Rethinking YALSA: Learning Agenda

On April 27, 2016, the YALSA Board adopted a 3-year organization plan for 2016-2018. If you haven’t had a chance to look at this document, I would highly recommend that you take some time to read about the future direction for YALSA as a division. By doing so, you will gain a better understanding of how YALSA is evolving based on its report, the Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call for Action. As part of the organization plan, the Board discussed the Theory of Change and its influence over this plan, an intended impact statement, three major priorities of the plan, and finally, the learning agenda.

In this blog post, I will delve a little bit deeper into the learning agenda and highlight some areas of this section within the organization plan that particularly interested me. The different elements of this plan will involve YALSA researching further into areas that are otherwise unknown or new to the division. In order to achieve the goals of the plan, YALSA board, staff, and volunteers will need to take more time to research the priority areas laid out in the plan. These areas include leading the transformation of teen library services, advocacy, and funder and partner development. Each of these areas is critical for determining the success of the plan.   

Learning is an on-going process that can be approached in many different ways. This learning agenda highlights three: “on the job” learning, using the wealth of existing knowledge of YALSA members and library staff, and continuing education. All three of these approaches help support the learning that is necessary for the three priority areas of the organization plan. The learning agenda is an impressive step in the right direction for YALSA. A plan of this magnitude cannot succeed with constant learning and research by the division. By incorporating a learning agenda into the organization plan, YALSA is demonstrating the importance of education and research to the division.

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Rethinking YALSA — Member Engagement

If you haven’t heard, the YALSA Board just approved the association’s new 3-year organizational plan. If you haven’t read it yet, you’re seriously missing out on some exciting news, not to mention a great advocacy piece. It’ll invigorate you to take action and empower change in teen services nationally and in your community.

Read it here:  http://www.ala.org/yalsa/aboutyalsa/strategicplan

During the planning sessions for the Board, YALSA’s top priorities were structured into three categories:  (1) Leading the Transformation of Teen Services, (2) Advocacy, and (3) Funder and Partner Development.

When reading the new plan, you’ll notice an emphasis placed on leveraging relationships and building a field of knowledge.  A strategy of “Leading the Transformation” is to leverage relationships with state and regional associations to promote the transformation of teen library services. Part of this member engagement strategy is to take a look at YALSA’s presence at state and regional conferences.  This is not to say that YALSA will be confined to only state conferences (or conferences for that matter), but other related associations and local library group meetups as well. The purpose of this strategy is to engage teen library leaders at the local level so that we can not only learn what members and potential members want and need from YALSA, but to better help carry out the work of the association.  

While YALSA currently exhibits at some conferences other than ALA, there hasn’t been an official plan to connect with state and regional associations.  These are essential assets and gateways to member engagement. State and regional associations are other avenues to engage with members outside of ALA sponsored events and rally together on issues relating to teen services.  Through this, we’ll hopefully answer the question, “What do state associations want, and how can YALSA help?”

Apart from being physically present at state conferences, YALSA is also looking for ways to highlight the great work being done locally. This could be something shared through YALSA communications (such as a publication or a virtual honoring), or at local events where attendees may personally recognize teen service leaders and staff from those highlighted libraries. One of the ways we’ll try to approach this is to develop a 50-state engagement strategy, with specific offerings and focus on specific leaders at the state level, including but not limited to state library association leaders and state library agency youth services consultants.

Of course, we’ll also consider YALSA’s capacity. We will seek ways to identify state and local library leaders and leverage existing member resources to state and regional associations. These strategies will help engage members, spread the word about YALSA’s resources, encourage local conversations and sharing of resources, and increase member growth. If this plan is successful, by the year 2018, we estimate there would be YALSA presence at a minimum of 10 state or regional conferences per year and YALSA membership will grow by at least 15%.

Why is this important?  

Membership growth + capacity & knowledge growth = achieve more things for teens!

To view a full list of YALSA’s presence at State and Regional Conferences, see

http://wikis.ala.org/yalsa/index.php/YALSA_at_State_%26_Regional_Conferences

If you would like to get involved or have questions about the plan implementation, please share your thoughts via this short survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/R7MMRSG.

What meetups or conferences do you attend?

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Jane Gov is a Youth Services Librarian at Pasadena Public Library, California. She is currently Financial Advancement Committee Chair and serving on the YALSA Board. You can tweet her @missjanegov.

Thoughts about Book Selection Lists

enhanced-buzz-24540-1374618713-43In the afterglow of the Youth Media Awards comes the distribution of YALSA’s latest selection lists. These lists have long been resources for both readers’ advisory and collection development, keeping library staff abreast with the new and wonderful. There was a time when the Best Books for Young Adults list (now re-envisioned as the more narrowly focused Best Fiction for Young Adults) delivered many new book choices for library staff to add to the young adult collection.

