2020 YALSA Election: An Interview with Board of Directors Candidate Joel Shoemaker

Get ready to vote in this year’s YALSA election! To help you make informed decisions, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2020 YALSA Governance candidates. Voting will take place from March 9 through April 1. To help you further prepare for the election, be sure to check out a sample ballot!

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 member duties and responsibilities can be found here. You can learn more about ALA elections here.

Name and current position: Joel Shoemaker, Director, Illinois Prairie District Public Library

What best qualifies you for being on the Board of Directors?
I suppose what best qualifies me is both my experience serving teens in rural communities as well as my administrative experience. I also have experience with governance which should support my role on the board of directors well. Finally, my enthusiasm for serving our teens and my desire to continue to best meet their needs in the library setting shouldn’t set me apart from other fine candidates, but absolutely can be considered a qualifying attribute for the position.

How do you envision furthering the mission of YALSA if elected to this position?
In addition to the mission of YALSA being to support library staff, the mission extends to putting teens on a path to success. I love that. As a former school librarian, I find this mission very appropriate. I want to do what I can, given my experience in rural settings to ensure that those in smaller libraries do not feel left out of this crucial mission. YALSA should work to extend its reach and market better to those of us with small staff and multiple responsibilities, even down to the one-person operation. All of us are serving teens. None of us need to feel alone in this important work.

What would be the most exciting aspect of this position? The most challenging?
An exciting aspect of this position, for me, would be to further YALSA’s reach, as indicated above. This acts as a sort of dual answer because it would indeed be a challenge as well. I’m up for the challenge of figuring it out, however. I will work hard for all of our members, current, former and prospective, with a goal towards increasing membership.

Share a recent example(s) where you made a shift to better focus on the current needs of teens.
Recently, we noticed a desire for more teen gaming after school. Much of this gaming included working with peers and there began to be some patron complaints regarding noise. I informed staff that we wouldn’t want to punish teenagers for coming into the library. That said, we do not have teen rooms in any of our branches at this time. As a result, we were able to move some computers around to make them friendlier for gaming and encouraged teens to use computers that were closer together. It has helped and they seem to enjoy the small updates to our layout. We are continuing to look into how better serve them in our current facilities.

What is the most pressing issue facing YALSA today?
I think one of the most pressing issues facing YALSA is similar to what is facing ALA in general. I believe the organizations are seeing less and less membership, and less involvement from members across the board. I would like to see YALSA market towards library workers in organizations with smaller budgets and find ways to make itself more attractive and relevant to the types of libraries indicated above.

2020 YASLA Election: An Interview with Board of Directors Candidate Dawn McMillan

Get ready to vote in this year’s YALSA election! To help you make informed decisions, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2020 YALSA Governance candidates. Voting will take place from March 9 through April 1. To help you further prepare for the election, be sure to check out a sample ballot!

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 member duties and responsibilities can be found here. You can learn more about ALA elections here.

Name and current position: Dawn McMillan, Teen Librarian, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Oakley Branch

What best qualifies you for being on the Board of Directors?
I believe that my experience working with YALSA for over ten years, working as a member of multiple task forces and committees will make me an asset to the YALSA Board.

How do you envision furthering the mission of YALSA if elected to this position?
My priority in furthering the mission of YALSA if elected as a board member would be to make sure that library staff, both professional and paraprofessional, have the resources they need to offer practical, personalized services for the teens they serveTeens with the greatest needs are often overlooked and administrative staff can press Teen Librarians to focus on programming that is not suited to the needs of their teens. By prioritizing the most at risk, greatest need teens as an organization, we can help shift the attitudes of administration and begin to offer targeted services for teens that need them most. 

What would be the most exciting aspect of this position? The most challenging?    
I am most excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with Librarians who serve teens and are passionate about creating the best resources for our YALSA community. I love collaborating and working together to find the absolute best service that we can provide.  

