Thank you very much to everyone, both members and non-members, who took the time to fill out YALSA’s Community Survey this past year. The results are in, have been analyzed and passed on to the board for their review. It was great to have so much valuable and thoughtful feedback on what you think is important about YALSA and how it addresses the diversity and inclusivity needs of the people it serves.
Almost a third of the survey participants were either somewhat unfamiliar or not at all familiar with YALSA’s recently updated Teen Services Competencies. Many respondents reported a lack of time or simply not being aware of them as reasons for not implementing or planning to implement the competencies. Others responded that they were not currently working with teens, so the competencies did not apply to them in their current position. The highest rated competency most respondents said they implemented or were working toward implementing was interactions with teens with 68 percent of responses. This was followed by equity of access at 48 percent and teen growth and development at 45 percent.
Survey participants were asked what they saw as the most important work of YALSA and its leadership in the teen services library field. The top three choices were advocacy with 25 percent of responses, equity, diversity and inclusion with 23 percent of responses, and continuing education with 22 percent of responses. Reading and other literacies followed not too far behind with 13 percent. When people were asked what they thought was the second most important work, answers continued to follow this pattern.
The survey also asked people about YALSA’s communication channels in terms of how much they are used and how they keep up with the latest news about YALSA and library/teen services. Most of the responses indicated that people obtain the latest news from YALSA’s website and YALSA E-news with each choice being ranked first by 25 percent of responders. People said they also got their news from other YALSA emails and listservs and their colleagues and friends.
More than half of respondents, totaling 64 percent, were not familiar with YALSA’s updated Intended Impact Statement on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. But when directly asked, about a third of people stated that increasing diversity in YALSA is the most important item on a scale of one to ten. Many different reasons were given for this, which included needing to be more diverse, wanting to reflect the communities they serve, and the importance of having different perspectives.
Some of the other general takeaways from the survey is that many respondents think YALSA is useful and has an important purpose, but the cost is prohibitive for many people. Many participants expressed concerns about the membership price, especially when attached to the cost of ALA membership and whether the benefits of membership were really worth the money. This was coupled with responses that reported it was hard to get more involved in YALSA, especially serving on committees, because of the cliquish nature of the organization. Other respondents felt YALSA mostly caters to public libraries and is not particularly inclusive for school librarians, small, rural libraries, special libraries, certain ethnic groups, demographics and sexual orientations. Some of the suggested solutions to address these issues included hiring more diverse people within the field, offering more conference discounts and grants, academic scholarships and free or discounted memberships, especially to diverse people. Cost was frequently mentioned as a barrier to diversity within the organization.
About 62 percent of survey participants hold a current membership in YALSA. Most of the survey respondents work in a public library, 82 percent are white/Caucasian, most do not speak another language, 88 percent are female, 69 percent are heterosexual, and 84 percent do not have a disability. Survey participants frequently referred to themselves as members of the majority and did not feel they were the right people to answer some of these questions.
The survey received a total of 436 responses.
This post was submitted by Rebecca Leonhard and Kimberly Kinnaird.