Many associations function because of the work of their volunteer members, and every year YALSA, with its more than 5000 members, looks for about 30 dedicated folks to run for various elected positions, for award committees and executive and board positions.

But who finds these candidates? YALSA has a nominating committee made up of five dedicated professionals: the immediate past president and four involved members. (I’m one of the five members.)

And what do they do? YALSA maintains spreadsheets of volunteer information with all the names of those who have submitted a volunteer form for a process or selection committee. The Nominating Committee looks over that information. But that is just one step in a process that takes about nine months – the creating of “the slate”.

Each committee and board slot has specific needs and in order to continue to be the best Division of ALA, the Nominating Committee looks for the perfect match for each slot. We look for diversity…in its broadest sense: gender, location, type of library, years in the profession, and previous experience. It is this mix that allows YALSA to attract new members and retain long term ones, all the while making sure we are innovative, educational, professional and fun.

The Nominating Committee starts its work by reviewing what the requirements are for each available slot so to know what the group needs to look for. Committee members then comb the volunteer forms looking to see who wants to do what kind of work, and who has what kind of experience and interest. Committee members even check to see what kind out outside skills and experiences folks have, because these are the intangibles that make great committees and boards. The group discusses names and possible candidates over the phone, by email and chat, and at conference. Gradually, a list of suggested names is developed.

Next, Commitee members discuss with potential candidates the possibility of running for a YALSA elected position. Those who are interested in running, submit nomination paperwork and eventually a slate is brought to the YALSA Board for approval. Of course, I didn’t mention that throughout this process we work closely with the YALSA office. They review the pesky details of our members: making sure each candidate is eligible to run, hasn’t taken on too many ALA commitments or has their dues paid up.

Serving on YALSA committees allows members to develop leadership skills. Being on an award committee or Board member involves commitment and prioritizing, and if you are lucky enough to be chair you need facilitation skills and strong organizational skills as well. Every library looks for staff that demonstrates these kinds of skills. It’s a win-win situation for libraries to support volunteerism in YALSA. So, if the Nominating Committee comes calling, think seriously about what the group is asking, why you want to do it and then if you think you are ready say “yes.” You’ll be happy you did.

If you have any questions feel free to contact the 2012 Nominating Committee Chair, Linda W. Braun –

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