Share a recent example(s) where you made a shift to better focus on the current needs of teens.
The youth that I serve primarily come to my public library directly after their school day. After I observed that traditional programming like crafts, games and book clubs were not of interest to these kiddos I took a step back and asked them what they would like from the library. They overwhelmingly stated that they would like to have space where they could talk and hang out with feeling like they needed to be quiet. I adjusted my programming to allow the kids to have music and snacks and unstructured hang out time. I think it has made a real difference in their perception of what a library can be.

What is the most pressing issue facing YALSA today?
In my opinion, one othe most pressing issues facing YALSA is member engagement. While I know that members take advantage of the webinars, I just feel like there has to be more that we can do to energize the members of our division and be more of an active presence for resources in their professional lives. 

What else would you like voters to know about you?
I’ve been working with teens in public libraries since 2005. My passion for making sure that teens are welcomed and supported within our institutions is at the center of every choice I make within my professional career. I strive to be abreast of new information in terms of adolescent brain development as well as mental health first aid for all youth. I love working in public libraries and am proud of the strides we make to always treat every person who walks through our doors with respect and dignity. 

2020 YALSA Election: An Interview with President-Elect Candidate Kelly Czarnecki

Get ready to vote in this year’s YALSA election! To help you make informed decisions, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2020 YALSA Governance candidates. Voting will take place from March 9 through April 1. To help you further prepare for the election, be sure to check out a sample ballot!

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.

What is your name and current position? Kelly Czarnecki, Teen Loft Manager at ImaginOn

What best qualifies you for being President-Elect?
As an accomplished librarian, I offer a track record of success in developing, implementing, and managing new programs to attract targeted audiences and serve the community. This includes rolling out multiple specialized programs to reach and serve teens for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in North Carolina.

From a leadership perspective, I excel in managing and developing employees, facilitating career advancement opportunities while training them in polices, processes, systems, tools, and customer service protocols.

I feel these skills translate well to the position of President-Elect in leading others and the organization to continuing to be relevant for teens. As a strong advocate on a local level, I will continue to make the needs of teens and library workers known through the organization and the public at large.

Some of the highlights of my involvement with ALA and YALSA include:

  • Serving as a content expert for the YALSA Programming HQ
  • Serving on the YALSA Programming Guidelines Development Task Force
  • Serving on the YALSA Advisory Board
  • Serving on several YALSA committees including Technology, Gaming, and Outreach to YAs with Special Needs
  • Serving a term as an ALA Councilor-At-Large

Being an active member of both ALA and YALSA has helped me to better understand the structure of the organization and give voice to issues that are important in working with teens which will be needed for the President-Elect position.

I am also an employee of a shelter serving families experiencing homelessness. I have worked at a shelter longer than I’ve been a librarian. My work with these non-profit agencies definitely gives me needed insight to challenges that teens face and better prepares me as a President-Elect of YALSA.

How would you embed the concept of “teens first” in the work of the board?
Making sure that we’re including their perspective as much as we can in the decisions that are made and the content delivered. If we’re not getting a lot of participation in the ways that we’re trying to solicit their opinions, then what can we do differently? I’d like to continue to grow opportunities for them to be an active part of YALSA and help drive the agenda—not just give feedback and ideas. Being a part of trainings, online content, writing opportunities, research, and more to share their voices!

What is the most pressing issue facing YALSA today?
If I was asked this question before COVID-19, I might have answered differently. I think because so much is in a state of flux right now with quarantines, job loss, and other hardships, we’re going to see shifts in the organization and in the needs of teens in ways that can’t necessarily be predicted, but that we need to anticipate. The mission of supporting library staff in alleviating the challenges teens face is relevant now more than ever. Being a viable resource as the landscape continues to unfold is an area YALSA is very strong in and will continue to do so no matter what the challenge(s) may be.

What else would you like voters to know about you?
That I’m grateful for your support. I thank you for the trust you’ve given me if elected, and I care about how we can make YALSA a better place for you and the teens that we serve.

2020 YALSA Election: An Interview with President-Elect Candidate Franklin Escobedo

Get ready to vote in this year’s YALSA election! To help you make informed decisions, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2020 YALSA Governance candidates. Voting will take place from March 9 through April 1. To help you further prepare for the election, be sure to check out a sample ballot!

