ALA Annual Visit: Nature and Outdoor Fun

Chicago is a beautiful place in the summertime. After a long, cold (although in this year’s case not so snowy) winter the city comes alive. The cultural, cuisine, and sports attractions are all wonderful ways to pass a summer day, but it would be a shame to visit this city without also taking advantage of what nature has to offer.

Of course, the largest natural feature of the Chicagoland area is the Lake Michigan shoreline. On a warm day hitting the beach is a great option. North Avenue Beach, right on Lake Shore Drive, is a popular destination. With amenities like jetski, bike, and kayak rentals, volleyball courts, lockers, as well as concessions, there is something for everyone. The beach’s most iconic feature is the beach house, a blue and white building, built to look like an ocean liner.

North Avenue Beach

Also on Lake Shore Drive, but a little closer to downtown is Oak Street Beach. With great views of the city skyline and all the amenities of concession and rental, it does tend to be a little more crowded on hot days and there is only street parking. Farther south is Montrose Beach, another wonderful place to while away a summer day. A unique feature of this beach is a bird sanctuary. Over 300 species have been sighted there with early morning being the best time for bird watching. But, anytime of day the meadow and dunes is a peaceful contrast to the manicured park and busy city that surrounds.

For those who wish for a less sandy outdoor experience the Lincoln Park Conservatory is not to be missed. There are multiple display rooms within a Victorian style glass conservatory as well as beautiful surrounding gardens. Part of this large complex, that is attached to the Lincoln Park Zoo, is a hidden lily pond. Called the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, there is a stone walkway with prairie-style architectural structures, a pavilion, council ring, lots of shady trees, it’s a sanctuary in the midst of a bustling city.

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

The Chicago River is a natural feature nestled right in the middle of a cityscape that also offers opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Take a boat architecture tour led by Chicago Architecture Foundation docents. For those who desire more adventure, book a tour (the Ghosts and Gangsters of Hustlertown is one example) with Wateriders, or simply rent a kayak and paddle at your own pace.

However you choose to spend your time in Chicago, remember that even in the midst of the crowd and concrete of the city there are still opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and find some refuge in the more natural world.

Bridget Farrell is a middle school librarian in a northern suburb of Chicago.

ALA Annual Visit: Mag Mile

There was a time when shopping wasn’t important to me. Arguably, these were simpler times. Certainly, these were more financially sound times. Then I found the most glorious pair of runners and the most wonderful, knitted necktie and something of a monster was created.

Yes, it all occurred in Chicago, walking down the magnificent mile. This blogger is quite certain that you can find your favorite stores with ease (see: your smartphone) so I’m going to take a moment to focus on some locations that might be a bit lesser known to you. If you haven’t heard of the following, you should give them a shot to be sure!

First, obviously I should tell you where I found that necktie and those shoes. After all, the last time Annual was in Chicago it was Khaled Hosseini who was heard (admittedly, only to me) exclaiming, “hey, nice tie!” upon my approach in his autograph line. Topshop is just the place to get quirky clothing at reasonable prices.

Located immediately across from Water Tower Place in the 800 block of Michigan Avenue, Topshop provides a floor for women and a floor for men (appropriately called Topman as if it were a different store altogether. It isn’t.). There’s almost always a sale and students get an extra 10-20% off depending on the day! With the flagship store in London, you’re sure to find trendy items that you must have because, let’s face it, the British are VERY posh. Speaking of Water Tower Place, if you haven’t been, you should cross the street and take in the stores there too, most notably The Art of Dr. Seuss. It’s amazing!

Incidentally, if you start at these locations (take a bus, even), then you can hit everything else on your way back to McCormick Place. The Disney Store is tons of fun, of course, and, I feel you must stop in the Burberry store if only to say you’ve been. It’s incredible! OK so apparently I have a soft spot for British attire.

I would also like to mention the Nordstrom’s mall in the 500 block of Michigan. Not for Nordstrom’s, per se. Though it is a fine store, to be sure. But how often do you get to visit a Swatch store?! It’s a small location but Swatches are amazing and my collection seems to grow every time I make a visit, “just to look and see what’s new” (pictured is my fancy new Mika Swatch, for example). This mall also has a Kiehl’s store eager to provide all sorts of dermatological samples. They hooked me; their face wash is fantastic.

Mika watch

Yes, I blame the Windy City for many of my addictions. It’s where I met Chuck Palahniuk and fell in love with reading. And it’s obviously the place to shop. Just, one of these addictions may be more career-oriented than the other. I don’t know, #librarianwardrobe, anyone?

