2019 YALSA Election: An Interview with Secretary Candidate Josie Watanabe

Get ready to vote in this year’s YALSA election! To help you make informed decisions, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2019 YALSA Governance candidates. Voting will take place from Monday, March 11 through Wednesday, April 3. To help you further prepare for the election, be sure to check out the YALSA Candidates’ Forum on March 7th!

Serving three-year terms, YALSA Board members are responsible for jointly determining YALSA’s current and future programs, policies, and serving as liaisons to YALSA’s committees, juries, taskforces and advisory boards. Members work year-round, and attend in-person meetings at ALA’s Midwinter and Annual Conferences. A full description of Board duties and responsibilities can be found here. You can learn more about ALA elections here.

Name and current position: Josie Watanabe – Interim Youth and Family Services Manager – The Seattle Public Library

What best qualifies you for being Secretary?
I have experience leading workgroups and also contributing to them. One of the best skills that I have is moving work forward and also being very organized—organizational skills seem crucial for this role. I am also interested in learning more about how boards operate and so this will be a good learning experience for me as well.

How do you envision furthering the mission of YALSA as the Secretary?
The thing that I love most about the YALSA mission is keeping teens front and center. As the Youth and Family Services Manager at The Seattle Public Library, my charge is to represent the interest of youth and families throughout the system and I hope to do the same on the YALSA board.

What are some ways that being a member of the YALSA Board can help you serve as an even better connector to helping libraries become thriving learning environments for/with teens?
I think a lot about opportunity gaps that youth and families face throughout the country, YALSA can contribute to closing opportunity gaps by supporting library staff to understand community needs and help support community.

What about YALSA’s Organizational Plan excites you most and why?
I am really excited about the continuing education plan, I think that piece is a challenge for library systems all over the country and YALSA has really stepped in to support this work.

How would you embed the concept of “teens first” in the work of the board?
I believe that all decisions, programs, systems and structures need to be designed to help youth and families succeed. In order to do that, we need to help library staff regardless of the size of the library or location strategize and develop a plan to further that mission. We also need to prioritize black, indigenous and youth of color and the intersectionalities that make up their diverse identities and help support library staff to put these teens first.

Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of the board of directors?
I think I have a diverse background, I have been a teacher, teen librarian, program manager and now a youth services manager. Also, I am uniquely positioned based on my equity, diversity and inclusion work in Seattle to support YALSA in moving forward on their EDI statement and new strategic plan.

2019 YALSA Election: An Interview with President-Elect Candidate Matthew Layne

Get ready to vote in this year’s YALSA election! To help you make informed decisions, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2019 YALSA Governance candidates. Voting will take place from Monday, March 11 through Wednesday, April 3. To help you further prepare for the election, be sure to listen to the recording of the YALSA Candidates’ Forum from March 7th!

The President-Elect serves a three-year term — first as the President-Elect, then as the President during the second year, and finally as the Immediate Past President during the third year. The President-Elect is a member of the Executive Committee alongside the President, Immediate Past President, Division Councilor, Fiscal Officer, Secretary, and Executive Director. The Executive Committee works with its ALA counterpart to build ties between the two organizations and helps with the fiscal oversight of YALSA.  A full description of the President-Elect’s duties and responsibilities can be found here.You can learn more about ALA elections here.

Name and current position: Matthew Layne – Young Adult Librarian – Emmet O’Neal Library

What best qualifies you for being President-elect?
I thrive on creating meaningful change in our local and state library communities, and I look forward to utilizing my vision, experience, and expertise in enacting meaningful change for librarians and most especially for our young people across the United States. I wish to use my years of experience as a leader of a non-profit organization combined with my leadership experience at the state and local library levels to lead YALSA into the future as the next President-elect.

How do you envision furthering the mission of YALSA as President-elect?
Through the resources of YALSA, I will work to educate librarians around the US and world on how to best empower and give voice to our young people. I will strive to ensure that the needs of our young adult librarians and young adults in general are being best served by the American Library Association.

What are some ways that being a member of the YALSA Board can help you serve as an even better connector to helping libraries become thriving learning environments for/with teens?
I am a firm believer in the power of teens to articulate their own needs; therefore, I will make a push to establish a national teen advisory board comprised of young people from diverse backgrounds around the country. There is so much great information on the YALSA website that serves to make me a better teen librarian. I will work with our board in an effort to better disseminate that information to our membership and to those who work with teen populations.

