Yesterday I was officially installed as YALSA’s President for 2009-2010. I am very excited about working with the Division and its members on an array of projects that will help support librarians working with teens.

yalsa knows risky businessOne thing YALSA will be focusing on over the next year is my presidential theme which is Risky Business. I developed this theme with the support of the Presidential Advisory Task Force. (Thanks to Frances Jacobson Harris, Lisa Lindsay, Jack Martin, Becky Mazur, Jami Mayo, and Connie Urquhart for their hep in getting ready for this year.)

YALSA knows librarians take risks every day of the year when they purchase materials that might be controversial, when they have conversations with teens which might lead to topics that are sometimes difficult to discuss, when they advocate for the programs and services teens need. In order to support librarian risk-taking, during the year YALSA will collect stories about risk from librarians, teens, and those who work with teens. These will be posted on the YALSA blog in audio, video, and text format and help to provide librarians with ideas on how to be successful in their own library risk-taking. We’ll also use some of the risky stories in a book titled Risky Business (co-authored by myself, Jack Martin, and Connie Urquhart) that will be published by ALA Editions in 2010. If you have a story of taking risks in library services to teens or in your career you can submit it to YALSA by sending an email to No story is too big or too small.

Not only will YALSA be looking at ways to support librarian risk-taking, we will also take a look at the Division’s own risk-taking. This will include looking at ways in which YALSA can take risks in order to move forward and provide members with the services they need and require. Some of the items discussed by the YALSA Board during meetings at Annual Conference are going to give YALSA the opportunity to take risks in order to support members. These include:

  • YALSA-TV – As Connie Urquhart mentioned in her post about YALSA-TV, the YALSA Board approved the development of a new blog that will act as a one-stop-shop for materials related to books and reading. The blog will make it easy to access YALSA’s selection lists and will embed book trailers and other audio and video related to books and reading.
  • Reader’s Choice – This new list sponsored by YALSA will be compiled virtually and will give members the opportunity to nominate and vote for favorite titles published in a twelve-month period. Reader’s Choice is going to provide an excellent opportunity for YALSA members who can’t participate in the standing committees charged with selecting titles for YALSA’s various lists to get involved in the Division. As the Reader’s Choice proposal states, The list “aims to provide more members with the chance to get involved in development of the tools teens and adults use to select reading titles.” A small group of members will be appointed to a group to develop the policies, procedures, and guidelines for the workings of Reader’s Choice. The YALSA Board hopes to get the list up and running very soon, stay tuned for more details.
  • Older Teens Interest Group – During YALSA’s Board meetings at Midwinter 2009, there was discussion of the needs of teens at the younger and older end of the teen age spectrum. One idea that came from that discussion was the creation of a YALSA Interest Group focusing on the needs of librarians serving older teens. A few Division members took on the task of going through the process of starting a new interest group and at Annual Conference the YALSA Board approved the Older Teens Interest Group. The group’s mission states, “The purpose of this Interest Group is to discuss issues relating to serving young adults in their late teens and early twenties. We seek to develop and exchange ideas on how libraries can continue to best serve these “new adults” as they navigate life after the high school years. Identifying the needs of this age group, compiling & sharing collection and programming guidelines to address those needs, and considering ways to provide participatory opportunities for them is a focus of this Interest Group.” If you are interested in getting involved contact Penny Johnson.
  • Interest & Discussion Groups – Speaking of interest groups, during Annual Conference, the YALSA Board approved the requests of seven standing committees to transition to interest or discussion groups. Once each Committee’s transition is complete, as an interest or discussion group they will be able to have as many members as are interested in the work of the group. Membership can be completely virtual. And, the work of the group can be much more flexible than what is possible in a standing committee. You can read about interest and discussion groups on the YALSA web site.
  • Best Books for Young Adults (BBYA) – During Annual Conference there was discussion of YALSA’s BBYA list including how the list is selected and how it is used. Following these discussions the YALSA Board decided that it needs to consider all of the feedback provided by members during conference. Using feedback from the Board and members, the Executive Committee of YALSA will work to develop a new strategy for BBYA that will be ready for Board consideration at Midwinter 2010.

There is much more that the Board discussed, approved, and debated during meetings at Annual Conference. This includes a final report on mentoring, a set of teen space guidelines, and plans for including a virtual component to YALSA’s Literature Symposium. You can access the full set of documents and agendas on the YALSA web site in the For Members Only section.

Throughout the year YALSA will continue to work for its members in order to give them with the service and support needed to provide excellent services to teens. If you have questions or ideas feel free to contact me at

Thanks to all for giving me the opportunity to serve as YALSA President. It’s going to be a great year!

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

3 Thoughts on “Risky Business & More

  1. Renee on July 15, 2009 at 3:45 pm said:

    Hi Linda,
    Congratualtions! I am looking forward to an exciting year as you start your presidential term. I love your theme and hope to help you in any way I can.

  2. I have so far been unable to find any handouts or information from the program YALSA held on Sunday July 12 called Cool Teen Programs for under $100. I would appreciate anything you have because our youth staff is quite interested. I realize that buying the book would provide the most information, but if you have anything else it would be most appreciated, or if you can tell me when and where to find it on the ALA website. The presentaitions area only has a description at this time.

    Thank you.

  3. Melanie, you can access the handouts from the Making Stuff YALSA program on crafts on the ALA presentations wiki at There were no handouts at the $100 program but if you would like more information about the program you can contact Nichole Gilbert – – in the YALSA Office.

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