YALSA Board at #alaac19: YALSA Board Contract

In May, the YALSA Board approved a new Board Member Contract. This document is signed by all Board members and it stipulates what responsibilities the Board members have to the organization, as well as the responsibilities that the organization has in regards to the Board members.

The current YALSA Board Member Contract was approved on January 16, 2010. Since then the Board’s work has evolved to include more year-round governance discussions and decision-making by board members. The contract was also updated to better reflect the time commitment involved in serving as a YALSA Board Member.

If you are interested in more info, Board Document #10 shows both the old contract as well as the new one that was agreed upon.

See the full agenda of the Board of Directors at ALA Annual in Washington D.C. All Board meetings are open to attendees, and you can learn more about the Board meetings on the YALSA Conference wiki.

YALSA Board at #alaac19: Pura Belpré Award Board Docs

For the past couple of years, YALSA has had a task force working with ALSC and REFORMA to re-envision the Pura Belpré Award.

The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. It is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking (REFORMA), an ALA affiliate.
The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. As a children’s librarian, storyteller, and author, she enriched the lives of Puerto Rican children in the U.S.A. through her pioneering work of preserving and disseminating Puerto Rican folklore.
The award is now given annually. It was given as a biennial award from 1996 through 2008.” Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/belpremedal/belpreabout)
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Going to the Annual Conference in Washington, DC? Don’t forget to use the Conference App!

For the past two years, I have been YALSA’s rep on the ALA Conference Committee.  When I first was assigned this position, I was thinking we would be planning the far future Conferences, picking the cities we would have our conferences in.  My imagination ran wild about what we would be doing as a committee.  In reality, I was assigned the role as a Division Rep, which means not only do I represent YALSA, I represent, along with a few other Division Reps, the ALA Divisions.  While I’ve been at one meeting where we were told that 2039 Annual Conference would be in Washington DC and I know I’ll be retired when this conference comes to pass, it wasn’t what I originally thought it was going to be.  It’s been much more fun.

One of the primary functions we have on the committee is to help set up the schedule for the Annual conference.  Working with the ALA Conference Staff all the committee members as a group work our way through all the selected meetings and put them in their time slots, while the ALA Conference Staff pick the rooms these meetings will fit into.  Juggling all the various nonmoving components that make up the conference, Council meetings, Board meetings, and major sponsored programs etc.   Once we have decided where all the programs fit into the schedule, the ALA Staff load full schedule onto the scheduling app and the various websites, and this is what I’m here to talk about.
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Register Now for YALSA’s 2019 YA Services Symposium

Registration for YALSA’s 2019 YA Services Symposium is now open.

The symposium takes place November 1-3 in Memphis, TN with the theme Show Up and Advocate: Supporting Teens in the Face of Adversity. Anyone with an interest in young adult services is welcome to attend.

Now through early bird registration (September 15), those who join YALSA and register for the symposium will be automatically entered for a chance to win free registration for the 2020 YALSA symposium. YALSA members already registered for the symposium will be entered into the drawing automatically.

Additionally, non-members who join YALSA/ALA before registering can save and become eligible to register with the YALSA member rate, apply for a $1,000 symposium travel stipend, gain access to a quarterly journal, weekly newsletter, additional grants, and more. Joining and then registering often costs less than the non-member rate.

Early bird registration ends September 15 and rates are as follows:

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Book Tastings

In November, I was able to attend YALSA’s Young Adult Services Symposium with one of my coworkers. It was a wonderful experience, and we came home full of ideas for the 6-12 independent school library where we work. One idea we immediately wanted to try at our library was book tastings, which we heard about in a session led by Alicia Blower, librarian at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School.

I like to think of book tastings as the library equivalent of free samples at the grocery store—you get teens to try a bite of various books, hoping they will find one they want to take home. The basic setup involves putting books out at tables, and having teens rotate through the tables in groups. At each table, they “taste” a book that looks interesting to them by reading the blurbs on the cover and the first few pages.


Tasting a book. [Photo Credit: Erin Lewis]

We had the perfect opportunity to run a book tasting just one week after we got back from the Symposium. All of our seventh grade English classes were coming in to check out books, so instead of the usual book talks we give to feature certain genres, we decided to set up book tastings based on the genre of realistic fiction.

First, we decided on our physical layout. Five tables was a good number for us, given the class sizes (18) and how much time we had to run the activity (40 minutes). On each table were books related to a specific theme within realistic fiction, based on what’s popular with our students. Once we decided on the layout, the next step was to pick the books for our tastings. I wanted to have six books at each table, one for each student in a group of four, and a couple of extras to give them alternatives. We also needed to replace the books that got checked out during each class, so I accounted for that when pulling books..

