Taskforce Members for YALSA President’s Initiative

YALSA President 2021-2022, Kelly Czarnecki, seeks member volunteers to serve on the Presidential Taskforce! This role is for a one-year virtual appointment where the taskforce will focus on developing activities that support the President’s theme; giving library staff tools to re-building youth social capital and honoring collective care to help support the new YALSA Strategic Plan.

Outcomes that will guide the taskforce work include:

    • Work with YALSA staff to develop and provide membership with continuing education in the form of podcast recordings with vetted speakers that align with YALSA’s work with Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.
    • Connect with relevant individuals and groups within YALSA to support the creation of theme-related resources.
    • Connect with “non-members” who work with youth in libraries.
    • Develop a President’s Program at ALA Annual 2022 in Washington DC.

Thank you for your interest! This is a great way to develop your network, experience in working with others virtually and nationally, and to continue to move the YALSA organization forward. We all have something to contribute so don’t hesitate to apply! All members-including new and LIS students are welcome.

Interested members should contact Letitia Smith, Membership Marketing Manager, (lsmith@ala.org) by September 24. If you have any questions regarding this taskforce, please reach out to YALSA President, Kelly Czarnecki via email at kellyczarnecki1@gmail.com.

2020-2021 YALSA President-Elect Kelly Czarnecki

 

 

 

Kelly Czarnecki (she/her)
YALSA President
2021-2022

Photo credit: “Approaching White Mill Bridge” by crapatdarts

YALSA Representative with ALA for USBBY Needed!


We love our acronyms-don’t we?! If you’re not familiar-this is another one to know-USBBY. The United States Board on Books for Young People! As their web site states, “it is a nonprofit organization devoted to building bridges of international understanding through children’s and young adult books; it serves as the U.S. national section of the IBBY.” (Check out the site to see what this acronym is if you can’t stand the suspense).

To give a bit more background, ALA is a patron organization with USBBY. They host a meeting at ALA LibLearnX (previously MidWinter) and a program session at the Annual Conference in the summer. Each year the ALA Executive Board approves the selection of the ALA representative to the
USBBY Board (the two terms are staggered, and AASL, ALSC, and YALSA rotate putting a name forward of a member who will well represent ALA).

We are seeking one replacement position to represent YALSA with ALA to serve as a Director on their Board for this one year position. If you are interested, you will need to be a current YALSA member, have volunteer experience, have an interest in Young Adult books and abide by the ALA policy of a three committee limit.

Please send a copy of your resume and why you feel you are qualified to Kelly Czarnecki, YALSA President (kellyczarnecki1@gmail.com) by Friday, September 10.  Thank you!

YALSA President’s Report – August 2021

Tweet Greetings! August was the first month where the new Board met after Annual for our monthly Board Chat! The highlight of the month was rolling out the new YALSA Strategic Plan to YALSA Chairs. Thank you so much all that were able to attend and be part of helping give shape to our new direction. Stay tuned at the end of September for a Snack & Chat (9/30 at 1p CST) where there’s an open discussion for all regarding the Strategic Plan.

In other highlights:

    • Sent request for memorial resolution to ALA Liaison for members Ann Pechacek and Sandra Payne
    • Shared news and call for volunteers for Social Media Marketing Strategic Committee shift from a Taskforce (based on Board action at Annual)
    • Shared news and call for volunteers for Updating Core YALSA Toolkits Taskforce (based on Board action at Annual)
    • Connected online with 2021 YALSA Spectrum Scholar, Vidhya Jagannathan
    • Read August Chair Quarterly Reports. Working on connecting with liaisons to best support our amazing Chairs 
    • Drafted a job description for Board Fellow Ex Officio position (based on Exec Board discussion prior to Annual)
    • Confirmed appointment for YALSA representation with the Accessibility Assembly with RUSA
    • Updated President’s Theme Taskforce. Called for Board vote. Quorum met and will share more details in September
    • Started a shared sign-up sheet with the Board on how we can be even more transparent with the membership. A look ‘behind the curtain’ on what we’re working on and who we are. So excited to see this roll out!

