Meet the YALSA Board of Directors

What is the YALSA Board? What do they do? Who is on the YALSA Board? These could be questions you may have and if they are you’ve come to the right place. Each month, two YALSA Board of Directors are interviewed and their responses are shared here in order to help members get to know more about the Board members, the Board itself and things the Board is working on.

YALSA’s board of directors has the principal responsibility for fulfillment of YALSA’s mission and the legal accountability for its operations. The board has specific fiduciary duties of care, loyalty, and obedience to the law. As a group they are in charge of:
establishing a clear organizational mission
forming the strategic plan to accomplish the mission
overseeing and evaluating the plan’s success
hiring a competent executive director
providing adequate supervision and support to the executive director

This month meet Crystle Martin, Postdoctoral Researcher Digital Media and Learning Research Hub University of California, Irvine.

1. What drew you to the Board?

I started out my work with YALSA managing the YALSAblog. This gave me a great perspective on the needs and interests of members and what YALSA does as an association, which inspired me to contribute to YALSA more. When the Governance Nominating Committee approached me about running for the Board I was very enthusiastic.

2. what do you do on the board?

I am the Secretary of the YALSA Board and the Chair of the Leading the Transformation of Teen Services Standing Board Committee. The Secretary is a member of the Executive Committee and is responsible for ensuring that accurate documentation exists of both Board meetings and Executive Committee meetings. The Leading the Transformation of Teen Services Standing Board Committee is responsible for advancing the priority area of the same name in the Organization Plan. This year I was elected President-Elect for YALSA.

3. What the board is doing for its members

The board is always looking to make YALSA better for its members. We want to create opportunities for professional learning, access to content, and volunteering that are focused on the needs library staff have to serve youth today and in the future. To see what the Board and YALSA as a whole has been up to, check out the current projects page. One of the changes that the Board has undertaken recently that I have been very excited about is the transition of the Selection Lists to The Hub, which is making nominations for selected lists available to members as they are selected instead of all together at the end of the year. So keep an eye on the Awards and Selection List Category on The Hub to see Amazing Audiobooks, Quick Picks, and Popular Paperbacks nominees as they are posted, and look for a compiled list at the end of the year. 

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Meet the YALSA Board of Directors

What is the YALSA Board? What do they do? Who is on the YALSA Board? These could be questions you may have and if they are you’ve come to the right place. Each month, two YALSA Board of Directors are interviewed and their responses are shared here in order to help members get to know more about the Board members, the Board itself and things the Board is working on.

YALSA’s board of directors has the principal responsibility for fulfillment of YALSA’s mission and the legal accountability for its operations. The board has specific fiduciary duties of care, loyalty, and obedience to the law. As a group they are in charge of:
establishing a clear organizational mission
forming the strategic plan to accomplish the mission
overseeing and evaluating the plan’s success
hiring a competent executive director
providing adequate supervision and support to the executive director

This month meet Gretchen Kolderup, Youth Librarian at the St. Helens Public Library in Oregon

What drew you to the Board?

I’d really enjoyed the committee work that I’d done with YALSA and at some point I started sitting in on board meetings and conference calls and thought the work the board was doing was really engaging and something I could contribute to. I’d gotten a lot out of my time with YALSA up to that point, and it seemed like a good opportunity to lend my time and talents to the organization. I also appreciated that board service gave me the chance to work with awesome people, to develop skills I didn’t already have, and to broaden my perspective on libraries to a national level.

What do you do on the board?

Like all board members, I liaise with chairs of member committees and task forces and contribute to our monthly board chats and our meetings at conferences. Board members are responsible for monitoring the financial health of the organization and attending to governance issues.

In my three years on the board, I’ve been on three different standing committees: Continuing Education, Research and Best Practices, and Advocacy. As part of those groups, I’ve helped bring documents to the board for consideration during meetings.

My term on the board also happened during a time when we’ve been very focused on strategic planning, and I think my experience in suburban, urban, and rural libraries has been helpful there. Board work is much more nebulous than committee work; it sort of reminds me of being a supervisor vs a front-line staff member.

What is the board doing for members?

Over the last year, the board (and YALSA’s Executive Director and staff) have been working on better aligning what the organization does to its organizational plan. There isn’t infinite staff time or infinite money, so we want what we’re doing to be as useful to members as possible!

For example, there’s been a renewed focus on supporting members as they create and run interest groups so that people who are working on similar projects or who have similar focus areas can come together and exchange information and ideas (for example, there are teen mental health and DC- and LA-area interest groups).

