Posted by Amy Alessio

Paula & Allen:

Here are a few more questions on member issues, then a fun one about your YA interests:

What services do you feel YALSA provides that are the most valuable for new members? Long-term members? Do you have further ideas on how to reach those groups of members?

How would you help a director find a way to support someone wanting to work with YALSA? (I thinking of all the members who cannot afford to come to conference, which is the case in most of Illinois, my home state.)

What are some of your favorite YA books/authors? Movies?

2 Thoughts on “Member Issue Questions for VP/President Candidates

  1. Hi Amy – Thanks again for your efforts. Here are my responses…

    Question #1 (services for members) –

    I believe this really depends on what your individual needs are. I think conferences are a great benefit because of the volunteering and networking opportunities, as well as the great programming offered by the division. However, I imagine that the vast majority of our members are not able to attend conferences. Which means the most valuable services for all of our members are those that are offered via our website, journal, newsletter, and through the “virtual” world.

    The mentoring program is the one service that is directly geared to long- and short-term members. I think is valuable to both. It creates an orientation and introduction into the association (and the profession) for new members, while helping create an instant network of colleagues. More tenured members can be reinvigorated by the energy brought by the new members and thy can feel appreciated for their knowledge and experience. A win-win situation for both.

    YALSA-BK and YALSA-L (and our other mailing lists) are used by members and non-members to stay informed, maintain a network of colleagues, and learn from one another. I think that the development of the YALSA Blog and the future opportunities that will be made available through the new ALA Communities site will provide additional ways for our members to communicate and network.

    YALSA must be recognized as “THE” resource for all things YA in libraries. It fills this role in many ways right now, but there is a proliferation of YA resources that are not related to YALSA – and that is great for the field. It would benefit all of our members, if YALSA could collect information about all of these other resources (blogs, web sites, etc.) and serve as a clearinghouse of sorts for our members to locate the resources they need. This would be an easy addition to our website, blog, etc. although collecting and maintaining the information would take some time. I think our members would appreciate it.

    Our booklists and awards help our members in all types of libraries. They provide assistance with collection development, provide resources for those defending intellectual freedom, and serve to highlight and recognize the authors whose voices need to be heard by the teens we serve. YALSA needs to continue to stretch and grow these lists as new formats and interests capture the interest of teens. The Graphic Novel list is a great start, but we can’t rest there…

    I think the above will reach all of our members, but YALSA needs to do the following:

    · New members must be involved in the association as soon as possible. Doing so creates new leaders and helps develop the sense of ownership that is important.

    · Long term members must be thanked and reminded of the benefits of membership.

    · All members must receive value for their membership dues and while having their informational needs met. They also must be provided with a myriad of opportunities/methods to develop a strong professional network of colleagues.

    My wife says that I’m a bit “anal,” and maybe I am, because once I have a goal (even if it is something as simple as buying everything off the grocery list) in front of me, I don’t rest until it is achieved. YALSA can never lose sight of its focus, its purpose, its mission, its “big, hairy audacious goal. That goal, “To be the driving force behind all excellent young adult services in every library serving teens” will serve every member in every way.

    Question 2 – (support someone wanting to work with YALSA)

    From a director’s perspective, this is a difficult question. Sometimes there isn’t any money available in the budget, or sometimes there are just so many competing interests it is hard to decide what gets the attention – and whatever little bit of money that is available.

    The easiest answer here is to encourage those who wish to become involved with YALSA, but can’t attend conferences, to become involved as virtual members. I think those committees that are eligible to have virtual members have found them to be invaluable. While the use of virtual members is managed by ALA Council policy, YALSA must make every effort to expand the number of opportunities for those interested in our association, but unable to participate in any traditional way.

    When I first became a YALSA member, my director was reluctant to send me to conferences. I was able to work out a deal with him though. I was on Best Books and we agreed to cut my book budget by the amount it cost for my travel. I was able to demonstrate that I would receive over $10,000 worth of free books for the library and he saw this as a plus and was willing to negotiate.

    Not every one who wants to become involved with our association is going to be on Best Books, but there are some arguments, and possibly other negotiating points, that can be used. While I was able to offer some tangible returns to the library for my YALSA participation, there are plenty of intangible benefits of involvement that can be formed into the basis for a request to attend YALSA.

    · Networking with other teen serving members

    · Visiting the exhibits (and all the freebies that can be found there)

    · Learning best practices from attending programs, etc.

