Volunteer Opportunities: Three New YALSA Taskforces

Have you ever benefited from YALSA grants or awards? How would you like to be recognized if you did win a YALSA scholarship or award? Want to help YALSA raise funds to support leadership initiatives for members? Then we need your help! I’m accepting volunteer forms for three new taskforces that were established by the Board last week–Leadership Fundraising, Member Achievements Recognition, and Member Grants and Awards Evaluation taskforces.  Volunteer now through Feb. 15! Please email me with any questions and read on to learn more about the volunteer opportunities.

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Thoughts about Book Selection Lists

enhanced-buzz-24540-1374618713-43In the afterglow of the Youth Media Awards comes the distribution of YALSA’s latest selection lists. These lists have long been resources for both readers’ advisory and collection development, keeping library staff abreast with the new and wonderful. There was a time when the Best Books for Young Adults list (now re-envisioned as the more narrowly focused Best Fiction for Young Adults) delivered many new book choices for library staff to add to the young adult collection.

That was then. Now it’s not unusual for library staff working for and with teens to discover books before they are even published, via web sites like NetGalley, Edelweiss, or by direct publisher contact. There are many networking opportunities, including the yalsa-bk listserv, that crackle with vitality, producing on-the-spot book recommendations and compiled lists.  The YALSA Hub has hundreds of lists on current topics. In addition, there are fabulous blogs about young adult literature, some by library workers, and some by teens. Surely YALSA’s carefully chosen book selections should be somewhere in this swell of activity. Unfortunately, they don’t generate the buzz of online exploration and discovery.

We can do better. It’s time for transformation!

8792688521_2f7538d895_mrHere’s an example. In 1988, YALSA (then YASD) compiled five annual genre lists, covering  Horror, Mystery, Romance, Sports, and Science Fiction. Eventually, Fantasy, Humor, and Historical Fiction were also included. In 1996, these lists were replaced by the Popular Paperbacks selection committee.

The Popular Paperbacks list continues the process of compiling  topical lists. The committee chooses topics that might be of ongoing interest to teens, such as the genres above. The books must be available in paperback, to keep them within easy purchasing range. It allowed libraries to stay on top of teen reading fads without breaking the budget.

It was a fabulous idea – twenty years ago.

But the appeal of paperbacks has changed over the past two decades. They used to look cool stuffed in the back pocket of blue jeans. Tucked inside a textbook, they allowed teens to read Judy Blume instead of history. Those paperback spinners that once housed countless volumes of Babysitter’s Club and Fear Street serials now are storage headaches. Current paperbacks are often too large to fit in the spinners. Add in the growing popularity of e-books, and Popular Paperbacks just doesn’t sound very hip.

girl readingBut dynamic lists on fascinating topics? Always in demand.

I certainly don’t mean to pick on the Popular Paperbacks committee. It’s dear to my heart because I served on that committee for three years; I met a lot of great library folk and learned much from them. And the 2016 chair, Katie Salo, led her committee in developing some awesome lists. Thank you, and all of those who worked so hard on this year’s impressive selection lists.

The YALSA Board is currently involved in organizational planning, driven by the call to action in YALSA’s Futures Report. In taking a step back, we can really focus on how best to build YALSA so that it is aligned with the vision of teen services as outlined in the report. With that momentum, we are well-positioned to support members as we all strive to build a futures-focused teen program at our libraries.  The Board is working with an expert on organizational planning who has encouraged us to embrace an “everything is on the table” approach that allows us to think about  the kinds of support members need most, including collection development and content curation, and how we best provide that.

This topic and its relation to selected lists like PPYA is actually just one example of what the board will be considering once a new plan is in place and the work of aligning existing programs, services, initiatives and resources begins.  The goal is to have a draft plan put together by early Feb., work throughout the month to refine it and have a final, new plan in place by March 1.  The aligning work will take place after that and lead to the development of proposals for the board’s consideration, most likely at their meeting in June.