The board also directed the president to create a task force that’s been reviewing member grants and how members are recognized for excellent work; we’ll discuss their recommendations at Annual and that’ll lead to better grant and recognition opportunities for members.

We’ve also been looking at how to measure how effective different member groups are and what members get out of being on committees and task forces so we can make that experience even better.

All of this — and more! — will be on the agenda for Annual, so stop by a meeting if you can!

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Transforming Teen Services: Making in the Library While Learning to Fail

Makerspaces, making, and the maker movement have become frequent conversation topics among librarians. We’ve encouraged making in the library through programming focused on writing, drawing, designing, building, coding, and more. As informal learning and gathering spaces, libraries are by nature situated to invite collaboration and discovery. In many cases, making has been associated with makerspaces — independent spaces that provide tools, materials, and support to youth and adults with an interest in creating (Educause, 2013). Sometimes makerspaces are flexible, subscription-based environments, sometimes they are hosts to structured programs and classes with an attached fee. Some have a technology prominence with 3D printers and laser cutters, while others lend an artistic attention  by supplying sewing machines and design software (Moorefield-Lang, 2015). No two makerspaces are the same, just as no two makers are the same.


I first became interested in library makerspaces while touring Chicago Public Library’s not yet open to the public Maker Lab and its already thriving YOU Media during ALA Annual 2013. I love the playful atmosphere of learning and opportunity for exploration that these spaces offer teens. Then I dug into some publications. There is a significant amount of research about how youth learn as a result of participation in making and makerspaces (Sheridan et al., 2014; Slatter & Howard, 2013). Likewise, there is a wealth of blog posts, magazine articles, social media blurbs, TED talks, etc. on makerspaces, STEM learning programs, and the maker mindset (Fallows, 2016; Teusch, 2013). It can be difficult to separate the hype from the substance, but there’s still much to explore, discuss, and figure out.

There are many positive aspects of youth involvement with making such as fostering inventiveness, introducing STEAM learning outside of the classroom, and promoting learning as play. But in this post, I will focus on (what I think are) two major benefits of youth making in libraries that may not be quite as obvious: cultivating a capacity to create and learning to fail.

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Log On to Learn about Leadership Opportunities in YALSA on June 20th!

Interested in learning more about YALSA Governance? What does the Call for Nominations really mean? What does taking a leadership role in YALSA look like? Members just like you volunteer their time and energies to help direct the organization and fulfill YALSA’s mission and goals. Learn more about what you can do for YALSA and what YALSA can do for you! This online session on June 20th will be an informal conversation led by members of the Governance Nominating Committee, and an opportunity for you to ask questions and gain some insight into becoming a leader in YALSA.

The Meeting ID is 315 416 674.  Join the session any time between 2:00 – 3:00pm, eastern, from any of the following:

The recording of the session will be made available for those who are unable to attend the live event.  To learn more about being a board member, check out YALSA’s web site.

ALA Annual Visit: Eating Out in Chicago

Heading to Chicago for ALA? Bring your appetite!  It would be impossible to create an objective list of the best food in Chicago, so this post will focus on two categories: food near the McCormick Place convention center, and a small selection of some of the most iconic, representative, or renowned restaurants within reasonable distance of McCormick Place.  Be sure to ask other Chicagoans for recommendations when you’re here; you’re sure to hear something different from everyone!


Near McCormick Place

Unfortunately, McCormick Place isn’t in a great location.  Food choices near there are sparser than in many other parts of the city.  (Chinatown, one mile away, is a noteworthy exception.)  Still, there are some great options if you know where to look.  Below I’ve listed recommended restaurant names, addresses, and distance on foot from McCormick Place.

Baderbräu, 2515 S Wabash Ave, 0.7 miles

A large taproom and 11 beers brewed on-site.

Reggie’s Chicago, 2105 S State St, 0.8 miles

Live music, lots of beers, and tasty inexpensive pub food just a 15 minute walk from McCormick Place.

Acadia, 1639 S Wabash Ave, 1 mile   

This well-respected upscale restaurant serves contemporary American cuisine, including an excellent burger.  It’s a pricier option, but beloved of foodies.

Café Bionda, 1924 S State St, 1 mile

You can’t go wrong with Italian food, and Café Bionda is just a 20-minute walk from McCormick Place.

