Although the YALSA Board of Directors does a lot of work online and on the telephone throughout the year, our face-to-face meetings at ALA Midwinter and ALA Annual are big occasions for us to have some weighty discussions and make some major decisions. The agenda and board documents for Annual are now available online at All members are welcome to attend any Board meeting.

The YALSA Board meeting at Annual is actually three separate meetings:

  • Saturday, from 2:30-5:30, in the Convention Center, Room 211A
  • Sunday, from 4-5:30, in the Convention Center, Room 211B
  • Monday, from 1:30-3:30, in the Convention Center, Room 212 B

The Board allots 10 minutes at the beginning of each session for visitors or Board members to share information. This is just to keep us all up to date on any information that affects YALSA or our members. In addition, there is always time allotted to hear from our ALA Executive Board rep (Steve Matthews) and our ALA BARC (Budget Analysis and Review Committee) rep (Alex Villagran). In addition, we will receive a report from our Emerging Leaders group. Other than that, we take agenda items in roughly the order they appear on the agenda, but we may move things around in order to finish a topic before the end of a session, or accommodate a member who is making a report to the Board.

The first session usually begins with the adoption of the “consent agenda.” These are items such as reports that do not require discussion or action, or items that the board has already discussed and voted on in ALA Connect. Any item may be pulled from the consent agenda for full discussion and separate vote if a Board member requests it.

The rest of the agenda is divided into action items (which require action), discussion items (which may generate action, but don’t have to), and information items. This meeting’s action items include:

  • Approving an Odyssey Award Committee manual
  • Establishing a “365 Days of YA” task force to crowdsource a list of 365 tried and true, easy to implement teen services activities and create an online calendar to promote them.
  • Establishing a State Association outreach task force, to strengthen ties with like-minded organizations, such as YA sections of state library associations.
  • Piloting a virtual selection committee so that members who cannot come to conferences will have an opportunity to serve on a selection or award committee.
  • Forming a Youth Engagement Committee that would identify and implement projects in conjunction with teen advisory groups, as a way to get teen involvement in YALSA governance.
  • Approving sponsor and partner guidelines

Discussion items include:

  • Looking at the latest draft of a new manual for the Nonfiction Award Committee
  • Discussing strategies for boosting YALSA’s revenue streams
  • Discussing the Board member self-assessment process—what were the results, and what should change in the future
  • Discussing how to go forward in evaluating the success of the Strategic Plan
  • Looking at a report on the evaluation of the interest groups and discussion groups and deciding where to go from here
  • Discussing a report from the Division and Membership Promotion committee about how best to achieve local presence for YALSA

The Monday afternoon meeting will include finishing up any discussion or action items that weren’t completed on Saturday or Sunday, adopting and presenting resolutions in honor of retiring board members, and installing new board members.

The YALSA Board has a lot of items to cover in a relatively short amount of time, so if you do attend a meeting, it may seem like things are moving at a rapid pace. Fortunately, the Board members take their responsibilities seriously, and have read the Board documents ahead of time, noting where they have questions and comments, so we are usually able to move quickly through an agenda. We usually manage to come to consensus on our action items—but not always! It is always enlightening to me to hear what the Board members are thinking about the various agenda items. Each member has his or her own background and experiences to bring to our discussions, and often an agenda item can take quite a different turn from what I expected when I read the Board document.

This is your association at work. Please come by and watch us in action, or in any case, be sure to read the Board documents and let any Board member know if you have questions or comments.

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.

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