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 ALA President-Elect. The ALA President serves a one year term. The role of the ALA President is to be the Association’s chief spokesperson and to work closely with the ALA’s Executive Director in identifying and promoting library issues nationwide and internationally. A full description of ALA Presidential duties and responsibilities can be found here.

Full biographical information on all of the ALA candidates can be found on the ALA Election Information page.

Today we have an interview with Joseph Janes.

Name and current position:
Joseph Janes, associate professor and chair of the MLIS program at the University of Washington Information School

Share with YALSAblog readers the areas you intend to focus on as ALA President and why these issues are important. How do you envision your leadership as ALA President being supportive of YALSA and the work it does for teens? (*Note: Janes combined these two questions into one answer).
There are two primary things I’d like to do as president, each of which play to my strengths: first, to tell our story to the wider world, and second, to help us think together about how to move forward. Those of us who work with young people are among the most important members of our profession, because so much of what they do and how they do it sets the pattern for the way people think about libraries and librarians for the rest of their lives, and that story deserves telling.

In particular, those of you who work with teens and young adults are all thinking hard about how to serve a population increasingly defined by their relationships both to technology and through technology. The ways in which they use tools like social media and gaming, for self-expression and reaching out to others, in no small part help to define who they are and who they are likely to be, which will have profound effects not only on them as individuals but on our greater society as well. This is just one example of how we all need to proceed creatively and thoughtfully and bravely toward finding the right ways forward, drawing on our traditions and innovating like crazy, to better understand and serve our communities and clienteles.

Talk about a recent time when you supported library services for teens in your current or a previous position.
Well, neither of these is terribly recent  but there are a couple of things I’m very proud of. At the very beginning of the Internet Public Library project, one of the students from the first group suggested we add a Teen Division to the plans for a story hour (the only thing I insisted be in the project). That was Sara Ryan, who is now at Multnomah County and an established YA author, and she and her colleagues did a splendid job, identifying and organizing the earliest of Internet resources aimed at teens, and I’m delighted that, 20 years later, that’s still a part of IPL.

Then I was privileged to be asked to serve as an expert witness on behalf of ALA for the Federal CIPA lawsuit. In one of those odd twists of fate, one of the lead plaintiffs in that case was a young person from Portland who wanted to find resources on gender identity but was prevented from having their Internet access unblocked, and sued. We met in Philadelphia, testifying on the same day. Then many years later, we received an application to our masters’ degree program from a familiar name! Since then, we’ve become good friends, there’s a great job and a family in the mix, and I’m happy to have been able to be a part of all of that.

Why should YALSA members choose you to be ALA president?
I love this profession; I tell my students at orientation, and anybody who’s considering it, that librarianship is the best, most important, most fulfilling thing you can do with your life. We are one of that handful of professions which has the human record in our care, the record of everything that has gone before, and what we do keeps that record available for generations to come. That is noble and vital work, now more than ever before, and I envy my students who will get to work with tools and ideas my generation can only dream of. I want to leave my profession better than I found it, and if I’m lucky enough to become president, I’ll work as hard as I can to do just that, and I’d appreciate your support. Thanks!

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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