Harold’s Chicken Shack, 612 S Wabash Ave, 1 mile

This local fried chicken chain is known for their delicious selection of sauces.

MingHin Cuisine, 2168 S Archer Ave, 1 mile

The dim sum and pork dishes are highlights of this Cantonese restaurant in Chinatown.

Opart Thai House Restaurant, 1906 S State St, 1 mile

This family-owned restaurant serves authentic Thai food.  When I asked some friends their favorite restaurants in the city, this place came highly recommended, and it’s only a mile from McCormick Place.

Qing Xiang Yuan Dumpling, 2002 S Wentworth Ave, 1.4 miles

Dumplings including a huge variety of meats, with vegetarian options too.  The lamb is especially liked by customers.

Bongo Room, 1152 S Wabash Ave, 1.5 miles

Bongo Room is the place to go for breakfast and brunch.  Try the White Chocolate and Caramel Pretzel Pancakes or the Chocolate Tower French Toast.

Go 4 Food, 212 W 23rd St, 1.5 miles

Delicious Chinese-fusion food at great prices in Chinatown.


Worth a Trip

These restaurants will require a longer commute, but they’re well worth it!  If you want to venture out and experience some of the best Chicago has to offer, give these a try.

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, 805 S. State Street, 2 miles

If you try one local dish in Chicago, make it the deep dish pizza.  There’s a lot of debate about where to get the best pie, but Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria is one great option not too far from McCormick Place.

Manny’s Cafeteria & Delicatessen, 1141 S Jefferson St, 2.3 miles

President Obama is a fan of this Jewish Deli serving gigantic corned beef sandwiches.

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I Need You, You Need Me: A Report About Bringing Ages Together

Generations United and The Eisner Foundation have come out with a new report, I Need You, You Need Me: The Young, The Old, and What we Can Achieve Together, about “examples of pioneers reuniting the generations and making their communities better place to live in.” Through a survey, the report shows why it is important for generations to come together. People of all ages typically spend most of their day around people their same age, for instance, young people in school, adults at work. By taking the time to be around others from a different generation, people can learn from each other, and spread joy.

In a recent survey by Generations United and The Eisner Foundation, 53 percent of people stated that “aside from family members, few of the people they regularly spend time with are much older or much younger than they are.” Ages being separated like this has not always been the case. In the late 19th century, Americans began to realize that children and elderly needed certain types of protection. This was when child labor was banned and retirement because more standard during later life. Although these groups began to prosper, they were also separated out from other people of different ages, which causes issues. As the report states: “protection should not equal isolation.”

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Secrets of Grant Success: Give Your Community The Chance To “Unleash Your Story”

Serving on the Teen Read Week committee has given its members the opportunity to read numerous applications submitted for the TRW mini-grants. This valuable experience has provided us with handy tips to improve our own future grant writing endeavors, and we wish to share our insights with you for the purpose of strengthening your own 2017 YALSA/Dollar General Teen Read Week Grant application.

First, align your concept with YALSA’s Teen Read Week theme “Unleash Your Story”. Be sure to demonstrate how the funds will support teens as they write, tell, and share their own stories. Will the grant help connect teens with the numerous stories, biographies, autobiographies, and folktales in your library? If not, what purpose will it serve? Refresh yourself with The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action to ensure or adjust your proposal to better align with it.

Be sure your purchases meet the grant requirements. Funds must be used to enhance activities and services for teens. Seek alternate funding in your community to purchase snacks, decor, or signage for the event. Be specific in your application about your purchases, as the grant reviewers will want a complete breakdown of fund allotments. Explore other YALSA grants, such as Baker & Taylor/YALSA Collection Development Grant or YALSA’s Great Books Giveaway, for the purchase of collection development materials.

Consider your community. Gather statistics from credible sources like the United Census Bureau or your state’s Department of Education. Use the data to illustrate the need the grant funded program will fill for your teens. Include under-served teens in your idea as well. How many teens live locally? What are their interests? Contact a local local organization and partner up on the project. A clear narrative of your activity must be provided. Explain your vision and define your purpose. Break down the steps of preparation and implementation. Incorporate best practices as outlined in YALSA’s Teen Programming Guidelines. Perhaps most important is to know and communicate the knowledge or skills teen participants will gain by participating in your event or activity.

