog in advance of Sunday morning’s event.

Re-envisioning the ALA Relationship Building Activities of the Executive Committee

As part of YALSA’s new organizational plan we are re-envisioning the role of the YALSA Executive Committee. One of the changes that is most exciting to me involves developing a more robust set of ALA relationship building responsibilities for the Executive Committee.

Current activities include:

  • Providing a contact point for ALA via individual committee member roles.  For example, the Fiscal Officer liaises with YALSA’s BARC representative.
  • Representing YALSA at ALA meetings such as the BARC/Division Leaders’ Meeting, and the Fall Executive Committee Meeting.
  • Co-planning and taking turns leading the bi-annual AASL/ALSC/YALSA Joint Executive Committee Meeting.
  • Holding general discussions about YALSA’s relationship with ALA.

At Midwinter the Executive Committee will be adopting a new set of goals for ALA relationships. Potential goals include:

  • Building personal relationships with ALA leadership, as well as division member leadership, in order to foster communication, promote trust and facilitate collaboration.
  • Increasing our knowledge of ALA current projects and processes to inform YALSA’s work.
  • Increasing ALA knowledge of YALSA’s current projects, especially those that align with ALA’s strategic plan, in order to leverage ALA resources and provide an opportunity for YALSA members/leadership to take a leadership role in ALA.
  • Better positioning YALSA to take advantage of opportunities to work together with ALA and with other divisions.

Reaching these goals will require the Executive Committee to expand the work we are currently doing and formalize the process. Stronger relationships with ALA and with other divisions will allow YALSA to better serve our members.

If you have any ideas or questions about the above, please leave them in the comments! Or send them directly to me.

If you are wondering what else the Executive Board is up to at Midwinter, be sure to check out the schedule of Board meetings and the agenda. Throughout Midwinter, YALSA Board members will be blogging about our activities too.

And as always, if you are attending ALA Midwinter please stop by the YALSA booth #709 to say hello.

Safe travels to Atlanta!

Sandra Hughes-Hassell
YALSA President-Elect

Measuring Your Impact

In April the YALSA Board adopted a new and ambitious organizational plan with three goal areas:

Leading the transformation of teen library services
Advocacy to policy makers at all levels to increase support for teen library services
Funder and partner development

In the past, YALSA has relied on members volunteering to work on committees for one or two years to accomplish our goals. Every quarter, committee chairs are are required to submit a chair report to inform YALSA about the work they have accomplished and what they are working toward on the horizon. The Board is excited that as we have moved the new plan forward, we have started to change the way members can work with YALSA, developing new volunteering opportunities that include more short-term projects. With a new organizational plan, and a new way of working, it has become clear that we also need a new way to measure the impact of YALSA volunteers.

At Midwinter, the Board will explore what outcomes of volunteer work are the most important to measure, and what methods are needed to best measure our performance.

  • What are our biggest needs and priorities around outcomes measurement that should be tackled first?
  • What measurements would best help the Board monitor and assess our progress toward fulfilling the goals of the Organizational Plan?
  • How can we best monitor the progress of and measure the impact of different groups, including:
    • The Board
    • Appointed groups (committees, juries, advisory boards and taskforces)
    • How can the Quarterly Reporting Form be leveraged to monitor progress? Should there be an annual report from a chair at the end of the committee term to identify outcomes and accomplishments of the committee over the past year? (as suggested by committee chairs at the November Strategic Committee Chair Chat)
    • Bloggers and the content experts on the Hub
    • New volunteer activities, especially those that are short-term and opt-in
    • The members’ front line activities that directly support YALSA’s work, such as participation in District Days, National Library Legislative Day, Teen Tech Week, etc.?
  • What sort of trend analysis related to volunteer work and impact, if any, is needed? What pieces of data? And how often?

If you have any ideas or thoughts about the questions above, please leave them in the comments! Or send them directly to me.

If you are wondering what the board is up to at Midwinter,  you can see the schedule of board meetings and agenda. If you are attending ALA Midwinter and you see a board member (look for our YALSA Board Member ribbons) please come up and say hello! We would love to hear from you!

Kate McNair is a YALSA Board Member. Come see her at the YALSA booth #709 on Saturday, January 21 9-10:30am.

YALSA Board @ Midwinter 2017: Governance Nominating Committee Re-envisioning

At the 2016 Annual Conference in Orlando, the YALSA Board of Directors directed the Leading the Transformation for Teen Services Board Standing Committee to re-envision the Governance Nominating Committee as a Board Development Committee. This is part of reorganization to align YALSA with the Organization Plan. This board document proposes an expansion of the Governance Nominating Committees duties to focus on the leadership development of the board. The new duties will include board training and assessment. It also creates a formalized process to cultivate leaders within the association. The Nominating Committee in its current instantiation is already part of what could be the pipeline of leadership for YALSA, nominating the slate for YALSA each year. This document also supports the effort to reframe the work of the Executive Committee to focus on ALA relations and fiscal oversight, as the Executive Committee is currently responsible for board training and assessment.