To keep up to date on the organizational planning process, check the YALSAblog for regular updates. And join YALSA president Candice Mack for her Member Town Halls on Twitter via the #yalsachat hashtag. The next one will be Friday, Feb. 5, noon to 1:00 pm (Eastern).

It’s a good time to look ahead.

Strategic Planning Update

As many of you are aware, YALSA’s current Strategic Plan and its companion document—the Action Plan—run through 2015.

In mid-2014, YALSA’s Board began discussing the need for a new strategic plan, put together a Strategic Planning Taskforce and conducted a membership-wide survey. However, since the publication of the report, “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: a Call to Action,” called for significant changes in teen services, YALSA’s Board agreed that the traditional approach to strategic planning was no longer a good fit for YALSA and its needs.

The Board felt that it was necessary to take a step back and rethink the organization’s purpose, focus and structure in order to enable YALSA to be well-positioned to help its members adopt the recommendations in the report and transform library services for and with teens. Most importantly, the Board agreed to use the Futures Report as its guide for the strategic planning process. As a part of this, a ‘teens first’ message has been the broad focus throughout this process. All of us are passionate about helping teens succeed in school and prepare for college, careers and life. Keeping this foremost in our minds throughout strategic planning discussions is what we have striven to do.

In the past, YALSA’s Board did not have a call-to-action or vision document of this type from which to base its strategic planning efforts. In this sense, the Board felt it was starting a new round of strategic planning with an advantage over past rounds. However, in late 2014 and early 2015 the strategic planning process stalled while the Board struggled to find a consultant who could help lead YALSA through a new, and nontraditional organizational planning process. So, an RFP was put together in the spring in order to find what YALSA needed. Then, over the summer, YALSA’s leaders reviewed proposals from potential consultants and in August signed a contract with the Whole Mind Strategy Group.

The plan is for the Board have in-depth, generative discussions now through the Board’s meeting at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. A first step was for YALSA’s Executive Committee to meet this past weekend, where the committee did a “scouting expedition”/environmental scan in order to identify what external and internal factors were impacting teen services in libraries.

Next, the Board will get together in January to discuss this scan and develop a vision for how YALSA can make the recommendations in the Futures Report a reality. The goal is to have a new plan in place by the end of February.

This new document will be different from the past strategic plan format in a few key ways. First, it will be a three year plan, not a five year one. Additionally, the plan will have new components including an intended impact statement, a theory of change statement, organizational outcomes, and a learning plan. To learn more about these new components, visit Bridgespan Group’s website. Traditional elements, such as goals and objectives and an action plan will also be included.

I and other YALSA Board members will post updates about the process on the YALSAblog and share news in the weekly YALSA e-News. I am also holding a Member Town Hall via Twitter on November 30th from 7:00 – 8:00pm, Eastern, where I’ll provide an update on the process and answer any questions. Please join in with the #yalsachat hashtag.

If you have any questions for me, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via candice.yalsa [at] gmail.com.

YALSA’s Board is very excited about the possibilities that a new strategic plan will open up for YALSA and its members, and we hope you are, too!

Together we can work to put teens first and ensure that all of the nation’s teens have a chance at a brighter future.

Welcome, YASD!

senior prom fakeMarcy Rhodes has three possible sweet squeezes: Steve, who drops out of the running when he goes off to college; Rick, a nice, dependable kind of guy, and Bruce, a looker with a yellow convertible. When Senior Prom approaches, Marcy has to go with someone, so like many heroines in chick lit, she picks the guy with the convertible. During prom, however, Marcy realizes that Bruce intends to stay out all night. Marcy panics, since this was not her plan at all. Fortunately, nice guy Rick gives Marcy a ride home. The next day she learns that Bruce totaled that yellow convertible in after-prom hijinks.