Wrapping up and evaluating your program is as important as the preparation for it. Determine which indicator is most appropriate to measure the impact of your project. Will you ask teens to complete a survey? Are you going to take attendance? Will teens be required to successfully complete a task? Will you tally return visits or circulation increases? Providing examples or briefly describing your method for measuring the impact of your program will show that you know your teen patrons and understand how a grant-funded program will serve them.

You can find other well-thought out TRW mini-grant award recipients on the YALSA Programming HQ. Check out a few examples of successful past grant awardees, such as those listed below, to compare and improve your proposal.

Co-written by Amanda Barnhart (2016-2017 Teen Read Week chair), Aimee Haslam (2016-2017 Teen Read Week committee member) and Melissa West (2016-2017 Teen Read Week committee chair and 2017 Emerging Leader).

Summer Learning for Library Staff Working with Teens – YALSA Has You Covered

drawing of raised hands of different colors The official start of summer is four weeks away but it’s definitely not too early to plan what your going to take part in for professional learning over the summer months. YALSA’s webinars, self-paced eLearning, Snack Breaks, and Annual Conference programs might be just right for your summer learning needs.

Creative Youth Development: a Three Part Series

In June, July, and August YALSA’s monthly webinars have a singular focus, Creative Youth Development (CYD). Each webinar brings together teen library staff, IMLS staff, and staff of the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards to talk about what CYD is, how it can be integrated into library programs and services for and with teens, and how to secure funds for CYD library activities. The webinars take place on the third Thursday of each month at 2PM Eastern. Members can reserve a seat (it’s free) for each of the webinars. Non-members can purchase the webinar within 24 hours of the live recording. Groups may purchase seats to attend the live session. Learn more about the series and how to access the content on the YALSA website.
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Supporting YALSA Committee Chairs and Members

I am pleased to announce that all the chairs and committee members have been appointed for YALSA’s 2017 – 2018 strategic committees and advisory boards. A big thank you to everyone who has agreed to lend their time and talents to YALSA!

To help groups get off to a good start, Kate McNair (current Board member) and I recorded a training session that provided some basic information for committee chairs and members. We covered topics such as:

On June 6th we’ll hold two live sessions in Zoom where committee chairs and members can come together to meet each other, to learn more about what we covered in the recorded session, and to get any questions answered.

My final two appointment tasks are to fill appointed positions on the Edwards, Nonfiction and Printz Award Committees, who will begin their work in Feb.  The volunteer form is open until June 2nd, and you can get the details in my earlier blog post.  I am also looking for individuals to serve on my President’s Advisory Taskforce.  Read this Board document for details.  Then, in July, Crystle Martin will appoint to four short-term taskforces that begin work in fall.  For other ways to get involved in YALSA, visit the web site.

And as always, thanks for what you do for YALSA and for teens!

Sandra Hughes-Hassell

“Who Doesn’t Like Libraries?”

Washington, D.C. is a dream location for librarians: books, libraries, galleries, museums, history, monuments, culture, and food. At the beginning of May, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in National Library Legislative Day along with over 500 other librarians. My trip was funded by a generous travel stipend from the Young Adult Library Services Association. Although I have been a librarian for 23 years and have advocated for libraries in my school district and community, this was my first opportunity to advocate on the national level. I am hopeful that my experience will encourage you to become a national advocate as well.

Alex Simons, Liaison Librarian at the University of Houston, is the Texas coordinator for NLLD. She and Letitia Smith from YALSA prepared me for the visits on Capitol Hill by sending information about library advocacy and about how to conduct successful meetings with Members of Congress. In addition to Alex Simons, the other members of the Texas delegation were Jeanne Standley, Executive Director of Libraries at the University of Texas at Tyler, and Carlyn Gray, retired Director of Library Services at Round Rock ISD and currently Librarian at Austin Community College. Gloria Meraz, Assistant State Librarian at Texas State Library and Archives, attended as a resource person and was instrumental in providing information on the impact of federal funds for Texas libraries and the Texas State Library.

This event is exceptionally well-planned and organized. ALA hosts NLLD events and training for registered participants at a local hotel on Monday and plans office visits on Tuesday. Folders with information about important library issues are prepared for each of the 435 Representative’s offices and 100 Senator’s offices. The Texas delegation generally meets on Sunday night to divide up visits, and Monday they arrive early at the House office buildings. With current threats to eliminate funding for critical federal library programs, the folders were filled with data showing how libraries truly do change lives. Alex Simons suggested that we focus on a maximum of three issues to clarify at each office to get the most out of our time during visits. Armed with our data and our stories, we hit the halls.

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