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Three Modes of Board Work

The YALSA board is always looking to grow and improve. We use monthly board chats as a way to deepen our skills in governance and discuss trends and best practices impacting non-profit boards around the country and how we can bring those ideas to make YALSA the best association it can be.

In January, we met to discuss the article “Governance as Leadership: Reframing the Work of the Nonprofit Board” with past board member Maureen Hartman. Maureen is the Manager of Strategic Services for the Hennepin County Library. She and her team lead the library in strategic planning, learning and development, diversity and inclusion, and change management. I can think of no person more qualified to lead a discussion about the three modes of board work.

Governance boards spend most of their time in one of three modes:

  • Fiduciary: When the board is being a good steward of association resources. In this mode you might see or hear the board discussion financial reports or going through expected costs for an upcoming event. For YALSA, this role is carried by the whole board, but the Executive Committee takes on special responsibilities to care for our assets.
  • Strategic: My home library board is often in Strategic mode! Here the board is setting priorities, reviewing the strategic plan and monitoring progress. You have probably seen this mode from YALSA in the past, but recently we have been spending a lot of time in the third mode…
  • Generative: With the formation of the new organizational plan, the YALSA Board has spent a lot of time in this third mode. The Generative mode is when the board is deciding “what to pay attention to, what it means, and what to do about it.”

I don’t think these modes are exclusive to boards, I know I recognize these modes in conversations and meetings we have at my library. I bet you see them in your workplace too. As a board, we work to balance these three modes, which can be a challenges. Sometimes in the board cycle, like the recently organizational planning process we went through, will call for more time in the generative mode. Now the board, has to switch back to more time in the strategic and fiduciary modes as we work to operationalize the plan and move forward toward our goals.

To end the discussion, we all identified a goal or action item that we can work on at or leading up to the Midwinter meeting. Two goals clearly rose to the top as priorities for the board: communicating with members both in person, and virtually about the new organizational plan of YALSA and all the work we are doing, and helping the Executive Director and Staff balance their work to help achieve the goals of the new plan.

If you are wondering what the board is up to at Midwinter,  you can see the schedule of board meetings and agenda. If you are attending ALA Midwinter and you see a board member (look for our YALSA Board Member ribbons) please come up and say hello! We would love to hear from you!

Kate McNair is a YALSA Board Member. Come see her at the YALSA booth #709 on Saturday, January 21 9-10:30am.

YALSA Board @ Midwinter 2017: Preview and Governance Update

A new year means a new conference is right around the corner!  ALA Midwinter is January 20-24, 2017, in Atlanta, Georgia, and I’m hoping for balmy temperatures and sunshine! If you’re able to attend, check out the YALSA Wiki for dates and times of all YALSA events, as well as other important happenings like the Atlanta March for Social Justice and Women.

If you aren’t able to travel to Georgia, please follow Midwinter activities with the Midwinter hashtag #alamw17.

Throughout the conference, the YALSA Board will focus on continuing the reorganization and realignment of the organization after adopting the Organizational Plan in April 2016.  The Board will kick off Midwinter on Friday with a board member training session about cultural competency. On Saturday during Board I, many items will be approved in the consent agenda–these were items acted upon virtually by the board between Annual 2016 and Midwinter 2017.  Most of the agenda’s actionable items will be discussed during Board I also, including the creation of two interest groups (Teens are Not Alone and Picture Books for YAs), bylaws changes to awards committees, updating board assessments, changing the governance nominating committee into a board development committee, and the proposed plan of action for the Selected Lists Transition. Board II and III on Sunday and Monday will consist of many discussion items, like a leadership fundraising proposal, a proposal to extend Symposium events, and a proposal to create an ALA Liaison.

Please check the 2017 Midwinter Meeting Agenda and Documents page for updates with links to the board documents as they become available, and look for more blog posts coming soon from board members about agenda items.

If you have a comment, idea or question for the Board, the first 5 minutes of each of the board meetings is set aside for visitors to ask questions. Feel free to chat with me or any of the board members at YALSA events at ALA Midwinter, too! You can also email me with comments if you are not able to make it to a session to share your feedback.

On Twitter, please follow YALSA (@YALSA), Executive Director Beth Yoke (@yalsa_director), myself (@glibrarian), and/or other YALSA Board members for live tweets of adopted actions and discussion highlights.

We’ll also be sharing post-conference round-ups over the coming weeks so stay tuned!

National Guidelines: Take a Look

When I took on the role of the National Guidelines Oversight Committee chair I didn’t know this was going to be the last year for the committee, but it makes sense to me. You’ve no doubt heard about the big changes ahead for YALSA that are being guided by the “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: a Call to Action” report. It’s always a good idea to take a hard look at what you are doing to make sure you are putting your efforts where they will be most effective and support your mission. YALSA did just that and decided to re-envision itself. As part of the restructuring the National Guidelines Oversight Committee will be sunsetted and its work moved to staff starting in July 2017. If you want a good overview of what’s happening and the new organizational plan check out Sarah Hill’s recent blog and the link she included to a great PowerPoint slideshow that summarizes the changes.