That was then. Now it’s not unusual for library staff working for and with teens to discover books before they are even published, via web sites like NetGalley, Edelweiss, or by direct publisher contact. There are many networking opportunities, including the yalsa-bk listserv, that crackle with vitality, producing on-the-spot book recommendations and compiled lists.  The YALSA Hub has hundreds of lists on current topics. In addition, there are fabulous blogs about young adult literature, some by library workers, and some by teens. Surely YALSA’s carefully chosen book selections should be somewhere in this swell of activity. Unfortunately, they don’t generate the buzz of online exploration and discovery.

We can do better. It’s time for transformation!

8792688521_2f7538d895_mrHere’s an example. In 1988, YALSA (then YASD) compiled five annual genre lists, covering  Horror, Mystery, Romance, Sports, and Science Fiction. Eventually, Fantasy, Humor, and Historical Fiction were also included. In 1996, these lists were replaced by the Popular Paperbacks selection committee.

The Popular Paperbacks list continues the process of compiling  topical lists. The committee chooses topics that might be of ongoing interest to teens, such as the genres above. The books must be available in paperback, to keep them within easy purchasing range. It allowed libraries to stay on top of teen reading fads without breaking the budget.

It was a fabulous idea – twenty years ago.

But the appeal of paperbacks has changed over the past two decades. They used to look cool stuffed in the back pocket of blue jeans. Tucked inside a textbook, they allowed teens to read Judy Blume instead of history. Those paperback spinners that once housed countless volumes of Babysitter’s Club and Fear Street serials now are storage headaches. Current paperbacks are often too large to fit in the spinners. Add in the growing popularity of e-books, and Popular Paperbacks just doesn’t sound very hip.

girl readingBut dynamic lists on fascinating topics? Always in demand.

I certainly don’t mean to pick on the Popular Paperbacks committee. It’s dear to my heart because I served on that committee for three years; I met a lot of great library folk and learned much from them. And the 2016 chair, Katie Salo, led her committee in developing some awesome lists. Thank you, and all of those who worked so hard on this year’s impressive selection lists.

The YALSA Board is currently involved in organizational planning, driven by the call to action in YALSA’s Futures Report. In taking a step back, we can really focus on how best to build YALSA so that it is aligned with the vision of teen services as outlined in the report. With that momentum, we are well-positioned to support members as we all strive to build a futures-focused teen program at our libraries.  The Board is working with an expert on organizational planning who has encouraged us to embrace an “everything is on the table” approach that allows us to think about  the kinds of support members need most, including collection development and content curation, and how we best provide that.

This topic and its relation to selected lists like PPYA is actually just one example of what the board will be considering once a new plan is in place and the work of aligning existing programs, services, initiatives and resources begins.  The goal is to have a draft plan put together by early Feb., work throughout the month to refine it and have a final, new plan in place by March 1.  The aligning work will take place after that and lead to the development of proposals for the board’s consideration, most likely at their meeting in June.

To keep up to date on the organizational planning process, check the YALSAblog for regular updates. And join YALSA president Candice Mack for her Member Town Halls on Twitter via the #yalsachat hashtag. The next one will be Friday, Feb. 5, noon to 1:00 pm (Eastern).

It’s a good time to look ahead.

Strategic Planning Update: It’s So Exciting!

A little less than two years ago YALSA published the “Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action” report. (Often referred to as the Futures Report.) At that time YALSA also started talking about how to help library staff working for and with teens to develop programs and services that align with the recommendations in that report. Some of the projects YALSA launched to support that work include futures-focused webinars on topics related to the recommendations made in the report, the Programming Guidelines and Programming HQ, and a wide-array materials for library staff to use to better understand and advocate for the library services discussed in the document.

Now, YALSA is taking the next step in supporting the future-focused ideas of the report and in helping library staff support the lives and needs of teens in 2015, 2016, and beyond. That next step is in the development of an up-to-date vision and plan for YALSA (the current strategic plan runs through the end of this year). It’s a great opportunity to think about all that YALSA does and make sure that the programs and services provided to members are those that will best help them support teens today.  And in this latest round of planning, we’re doing much more than updating a document.  We’re looking broadly at where YALSA is and where we want and need to go.  That’s exciting because:

  • There is a teens first focus. That means that YALSA is keying in on a strategic plan that makes sure the work the association does supports the needs of today’s teens as they prepare for college, careers, and life. Continue reading

Strategic Planning Update: Observations from the Scouting Expedition

YALSA is formulating its next strategic plan, which will be a 3 year plan rather than a 5 year one. Directly after the Young Adult Services Symposium, YALSA staff and the Executive Committee met for 1.5 days to dig deeply into the process. In her recent blog post, YALSA President, Candice Mack, referred to this time as “a ‘scouting expedition’/environmental scan.” Four YALSA members also participated in the first half-day session.

Facilitated by Eric Meade from the Whole Mind Strategy Group, attendees utilized The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action to reflect on what the future landscape of teen services in libraries might look like. Just like the Futures report calls for a paradigm shift that leads to teen-centric services, the new strategic plan will take a teen-centered approach by putting teens’ needs at the forefront and setting goals that support YALSA members in helping teens meet those needs.

