In February, I posted about changes that were made to YALSA’s website that required a login to reach the selected lists and awards. I explained the rationale and indicated that there would be refinements in the process.

There have been refinements, but we haven’t done a very good job of sharing that information with you, so I want to apologize for that lack of timely communication and try to remedy it now.

First of all, I do apologize for the early glitches and for the unfriendliness of ALA’s web interface. It can be very discouraging to click on a link that says “login” and immediately get an “access denied” message. However, if you just click on the ALA login link in the upper right corner of the screen, all will be well.

Second, the award and list content other than the lists themselves is now outside the login area. If you click on “Book Awards and Book/Media Lists” on the homepage, you get a drop-down menu. This menu includes links to selection and award list contacts. If you click on an individual award, like the Michael L. Printz Award or the Odyssey Award, you are taken to a page that includes policies and procedures and a link to the form for submitting suggested titles.

Third, the form for nonmembers to fill out has been streamlined. When anyone fills out the form (which now requires only name, email address, and two questions) they receive an automated email response that gives them links to bookmark so that they don’t need to fill out the form more than once. We have contacted the developer of the form module we use and requested that it be updated so that if you fill out the form once, you are automatically directed to the content, but we don’t have that functionality yet.

Members who want to access the lists on reference desk computers or other non-personal computers and don’t want to login with personal information can also bookmark the links for the lists and awards. These URLs are now posted in the “Members Only” section of the website.

Fourth, several people have raised the question about whether it is worth it to ask for this information. The answer is we’re not sure yet, but we think it might be. We have collected more than 16,000 email addresses since mid-February. We have used these addresses to encourage people to participate in the Tweet Your Senator campaign and virtual library legislative day (1,600 people requested more info on advocacy), for member recruitment, and to advertise subscriptions to YALS (4,000 asked for information on buying YALSA publications), deriving lists from areas of interest that people marked.

Keep in mind that addresses are not shared outside of YALSA, and anyone who doesn’t want to receive any further email from YALSA need only say so.

Fifth, some members have indicated that they are against this change because they feel that YALSA is restricting or putting up barriers to information. In fact, YALSA is doing the same thing that most of you do every day in your own libraries. If I want to access my local library’s databases from home, I have to put in my library card number and PIN. I don’t regard that as the library putting up barriers to my access. I recognize that the library needs to collect statistics about database use and they use those statistics to help justify the work they do and the cost of the databases.’  YALSA, like libraries, is in the business of sharing information, but, as with libraries, that information is not really free. (See Fiscal Officer Penny Johnson’s blog post for more details about the costs of YALSA’s “free” resources.) In fact, for most libraries, I can’t use the databases at all if I don’t have a library card; YALSA is offering its resources free for simply signing in with an email address.

I hope these comments help members understand better the rationale for requiring a login for access to the lists. Again, my apologies for taking so long to get back to you on the updated information. Thank you for your patience, and thank you again for all that you do to promote YALSA’s lists and awards to teens and their parents.

Sarah Flowers, YALSA President

About Sarah Flowers

Sarah Flowers is a YALSA Past President and former Deputy County Librarian for the Santa Clara County (CA) Library. Currently she does writing and speaking on topics related to teen services and teaches online courses for California's Infopeople Project.

3 Thoughts on “Update to Changes on Website

  1. Beth Saxton on May 30, 2012 at 2:37 pm said:

    Thank you for continuing to think about this issue and talk with the membership about it. While I understand the reasoning in general I think only good would come of placing at least the Printz (and possibly all awards rather than lists) winner and honor information outside the wall. Promoting the award has always been a struggle and having it more accessible to those not directly involved in the profession, for example classroom teachers, couldn’t hurt. If we truly want it to be of the same stature as the Newbery and Caldecott (neither of which require extra steps) we can’t hide our light under a bushel so to speak.

  2. Emily Horner on May 30, 2012 at 3:40 pm said:

    I deeply disagree with this decision. I think that promoting the awards even by something as simple as having the lists publicly available is more important than harvesting e-mail addresses.

    I’m not going to join YALSA as long as this policy is in place.

  3. If only the form made it so you wouldn’t spam people who were looking up information. The final required question is “What kind of information would you like to receive from YALSA?” But “none” is not an option. Sure, I can tell you that I don’t want any more information, but only AFTER you’ve spammed me. I’m so glad that 4000 people said they wanted information on publications. How many of those were valid email addresses? How many were repeat email addresses (does the software weed out the duplicates so you didn’t send that message to the same people 20 times because that’s how often they’ve wanted to look up basic information?)

    Also, the fact that the basic award information is no longer behind the barrier to access, that’s no at all advertised so people don’t know that, despite the big thing in their face saying “YOU MUST GIVE US ALL YOUR INFORMATION” if they click on the tiny link in the sidebar, they can side-step that.

    Luckily we can now just download the app and skip the site completely.

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