2019 YALSA Election: An Interview with Board Member Candidate Trixie Dantis

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 one-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: Trixie Dantis – Youth Services Manager – Arlington Heights Memorial Library

What best qualifies you for the YALSA Board?
My experience as 2016-2017 YALSA Board Fellow and serving as an interim board member for the past nine months best qualifies me for this role. As Board Fellow, I participated in all Board activities as a non-voting member. This included taking part in all meetings virtual and in-person, contributing to the implementation of the organizational plan through work on a standing board committee, and representing YALSA at events. Similarly, in the interim role, I’ve been serving as a Director at Large and participated in the strategic planning activities over the past few months.

Talk about the experiences and expertise you’re bringing to the position in terms of leadership, nonprofit or association governance, and strategic thinking.
Prior to becoming a librarian, I worked in the private sector delivering training for an international sale force and the organization’s largest customers. This helped me develop skills to develop strong, personal relationships helping build brand advocacy. Since becoming a librarian, I’ve used these skills to foster relationships with schools and other community organizations to expand outreach services for youth. I hope to leverage these skills to add to YALSA’s and its membership’s success.

How do you envision furthering the mission of YALSA?
I think the first step in furthering YALSA’s mission is connecting with members and understanding their needs and the barriers they encounter. With this information, YALSA can provide resources or training for members to overcome the hurdles they face delivering quality and developmentally appropriate library services to young adults.

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?
If elected, I would be committed to seeking out and understanding membership needs, communicating them to the Board and staff, and finding ways to support and meet needs.

Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of the board?
My experience as a Board Fellow, my commitment to connecting with membership, and my passion for providing equitable and inclusive library services for all teens make me a great choice for the board of directors.

How would you embed the concept of “teens first” in the work of the board?
I would embed this concept by constantly considering how board action impacts teen library users. I would also think about ways to include teen voices in the work we do.

Is there anything you’d like to add that wasn’t addressed by the previous questions?
Advocacy within and outside of the library walls is very important to me. I strive to communicate the value of library services targeting teens with staff across the organization and throughout the community.

2019 YALSA Election: An Interview with Board Member Candidate Ryan Moniz

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 one-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: Ryan Moniz – Learning & Growth Librarian – Markham Public Library

What best qualifies you for being a Board Member?
The short answer would be my commitment to the work I do. It would be easy to list all the personal qualities and characteristics you look for in a candidate like time-management, a team player, good under pressure and all the other buzz words. My entire career is built on a simple guiding principle: do good. I believe it isn’t always possible to do good by doing what’s easy and I pride myself on challenging myself to never do things the “easy” way just because I can. I’m someone who is committed to providing a voice for underserved populations and a hand-up to those in need of help so that they may have an equal opportunity to succeed. I believe that is exactly what is needed from a Board Member.

How do you envision furthering the mission of YALSA as a Board Member?
I always joke around with colleagues that I’ve never considered myself a traditional “librarian.” I don’t have extensive knowledge of authors and books so my bibliotherapy skills may be lacking when compared to others. My background is working with disabled populations and at-risk youth and I’ve always felt that their needs aren’t part of the important conversations we have, specifically when it comes to library services. Regardless of any position or title I’ve held I have always spoken out about the need for more inclusive services, and that is exactly what I plan on doing as a Board Member. I’ve never been comfortable doing anything simply because it’s the easiest option, whether it’s a family storytime or job skills program for teens. Library services can never be one-size-fits-all, especially when your audience includes teens and young adults. YALSA is an innovative organization, but we must never become complacent. I always challenge my colleagues to ask tough questions and find ways to make improvements that work not just for one segment of the population, but for all members of our community. As a Board Member I plan on pushing the Board to take the necessary steps to advocate on behalf of all those we strive to serve.

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?
As a Canadian librarian I get to share a unique perspective with my American colleagues. I know, Canada doesn’t seem like it would be that different, but there are many significant fundamental differences regarding our library infrastructure. I believe understanding those differences are key to innovating the services we offer in our respective countries. Fundraising isn’t as much of a concern for Canadian libraries, so we don’t always speak about the importance of advocating for libraries in our communities. In America, not all systems have the luxury of being able to provide staff with necessary training so that they may provide effective customer service and gain the ability to adapt those services based on the needs of their customers. This is just a brief example, but it demonstrates the need to have different views, opinions, and experiences on a Board. I know my professional experience in the social service industry as well as my perspective as a librarian North of the border would help to push for responsive initiatives and innovative services for our shared community; teens and young adults everywhere.

