Anita Mechler, YALSA Executive Director
Today YALSA welcomes a new Executive Director, Anita Mechler. YALSAblog interviewed her about her past experiences and what she’s looking forward to accomplishing with YALSA.
Tell us about your background and what led you to this position.
I have been active in a variety of causes throughout my life from human rights to legislative work from my high school days to now. I found a perfect fit for advocacy, helping people, and being able to “nerd” out on information sharing by pursuing my MLIS degree. The American Library Association’s Code of Ethics resonated strongly with me when I was going through graduate school and has continued to inform my professional work. I joined the library profession to provide the best services I could to help people pursue and live successful, fulfilling lives. The mission of YALSA perfectly aligns with my goals. Like educators and other library professionals, I have a passion for finding the best answer to a question, the most efficient solution to a problem, and logic and order to confusing situations.
With this position, I want to enact more positive change for a wide range of users who would benefit most from the services that YALSA, ALA, and other important organizations provide. There are plenty of negative forces at work in the world and I want my work and the organizations that represent young adults to do good work, bring about the most positive change, and to provide that one interaction for a young adult user that could change the course of their lives for the better. As an Executive Director, I will be able to enact policies, develop strategies, and advocate for legislation from the highest level of this division that will have the power to positively affect lives all over the United States.
In New Orleans at the 2018 Annual Conference, the YALSA Board discussed several documents related to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. YALSA is committed to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and to make this commitment a reality the Board took several steps.
First, the Board approved the prioritization of the recommendations made by the Advancing Diversity Taskforce, which completed its work earlier this Spring. The recommendations of the committee were ranked by the board as High, Medium, and Low. The items ranked High Priority are currently being implemented. Those ranked Medium Priority will be tackled during the 2018-2019 board. Those that are ranked Low Priority will be re-evaluated at the beginning of the 2019-2020 board to determine what still needs to be done.
One of the High Priority recommendations was to evaluate YALSA’s current Mission, Vision, Intended Impact Statement, and Statement on Diversity. Jane Gov and Kate Denier offered a board document that recommends changes:
The YALSA Board was busy at Annual 2018 in New Orleans. Here are some highlights.
On Friday, Sarah Hill, Todd Krueger, Beth Yoke and I provided training for our new Board members. Topics discussed included:
- What does it mean to be a board member
- Board culture and processes
- Building skills & knowledge relating to association governance
- An overview of YALSA’s organizational plan
On Saturday, at Board I, the Board adopted 17 Consent Items, which were items that were discussed and voted on previous to annual, including:
The Board voted to fill two Board Vacancies. I am pleased to announce that Vicki Emery will serve as YALSA’s Fiscal Officer and Trixie Dantis will serve as a Board Member at Large.
It’s almost time! ALA Annual is upon us and I’m so looking forward to seeing many of you at the awesome lineup of YALSA events.
It’s an exciting time to be a YALSA member! We’re released the New Teen Services Competencies, written a new report supporting librarians working with teens called Transforming Library Services through CE, and we’ve got so much more on the horizon.
This work could not be completed without the dedication of our members. Many of us volunteer our time to take on leadership roles within the organization. And serving in one is a win-win! YALSA benefits from your experiences and work on a common goal, and you gain leadership, team building, and career building skills.
Join us at our YALSA 301 session at ALA Annual to learn more about how you can take the next step in YALSA. YALSA 301 is on Saturday, June 23 at 9 a.m. in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, Room 214.
Can’t make it to conference? I encourage you to contact me and the rest of the Board Development Task Force to learn more. Even if you aren’t ready to run for Board right now, we’d love to share the exciting opportunities that are available!
The Board Development Committee is:
Sarah Hill, Chair, email@example.com
Audra Caplan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Frankin Escobedo, email@example.com
Mary Hastler, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Sogigian, email@example.com
The YALSA board will hold a discussion at #alaac18 about YALSA’s book awards and lists in light of #metoo. I have been a member of the Printz, Odyssey, and Alex Award committees and am bringing this topic to the YALSA board for discussion and possible action.
The #MeToo movement exploded in Fall 2017, when women and some men collectively began to speak out against abusers and harassers. The movement carried over to the young adult publishing world in February 2018 via an article in School Library Journal that led to hundreds of comments to the article indicating certain authors and publisher representatives as harassers or abusers.