Stats and Financials (reminders)
YALSA Membership Stats – the Membership Report from Annual has our most recent data

YALSA Fiscal Report – the Fiscal Report from Annual has our most recent information on YALSA’s financial standing.

Thank you all for checking in and being a part of YALSA. With the start of the new school year during the pandemic, and for some of us going back to the office for the first time in awhile- there no doubt continues to be heaviness on our shoulders. Be good to yourself and take a minute to acknowledge the great work you’re doing on a daily basis with the youth you serve in whatever capacity we can do at this time.

Any questions or comments, feel free to post below or email: kellyczarnecki1@gmail.com.

2020-2021 YALSA President-Elect Kelly Czarnecki
Kelly Czarnecki (she/her)
YALSA President
2021-2022

YALSA Seeks Member Volunteers

There’s a lot of great opportunities coming up to be more involved with YALSA! We’re currently taking applications for strategic committees. All participation is virtual, so members are asked to be skilled at using online tools such as Google Docs, Google Hangouts, ALA Connect, Zoom, etc. To apply you will access the form here: Committee Volunteer Form .

If you have questions or issues please contact Letitia Smith, YALSA Membership, lsmith@ala.org

Terms begin July 1, 2021 and end June 30, 2022.  For information specific to each committee, visit the link here.

  • AASL/ALSC/YALSA Committee on School & Public Library Cooperation
  • Division & Membership Promotion
  • Editorial Advisory Board (for YALS & the YALSAblog)
  • Education Advisory Board
  • Financial Advancement
  • Hub Advisory Board
  • JRLYA Advisory Board
  • Organization & Bylaws
  • Research
  • Teens’ Top Ten

    Thank you for your interest!
    ~Kelly Czarnecki, YALSA President-Elect

Candidates for 2021 Election – YALSA Director-at-Large part 2

Hello members!

The YALSA/ALA election kicks off Monday, March 8. Over the course of this week, we have published interviews with all of the candidates. Please take a moment to read through these, and most importantly, VOTE when you receive your electronic ballot from ALA.

Enormous thanks goes out to member Sarah Sogigian for conducting these interviews!

The live Candidates’ Forum will take place via Zoom tomorrow, Friday, March 5 at 3pm ET / 2pm CT / noon PT. This event will include all YALSA candidates, along with the three candidates for President-Elect of the American Library Association. Please register to attend the Forum.

The final two candidates are for the role of YALSA Board Director-at-Large. Today we hear from Abigail Phillips and Tess Wilson. Yesterday, we interviewed the other two candidates for this position, Melanie Wachsmann and Traci Glass.

Name and current position:
Dr. Abigail Phillips, assistant professor, School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

What best qualifies you for being on the Board of Directors?
AP: I have a lengthy time of service with YALSA, first as a committee member, then a Board Fellow, and currently as the Division Councilor. I believe my dedication to YALSA is well represented through these positions. I also have a passion for working with youth to learn more about how to improve their lives and the library’s role within it.

How do you envision furthering YALSA’s mission if elected to this position?
AP: I will work hard to continue the research I conduct in my current researcher. My research focuses on ways in which librarians and library workers can support and aiding youth. I focus largely on neurodiverse youth and marginalized youth, who are, in many situations, one in the same. In addition to research, I also teach future librarians through our MLIS program. In my public libraries course, I ensure that youth services, particularly by using YALSA resources, is a feature of overall library services. As a Board Member, I will ensure that the voices of teens are represented through the work I do as a researcher, teacher, and librarian.

What would be the most exciting aspect of this position? The most challenging?
AP: I would be excited to continue my work on the YALSA Board and strive to represent a unique voice. With my previous experiences as a rural public librarian serving teens alongside my ongoing experience as a researcher and instructor, I see myself as a welcome addition to the other voices on the Board. As always, it is an exciting prospect to hold a leadership position in such an established and progressive ALA division and work with membership and others to create the best possible environment our work.

