Posted by Amy Alessio:

Let’s let readers get to know both of you.

Why are you running for YALSA VP/President?

What is your current position? Please also list experiences relevant to young adult services. What was/is your favorite project working directly with teens?

Please tell readers about your family and interests outside of libraries.

3 Thoughts on “More Questions for VP/President Candidates

  1. paula brehm heeger [Visitor] on February 9, 2006 at 7:37 pm said:

    I’ve had many fantastic experiences as a YALSA member – the friends I’ve made, the talented YALSA leaders that have been mentors and given me support and invaluable advice — it’s hard to express my appreciation for everything! Serving as VP/President is a chance for me to use my skills, energy and experience to give back to an organization that has given me so much, personally and professionally.

    I believe YALSA is at a watershed moment. We are now an independent Division. This status is a real recognition by the professional community of YALSA’s strength and also an acknowledgement of the need to offer quality Library service to teens. We must rise to the challenges this change involves. I believe this crucial moment requires engagement and leadership from all members, including our new generations of librarians. As YALSA VP/President, I will make engaging these new members a priority, continuing YALSA’s tradition of giving all members real and immediate avenues for their voices to be heard – a tradition that is now more important than ever.

    Currently, I am the teen services coordinator for a large, urban library system in Cincinnati, Ohio with 41 branches and a Main Library. I have worked in a variety of libraries – large and small – in various cities and states, from a Library with 2 locations in Anderson, IN (population about 50,000), to the Kansas City Public Library (that’s KC, Missouri!) with ten locations to large multi-branch systems like the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library and my current job in Cincinnati. My career has been dedicated to serving and advocating for young people, with the last several years focused exclusively on teens.

    I’ve had a host of great experiences working with teens, although topping the list would be the outreach program to a juvenile detention center I initiated while at Kansas City and, more specifically, watching the President of my current Teen Advisory Board speak at a rally in support of the Library funding last spring. She spoke in front of hundreds of people, right along side of the other Library’s leaders, including representatives from the Library Board and the Friends of the Library! What a proud moment.

    I met my amazing husband, Ned, while attending graduate school at Indiana University (yep, he’s a librarian, too). We spend our free time hiking, reading (come on, what did you expect?) and relaxing with our three crazy cats.

  2. Hi Amy – Sorry for not being able to respond earlier, but I have been out-of-town for the last couple of days. On Wednesday, I was in Washington, DC representing YALSA at a meeting with ALA staff and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The focus of the meeting was on the selection of titles for the “We the People” Bookshelf Grants. For the first time, NEH agreed to accept title recommendations from YALSA that will include teen recommendations through our network of Teen Advisory Groups. There will be more on this later, but it was an exciting success for our association which has been “struggling” with NEH on the titles since the program’s inception. Yesterday I was in Columbus, OH for a meeting of the Ohio Library Council’s Government Relations Committee. We are facing a serious fiscal crisis, very similar to the situation in Colorado, should a constitutional amendment that is on this fall’s ballot be successful. Today’s meeting was a strategy session to set our course for our efforts to defeat the amendment. If you are in Ohio, please talk to your library director about the impact of the TEL/TABOR amendment on your library.

    Now onto your questions…

    Teen library services are my passion! They are the reason I became a librarian and the reason I am involved in YALSA. I began my library career when I was a high school student working at the local branch library. I didn’t think then that I would become a librarian some day, but I had a wonderful mentor who coached me throughout high school and college; my fate was sealed.

    Throughout my career in public libraries I’ve been a page, a library assistant, a young adult librarian, manager of reference and young adult services, a regional manager of young adult services, and an adjunct faculty member. For the last 9 years, I’ve been the director of the Wadsworth (OH) Public Library (about 30 minutes south of Cleveland). I miss the day-to-day contact with teens (although I volunteer with Junior Achievement at the local high school), but I love being a director and relish being able to serve teens by advocating for their needs from an administrative position. This is perhaps the main reason I became a director. I knew that too few libraries provide adequate service to teens. As a director I could change that service level in my home library and work to make things better. As YALSA president, I will have a larger platform from which I hope to share and spread my passion for teens. I also believe my experience in the association is exactly what is needed during this transitional period, as I wrote in my last response. My direct experience working with the association’s board of directors and staff is an important factor in helping YALSA remain the fastest growing division within ALA. My experience leading a similar organization when I was president of the Ohio Library Association was good practice for this national role. My passion and my experience are the driving forces behind my candidacy.

    My favorite project with teens…I can vividly remember a Banned Books Week program I led with the young adult advisory council when I was the teen librarian at the Rocky River Public Library. The teens wanted to make a “splash” and do their part to fight censorship. We purchased a large roll of butcher block paper and the teens decorated long strips of the paper with Banned Books Week messages. Then they hung the strips of paper over all of the shelves in the teen room…effectively “banning” the books. The attention the teens garnered was amazing and staff developed a higher level of respect for each of them.

    Teen library services are important to me, but not as important as my family. I met my wife, Mary Anne, in of all places…a library. She is a former youth librarian who shares my passion for teens and libraries. It is a wonderful blessing to be able to work together leading workshops, teaching library school classes and editing YA professional resources for our Libraries Unlimited series. (My newest book, Thinking Outside the Book was published in 2004.) We have two wonderful boys who are nine and four. My YALSA friends know that I can often be found on the phone during conferences touching base with the family, because I miss them terribly. I truly enjoy being a father and husband and am blessed with a wonderful family. As far as activities outside of libraries…just about everything centers around Evan and Bennett. I am a soccer coach, car pool driver, bedtime reader (I’ve read aloud everyone of the Harry Potter books.), a lector and member of the parish council at my church, and a firm believer in fitness. I work out in some way almost daily (some of the best YA novels have been read on my elliptical or stationary bike!)

  3. Linda Braun [Member] on February 13, 2006 at 2:18 pm said:

    Thanks to both Paula and Allen for sharing these thoughts. And thanks to Linda Braun and Amy Alessio for setting up this elections page to provide both the professional and the more personal side of our two outstanding presidential candidates.

    Pam Spencer Holley

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