My ALA Midwinter 2016 Experience

I just attended my first ALA conference and it was awesome.

I have heard many things about what to expect. Wear comfortable shoes, they said. Bring business cards, they said. Most of the meetings will be closed door, they said. Some of the things they said were right (seriously…who wants to walk around for 8 hours in cute new shoes that pinch the sides of your feet!..), but nothing prepared me for the magic that is Midwinter.

Like most Midwinter neophytes, I didn’t know what to expect, so I arrived bright and bushy tailed to the hotel at 7:30am sharp. I could not check into my room, so I left my bags with the hotel staff, and ubered my way over to the Boston Convention and Conference Center. (For those of you who cabbed your way around Boston, I would highly suggest you invest in the free Uber app. Most of my rides around the city did not cost me more than $6, some as little as $3.)

I arrived at the Conference Center to find that the exhibits were still being put together, and that I was late to all of the lectures that started at 8am. In hindsight, I could have just sat in, but I didn’t know if I needed a ticket. Is it okay to walk in late? Would I embarrass myself in front of my peers? Would I be asked to leave? Instead of tackling these hard questions straight on I decided on the very safe, unintrusive, and foodie-pleasing decision to register, find a coffee shop, and read the Midwinter guide over a hot cup of Joe and a cheese danish.

The guide was very helpful. It was delightfully color coordinated, included start and end times of lectures, events, and meetings, and provided a legend that had information on whether events were ticketed, closed, or open to registrants. I highlighted everything that looked of interest to me – which was half the book, so I marked it up to a fairly unrecognizable degree. And then I discovered there is an app.

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YALSA Board @ Midwinter 2016: Organizational Planning Communication Plan

The YALSA Board Midwinter Meeting Agenda and related documents are available and you probably noticed a lot of time devoted to  strategic planning. The work YALSA began with the association’s Futures Report, was also the start of  gathering information, feedback and opinions that ultimately is helping to  inform a new organizational plan. A majority of Board meeting time (which is open to the public) will be spent on organizational planning, but the work doesn’t stop at Midwinter. One of the proposals before the board outlines a plan to communicate the outcomes and next steps of the organizational plan to all YALSA members and stakeholders.

As the Board commits to a “Teens First” focus for the organizational plan and works to prepare the association of the future, this will mean changes to the work of the organization. The Board wants to make sure all members are informed about any major changes to the work of YALSA committees and staff and services to members. These are outlined as priorities in the suggested communication plan proposal.

Once the Board approves a communications plan, over the next six months it is likely you will see news and updates about the new organizational plan on the YALSA website, YALSAblog, e-news, on our list-servs, in personal messages from Board members, and on social media. We want to make sure all members and stakeholders have access to the plan and have chance to ask questions and gain a better understanding of how the new plan will shape the work of YALSA.

Do you have questions or ideas about YALSA’s organization planning process? Please take the time to share your thoughts via this short survey.

All YALSA Board meetings are open to Midwinter Meeting attendees. Feel free to drop by for a short or long period of time. The meetings are an excellent way to learn what YALSA is working on and get a sense of how the association’s governance works.  If you’re not in Boston, follow @yalsa for live Tweets from the meetings.

YALSA Board @ Midwinter 2016: Fiscal Matters

The YALSA Board Midwinter Meeting Agenda and related documents are available. When you take a look at the agenda you’ll notice there are a couple of discussions related to fiscal matters of the association. As the YALSA Fiscal Officer I wanted to highlight these two items for members.

  • creative commons licensed image by Brand New Day of piggy bank with a couple of dollarsYALSA Dues Categories and Rates is item 20 on the YALSA Board agenda. It’s an action item which means that the Board has had initial conversations about this topic (at ALA Annual 2015 in this case) and should come to a decision at their Midwinter meetings. As this topic is associated with YALSA dues, any proposals made by the Board related to the document will go on the 2016 YALSA ballot and put to a vote of the membership.

    At Annual Conference 2015 the YALSA Board discussed the pros and cons of revising the methods the association uses for determining dues. At that time the Board approved placing on the 2016 ballot a bylaws change that would ask members to vote for regular dues changes based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This would change the current practice of the YALSA Board analyzing dues about every five years and then determining if an increase was warranted. At the same time that the Board voted to move forward with the CPI ballot initiative, they also asked the Capacity Building Standing Committee to determine if YALSA should also revise the dues structure and categories in any way. The Capacity Building Standing Committee reviewed current dues rates and categories in ALA Divisions as well as in other education and/or youth development focused associations. The document the Board will discuss at Midwinter provides an overview of the information gathered by the Capacity Building Standing Committee, and a set of options for Board members to consider in order to determine if other dues related items beyond the CPI alignment should be included on the 2016 YALSA ballot for the members’ consideration.

  • Item 26 in the Discussion section of the Midwinter Board agenda is the Financial Update. At both Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference the YALSA Board has a discussion – facilitated by the Fiscal Officer and Executive Director – about the fiscal health of the association. As a discussion, it is not expected to lead to any specific action by the Board. This year, the Board will talk about the final figures for YALSA FY15 and the first numbers for FY16. (The YALSA fiscal year runs from September 1 through August 31.) The discussion gives Board members the chance to ask questions about the numbers as well as discuss any concerns or challenges related to the fiscal health of the association.  The goal of these discussions is to ensure that YALSA has the funds it needs to support members through the programs and services it provides.

All YALSA Board meetings are open to Midwinter Meeting attendees. Feel free to drop by for a short or long period of time. The meetings are an excellent way to learn what YALSA is working on and get a sense of how the association’s governance works.  If you’re not in Boston, follow @yalsa for live Tweets from the meetings.

If you have any questions about YALSA’s fiscal matters, feel free to get in touch – lbraun@leonline.com. As YALSA’s Fiscal Officer I’m happy to talk with you about the topic.