What about YALSA’s Organizational Plan excites you most and why?
I’m most excited by YALSA’s Mission and Vision: Mission: Our mission is 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. Vision: Our vision is that all teens have access to quality library programs and services ‒ no matter where they occur ‒ that link them to resources, connected learning opportunities, coaching, and mentoring that are tailored to the unique circumstances of the community and that create new opportunities for all teens’ personal growth, academic success, and career development. I want to see more libraries reaching out beyond their walls to the teens in their communities. We must meet our young people when and where they are.

How would you embed the concept of “teens first” in the work of the board?
As I stated, I think it is of utmost importance that we add actual teen voices to our work. The formation of a National Teen Advisory Board for YALSA would be a major step in that direction. As we witnessed in this past year with the Parkland students, teens have the abilities and skills to lead. As librarians, we can help facilitate and guide them on their journeys.

Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of the board of directors?
I have proven leadership skills in both the for-profit and non-profit worlds. I ran a successful French bakery and cafe for 10 years before becoming a librarian. I headed a non-profit board and led the organization from the brink of being disbanded to becoming a thriving self-sustaining community organization. I look forward to sharing my skills and expertise with YALSA as we boldly move forward into the future. Thank you for your consideration and your vote!

Libraries Welcome all Families: Collaborating on Inclusive Summer Initiatives

This post was written by School and Public Libraries Collaboration Committee members April Witteveen, Natasha Carty, Jill Woychowski, and Robin Gibson.

Public libraries are beginning to look ahead to their summer reading or summer learning programs. Through school and public library collaboration librarians can identify approaches for success using an equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) lens.

In order to reach as many students as possible with information about library summer programs, a great strategy is to collaborate on school visits. Natasha Carty, who’s been a public librarian, school teacher, and now a school librarian, has seen the value of these visits from all angles. As a public youth librarian, Carty’s school visits resulted in a 50% increase in participation. She’s now looking forward to inviting her local public librarians to school to promote their summer reading program, and she will be investigating if there are ways to get students registered for the program while still in school. Carty stresses the importance of summer reading as a way to address the summer slide when working with students and their families at school. She has handed out recommended reading lists from the public library in order to encourage participation in programming. Both school and public libraries have the opportunity to create summer reading lists that represent diverse characters and experiences. This School Library Journal article shows the need for increasingly diverse summer reading lists.

Summer meal sites offer another opportunity for librarians to extend their reach beyond standard library locations through both program promotion and participation. Jillian Woychowski, a high school librarian in West Haven, Connecticut notes that her local public library’s youth librarians “coordinated activities to happen before or after the [meal] delivery times” at school sites. Robin Gibson, Youth Services Manager at Westerville Public Library in Ohio shares that “Youth and outreach staff visit local WARM (Westerville Area Resource Ministry) lunch sites that provide free lunches during the summer months. We visit to promote the summer reading program and to distribute books to kids of all ages. Many of these children don’t come to the library itself, and we are working to add more services (think early literacy and playful literacy building activities) to these summer visits.  We are a school district library with one location, so we need to get out of the building to reach more families. Artificial boundaries (like a main highway) make some neighborhoods feel distant, so we are working to overcome these barriers and build relationships with these often underserved families.”

Carty concurs, saying that she loves “the idea of public librarians going to where the children and students are to read to them, maybe have a quick craft project, and to sign up students for the summer reading program and promote reading.” WebJunction has an archived webinar on “starting or expanding a USDA summer meals site” at your school or library.

Looking for more ideas to bring EDI to your library? On February 28, Amigos Library Services is hosting a full-day online conference: Open Doors: Reaching Underserved Populations. Speakers will discuss a variety of inclusive library practices and programs, sure to provide inspiration and ideas for librarians working on their plans for summer initiatives.

Programming Experts for Teen Programming HQ Sought

YALSA seeks up to ten members to volunteer their time as teen programming Content Experts, especially those with expertise in STEAM, school libraries, ESL, community engagement, outcomes/evaluation, teen-led programming, and serving underserved youth, for its online database, Teen Programming HQ.

Content Experts will work with the site’s Member Manager to vet all incoming program submissions and determine which meet the necessary criteria for being featured on the site. As part of this effort, Content Experts will be expected to give timely, constructive feedback to individuals regarding their program submissions. Content Experts will also participate as “content creators” and submit new content (programs) to the site. Content Experts will be expected to submit one program per month.