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: Franklin Escobedo, Library Director of the Larkspur Library

What best qualifies you for being President-Elect?
I have been an active member of YALSA for the past twelve years. Serving on committees, juries, selection lists, the Printz Award committee, and serving three years on the YALSA Board. Before running for the Board, I really wanted to learn about our association, and over this time I have seen the association grow and change. While our association has changed in many ways, it’s still focused on serving and supporting our members. 

What do you see as the primary role of the YALSA Board?
I still believe the primary role of the YALSA Board is to speak for the membership. Part of the role is to help guide the association to develop resources and services for our members and those working with teens on a daily basis. The Board’s role is also to oversee the financial health of the association to assist the Executive Director in making decisions that ensure the continued viability of YALSA.

How would you embed the concept of “teens first” in the work of the board?
The concept of “teens first” has been around for few years now. As librarians, it’s a parallel to outcome-based programming. For every decision we make about programming, readers advisory, and professional development, “teens first” is the ultimate outcome. How will the decision impact the teens we serve and how do the decisions we make empower the teens we serve?

What is the most pressing issue facing YALSA today?
The most pressing issue is the same one facing ALA itself: member retention. The association cannot work without the support of its members. For many members, we’re paying our own dues without the support of the libraries we work for. YALSA needs to continue to innovate and create resources that our members can use to develop their careers.  

What would be the most exciting aspect of this position? The most challenging?  
The most exciting part for me is the opportunity to lead YALSA and to help guide the future of our association. When I first became involved in YALSA, I was the YALSA liaison for the GLBT-RT (now the Rainbow Roundtable). I did this for four years early in my career. As an observer of the Board, it was always hard to hold back when issues were being debated and decisions were being made. As a member of the Board while serving as Secretary, it was exciting being able to be part of the decision-making process. I loved this part of the work. The most challenging part is anticipating the future and the future needs of our teens. While many of us are currently at home due to the ongoing health crisis, I worry about the immediate future. How can we continue to provide robust services to teens through the online environment and how do we reach teens in the age of information overload? What resources and tools can we provide to our members to help them work with teens via online resources? 

What else would you like voters to know about you?
While I may be a Library Director now, I began my career as a Young Adult Services Librarian. As I always remind colleagues that have moved up in their organizations, we still work with teens. We have the opportunity to help shape the library and library services that impact teens by developing a library-wide “teens first” attitude.

What are you reading? What are you watching?
I’m currently reading a few books: Docile by K.Z Szpara, The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson, and The King of Crows by Libba Bray. I’ve just started watching Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker. I’m loving it!

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

YALSA Board @ Midwinter – Fiscal Matters Follow-Up

creative commons licensed piggy bankAt ALA’s Midwinter Meeting in Boston, one of the topics the YALSA Board focused on was YALSA’s dues and member categories. This was a follow-up to a Annual Conference 2015 conversation at which the Board approved placing on the YALSA 2016 ballot an item that will ask association members to approve an initiative that allows YALSA to align dues with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). In Boston the Board looked at three more options for the 2016 ballot on the topic of dues and member categories:

  • Raising regular member dues by $5 to $65/year.
  • Raising organizational member dues by $30 to $100/year
  • Not adding any ballot items beyond the previously approved CPI related measure

After discussing the three options the Board decided to not add a ballot item other than the CPI measure. However, the Board wanted to continue to review this topic, particularly once the association’s current organizational planning is done. With that in mind, the Board did approve the following motion: Continue reading

Board wrap-up from Annual 2015

I’m very proud of all the work that the 2014-2015 YALSA Board has accomplished, and wanted to share with you some of the highlights of our work from Annual last month.