Attendees gathered in a large circle in a meeting room at the Hilton where the Symposium was held. After an explanation of theories and of the process of the day, different groups went into the “fishbowl” (a circle within the larger circle) to answer questions relating how the Futures report could strategically address the landscape of teen services and YALSA. Later, we divided into groups to brainstorm possible goals we would like to see YALSA achieve in the year 2025. We then categorized the goals into groups.

What struck me most throughout the process was the level of engagement of everyone. There were signs of vitality and a healthy YALSA throughout the afternoon. There was a desire by YALSA staff and the Executive Committee to get member feedback and to ensure that the results of the process made for both the best YALSA possible, best served our teens, and resulted in a strong teen services staff in our libraries.

Again, throughout the process, YALSA is looking to get member feedback. Engage in the process now by completing YALSA’s feedback form. The next opportunity to discuss the process will be with Candice Mack during a Twitter Town Hall on November 30, 7:00 to 8:00pm EST. Use #yalsachat to participate.  

Adrienne Strock is the Teen Library Manager at the Nashville Public Library. She is currently a member of the YALSA Community Connections Taskforce. She tweets @astro2pt0.

 

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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YALSA Board @ Midwinter Preview: Member Survey Report and Strategic Planning

Last fall, YALSA conducted a survey to get member input on the next strategic plan. The Strategic Planning Taskforce’s official report is now available as part of the YALSA Board’s 2015 Midwinter Meeting Board Documents. You can find it at item #26 on the agenda. If you have any responses to share on the survey, we would love to hear from you!

There are lots of strategic planning activities happening at Midwinter! The Board will be dedicating its Board Planning and Board I meetings to strategic planning sessions with consultant Alan Brickman (item #1 on the agenda). Like all Board meetings, these are open to all conference attendees, and you are welcome to drop in and observe. We’ll also be live tweeting from board meetings, so please follow @yalsa for more details.

Member involvement is a key part of successful strategic planning, so YALSA’s also hosting a member planning session at Midwinter: Moving YALSA Forward on Sunday, February 1, from 1-2:30 pm. This session will be facilitated by Alan Brickman as well. Advocacy emerged as an important theme in our member survey results, and it will be the main topic explored here. We hope you’ll come and participate in this session: we need to hear from as many members as possible to make it a success! Light refreshments will be available.

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Strategic Planning: Member Survey Closes Tomorrow

As you’ve no doubt heard, YALSA is currently conducting a survey to get member input on the next strategic plan. If you want to share your opinions with the Strategic Planning Task Force and YALSA’s Board of Directors, now is the time! Tomorrow (Wednesday, September 17) is the last day to fill out the 2014 member survey.

We can’t develop a strong strategic plan without hearing from as much of our membership as possible. Help YALSA help you by completing the survey online today. If you’ve already filled it out, take a moment to remind your YALSA peers to follow your awesome example by sharing the link with your network via email or social media.

And don’t forget, if you choose, you can enter your email address at the end of the survey for a chance to win a free teens and technology training kit (a $199 value).

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us!

The YALSA Strategic Planning Task Force

Strategic Planning: Your Opinion Matters

Utter the phrase “Strategic Planning” and many of us cringe a little at the daunting process these words imply. YALSA is at the beginning stages of this task and needs your feedback in our member survey. The information you provide will be used to help the YALSA Board of Directors develop the association’s next strategic plan.

Being a member driven organization, your opinion matters! What services, tools, or resources do you need to be best librarian you can be? Are there challenges you are encountering in serving teens and young adults in your library? How can YALSA continue to be relevant to you and the profession? Help us answer these questions and more, by taking a few minutes to answer a few questions in our member survey.

The member survey will be open for just one more week, until September 17, so take time now to complete it. Also, if you choose, you can enter your email address at the end of the survey for a chance to win a free teens and technology training kit (a $199 value).

We look forward to your feedback and your awesome ideas!

The YALSA Strategic Planning Task Force

YALSA Strategic Planning: Member Survey is Open!

In January 2014, YALSA issued the report, The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action, based on a yearlong national forum of research, interviews, and stakeholder discussions. The Call to Action looks at how teens are now using libraries and recommends ways for libraries to provide new and more relevant services to teens, and the report will definitely be a starting point as the YALSA Board of Directors begins to craft the next strategic plan.

For the next step, we are seeking member comments about the services YALSA provides to its members, to librarians working with teens, and to the library world at large. Everything YALSA produces originates with the membership, and your input is vital for the Board to plan for the next direction in teen services.

Please take the opportunity now to add your voice and let the Board know where you see teen services headed, what you need as a teen librarian, and which of the services YALSA provides that you value. Our member survey is now open and will be taking responses until September 17.

As a bonus, if you choose, you can enter your email address at the end of the survey for a chance to win a free teens and technology training kit (a $199 value).

We look forward to hearing from you!

The YALSA Strategic Planning Task Force