Additionally, Content Experts will provide advice and drive discussion in the HQ’s Q & A forum. Content Experts should also feel comfortable with social media and have an understanding that marketing the website will be a crucial part of their role in order to solicit content submissions to the site.

List of Qualifications for Content Experts:

  • Membership in YALSA and a passion for YALSA’s mission
  • Thorough knowledge of best practices in teen programming, especially as outlined in YALSA’s Teen Programming Guidelines and report, “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: a Call to Action”
  • Strong background in engaging teens and community partners to plan, implement and evaluate innovative and impactful programs for and with teens that meet their developmental, educational and recreational interests
  • Expertise in STEAM, school libraries, ESL, community engagement, outcomes/evaluation, teen-led programming, and serving underserved youth, is a plus
  • Ability to devote a minimum of 1-2 hours per week for 6 continuous months to the HQ
  • Excellent written communications skills and good netiquette
  • Respond to Member Manager inquiries and vet programs in a timely manner
  • Successful experience in coaching, mentoring and/or teaching other adults
  • Ability to work well in a team environment
  • Ability to work well in a virtual setting, including using tools such as Google Drive, Google Calendar, Skype, Zoom, etc. to coordinate work and communicate with others
  • Ability to navigate social media tools to promote the HQ
  • High ethical standards and no real or perceived conflict of interest with YALSA or its portfolio of print and web publications
  • Dynamic and self-motivated

Up to ten Content Experts will be selected. Candidates must complete the online application form by no later than April 1, 2019. Eligibility requirements apply. Please note this is a volunteer opportunity. The term of appointment is six months beginning May 1, 2019.

The mission of the site is to provide a one-stop-shop for finding and sharing information about programs of all kinds designed for and with teens. The site promotes best practices in programming by featuring user-submitted programs that align with YALSA’s Teen Programming Guidelines and Futures Report.

The site also enables dissemination of timely information about emerging and new practices for teen programming; raise awareness about appropriate YALSA tools to facilitate innovation in teen programming; and provide a means for members and others interested in teen programs to connect with one another to support and share their efforts to continuously improve their teen programs. Learn more about the Teen Programming HQ at http://hq.yalsa.net.

Apply to be YALSA’s Next Liaison to ALA!

Be our next Liaison to ALA! YALSA is seeking a member to serve as liaison to ALA groups for a one-year term from July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020.

The role of YALSA’s ALA Liaison is to strengthen ties between YALSA and ALA by sharing information between groups and representing YALSA’s interests to ALA. This position would liaise with the following ALA groups both virtually and in person at ALA’s Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference:

  • ASCLA Accessibility Assembly
  • Conference Program Coordinating Team
  • Freedom to Read Foundation
  • Intellectual Freedom Committee
  • Legislation Assembly
  • Literacy Assembly
  • Professional Ethics Committee
  • Website Advisory Committee


Those interested in serving as Liaison should have:

  • Current personal membership in YALSA
  • Ability to attend 8 – 10 ALA committee meetings at both the ALA Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference
  • Ability to attend virtual ALA committee meetings
  • In order to accomplish work in a virtual environment the Liaison must be competent users of digital tools, including but not limited to wikis, e-chats, Skype, Google docs, and Zoom
  • Prior experience serving on a YALSA or ALA committee, and/or the YALSA Board of Directors
  • Knowledge of ALA and YALSA processes
  • Passion for YALSA’s mission
  • Knowledge of current YALSA initiatives, programs, and services
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Ability to speak and write clearly
  • Ability to work well in a team environment
  • Enough free time to dedicate to the extensive demands of this position
  • High degree of ethical standards
  • Minimal other concurrent responsibilities, committee work, affiliations, leadership positions, appointments, etc. within YALSA or with other organizations

If there’s financial need, up to $1,000 in funds total can be provided to the liaison to defray the cost of attending the 2020 Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference. The term of the Liaison’s appointment is July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. For more information or to apply by April 1, visit YALSA’s web site.

New YALSA E-Course – ConnectedLib: Creating Learning Connections for Youth

ConnectedLib logo graphic

Did you know? YALSA is launching a new e-course titled ConnectedLib: Creating Learning Connections for Youth. Those enrolled in the course will learn how to create engaging teen services using the Connected Learning framework. The course will be taught by Kelly Hoffman, a Doctoral candidate at the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. Kelly also was a core team member on the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) funded ConnectedLib project. The course is scheduled for five weeks from March 17 – April 20, 2019

Participants will need to spend approximately two hours per week on course work. Activities will include reading, watching videos, providing peer feedback, discussion, and reflection activities. Over the five weeks of the course, participants will evaluate their teen programs and their library’s capacity for connected learning; identify community resources that could enhance teens’ learning experiences; and put what they learn into practice by creating an outline for their own connected learning program or by revising an existing program in order to have a greater impact with and for teens and communities.