So what was the purpose of the Committee and why sunset it? Here is its official charge:

“Oversee YALSA’s portfolio of national guidelines, including performing such tasks as: working with staff to disseminate and promote the guidelines ; regularly evaluating the existing guidelines and making recommendations to YALSA’s Board for updating or revising guidelines and/or the need to create supplementary materials or tools; assisting staff with establishing and maintaining liaisons with appropriate decision makers and stakeholders , both inside and outside the library profession, that monitor and evaluate the performance of teen services programs and librarians. While the Oversight Committee is charged with making recommendations, the authority to adopt, direct the revision of and/ or sunset guidelines rests with YALSA’s Board of Directors.”

Judging from my experience on the YALSA Board a few years ago, I think YALSA staff is doing most of this already. Moving responsibility for oversight of the guidelines to staff means they can stay focused long-term, unlike a committee whose members have a one year commitment and then move on. That does not mean the work of the committee isn’t important or hasn’t been valuable over the years, and sunsetting the committee doesn’t mean members will no longer be able to have input. Going forward staff can be focused on regularly evaluating the various guidelines to make sure they reflect the changes happening in the library profession and in the organization. Once they identify areas that need attention, they can create more volunteer opportunities by seeking input from members and inviting them to participate in updating and/or creating new tools and resources.  However, right now the responsibility remains with the six virtual members of the National Guidelines Oversight Committee and we are focused on the National Guidelines and promoting them.

I have to say that before taking on my role with the committee, it had been a while since I really looked at the National Guidelines and I was glad I did. There is a lot of valuable information to help us in our work, but the guidelines need to evolve along with the profession. Looking at them now I am happy to see that YALSA (and previous National Guidelines Oversight Committees) have stayed on top of this. The Teen Programming Guidelines and Core Professional Values were updated just last year.  The Competencies for Librarian’s Serving Youth and a new Research Agenda are in the process of being updated and will hopefully be approved by the Board soon. Even YALSA’s micro-credentialing program, Badges for Learning, which focuses on the Competencies are being updated and you can look for the new version in early 2017.

The Competencies are a good example of the need to continually evaluate and update to stay relevant. They were last updated in 2010, and the Futures report was adopted by the YALSA Board of Directors in December 2013. The report challenges us to think differently about what we are doing and that means we have to carry this through to the guidelines. When I look at the Competencies I can’t argue with anything the document says, but I’m looking forward to seeing how the updated version will address the issues brought up in the Futures report.

This is an exciting time for YALSA! When was the last time you reviewed YALSA’s guidelines? If you’re anything like me you get busy and might need a little prompting to take the time to look, but be sure to check back and see what’s changed. You’’ll be glad you did!

Gail Tobin is Branch Coordinator of Schaumburg Township District Library, IL & National Guidelines Oversight Committee Chair.

Being a YALSA Board Fellow

During my final year of my PhD program in the School of Information at Florida State University, I decided to take a risk and apply for the YALSA Board Fellows program. Having been out of libraries as a practitioner for a few years, I felt nervous about applying to a program that seemed out of my league. But the risk turned out to be worth it as I began to meet people from a range of backgrounds within YALSA who inspired me to become a better LIS researcher and librarian.

At first, my fellowship seemed daunting. Not only did I add another project on top of my dissertation, but I also immersed myself in a position that required quite a bit of outspokenness and willingness to contribute my own ideas, critiques, and concerns to a well-spoken and passionate group of individuals who made up the Board. This is not an easy task for those who (like me) tend to write instead of speak and find public speaking to be an overwhelming experience. As an introvert, I find it easier to not share my opinions (at least aloud) and to sometimes allow the thoughts and opinions of others to drown out my own. However, by taking on this fellowship, I grew as both as public speaker and critical thinker. I’m still quiet and shy, but I’ve found the smaller discussions and breakout groups that we took part in as a board a less intimidating step towards public speaking.

As part of the fellowship, I conducted a year long project, focusing on a specific project that could be of benefit to the YALSA Board. Figuring out my project took more time and thoughtful reflection than I expected. Having little experience with board work in general, I couldn’t quite see how I could contribute meaningful content to an already functioning and relevant board. Eventually, I settled on a topic: resources the Board could use to build stronger relationships with funders. Through my project work, I dug deeper into how a board functions and the many aspects necessary to nurture the work of a board. This is one of the many reasons that I appreciate my time on the YALSA board. Without this project, I wouldn’t have an awareness of board work and the difficult elements that contribute to a successful board. I hope that as I grow in my career I can continue to offer my services to YALSA either through committee or board work. Knowing that I am offering my skills to a board that has the needs of its members, organization, and profession foremost in its view is exciting and meaningful.

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