Please share a recent example(s) where you made a shift to better focus on the current needs of teens.
AP: Recently, a colleague and I worked on a research project where we focused on teen voices, ensuring that we really heard what teens were saying, not what researchers and other said teens thought or said. So often in youth research, the true voices of these teens are overshadowed by the researcher’s (or researchers’) voice. However, it is critical, to best serve teens, to know what they really want and need in the ever-evolving world surround them. Teens and teen voices first!

What is the most pressing issue facing YALSA today?
AP: I believe the most pressing issue facing YALSA right now is building our membership and maintaining relevancy within the youth services community. Members and potential members should feel represented and included in the work that YALSA, YALSA staff, and the community does on a day-to-day basis. Without the support and interest of members, YALSA would not be able to accomplish the goals and vision, which it has set for itself.


Name and current position:
Tess Wilson
Community Engagement Coordinator, Network of the National Library of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region

What best qualifies you for being on the Board of Directors?
TW: Throughout my life, I have worked with youth in a variety of capacities. I have taught as an arts educator, worked as a youth-serving librarian, presented best practices trainings to mentors and mentees, and even performed with an educational theater group. This wide range of experience allowed me the opportunity to view youth services through many lenses and truly understand the power of a supportive network of advocates. My experience in the field– navigating challenges and learning from others–has given me a perspective necessary to providing for the unique needs of library workers who serve teens. Similarly, my experience serving on a number of advocacy boards in my own community has given me a better idea of how to leverage these positions of power to support those we serve.

How do you envision furthering YALSA’s mission if elected to this position?
TW: The Board is in a unique position to use its platform to advocate for teens and those who serve teens. If elected to this position, I would encourage the Board to consider the following phrase in our mission statement: “especially those with the greatest needs.” I would examine the ways in which we determine the needs of teens, the methods we use to reach these communities, and the strategies we employ to engage communities with limited resources.

What would be the most exciting aspect of this position? The most challenging?
TW: One of the most exciting parts of managing YALSAblog and serving on the editorial advisory team for YALS has been drawing from experiences outside the library world. I would like to spread this interdisciplinary approach to the Board, looking towards trends and challenges in other teen-serving fields and learning from experiences outside our own. This type of broad exploration of teen services can inform the resources we share, the support we offer, and the framework for the future of YALSA. In addition, by leveraging our connections with others within and outside libraries, we can expand the variety of collaborative educational opportunities we can offer our community. I anticipate that, as we transition into whatever our new normal is, we will need to mindfully balance the support we offer. That is to say, we will continue to offer our network what they need to navigate a world impacted by COVID-19–from virtual programming ideas to workplace mental health resources to COVID protocol support. Simultaneously, we must do what we can to consider the larger field of youth services and equip our library workers to remain systems of support for their teens not just in the next year, but the next five years, the next ten years. In other words, I believe we need to think deliberately about both the micro and macro needs of our community at this moment in history. This transition will certainly be a challenge, but we can look to the library staff in our own YALSA community as models of adaptability, creativity, and resilience as we move forward.

Please share a recent example(s) where you made a shift to better focus on the current needs of teens.
TW: When I volunteered to run for 2020 Youth Services Division Chair of the Pennsylvania Library Association, I could have never predicted the kind of term I was in for. Of course, the past year has forced us all to flex–and in some cases, overextend–our adaptability muscles. As a leader within my state’s association, my priorities certainly shifted in order to support my fellow library workers as they moved quickly behind the scenes to provide for their communities. As I worked with my leadership team to plan our monthly meetings, we considered what might be most immediately helpful for those serving teens. We facilitated several highly practical meetings, featuring our own library staff from around the state who offered their ideas for virtual programming, plans for take-and make kits, and reliable mental health resources. We also offered these meetings as a space where our community could voice pressing concerns– for example, how to best track attendance and evaluate impact in a virtual environment–in a receptive and supportive environment.