It sounds like the plot of a Meg Cabot novel, but Senior Prom, written by Rosamond Du Jardin, was published in 1957. Du Jardin was the author of seventeen young adult books, including four books in the Marcy Rhodes senior promseries. Young Adult Literature, although far from the market giant it is today, was robust in the years following World War II. Such was the cultural backdrop when the American Library Association created the Young Adult Services Division (YASD) in June, 1957. Mildred Batchelder served as the first Executive Secretary. The early years included scuffles with other ALA divisions and a fight to keep the TOP OF THE NEWS journal focused on Youth Services.

Want to know what happens next? You can find more about the history of YALSA in the YALSA Handbook in the History section.’  The YALSA Handbook is a nifty document that not only chronicles the backstory of our vibrant ALA Division, but contains all kinds of information about today’s YALSA as well.

In Memoriam: Dororthy Broderick

“There’s something in my library to offend everyone.”

So read a favorite t-shirt of Dorothy Broderick, a legend in YA librarianship, a great defender of intellectual freedom, and an unforgettable personality. Dorothy died Saturday, Dec. 17, at 8:45 p.m.

Dorothy ‘ was an active member of ALA, including YALSA. Her work was recognized repeatedly in the library field, from the prestigious Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award in 1987 to the Grolier Award from ALA in 1991 and the Freedom to Read Foundation’s Roll of Honor Award in 1998.

Dorothy’s greatest contribution to YA librarianship, however, is the mentoring and personal guidance she gave to hundreds of librarians throughout her career, as a librarian in the field, a professor at five major library schools, an author, and through her work as editor of VOYA (co-founded with her partner, Mary K. Chelton, in their home in 1978).

YALSA and YA librarianship wouldn’t be what it is today without Dorothy. The YALSA Board of Directors offered a resolution in her honor in 2007, calling her “the glue that that bound many of us together in earlier YALSA years,” and noting her “wicked wit,” which belied a “a heart of gold, a brilliant mind, a love of librarianship, [and] a strong sense of right and wrong.”

In my early days in YALSA, in the 1990s, Dorothy was still attending conferences. It was always a delight to see her, and to hear her asides about whatever was going on at the time. Dorothy was also one of the first editors to publish my writing—articles and reviews in VOYA–so I am personally grateful to her. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to know her and work with her.

She will be missed, but never forgotten. ‘ The Board of Directors, and all of YALSA, are grateful to Dorothy for everything she gave to YA librarianship. Our thoughts are with Mary K. and their family.

Sarah Flowers, YALSA President

30 Days of How-To #24: How to Keep Going

Last spring some library school students asked me how to avoid burn-out. We’d been talking in class about all of the activities that librarians serving teens needed to be involved in – collection development, advocacy, programming, management, outreach, personal professional development, technology, and so on. When I was asked the question I had to stop for a little while and think about my answer. Here’s how I did answer:

  • Be involved in professional organizations that help you to re-energize by talking to others outside of your personal work location. Talk with those in these organizations about library and non-library topics. When I talked about this with students it became very clear to me that this is a key piece of my involvement in YALSA. It’s through my active participation in the association that I am able to keep refreshed and excited about teens and teen library services. I am always talking with other YALSA members about new ideas, ways to overcome challenges, the positives of teens, and so on. As a result I don’t get burned-out I get excited by possibilities. ‘ National, local, and regional organizations can all provide refreshing opportunities for those working in teen services.
  • Don’t take things personally. ‘ Some days may be really hard. The teens, administration, colleagues, community members, parents, teachers, everyone might seem like they are against YOU. But, they are not. Continue reading

My Conversation with M. Jane Manthorne

Several years ago, when and Betty Carter and I were collecting information for a School Library Journal article about YALSA’s 50th year anniversary, an opportunity arose for me to talk with Jane Manthorne, 1971-1972 YALSA [YASD] President. Our conversation was delightful, so it was with sadness that I read a notice of her death of February 12, 2010, and learned more about the rich, active life she’d led. Below is a link to her obituary, but I wanted to share some of our phone conversation. Continue reading