What about YALSA’s Organizational Plan excites you most and why?
I’ve spent the majority of my career in program and service delivery, so it goes without saying that leading the transformation of teen library services is what I’m most excited about. Our services have an ability to enhance the quality of life for teens and young adults in communities across North America. It’s more than just a good program, I’m talking about effective training for front-line staff so that they have the tools necessary to properly serve their users. I’ve always felt both go hand-in-hand. When you have staff that are tuned in and interested in making a change, they’ll be more engaged and open to learning. When you learn you change how you think and how you work. Those changes can lead to some of the most innovative programs and services imaginable.

How would you embed the concept of “teens first” in the work of the board?
Ensure that teens have a voice. No one enjoys being spoken for. As a kid I would get so irritated when people just assumed that they knew what I wanted or what was “best” for me, especially when they never asked for my opinion. It’s easy to get caught up in that pattern of behaviour as an adult. We think we know because we’re a bit older and a tad bit wiser, so we start believing we know what’s best. In my community I always ensure that our teens have a seat at the table when the conversation is about something that would directly impact them. Some of the best ideas for programs and services I’ve had were a result of community conversations with young people in my city.

Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of the board of directors?
It may sound cheesy to say, but there’s no going wrong with anyone on the ballot. Every person who has submitted their name has done so because they care about teen services and they want to do what they can to improve our industry. It’s not an easy task so I applaud all of them for taking the first step. Like my peers, I care deeply about serving teens and young adults not just in my small Canadian suburb, but across the world. Being a teen is 2019 is difficult and I believe that libraries are in a unique position to be more than a place for books, but a safe welcoming space that can support the healthy development of young people everywhere. Wherever I go I know I will work tirelessly to help make that possible, and if you allow me, I’d like to work towards that goal as a Board Member.

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!

Some of YALSA’s Selected Lists are Changing: Here’s the Scoop

As part of the August 2016 board document “Recommendations for Transforming Remaining Work Groups,” a Selected List Transition taskforce was created to offer recommendations for transitioning selected lists to The Hub in two phases: the first to take place in 2017 with Amazing Audiobooks (AA), Popular Paperbacks (PP) and Quick Picks (QP). Throughout the fall of 2016, the task force worked virtually to create a draft plan, shared the draft plan with members and gathered feedback during an online member chat in Nov., and then reworked the plan based on that feedback. The plan was then submitted back to the Leading the Transformation of Teen Services Board Standing Committee to ensure alignment with YALSA mission and Organizational Plan, and that the plan addressed the stated goals of the project:

  • Provide more timely information
  • Share information in an easier to use format
  • Create new resources to meet the needs of today’s diverse teens
  • Ensure the flexibility to embrace new formats as they emerge
  • Include new and diverse voices in the process
  • Create new resources for library staff beyond traditional collection development and readers’ advisory tools

At the recent YALSA board meetings in Atlanta, a board document was approved with modifications.  Check out this document that outlines the transition of Phase 1. However, keep in mind that the Board added a modification–Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (PPYA) will also have a “Best of” list.

So what’s new is that instead of standing committees, the lists will be developed by YALSA members through the Hub.  This allows for virtual participation as well as for sharing information in a more timely way.  Between now and Feb. 12, YALSA is collecting volunteer forms for individuals who would like to work throughout 2017 to develop the next Amazing Audio and Quick Picks lists.  10- 15 members will be selected to work on each list, and as part of their work, they’ll be writing blog posts about the books they nominate. Now don’t panic!  We all write, but we may not all be Dessen or Tolkien.  If you have served on a selection committee in the past, you know that part of the process is writing about why you are nominating a title. And I know you can write to express yourself in email.  As you’ll see in the Board Document #29,  the Hub manager, Molly Wetta,  is creating a process that will help reviewers become better bloggers and, in the long run, better writers.  These are tools that bloggers can use in their everyday jobs, whether you’re writing a press release for a program or writing a proposal for more funding for your collection.

Another addition is getting teens involved in the process.  When I worked on PPYA, I would often ask my teens which books they liked, especially if it were a genre that I wasn’t familiar with.  This was always a great way to engage my teens and I would take back their comments and reactions back to the committee.  Now those same teens will be able to work with us to become guest bloggers for the list.  There are other exciting changes, as well, which are outlined in the document, so I encourage everyone to read it carefully.

The Board realizes that there are challenges that might come up, but this is still a very evolving process.  As we move forward, the Board will evaluate how everything is working.  With feedback from the chairs, list coordinators, and the YALSA members working on the lists, improvements will be made to the process while increasing opportunities for librarians in regions of the country who haven’t been able to participate.  The virtual experience is making it easier for YALSA members to get involved.  And like everything new, there might be challenges, but with board members, YALSA staff, and members working together, the plan will succeed!

Franklin Escobedo

YALSA Board of Directors

#YALSAleftbehind

It is an unfortunate truth that we can’t make it to every conference we want to go to, even if it’s only a few hours away. Cost, travel, time away from work, family obligations, what have you keep us from going to conferences to see our colleagues, attend panels, and meet vendors for our libraries. But fear not! You’re not the only one #yalsalaeftbehind.

It doesn’t mean that you have to entirely miss out, either. Twitter is a great way to keep connected with other library staff in the field, and it’s no different when it comes to following panels at these conferences. You can still connect with the attendees and network online as they livetweet the panels that they’re attending. Most tweets will be tagged with #yalsa16 so they’ll be easy to find, and each session will have its own hashtag as well, to more easily filter through the results. We do love filtering, don’t we?

Even if you’re not attending but interested, make sure to look through a program list, to see what sessions would have interested you the most. Do you know anyone going? Will they be attending certain panels and take notes for you? Even if you don’t have that luxury, I have a handy list of hashtags for each session.

Continue reading

President’s Report – July 2016

I can’t believe it’s already time for my first monthly president’s report! Tune in monthly to find out what I’ve been up to.   Most importantly, a huge thank you to the YALSA Board, staff, and members who made Annual 2016 great!

Here’s what I’ve been working on since then:

Completed

  • Appointments to the Edwards, Printz, and Nonfiction committees
  • Virtual online training for new board members
  • Assigned board mentors, board liaisons, and standing board committee members
  • Wrote column for Fall 2016 issue of YALS
  • Wrote YALSA Blog post on Presidential Initiative: Real Teens, Real Ready
  • Worked with YALSA board to appoint Nick Buron to fill Linda Braun’s vacancy as Fiscal Officer
  • Hosted first monthly chat with the YALSA Board to continue the work from Annual
  • Contacted YALSA’s IFLA rep to discuss what YALSA information should be shared with the group in August
  • Met with chair of presidential program task force to plan program activities
  • Voted for ALA Conference Committee representatives

Continue reading

YALSA Board Update: Transforming Member Participation

Yesterday during a virtual meeting to address unfinished business from its June meeting, the YALSA board met to continue its discussion about how to improve member engagement opportunities so that they better meet member needs, as well as to re-think the structure of YALSA so that it’s better positioned to carry out the work of the new organizational plan.  Last month, the Board sought to review of all existing member groups at their June meeting (see Candice Mack’s blog post).  The Board accomplished a lot in June, but didn’t finish all of its work around member groups.  The Board met virtually yesterday to discuss the Leading the Transformation of Teen Services Board Standing Committee’s draft recommendations for the remaining member groups that were not addressed in June.  If you’re interested, you can listen to the audio recording of the meeting.

The Board voted to accept the recommendations from the Standing Board Committee for transforming the first 8 strategic committees as listed in Board Document #2.  This includes keeping some strategic committees as-is (Awards Committee Nominating Committee, Awards & Selection Oversight Committee, Competencies Task Force, President’s Planning Taskforce, School and Public Library Cooperation Interdivisional Committee), expanding others (Division and Membership Promotion Committee, Research Committee) and the transitioning to more of a short-term structure for the Summer Learning Taskforce.  These changes will not go into effect until July 2017, as the next several months will involve working out a transition plan.

Continue reading

YALSA President’s Report – January 2015

Thanks again to all who braved the snowy weather to be part of the 2015 Midwinter Meetings, as well as those who chose to participate virtually with the board and other activities. It was a busy January, and I’m thrilled with all the work that members and the YALSA Board accomplished. Here’s a peek at what I’ve been doing:

Activities

  • Currently appointing to the new Board Diversity Taskforce, which will look at and make recommendations regarding the selection and recruitment of YALSA leaders. If you’re interested in serving, please send me an e-mail and/or submit a volunteer form.
  • With Executive Director Beth Yoke and the board, finalized agendas for Midwinter YALSA Executive Committee and Board meetings.
  • Led discussions at YALSA Board meetings. Draft minutes of those discussions will be posted here.
  • Led discussions during two YALSA Executive Committee meetings. Draft minutes of those discussions will be posted here.
  • Led a Board Planning Session which focused on outcomes training and ways to incorporate outcomes into YALSA’s strategic planning process.
  • Attended formal and informal meetings with Division and ALA leaders at the Midwinter conference.
  • Highlighted the work of YALSA selection committees at the Youth Media Awards.
  • Hosted and celebrated Nonfiction and Morris award winners and finalists at the Midwinter reception.
  • Appointed members to fill vacancies on various committees.
  • Spoke with CNN regarding the importance of the Morris Award and recognizing new authors.
  • Spoke with U.S. News and World Report about teen library engagement.

Continue reading