What is the most pressing issue facing YALSA today?

Recently, I delivered a training to mentors in my community. Within this curriculum, we show a video demonstration of “The Privilege Walk,” an interactive exercise that shines a light on the many dimensions of privilege and inherited social capital. After the video ended, a participant made a point that still echoes in my thoughts. She noted that, while this exercise made a good point, it was made by amplifying the trauma of others. It is essential to consider not just issues facing our community, but the larger context of those issues. If we are to truly offer support to staff who work with youth “from a variety of backgrounds,” we must take on the challenge of continuous education, we must be comfortable being uncomfortable, and we must view our work through a lens of cultural humility. The most pressing issue facing YALSA today is ensuring that inclusivity is a top priority.

Candidates for 2021 Election – YALSA Director-at-Large part 1

Hello members!

The YALSA/ALA election kicks off on Monday, March 8. Over the course of this week, we will publish interviews with all of the candidates. Please take a moment to read through these, and most importantly, VOTE when you receive your electronic ballot from ALA.

Enormous thanks goes out to member Sarah Sogigian for conducting these interviews!

The live Candidates’ Forum will take place via Zoom on Friday, March 5 at 3pm ET / 2pm CT / noon PT. This event will include all YALSA candidates, along with the three candidates for President-Elect of the American Library Association. Please register to attend the Forum.

The next two candidates are for YALSA Board Director-at-Large. Today we hear from Melanie Wachsmann and Traci Glass, and tomorrow we will publish interviews with two more Director-at-Large candidates, Abigail Phillips and Tess Wilson.

Name and current position:
Melanie Wachsmann, Assistant Library Director [Harris County Public Library, Houston, TX]

What best qualifies you for being on the Board of Directors?
MW: I have been a member of YALSA throughout my entire library career and have served in various capacities, including selection committees, award committees, and as a Teens’ Top Ten sponsor. Being a member of the Board of Directors would provide me the opportunity to continue to support YALSA, its members, and the teens they serve in a new capacity.

How do you envision furthering YALSA’s mission if elected to this position?
MW: I have always viewed YALSA as an extended network of librarians who provided me with information and new ideas. If elected, I would strive to encourage more members to participate in sharing their own ideas and experiences, as well as, investigate methods to increase membership.

What would be the most exciting aspect of this position? The most
challenging?
MW: All my experiences with YALSA have been exciting in some way or another. The most exciting aspect of the position is that it would give me a view of the intricacies of how the organization works with its members and ALA to carry out their mission statement.
The most challenging aspect of being a new member in a leadership position, is the introductory period where it is important to listen to understand the issues, the operating procedures, and the workflow of the committee. Having served on various committees, I am comfortable with asking others for help and clarification and enjoy learning from those who have more experience and knowledge to share.

Please share a recent example(s) where you made a shift to better focus on the current needs of teens.
MW: In response to the pandemic, I have worked to move programming and information to a digital space, including outreach book clubs at local high schools where I join them via Zoom.

What is the most pressing issue facing YALSA today?
MW: The most important issue facing YALSA today is advocating for spaces and programming for all teens, no matter their race, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and ability.

Name and current position:
Traci Glass, Assistant Director, Lincoln City Libraries, Lincoln, Nebraska

What best qualifies you for being on the Board of Directors?
TG: I first started working for and with teens in 2007, and it has been the most rewarding and honestly, the best part of my professional life. When I started, I was just focused on the day-to-day work that I could see reflected at my library. Programming, collections, outreach, hanging out in the teen room – those were all things that I could actively see affecting the teens that I served. As I started getting more involved in YALSA, first through writing for The Hub and selection committee work, I started to see how this work could help teens I had never met because I’m providing support to library staff who work with teens from everywhere across the globe. That really opened up my eyes to the idea of running for the YALSA Board – I want to provide support to folks who love working with their teens as much as I loved working with mine. The passion I have for this work is something that will never change – providing support, advice, and a helping hand to everyone in YALSA who dedicates their life to making their teens’ lives better through the library is something that is so close to my heart and so important to me. I’ve been active in YALSA for most of my professional life, and while I feel that knowledge is helpful, it’s my excitement and love for this work that qualifies and excites me about the possibility of being elected as a Director-at-Large.