  • The board approved the proposed Professional Values document, which outlines nine core values that define professionalism for those who work for and with teens through libraries
  • The board discussed Member Recruitment and directed the Standing Board committee on Member Recruitment & Engagement to explore the issue further and bring recommendations back to the board
  • The board discussed ways that YALSA might better support members in their Collection Development  and content curation efforts and determined a first step would be to compile resources on YALSA’s wiki
  • The board passed a policy designed to encourage a broader segment of the membership to participate in Selection Committees .  Beginning Feb. 1, 2016 any individual who has served on any YALSA award committee will need to wait two years before they’re eligible to serve on another YALSA award committee
  • The board voted to establish an Award & Selection Committees Oversight Committee to help ensure that these committees have the support they need to run smoothly
  • The board decided to put a proposal to the membership to vote on tying YALSA Dues to the Consumer Price Index, which will appear on the 2016 ballot
  • The board got an update on what is being done to align resources and activities with the Futures Report
  • The board approved a petition to establish a Teen Mental Health Interest Group.

To learn more, check out the Board agenda and documents as well as the meeting minutes.

At the conclusion of the board meeting, I turned over the reins to Candice Mack, who will be the awesome 2015 – 2016 YALSA President.

The Board’s next meeting will be at the 2016 ALA Midwinter Meeting, Jan. 8 – 12. We’re looking forward to seeing YALSA members in Boston! And remember, YALSA’s YA Services Symposium is coming up in Portland, Oregon, November 6 – 8.

Thanks for all that you do to make YALSA an amazing association and I enjoyed working with you all this past year!

Board Preview for Annual 2015

Board Activities at ALA Annual

YALSA’s Board has been hard at work since Chicago; working on the strategic planning process, continuing the roll-out of activities related to the Futures report, planning for ALA Annual at San Francisco. And now, the Annual Conference is fast approaching, and I’m looking forward to the Printz Ceremony on Friday night, brunching with Sharon Draper at the Edwards Award Event on Saturday morning, talking with members at Saturday’s Member Happy Hour, and so much more. You can find the details about these events and many more YALSA activities on the YALSA wiki.

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YALSA Board Post-Midwinter Update

YALSA’s Board of Directors met last weekend at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. Between the blizzard and the member Happy Hour and the number of other YALSA programs, I’m pleased with the time and attention the Board spent on big issues that drive and guide YALSA and our members.

Key activities included participating in training about outcomes-based planning and assessment and strategic planning. The board also took action in some key areas, including:

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Quick update from YALSA Executive Committee

It’s been a bit busy since October, but I still wanted to get this posted, especially since it impacts a lot of what the YALSA Board does at Midwinter, and Midwinter is fast approaching!

In October YALSA’s Executive Committee gathered in Chicago for two and a half days of meetings. The first day was a great chance to work across divisions, roundtables and ALA with presidents, president-elects, and past presidents, as well as ALA staff. Like YALSA, ALA is currently doing strategic planning, and that was the focus of our work together. The new plan from ALA will focus on three areas: advocacy, information policy and professional development. You can learn more and join the discussion in ALA Connect.

Once that was done, the Executive Committee focused on issues impacting YALSA. That included:

  • Moving to an outcomes based approach to planning and assessment in YALSA
  • Getting the new Margaret Edwards Trust up and running and discussing its potential for funding literacy related projects
  • Prioritizing next steps for the association based on the recommendations in the report, “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: a Call to Action
  • Talking about best practices in change management and how to incorporate them into the work of the Board
  • Reviewing a report from the Student Member Engagement Taskforce
  • Analyzing YALSA member survey results and discussing implications the results have on YALSA’s next round of strategic planning
  • Reviewing a draft of YALSA’s upcoming Programming Guidelines, which we anticipate will be finalized by February
  • Making preliminary plans for strategic planning activities for the Board and for members at the ALA Midwinter Meeting

The full agenda and accompanying documents are available in the Governance section of the web site for you to review. No final decisions were made, as the Executive Committee isn’t a decision making body, but these discussions will help inform future Board meetings and decision making. Many of these same topics will be on the Board’s agenda for Midwinter. In some cases the Executive Committee might choose to write up a request for Board action about an issue or idea that came out of the October discussions.

Right now, YALSA’s Board is developing the agenda for our meetings at Midwinter, and I’m busy asking Board members to complete documents or help address agenda items. If you have any ideas for agenda items or requests for board action, please contact me by the end of December. Once the agenda is finalized in January, I’ll share a blog post with you highlighting some of the issues and topics on the agenda.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments.