Help facilitate the speed networking event at Annual!

As we get closer to Annual (just 38 days left!), maybe some of you have started to look through the schedule to choose the sessions you want to attend. Did YALSA’s Speed Networking for Librarians catch your eye?

Are you the only teen services librarian at your library? Tired of being lonely and want a simple way to connect with your peers? Attend this informal event to meet colleagues from around the country and exchange practical ideas and information to help you bolster your teen services program.

This program is inspired by the speed dating model of getting to know someone: participants will be divided into smallish groups and seated two groups at a table. Every few minutes, groups will swap tables, giving you a chance to get to know a lot of fellow YALSA members in a more personal way in a short period of time. The event will be on Saturday, June 25th from 1:30 to 3:30pm.

Here’s where you come in: we need volunteers to help facilitate conversations at each table. You’ll be provided with a list of questions and discussion topics ahead of time, so your basic responsibility will just be to keep the conversation going. This is a great chance to dip your toe into volunteering at Annual if you haven’t done that yet and to expand your professional network. It’s also an opportunity for more seasoned YALSA members to help out at an event where new members and students will be present, which will help them feel welcome within our organization.

If you’re interested in being a facilitator, please email me. And if being a facilitator doesn’t sound like you, at least consider participating in the speed networking event!

Serving on the Mentoring Program Task Force

Earlier this summer, Melissa Rabey reflected on her experience so far on the Printz Committee. While I think a number of us one day aspire to serve on a selection committee, we may not be ready to make that kind of commitment yet, or we might feel like we don’t have the experience within YALSA to do so–but there are other ways to begin your involvement within YALSA. For new members especially, a task force can be a good way to try out professional service, so I thought I’d talk about my experience on the YALSA Mentoring Program Task Force.

The call for task force members went out a few days before I graduated. I’d been looking for avenues for getting more involved in YALSA, and a task force seemed like a manageable way to start. I’d applied for the mentoring program itself, too, so I made sure to mention that in my task force application. When I was asked to join the task force, I was told I just needed to recuse myself when my own application came up, but that I could still evaluate the other applications and help match proteges and mentors (and it turned out that one of the other members of the task force was an applicant to be a mentor!). Soon after the mentoring program application deadline passed, the chair of the task force emailed all of the members asking us to introduce ourselves to one another, and we began our work.

One thing that makes a task force a good place to start for people who are looking for their first way to get involved with YALSA is that many of them conduct their business entirely virtually. We did all of our work by exchanging emails and chatting via Skype, which was a great way for a group of people across the country with varying schedules to be able to collaborate. Of course, there are pitfalls in communication done primarily by email, but it opens task force work to people who can’t afford to travel and lets members work asynchronously.

Since task forces have a specific project to carry out, task force work is also usually done over a shorter timeline than a selection or process committee. We began our Mentoring Program Task Force work in early July and submitted our final recommendations at the end of August. If you’re anxious about how to get started with your YALSA involvement, a few months is a great trial period to see how you like it.

Joining a task force–or serving in any capacity with YALSA–is also a fun way to get to know your fellow YALSA members. Especially if you’re a new member, I think that trying to jump into a huge crowd of people you don’t know to make connections and friends can be intimidating. A task force is a good way to narrow that crowd to a friendly few and to start to put personalities and faces to the names you may have seen on listservs. While I’m not going to be able to make it to Midwinter this year since I’m going to the YA Lit Symposium in November, I’m hoping I’ll be able to meet up with some of the other task force members at future conferences.

I was a little nervous heading into my first professional involvement experience, but I had fun and I’m proud of the work we did. If you’re thinking about getting involved with YALSA but you’re not sure where to start, keep your eye out for calls for task force members. You’ll likely be able to work virtually, it’ll be a relatively short and easy introduction to serving within your professional organization, and you’ll come away from the experience with new connections and maybe even friends. And once you’ve got one task force under your belt, you’ll be ready for another opportunity to get involved!

resolutions for 2008

I plan to begin 2008 with a few resolutions:

1. to keep active in YALSA through the listservs, the symposium, and the conferences
2. to make new connections to my colleagues via the blog and listservs
3. to participate in the discussions rather than lurking so much
4. to make my voice heard, especially on matters of intellectual freedom

5. to continue to connect colleagues from YALSA to NCTE and IRA so that the conversations about adolescent literacy will include as many voices and perspectives as possible.

I invite all of you to join in. Look for postings here from ALA Midwinter (which is just around the corner). I will be blogging from the press conference. Remember that you an join us live as the awards are announced.

Posted by Teri Lesesne