While making book selections, I also had the goal of providing a strong representation of diverse books. To do this, I got a piece of paper and tallied up numbers as I pulled books. How many books had I selected with main characters of color? How about LGBTQ+ main characters? Characters who were differently abled? What about books that were #ownvoices? I had to go back to the shelves quite a few times before I felt I had acceptable representation, and some tables still ended up with less diversity than others. For example, we simply didn’t have enough diverse books for the theme of survival (as in surviving the wilderness or a natural disaster), so now that’s on my watch list for collection development and content curation.

I made place cards to go at each table, with the theme of that table printed on the card. My coworker made tasting forms where students could write down the title and author of a book they looked at, give it a rating from 1-5, and put any comments they had. (See linked documents for examples.)

Filling out a tasting form. [Photo Credit: Erin Lewis]

Finally, I went out and purchased some real “tastings” to go along with the books. I got a variety of Hershey’s kisses, some miniature fruit-flavored candy canes, and a huge bag of Life Savers. At each table, we put two cups. We filled one with the candies; the other was for trash. I am proud to say that our students didn’t leave even one candy wrapper for us to pick up.

In the end, all of our work paid off. The students really enjoyed the experience. A lot of our selected books were checked out, and we were able to highlight the diversity in our collection. It took a little more time to prepare than book talks, but now that we have done it once,  there won’t be as much prep required next time.

Choosing which books to taste. [Photo Credit: Erin Lewis]

Does anyone do book tastings in a different way? I’d love to hear about it!

Whitney Etchison currently lives in Maryland and is in her tenth year as a school librarian. The best part of her job is readers advisory, although teaching research skills is pretty cool too. She loves horror novels but can’t watch scary movies.

YALSA Board @ Midwinter 2019: Advocacy Board Position

At the 2016 ALA Annual Conference, YALSA Board directed the Leading the Transformation for Teen Services Board Standing Committee to explore the idea of changing or expanding the makeup of the YALSA Board of Directors to include board members who are from outside the organization. At the ALA Midwinter Conference the Board discussed document #27 to broaden the scope of the Board to accommodate advocates. The Board has had several follow up discussions regarding the makeup of the YALSA Board, most recently with Board document #12.

The Board has voted to create, with membership approval, an ex-officio (non-voting) board position for person with a non traditional background or experience who will act as an advocate for YALSA outside of the Library profession. This change was embraced by the Board as part of the 2015 – 2016 strategic planning process, and is included in the first-year Implementation Plan. It is also part of the current 2018-19 Implementation Plan. The inclusion of advocates to the Board who work beyond the library teen services space can bring a unique perspective and help broaden the organization’s outlook on serving youth. A more diverse Board can strengthen its capacity by bringing in relevant skills or knowledge from beyond the library community. By including advocates on the Board, YALSA is modeling the behavior it wants members to adopt at the local level in terms of reaching out into the community to forge partnerships that increase their ability to meet teen needs.

In order to make this change the number of At-Large Board members will decrease by one, and we will add an additional ex-officio position to the board. This member will be appointed by the President-Elect for a one year term, with the option to renew for a second term if so desired. This change will require a vote by membership (Board doc #13), so please look for more information closer to the March elections. Please feel free to contact Board member Melissa McBride, mcbride.melissa@gmail.com, with any questions.

Meet YALSA’s ED at Midwinter!

Anita Mechler, YALSA Executive Director

Can you believe the 2019 Midwinter Meeting is only a few weeks away? As the new Executive Director (ED) of YALSA, I am thrilled to take part in my first Midwinter Meeting!

Over the last 5 months as ED, I have traveled to cities such as Albuquerque to meet with attendees at the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color and to Salt Lake City for YALSA’s Young Adult Services Symposium and now I am prepping for my trip to Seattle this month. These gatherings provide me with the opportunity to meet with library staff who do the important day-to-day work of serving teens all around the country.

This is why I am excited to share that at Midwinter, I will be holding “ED Hour,” at YALSA Booth #2609 on Saturday, January 26 from 11:00am-12:00pm and Sunday, January 27 from 10:30am-11:30am. I welcome everyone to stop and say hello. I would also love to hear any feedback you might have on YALSA’s resources and services. I greatly enjoy getting to know the enthusiasm you have for the teens you serve. Your perspective guides me in directing the organization to move forward into a positive, dynamic, diverse, inclusive, and equitable future. If you have time, please stop by the booth. I look forward to meeting with and hearing from you!

At Midwinter, I’m also excited to work on YALSA’s forthcoming Strategic Plan for 2019-2021 during YALSA’s Board Meeting on Saturday, January 26, from 1:00pm-5:00pm. This is an open meeting where all are welcome to attend.

Stay tuned to more forthcoming news from me, as I plan to share with you what I have learned through the process of being YALSA’s new Executive Director for the first 100 days of the job and more.

Let’s build the future of teen services together!

With kind regards,

Anita Mechler

P.S. Don’t forget to check out YALSA’s 2019 Midwinter wiki page to download YALSA’s full Midwinter schedule, as well as find great local info and tips!


Strategic Planning: Exciting Things Happening in Seattle

Last Friday, the YALSA Board held its monthly informal call, and we were joined by Jonny Stax and Annette Rizzo from AdaptNation. AdaptNation is helping us create a new strategic plan to guide YALSA’s work for the next three-years. One of AdaptNation’s strengths is helping organizations integrate the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) into their work which is a priority of the Board. The goal of our call was to clarify scope and intent, identify processes and protocols, and answer any follow-up concerns or questions. We are all looking forward to engaging and thought-provoking conversations in Seattle!

In Seattle, the Board will participate in discussions and activities that will lead to the development of draft documents, and ultimately a finalized strategic plan. Board members will spend Friday afternoon in a two-hour Board EDI training session to learn EDI-infused practices. On Saturday, Board I will be devoted to a strategic session that will include a generative discussion and ultimately lead to the development of an implementation plan for the organization.

Board meetings are always open to observers – please join us in WSCC 203 on Saturday from 1:00-5:00 if you are interested in learning more about the processes we will use to develop our new strategic plan. Board II will take place from 4:00-5:00 in WSCC 203 and will be a regular business meeting. Again, observers are welcome.

If you won’t be in Seattle, follow @yalsa for live-Tweets from the Board meetings. Also, look for regular strategic planning updates on the YALSAblog!

If you have questions, please reach out to me, Crystle Martin, YALSA President, or Todd Krueger, YALSA President-Elect.

The Boys in the Boat and Stuff Just Got Real at Midwinter

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

By Daniel Brown

Penguin Books, 2014

ISBN: 9780143125471

Looking for some holiday reading that features protagonists overcoming adversity and challenge? The Boys in the Boat is a go-to title for my teens who are required to read narrative nonfiction in the thematic categories of community or sports. Written by a Seattle author, it is the true story of how nine young men from the Pacific Northwest went from obscurity to the Olympics. Set during the Great Depression it is a testament to grit and determination, and–best of all for my readers–it reads like fiction. It’s also a title that was featured on the YALSA Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners 2014 list.

Achieving good results is rarely accomplished in a vacuum. Coaches Al Ulbrickson and Tom Bolles were key figures in the success of the UW rowing crew that took a different kind of battle all the way to Hitler. Like Joe Rantz and the other boys in that boat, I have been fortunate to have good mentors. One of the best pieces of advice I got when I attended my first conference came from Patti Tjomsland, retired librarian and book jury committee member extraordinaire: make sure you go to an awards session. Awards sessions represent hundreds of hours of reading and discussion on the part of committee members, and culminate with the Morris and Nonfiction Award Program and Presentation from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. on Monday, January 28.  

For those who have never attended an awards session, they are pretty special. The mood is celebratory, filled with discussion of the titles that have won and acceptance speeches by the recipient and their publisher. (One of my most memorable awards sessions was at the Odyssey Awards in Las Vegas when Kirby Heyborne–amazing narrator of audiobooks–busted out a rap in homage to librarians–look it up on YouTube, it’s priceless!) The Morris and Nonfiction Award Program and Presentation will include some light refreshments and a copy of one of the finalist titles. Tickets are $25, and are well worth the opportunity to share good memories with fellow librarians, authors, and publishers, and come home with a great book.

Jodi Kruse is a Teacher Librarian at R.A. Long High School.

Five Flavors of Dumb and the Best Fiction for Young Adults Teen Session at Midwinter

Five Flavors of Dumb

By Antony John

Dial Books, 2010

ISBN: 9780803734333

It’s hard for me to believe this book is almost a decade old because it’s still a personal favorite.

Piper is deaf, but she can still tell that the band named “Dumb” stinks despite its local popularity. Ever the determined teen, Piper suggests that she become their manager so she can lead them to success in a Battle of the Bands. Set in Seattle, author Antony John incorporated a path of musical history (including the home of the iconic Jimi Hendrix–though that has now been demolished) that readers can follow along with Piper. Aside from the obvious “feedback” pun connected to music, Dumb and Piper are gathering feedback from an audience in order to win a recording contract.

Content Area 2 of the YALSA Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff focuses on youth services librarians’ Interactions with Teens and emphasizes the need for librarians to listen to and value teen feedback. Midwinter Conference provides one of the best opportunities to hear what teens think about the Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA) nominees. I had the opportunity to chaperone a group of teens from a Washington high school the last time Midwinter was in Seattle, and it was a memorable experience. Students are given just a couple of minutes to advocate for their favorite titles, and their feedback has historically been integrated into the selection of the award winners. Students lined up–some of them conquering fears of public speaking–to eloquently argue for their top picks. It was truly a sight to behold. This year the Best Fiction for Young Adults Teen Session will be held on Saturday, January 26 from 1-2:30pm in the Metropolitan Ballroom of the Sheraton. Don’t miss this unique opportunity! Questions? Mike Fleming (mfleming@lwsd.org) is a great resource for this event.

Jodi Kruse is a Teacher Librarian at R.A. Long High School