YALSA and its board extend their compassion to those harmed by abusers and harassers and commends those for speaking up, while at the same time also extending support to those who were also harmed but remain silent.
The YALSA Board of Directors is headed to New Orleans for ALA’s 2018 Annual Meeting!
The agenda and related documents for our meetings are posted here.
Please feel free to attend our Board meetings on Saturday from 1:00-5:00 and/or on Sunday from 4:30-5:30. All of our meetings will be held in the Convention Center, room 212. YALSA adheres to an open board meeting policy which means we welcome all conference attendees and their contributions with the same respect afforded to fellow board members as detailed in this document. Visitors to the board meeting are encouraged to share information and ask questions during the Open Forum part of the meeting, which is always the first item at the meeting. To learn more about how in-person board meetings function and what to expect, visit the wiki.
Every year, hundreds of YALSA members fill out a volunteer form and serve on our committees, taskforces and give back in other ways. Over the past two years, since adopting our organizational plan, the YALSA Board has been hard at work to create volunteer opportunities that better fit the lives of our members. Focusing on:
- Virtual opportunities (that don’t require travel to conferences)
- Short-term opportunities (that don’t take a year or more commitment)
- New and unique forms of volunteering (like resource retreats and micro-volunteering)
But in that time, we haven’t really changed how we ask our volunteers to report on the outcomes of their efforts. Committee chair still keep to the same quarterly reporting schedule, using the same quarterly reporting form from years ago (with a few minor updates and tweaks).
At Annual in New Orleans, the Board will be discussing how we can better measure the impact of our volunteer’s time and efforts. We’ll talk about the reporting schedule, what we want to measure and what trends we want to track over time. Learn more in Board Document 31.
See the full agenda of the Board of Directors at ALA Annual in New Orleans. All Board meetings are open to attendees, and you can learn more about the Board meetings on the wiki.
At Midwinter 2018, the Board directed the Organization and Bylaws Committee to update and expand the existing Chair Manual. This update would:
• Reflect the Organizational Plan
• Include more big-picture information
• Add outcomes-focused content
• Update the virtual resources content
• Expand the responsibilities, communication, ethics and policies sections
The Organization and Bylaws Committee has made the requested changes, and has submitted board document #19 for review at ALA Annual in New Orleans. We are excited to receive feedback on this document, both from the Board and membership. Additional information can be found in the board document.
If you have any questions regarding the new Chair Manual, please contact Melissa McBride, Chair of Organization & Bylaws: firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re all members of YALSA, or should be, but you’re reading this blog for a variety of reasons. You love libraries. Or you love working with teens. Or you’re just trying to find out what’s happening in YALSA. But you’re here, reading this blog post. As members of YALSA we all participate in our association in a variety of ways, sometimes passively by donating to the scholarships or actively by volunteering to serve on committees, by volunteering to blog for a list, by contributing your programs to Programming HQ.
In a recent YALSA survey many respondents voiced the opinion that their voices weren’t heard or weren’t acknowledged or they felt that their perspective wasn’t represented in YALSA. And I’d be the first to admit, yes it happens, it’s the reason I got involved. There was a time when I felt that my voice wasn’t being heard or felt in the list being created by the volunteers doing committee work weren’t representing my experience or worldview. So I stepped up and started volunteering. We make our association work; if you don’t volunteer or if you decide to drop your membership because you disagree, YALSA is going to fall apart and you know who will ultimately loses? Teens! The teens we support in our libraries, whether it be academic, public, or school; we serve the teens in our hometowns, whether it’s a big city or a small country town.
February may have been only 28 days long, but it was a busy month. Here are some highlights.
- Attended ALA Midwinter in Denver where I:
- Worked with YALSA Board and ALA HR to begin process of hiring a new YALSA Executive Director. For an update click here.
- Wrote thank you letters to outgoing chairs of committees, taskforces, and juries.
- Prepared for the March Board chat where we discussed concerns brought forward by YALSA members re: appropriate volunteer behavior and the committee appointment process. Be on the lookout for Board actions in response to both of these topics.
- Wrote President’s column for the spring issue of YALS focused on small, rural, and tribal libraries