 

Joel Shoemaker was on the 2017 Stonewall Book Awards Committee for Youth and serves on the 2018 Stonewall Book Awards Committee for Adults. He is the Library Director for Oakwood Public Library District (Ill.) and has been a magician for more than twenty-five years.

YALSA Councilor Midwinter Report

Dear YALSA members,

Here is a report of ALA Council happenings from the Midwinter conference in Atlanta. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at todd.yalsa@gmail.com.

(Thanks to Martin Garnar, IFRT Councilor, for much of the reporting contained below.)

Youth Council Caucus:

  • The YALSA, ALSC and AASL Councilors met with a small group of interested members to discuss any pertinent youth issues that could be brought before the ALA Council as a whole. The most important item to come out of the meeting was a decision to try a different meeting time for the Youth Council Caucus. We will pilot this at ALA Annual in Chicago this summer, using the Council Suite for a drop-in opportunity for interested members in the late afternoon – more details forthcoming.

Council I:

  • We received a report on the implementation of Council actions since the 2016 Annual Conference (http://connect.ala.org/node/262222) and a report of Executive Board actions during the same timeframe (http://connect.ala.org/node/262543).
  • We heard from the chair of the search committee for the new ALA Executive Director and reviewed the candidates for the two elected spots from Council on the committee.  The rest of the committee’s membership was announced (http://connect.ala.org/node/262655). After Council I, voting opened to elect the two remaining committee members.
  • We approved Honorary Membership for Ann Symons, former ALA president and current GLBTRT Councilor.
  • The Council time was abridged so that there could be a Town Hall meeting on the recent concerns about ALA’s press releases shortly after the November election.  The Town Hall was live streamed on Facebook and archived for future viewing (https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blogs/the-scoop/58387/).

Council II:

  • We approved a proposal to add a 4thstrategic direction for the Association.  Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) now joins Advocacy, Information Policy, and Professional and Leadership Development.  This will boost the profile of EDI activities within the Association and serve as a rationale for increasing funding and resources for related projects (http://connect.ala.org/node/262626http://connect.ala.org/node/262628).
  • We approved the request for Latino Literacy Now to become an ALA Affiliate (http://connect.ala.org/node/262155).
  • The results of the election for the Executive Director search committee were announced.  Mario Gonzalez (at large) was elected from the 10 nominees representing divisions, round tables, and at-large Councilors and Amy Lappin (New Hampshire) was elected from the 4 nominees representing chapters.
  • The Freedom to Read Foundation president gave his report (http://connect.ala.org/node/262699).
  • After a strenuous debate, the Council narrowly voted (78-75) to retain the requirement for the ALA Executive Director to have an MLS.  One Councilor later resigned in protest over this issue.  The YALSA board had voted to support changing the requirement, and I shared that information as part of the debate.
  • Resolution Establishing Family/Caregiver Status as a Protected Class in ALA Volunteer Work was adopted after some discussion.
  • The Annual Conference Remodel was briefly discussed, but the conversation was cut short due to time constraints.  This was a major topic of discussion during the conference, particularly at Council Forum. The Conference Committee is still accepting feedback, so please read the proposal, FAQ, and other comments on their Connect page, then add your voice to the conversation (http://connect.ala.org/node/261211).
  • Executive Board candidates gave presentations after Council II, then voting opened for this election.

Council III:

  • The results of the Executive Board election were announced.  Patty Wong, Trevor Dawes, and Lessa Pelayo-Lozada were elected.
  • The Committee on Legislation/Intellectual Freedom Committee joint working group presented a revised Resolution on Gun Violence Affecting Libraries, Library Workers, and Library Patrons(http://connect.ala.org/node/262738). It was adopted after some discussion.
  • The Committee on Legislation and the Intellectual Freedom Committee presented their reports (COL – no action items http://connect.ala.org/node/262739; IFC – one action itemhttp://connect.ala.org/node/262740). The IFC report included a number of updated documents and a Resolution on Access to Accurate Information.  After some wordsmithing on the Council floor, the resolution was adopted.

Respectfully submitted,

Todd Krueger

YALSA Division Councilor

YALSA’s Literacies Resource Retreat Toolkit Creation

The set up

At the end of November, seven librarians were asked to participate in YALSA’s first resource retreat. The mission of the retreat was to create a literacies toolkit, expanding on the discussion that began in the 2014 report: “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action”. We were asked to create a document that was user friendly and accessible to both librarians and library staff who work directly for and with teens. The rest was really up to us, which was both exciting and a little daunting.