    Now, as for paying for it…

    Don’t forget the Baker and Taylor/YALSA Conference Grants or the 3M/NMRT Professional Development Grant. Both can be a way to get your foot in the door (or at least to conference.)

    Sometimes Friends of the Library can be helpful and offer money to library staff for their professional involvement. Maybe the director can seek funds from them.

    If no money is available, it might even be possible to negotiate “release time” or paid time off to attend, while paying for the trip on your own. (This isn’t ideal, but again, this can get you to conference and once your director sees the benefits…maybe the money can be found.)

    If the director is willing, but money is tight, perhaps the director can contact his/her colleagues and find a travel partner from another library to accompany that can help cut costs for hotels, etc.

    Question 3…(favorties!

    My list of favorite YA novels is a long one. What I have listed here is just a sampling.

    Slot Machine by Chris Lynch
    Forever by Judy Blume
    Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen
    Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
    Damage by A.M. Jenkins
    First Part Last by Angela Johnson
    Lamb by Christopher Moore
    I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusack

    Izzy Willy Nilly by Cynthia Voigt
    Uncle Vampire by Cynthia Grant

    Now, a few authors that have impacted me.

    Walter Dean Myers
    Carolyn Cooney
    Gary Paulsen
    Chris Lynch
    Lois Duncan

    Harry Mazer
    John Marsden
    Jacqueline Woodson

    My favorite movie of all time is Stand By Me. The adaptation of Steven King’s novella was a great examination of the relationship between four young teens.

    The movies we have seen recently have all required that we be accompanied by one of our sons (Narnia was the latest and I really enjoyed it.). Mary Anne and I did sneak out last year to see Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – and yes, I was the only man in the audience…

  2. paula brehm heeger [Visitor] on February 16, 2006 at 12:52 pm said:

    Hi Amy!

    YALSA is the fastest growing ALA Division, which shows what a great job we’ve done in recruiting new members. The amazing growth in YALSA membership also demonstrates the Division’s overall impact on raising awareness of the how important it is for libraries to provide quality, consistent library service to teens.

    New members need to be engaged right away. They should feel comfortable, welcomed and embraced by the Division. Avenues for sharing and publishing ideas, participating in committee work and presenting at conferences are vital for creating a sense of ownership among new YALSA members. The Division has some fantastic and dynamic new people – members like the great, young folks that served on the Popular Paperbacks committee with me this past year – Robin Brenner, Melissa Rabey and Carlie Weber. I’m completely impressed by their knowledge, enthusiasm and strong desire to serve YALSA. We need to provide structures and processes that offer newer members, like my friends and colleagues on PPYA, to (as we are so fond of saying in teen services) easily communicate to YALSA what they need. YALSA should concentrate on offering and enhancing training opportunities like Serving the Underserved and the Gaming preconference held at midwinter which educate and engage new members, and also communicate YALSA’s shared vision for service to teens.

    Long-term members offer so much to YALSA. I’ve talked in previous posts about how much I personally have benefited from the knowing and working with many long-term YALSA members, particularly in terms of mentoring. As YALSA president, I would be interested in exploring avenues for formalizing the mentor-mentee relationship through YALSA. Having participated in a number of mentoring programs, I can testify that the mentor usually learns a lot from the mentee! I think this is increasing important to consider as the world of information and communication changes at an incredible pace. Long-term members would benefit from the chance to share their knowledge with new members and also have the chance to experience the rapidly changing world of libraries and through the eyes of someone just entering teen services.

    It is always a challenge to keep members engaged when the financial support from a library simply isn’t available to come to conference. The online course currently being offered by YALSA is a great example of reaching a middle ground that provides a chance for interaction and professional development without the higher costs associated with travel to conferences. As YALSA President, I would also push to develop best practices for including virtual committee members in committee work.

    Favorite books – such a tough question! Some titles on the top of my favorites list include Ender’s Game, Mortal Engines, Coraline, 47 and The Abarat. Two YA authors I love to read and recommend are Alex Flinn and Darren Shan. Movies? This list is so long! I’ll take the quick answer and give the title that sits well above the rest on my list – The Lord of the Rings (The Fellowship of the Rings is, no doubt, the best!)

    Thanks for the chance to share so much on this blog. Much applause to Linda Braun for her hard work in creating the blog and to Amy Alessio for taking the time to post such thoughtful questions!

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