How do you envision furthering YALSA’s mission if elected to this position?
TG: YALSA’s mission – to support library staff in alleviating the challenges teens face, and in putting all teens ‒ especially those with the greatest needs ‒ on the path to successful and fulfilling lives – is something I’ve strived for in my library work for teens and in the work I’ve done for YALSA over the years. I want to help to affect change by making YALSA the gold standard in the library world and beyond regarding issues regarding teens and how libraries serve them. Working with fellow Board members on strengthening our commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion by incorporating those concepts into everything we do! Providing more materials for library staff to use that will help them in their job and when working with their administration! I remember how exciting it was to share the Futures report with my manager and director. I had so many ideas (so many I think I overwhelmed them!), so having those ideas reflected in that report showed my administration that we were on the right path. That we could serve teens well in a variety of ways. I want all teens to feel welcome and supported in their libraries, and I want the dedicated library staff who dedicate each day to that to feel supported by their organization.

What would be the most exciting aspect of this position? The most challenging?
TG: The most exciting aspect of this position would be to work with a team of people who are passionate about teens and their libraries! I have so enjoyed working with the YALSA Board through my time as Board Fellow, interim Director-at-Large, and now through my work as the Chair of the Financial Advancement Committee. It’s been so fun and rewarding and challenging and exciting to work with so many different people from different parts of the county and world – and, all in the pursuit of making teens’ lives better and making it so library staff can lean on us for support and guidance and help as they work with their teens. I think the challenging part would be that we can’t make everything perfect for teens and library staff – but, I want to try – I want to do that work with people I respect and who I know care about teens as much as I do.

Please share a recent example(s) where you made a shift to better focus on the
current needs of teens.
TG: I love supporting the staff in my library system in the creation and implementation of great spaces and programs for teens. Based on personal experience as well as what I’ve heard from many YALSA members, teen services are often relegated to a place below services to adults and children. I think the most important things I can do as a manager is to celebrate all the ways the library staff I work with serve teens in our community and help bring their awesome ideas and practices to fruition in our libraries. Recently, our staff introduced curated bundled book subscriptions for teens to help get books into their hands during this time when they can’t come into the library. And, I’ve loved brainstorming ways to keep our TAB members and teen volunteers engaged and involved during COVID with our branch managers. Personally, since I love, love, love comics and graphic novels, I am working with our Support Services department to get all of our graphic novels out of the 741.5s and into their own dedicated collections. The most important one and the one I’m tackling first is the comics and manga collection for teens. I can’t wait until teens can easily browse our graphics collections. I also really want to start up a comics book club for teens and a mini Comic Con for them. One day! I’m always excited to try something new or support staff with a unique project when it’s dedicated to serving our teens.

What is the most pressing issue facing YALSA today?
TG: This isn’t a new thing, but I really think that declining YALSA membership, engagement, and volunteer involvement are all things that we really need to address immediately. Why do we have so many Twitter followers, but not the same amount of members? What can we do to show our members that what we offer is helpful and different and important and can help them in their day to days? The pandemic has exacerbated this – so many library staff and teens are struggling, and we are all just trying to get through each day. Coming together, as people who care about teens, can make things better. I think, for now, we have to focus on supporting each other and building a community together.

Candidates for 2021 Election – YALSA Division Councilor

Hello members!

The YALSA/ALA election kicks off on Monday, March 8. Over the course of the next week, we will publish interviews with all of the candidates. Please take a moment to read through these, and most importantly, VOTE when you receive your electronic ballot from ALA.

Enormous thanks goes out to member Sarah Sogigian for conducting these interviews!

