From Amy Alessio:

Allen & Paula:
Here are a few more questions:

What training or mentoring have you done to spread the YA word to other professionals? Who has mentored or made a difference with you?

You both know I’m especially interested in YALSA Finances. We need increased revenue to bring new services. Please suggest ways both of these things could be accomplished during your term.

2 Thoughts on “Futher Questions for VP Candidates

  1. Hi Amy –

    First question…

    When I was in high school and college, I was blessed to have a tremendous mentor who encouraged my efforts to become a librarian. Judith Campbell understood my desire to serve teens and allowed me the opportunity to do so on a limited basis within the branch library I was working at the time. Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to be involved in other activities that have led to the constant presence of mentors in my life.

    As I wrote in a Library Journal cover article a few years ago, I have attended two significant leadership institutes that have shaped me and my career. Library Leadership 2000 (now Library Leadership Ohio) was geared toward newer Ohio librarians in an effort to build the profession within the state. Mentors were a significant part of the institute and two have always been available to me – Sarah Long (former ALA President) and Andrew Venable (Director of the Cleveland Public Library).

    Also providing counsel have been mentors from the Snowbird Leadership Institute, an international leadership training program that I had the privilege to attend. The late Hardy Franklin (another former ALA President) was an advocate of teen library services and served as an inspiration (and future job reference…) as well as Peggy Sullivan (another past ALA President) and Bridget Lamont (former Illinois State Library Director).

    The presence of mentors in my life have shown me the importance of giving back and serving in the same capacity for others. As one of the original YALSA Serving the Underserved trainers, I’ve led training programs across the country. Professionally, there isn’t anything much more invigorating than spreading the YA word and seeing people “get it” and understanding why teen services are important.

    I started a mentoring program many years ago for the teen librarians in the Cleveland-area CAMLS Regional Library System and helped lead a training seminar for mentors and mentees. But more significantly, I have focused my efforts on students at the School of Library and Information Science at Kent State University. I have managed several students’ practicum experiences in teen services. I also serve as a part-time faculty member. Along with my wife, we teach workshops focused on teen issues, such as marketing and literature updates. I am also a frequent guest lecturer in the teen services and other classes.

    Lastly, I help spread the “YA word” through my books, as well as the Libraries Unlimited Professional Guides for Young Adult Librarians Series. My wife and I are the series advisors and work with LU to develop books and authors that will provide, as we write in each book, “useful and practical handbooks for library staff.”

    Now…onto “Show me the money”…

    First, I’m thrilled that Friends of YALSA is moving ahead. This is something I lobbied for as Fiscal Officer and I am excited by the future prospects of endowing our association.

    I think there a number of ways we can increase revenue.

    It is a tough pill to swallow, but the YALSA dues increase needs to pass. It currently costs the association more to provide the basic services available to all members, than the members pay in dues. We lose money from the start.

    I believe that the largest potential for future revenue growth is the training of our membership. YALSA needs to grow the on-line professional development opportunities available for members and non-members. It needs to create additional efforts that can go “on the road.” Taking programs like Power Up With Print into different regions of the country increases revenue while training our members. If we can improve our offerings in this area, there is no reason why YALSA can’t create an optional certification process for teen librarians, or teen serving library generalists. The potential to cooperate with ALA/APA in a process similar to the PLA Certified Public Library Administrator program is encouraging and is something I will explore.

    Other areas can’t be ignored (and I know efforts are focused on these now)…publishing, Printz seals, etc., but Teen Read Week is the most important.

    Teen Read Week continues to be the most visible program we have to offer and provides YALSA with its best opportunity to “brand” its identity to the marketplace. Sponsorships and royalty revenue from theme-based sales (of items that librarian and teens really want) have begun to turn around and seem to be on an increase, but constant attention needs to be given to these areas. Staff cannot be expected to do all of the work, YALSA’s leaders must put forth an effort here as well. I am ready to do my share.

    One additional aspect of new services…The Strategic Plan calls for additional research in our field. This emphasis on research will help the association develop services, some of which can be revenue generating, to fill the needs of our members and teens. We can’t ignore identified gaps that place barriers to the good we can do for the teens in our buildings.

  2. paula brehm heeger [Visitor] on February 14, 2006 at 8:23 pm said:

    Hi Amy!

    Thanks for another set of great questions.

    While I admire a number of leaders in the profession, when I think of “mentor,” I think of one person immediately – Therese Bigelow. I had the pleasure of working with Therese at the Kansas City Public Library and from day one, Therese went out of her way to do all the things that terrific mentors do: made me feel comfortable in handling new and challenging situations, built up my confidence (even on the occasions when things didn’t go as planned!), encouraged me to take risks, offered me opportunities to have meaningful professional experiences, and always, always challenged me to achieve my goals. She played a key role in helping me understand and appreciate the work of both big ALA and of individual ALA Divisions. One particularly meaningful experience was when Therese, a former ALSC President and member of ALA Council, asked me to escort her to a late-night ALA Council session in New Orleans several years ago during one of my first ALA experiences. It was my first chance to observe the inner workings of ALA leadership and I loved it!

    Therese, along with Helma Hawkins, another great library leader and mentor, both encouraged me to apply to the Library Leadership Institute at Snowbird. I attended the Institute early in my career and one of the key concepts from that experience – the idea of “leading from any position” – has really shaped my view of professionalism and leadership. It’s also an idea that I emphasize now that I often find myself in the “mentor” role.

    When I think of spreading the YA word to other professionals, I always thing of the old phrase, “Think globally, act locally.” I have been a panelist, speaker and trainer at a number of regional, state and national conferences and events, but I think it’s often the little things that help create new, “true believers” to the YA field. Something as simple as taking time to respond off-list to a new YALSA-Bk poster, or spending an extra 10 minutes talking to a new committee member at conference can make a HUGE difference to a new YA librarian! Spreading the YA word is really about helping fellow librarians find their inner YA advocate. One-on-one interaction and offering quality, consistent training – like the training outlined in Serving the Underserved – are indispensable tools for helping those inner YA advocates break through.

    The pending dues increase is just the first step in increasing revenues for our growing Division. I think Linda Braun’s great success with the current online training provides another example of ways to increase revenue – it’s relevant and easy to attend. That is a winning combination!

    Publishing is key area for generating revenue. YALSA must position itself as a first choice for publishing and we must encourage and support members when it comes time to publish! It also brings me back to the first issue discussed, mentoring. I had never thought of really publishing until former YALSA President and YALS editor Jana Fine took the time to contact me directly. The minute I receive Jana’s personal email asking if I had ever thought about writing an article, a light went on for me and I immediately thought, “No, but I should!” As YALSA President, I would make it a priority to push new members, particularly those working on task forces and committees, to take the great leap into publishing through YALSA. Getting members to think about publishing when they are young, will help make publishing a habit for our membership – something that would be very, very beneficial to YALSA’s future in every sense.
    Encouraging new members to publish will also encourage the development of new services by opening dialogues and highlighting emerging issues and needs. This will naturally lead to YALSA being in a great position to proactively address these needs and be the leader in providing information about the newest services.

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