The retreat was scheduled for the Friday of Midwinter. Since this was YALSA’s first time trying a resource retreat, everything new to us was also new to YALSA. We were given a stipend to help defray travel and lodging costs and were asked to attend one phone conference before Midwinter to plan out a few logistical elements. In the phone call, we realized we needed a Google doc to keep our ideas in one place. This document proved to be a crucial element of our success during the retreat. We were glad we had done some leg work ahead of time to make the actual day of writing go a tad smoother.

Continue reading

ALA Annual Visit: Chinatown Chicago

Tomorrow is the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year! It’s the Year of the Rooster and, to celebrate, as well as to get us thinking about Annual in Chicago, I thought it would be fun to make conference attendees aware of Chicago Chinatown. As I accidentally discovered this neighborhood myself last time Annual was held in Chicago, I know from experience it’s an easy walk from where the conference is held. And, look, I even went ahead and Googled it for you! It’s just over a mile away (okay, okay, 1.2-1.5 depending on who you ask). 

Speak no evil, see no evil, hear no evil monkey statues

Besides the obvious – there is a TON of good food in Chinatown, there are also a surprising amount of cool shops to find any number of trinkets you are looking for. For example, I still have (and proudly display) the see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil monkey sculpture I bought last time I was there.

You should definitely stop by the Chiu Quon Bakery for a Bao filled with custard. Or any of the other baked buns they have available. They all looked fantastic. Incidentally it appears I’m not alone in this opinion, as Chiu Quon is listed among the best restaurants in Chinatown according to Thrillist. Check out their article here: https://www.thrillist.com/eat/chicago/chinatown/best-restaurants-chinese-food-chicago-chinatown.

I like Chinatown as a recommended visit for Annual because it’s a nice, easy walk and can be as short or long a visit as you like. I went through as much of it as I wanted to in about two hours, including the walk. Of course, there’s also efficient and affordable public transportation should the weather not be kind, or should you already be exhausted from other conference efforts. You can certainly get some good food and cool, unique souvenirs to take back home. 

So, when you need a break from convention craziness, head to Chinatown!

Be sure to check out chicagochinatown.org for all of the latest information and events that might be planned while you’re in town!

2017 year of the rooster

Joel Shoemaker was on the 2017 Stonewall Book Awards Committee for Youth and serves on the 2018 Stonewall Book Awards Committee for Adults. He is the Library Director for Oakwood Public Library District (Ill.) and has been a magician for more than twenty-five years.

YALSA Board @ Midwinter: Bylaws Change Proposal

The YALSA Board has been hard at work looking at the new Organizational Plan and determining ways that we can move the organization forward and best serve our members. One of the items that has been discussed is standardizing the way members come to serve on the various Awards Committees. Currently, the Alex, Morris and Odyssey committee members are appointed to the committees; while Edwards, Printz and Nonfiction members are a mix – some members are appointed and others are elected by YALSA members.

At Annual 2016, the Board directed the Organization & Bylaws Committee to develop a proposal that would change the bylaws so that all award committee positions would be appointed, instead of some appointed and some elected. The rationale for these changes is:

  • The current structure of having some appointed and some elected positions on half of the award committees is confusing, especially because the timelines for appointment are different from the election
  • This change levels the playing field for members, as it creates just one path to the award committees. Each member will now go through the same appointments process at the same time
  • Making the change so that all award committee positions are appointed, not elected, creates efficiencies for the President-Elect, members, and staff, because it eliminates the need to go through the entire process of developing a slate, vetting potential candidates, supporting candidates, etc. This change would eliminate the need for an Awards Nominating Committee as well as the second round of appointments that now happens after the election is over
  • This change will cut down on eligibility issues, because oftentimes members put their name forward both through the nominating committee process and via the Committee Volunteer form. In the past, the nominating committee has not always known what other award committees the candidate may have signed up for

If the Board accepts the proposal from the Organization & Bylaws Committee, the issue would then go to the membership for a vote on the upcoming 2017 ballot.

Organization and Bylaws has submitted the following board doc, (http://www.ala.org/yalsa/sites/ala.org.yalsa/files/content/BylawsAwardCommittees_MW17.pdf, which will be discussed at the Board I meeting, held on Saturday, January 21, at the Georgia World Congress Center, Room A406. If you have any questions about this board document or any others, please contact YALSA President Sarah Hill at gsarahthelibrarian@gmail.com or Executive Director Beth Yoke at ​byoke@ala.org

Melissa McBride is Chair of Organization & Bylaws and a Board Member.

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.

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.