Get ready to vote! The YALSA election runs from March 24 through May 1, and to help you be an informed voter, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2015 YALSA Governance and 2017 Selection Committee candidates as well as the ALA President-Elect Candidates.

Today we’ll hear from a candidate for Board Director-at-large. YALSA Board members serve three-year terms, during which they jointly determine YALSA’s policies, programs, and strategic direction, in accordance with YALSA’s bylaws. They attend both virtual and in-person meetings and serve as liaisons to YALSA’s committee chairs and members. A full description of Board duties and responsibilities can be found here.

Full biographical information on all of the candidates can be found on the sample ballot.

Today we have an interview with Crystle Martin.

Name and current position:
Crystle Martin, Postdoctoral Research Scholar, Digital Media and Learning Hub, University of California, Irvine.

What best qualifies you for being a YALSA Board Member?
I have leadership experience ranging from conference chairing, to managing the YALSAblog, to being on advisory boards for journals and other professional organizations. As a postdoctoral researcher fellow, I am continually cultivating relationships with leaders across disciplines at universities, libraries, and community centers nationwide. Through my research, I am able to positively affect the lives of youth by using the results to impact the design of youth programming. I collaborate with other scholars and librarians on grants, writing, and research, which has helped me to develop excellent communication skills.

Talk about the experience you’re bringing to the position with leadership, advocacy, and impact on teen services in the library?
I have been the Member Manager for the YALSAblog for the past year. My leadership experience also includes being the AERA (American Education Research Association) Special Interest Group Chair (SIG), for the Media, Culture, and Learning SIG for the past two years, as well as organizing for a variety of academic conferences. I advocate for teens in every professional setting in which I am involved. For example, I petitioned to change the focus and name of Media, Culture, and Learning (formerly Media, Culture, and Curriculum), so that the SIGs focus would include research on informal learning spaces of youth. The valuation of the skills and experiences youth develop in informal spaces creates opportunity for a stronger sense of agency and more engagement with learning.

How can being a YALSA Board Member help make a difference with issues teens may be struggling with?
As a researcher, I have studied how youth learn in their interest-driven spaces. Many youth in these situations learn and develop very useful skills in these informal spaces, but they have difficulty making connections between their informal and formal spaces. This means youth learning is undervalued. Helping teens make these connections and receive formalized recognition for their skills, not only can strengthen their educational and career paths, but supports the agency of the youth as well.

What are some ways that being a member of a YALSA governance committee can help serve as an even better connector to helping libraries become thriving learning environments for teens?
Being on the YALSA governance committee offers the opportunity to work with others, with a variety of expertise, interested in creating the most superior learning environment for teens. Together, through combined experience of the members, new solutions can be reached.

Share a recent example(s) where you made a shift to better focus on the current needs of teens.
In my most recent research, I am focusing specifically on the needs of non-dominant youth. Non-dominant youth are often exposed to less STEM oriented funding. For me, the shift occurred when I moved from exploring information literacy and learning of youth online to working in libraries so that I could more directly impact youth. Libraries offer great spaces for the creation and proliferation of innovative programs that not only bring youth into the library but also offer opportunities to learn and experience new things, exposing them to potential future paths. My current research project focuses on the creation, implementation, and improvement of STEM coding programming for underserved youth, with the long term plan of having the programming accessible to libraries across the country.

Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of the governance committee?
If elected, I will focus on bringing the research community and the practitioner community into closer conversation. My goals are twofold: 1) Get cutting edge, up-to-date research into the hands of practitioners in order to provide the highest quality service to youth; 2) Connect researchers with practitioners so that they are able to conduct research that is in line with the needs of youth and librarians in these spaces. My unique expertise and background makes me particularly well-qualified to bridge the gap between research and practice to create more effective experiences for youth.

About Kelly Czarnecki

Kelly Czarnecki is a Teen Librarian at ImaginOn with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She is a member of the YALSA blog advisory board.

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