The live Candidates’ Forum will take place via Zoom on Friday, March 5 at 3pm ET / 2pm CT / noon PT. This event will include all YALSA candidates, along with the three candidates for President-Elect of the American Library Association. Please register to attend the Forum.

The next two candidates are for YALSA Division Councilor, Elizabeth Nebeker and Joel Shoemaker:

Name and current position:

Elizabeth Nebeker. I am currently the YALSA Liaison to ALA Groups.

What best qualifies you for being on the Board of Directors?

EN: I feel I am qualified to be on the Board of Directors because I have been a member of YALSA for a few years. I have served on YALSA committees and am currently fulfilling the appointed position of YALSA Liaison to ALA Groups, which, like the Councilor position is about sharing information. I have held a few leadership positions in TLA, my state library association, and feel I am qualified to serve the larger membership of YALSA.

How do you envision furthering YALSA’s mission if elected to this position?

EN: Our mission is to support library staff in alleviating the challenges that teen face so that teens will have successful and fulfilling lives. I envision that as the YALSA Councilor, I will be able to further our mission by sharing information, discussions, and solutions from other ALA groups with the Board in order to make informed decisions. I will be able to share information with YALSA membership as a whole, so our members will know what is happening.

What would be the most exciting aspect of this position? The most
challenging?

EN: Being the YALSA Councilor will put me on the front lines of what is happening at ALA. ALA has so many working parts and it will be exciting to see how all the units, division, committees, and groups work to together. It will be exciting to be able to share with the other YALSA Board and YALSA Members what is going on with ALA. It will also be challenging to share ALL the information in a succinct, efficient, and effective way. I feel I am ready for this challenge.

Please share a recent example(s) where you made a shift to better focus on the current needs of teens.

EN: As a high school librarian, when the nation was put on quarantine, it was imperative to step up my high school’s virtual space. I was able to collect data from different sources as to what was needed to help my teens be successful. I was able to work with my local public library on an ebook/audiobook partnership. I was able to support my teachers with their curriculum needs for accessible videos by finding a educational streaming service. 

What is the most pressing issue facing YALSA today?

EN: Supporting library staff who work with teens has always been vital for YALSA. With Covid and quarantine restrictions, libraries have had rethink many of the ways we serve teens. Supporting the library virtual “space” as they support teens during this time has become crucial. Addressing the needs of support for those who cannot access virtual spaces due to inequality of access for whatever reason is a pressing issue for YALSA.


Name and current position:

Joel Shoemaker, Director, Illinois Prairie District Public Library

What best qualifies you for being on the Board of Directors?

JS: I’ve been involved in ALA for nine years and have been in rural libraries for a decade, at least half of that in leadership. I’ve worked in public libraries as well as school and medical libraries. I’ve also interned with ProQuest. With my school and public library experience, especially related to service to teens, I feel like I am qualified for leadership positions within YALSA. 

How do you envision furthering YALSA’s mission if elected to this position?

JS: I want to highlight ways we can support rural libraries, especially small libraries with limited budgets. I also want YALSA to recognize libraries with only one staff member, or small staffs, and libraries that don’t necessarily have departments for teens or youth. A lot of us are a one-person show and would like to serve teens but need to know how to balance that with other responsibilities.

What would be the most exciting aspect of this position? The most
challenging?

JS: I think YALSA is doing great work within ALA and I’m very enthusiastic about the future of the organization. I’m elated to support it in every way. I think the challenge remains with proving relevance and showing value to those who have to choose whether to pay for membership to ALA and YALSA. It’s not necessarily a cheap endeavor and library budgets are often stretched very thin. Choices have to be made; cuts have to be considered annually. I think YALSA needs to show people why membership should not be up for that consideration.

Please share a recent example(s) where you made a shift to better focus on the current needs of teens.