Learn more about the e-course and register on the YALSA website.

YALSA’s Virtual Candidates’ Forum: 2019 Election

Save the date for March 7, 2019, for the virtual YALSA Candidates’ Forum, which will be moderated by Immediate Past President, Sandra Hughes-Hassell.  Drop in any time between 5:00 and 6:00pm, eastern, to meet the candidates for YALSA’s 2019 slate and hear them talk about YALSA initiatives. ALA candidates will also be joining us to share their vision for ALA.

Can’t make it?  The session will be recorded and distributed via YALSA’s weekly member eNews.  And be on the look-out for Candidate Interviews right here on the YALSAblog, which are coming in March. 

You can participate in the Forum via Zoom, a video conferencing platform, through one of two ways:



Dial by your location
+1 646 876 9923 US (New York)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
Meeting ID: 392 247 429
Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/acZm753VdS

Voting for YALSA and ALA elections opens on March 11 and runs through April 3.  A link to your ballot will be emailed to you from ALA.  Learn more on ALA’s web site.

President’s Report – January 2019

Hello Colleagues,

As you may know, the YALSA Board works year round. In January the Board spent its time preparing for Midwinter, Strategic Planning and creating, discussing & voting on Board documents virtually. On Friday and Saturday of Midwinter the YALSA Board began its Strategic Planning process for this year. The Board will work with the same consultants through May to create a plan to be used for the next three years. Keep an eye out for ways to participate in the Strategic Planning process.

The Board also reviewed a document brought forward by the Awards Oversight Committee. The document posed questions that had arisen over the past year and that needed clarification in the manual. A board subcommittee was set up to explore these questions and will report back to the Awards Oversight Committee by April.

The Re-envisioning TRW/TTW Taskforce also presented a report to the Board, which was reviewed at Midwinter. The Board liked the proposal for a one month celebration of the importance of Services for and with Teens in Libraries. The Taskforce was asked to continue its work to create the first new celebration.

Finally, the Board had a vacancy and voted to appoint Dorcas Wong to fill the available spot, until the term June 30th, 2019.

Thank You!

  • Thank you to Linda Braun for editing the Spring 2019 Issue of YALS!
  • Also, a big thank you to the members of the Awards Committees (Alex, Edwards, Odyssey, Morris, Non-Fiction, and Printz) for all your hard work in the lead up to and at Midwinter!

Relevant Stats & Data

  • December Membership: 4,516 (-5.29% from December 2017)
  • Funds raised for November: $2,053

Don’t Forget!

Crystle Martin
YALSA President 2018-2019

The Liberation of Not Knowing All the Answers

This post was written by Jill O’Connor who was a school librarian for 12 years before making the switch to a public library and, as the Youth Services Librarian at the Merrill Memorial Library in Yarmouth, Maine, she is  loving the freedom to craft programs for a willing audience. She is an avid reader of YA and middle grade books and a book reviewer with the Maine State Library Book Review group. When not thinking up glorious new STEM programming, she can be found driving to her son’s hockey games or her daughter’s dance classes, routing for the local baseball team, or cooking up new foods to tantalize her family.

As a former school librarian, I am new to the public library world. In the public library setting, programming looks very different than it did in school where you are a teacher, on par with all other educators in the school with learning objectives and curricula in hand. A school offers an audience of a knowable set of bodies in your class every day. You plan classes (programs) that hit your objectives and you present information. You don’t have to know everything, and it’s okay to say, “I don’t know, let’s look it up,” but for the most part, I always felt that I had to be the one in the know and in the position of teaching my audience something.

Fast forward to this past fall, I am the shiny new Youth Services Librarian at a public library, excited to try new things in a completely different setting, no longer hostage to the multiple classes-per-day grind. My domain is 3rd through 12th grade, and I am in charge of collection development, reader’s advisory, and all programming for the patrons within my assigned demographic. I know that I have to offer some STEM programming; it’s being asked for by parents and it’s a sensible and sought-after topic for all kids to be participating in, but what to do?!

Continue reading

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.