JS: Great question. I’m a library director with six branches and a very small staff. Essentially, we have circulation staff only at many branches and heavily focus on just checking in and checking out. Pre-COVID, I shifted focus to programming for teens and figured out how to make that work for us. What it could look like. Essentially, we took one program and made it weekly and mobile so that it could be implemented at each branch. Making it weekly allowed me to fit it into my schedule alongside administrative tasks. Teens show up for technology programming here, especially 3D printing, circuits, and other makerspace events.

What is the most pressing issue facing YALSA today?

JS: I think it’s always going to be advocacy. I think that’s what member organizations such as YALSA and ALA can and should be great at. Let’s use our resources to show our elected officials what libraries are good at and why they deserve their attention. The threat to cut funding is never going to go away.

Candidate profiles for the 2021 Election – YALSA President-Elect

Hello members!

The YALSA/ALA election kicks off on Monday, March 8. Over the course of the next week, we will publish interviews with all of the candidates. Please take a moment to read through these, and most importantly, VOTE when you receive your electronic ballot from ALA.

Enormous thanks goes out to member Sarah Sogigian for conducting these interviews!

The live Candidates’ Forum will take place via Zoom on Friday, March 5 at 3pm ET / 2pm CT / noon PT. This event will include all YALSA candidates, along with the three candidates for President-Elect of the American Library Association. Please register to attend the Forum.

Our first interview is with Franklin Escobedo, candidate for YALSA President-Elect.

Name and current position:
Franklin Escobedo, Community Services Director [Larkspur, California]

What best qualifies you for being on the Board of Directors?
FE: If elected, this will be my second time serving on the YALSA Board. I have been an active member and served on committees, juries, and selection lists for YALSA. My past experience as a Liaison to YALSA has given me an insight into our division and the growth and challenges the division has faced over the last decade.

How do you envision furthering YALSA’s mission if elected to this position?
FE: Working with the YALSA Board of Directors and the YALSA staff and reaching out to membership for input. I also plan on working closely with the YALSA President and immediate past president to continue the work which was begun by past board members.

What would be the most exciting aspect of this position? The most challenging?
FE: For me the most exciting part of being the YALSA President, which past Presidents has expressed is the most difficult, is the appointment of volunteers to the various committees and taskforces. The most challenging thing at least for me is the prospect of speaking at the Youth Media Awards. Speaking in front a large crowd or group is still a nerve wracking experience for me.

Please share a recent example(s) where you made a shift to better focus on the current needs of teens.
FE: For my library it has always been a challenge to get teens to come in and visit the library. When the pandemic began, we had to shift the way we reached out and communicated with teens in our town. A big shift was finding ways for teens to still be active and ways to volunteer when people are not allowed in the building. Thus we began to let the teens create reading list and book trailers to share on social media which allowed them to continue to earn volunteer credit.

What is the most pressing issue facing YALSA today?
FE: The most pressing issues facing YALSA are the financial health and retention of membership. These go hand in hand. The move to more virtual committees and ways to attend. We hope that more members who have not been able to participate due to the cost of traveling or attending conference, will volunteer virtually. Membership fees as well as donations help to fund the programs, scholarships, and a variety of activities that many of our members have relied on to help develop their careers and libraries. Without the funds the programs will go away and without these programs it makes it more challenging for our members to help the teens in their libraries. These financial troubles are not only affecting YALSA but ALA as a whole.

3 reasons to be the next ALA Liaison

We’re looking for the next ALA Liaison to serve a term from July 2021-June 2022 and you may be the perfect candidate to apply

1. Jump on the fast-track in learning about the work of ALA groups and how they operate within the current structure of ALA.

For instance, the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) does not fall directly under ALA as a division, but shares a relationship with ALA that is akin to the affiliates. Regardless, this powerhouse organization is staffed by a team of dedicated and fierce advocates and their meetings are truly fascinating. As the liaison, you’ll receive free access to hearing the inside scoop on litigation cases that are being fought by FTRF and realize the big picture in their connection to libraries. 

2. Become familiar with current trends in the field for each group’s area of expertise. 

The Intellectual Freedom Committee is one of the busiest and most active ALA groups I’ve seen in action. They are on top of their game when it comes to intellectual freedom issues in libraries. As liaison, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in volunteer work, if you wish. During my experience, I was able to assist a few sub-committees in the updating of documents for the latest edition of the Intellectual Freedom Manual.

3. Networking and meeting many people! 

I know, you’re probably thinking “Not another Zoom meeting!” But these meetings feature all kinds of people that you don’t yet know. New professionals, life-long librarians, and even ALA Past-Presidents. Hear about what’s happening all over the country from the individuals themselves. There are in-person meeting requirements for the ALA Conferences whenever they begin occurring in-person again, but YALSA grants a stipend to assist in your participation. 

So what does the YALSA ALA Liaison do? In a nutshell, the appointed individual will:

  • Attend as many virtual meetings as available for each of the eight appointed groups. Some groups are more active than others, meaning that some only meet at conferences.
  • Take notes at meetings to share important updates with YALSA leadership related to teens or opportunities for collaboration with YALSA.
  • Meet virtually with YALSA leadership who will support you in sharing new information from YALSA. 
  • Write two reports for the YALSA Board, each to be submitted before Midwinter and Annual conferences.

If you’re still reading this, what are you waiting for? Submit your application today and get involved! Feel free to check out this page for more info or reach out to me at AmandaBarnhart@kclibrary.org. Deadline for application submission is March 1, 2021.  March 10, 2021.

Wishing you well in your professional endeavors,

Amanda Barnhart (she/hers)
YALSA President 2020-2021
YALSA ALA Liaison 2017-2019

Peeking Behind the Curtain: YALSA Board Fellow Program

I’ve been involved in YALSA in one way or another for much of my professional librarian life. My YALSA journey began with an impulse visit to a New Member session at a long ago ALA which led to submitting volunteer applications to serve on a selection committee. I guess you could say I jumped straight into YALSA’s labyrinth of service, networking, learning, and support. Over the years I’ve served on multiple committees, attended countless YALSA sessions at conferences and online, presented at the YALSA Symposium, and now serve as this year’s YALSA Board Fellow. 

What is the YALSA Board Fellow Program? It’s a peek behind the curtain. Prior to being appointed the Board Fellow, I had a very limited understanding of how the Board worked. I’d attended YALSA Board sessions at conference a few times, but freely admit to being somewhat confused by what I observed. The Board Fellow position is a chance to dip a toe into the waters of YALSA’s governing body and a chance to grow your leadership potential. The Board Fellow serves a one-year term and becomes a full, non-voting member of the YALSA Board. You’ll attend the monthly YALSA Board chats, the twice a year meetings, and participating in ongoing projects and discussions via ALA Connect. During my time as the Board Fellow I’ve learned a great deal about the inner workings of YALSA. 

Being surrounded by people as passionate about Teen Services and providing the best possible support to Teen Services library workers has been a blessing in this year of COVID upheaval. An added benefit of being selected as the YALSA Board Fellow is a stipend of up to $1,500 total to attend the 2 Annual Conferences (which is another blessing as library budgets are tight). I’ll be using this stipend to cover the cost of ALA’s Annual Conference which is to be held virtually due to the pandemic. If you are looking for opportunities to grow your leadership potential, get involved with YALSA, and make your voice heard, then the YALSA Board Fellow Program is the opportunity you need! For more information on YALSA’s Board Fellow Program visit  http://www.ala.org/yalsa/awardsandgrants/yalsa_fellows_program.

The application window for next year’s YALSA Board Fellow has been extended and I encourage anyone who is interested to submit their application here:  https://www.emailmeform.com/builder/form/4bes9ZdudTy. If you have questions about the program I’m happy to chat about my experience, please email me HPL.Teen@houstontx.gov.

This post was submitted by Rebecca Denham, Teen Services Coordinator at Houston Public Library.