Have you been looking for a way to get involved in YALSA but not sure where to start? Try volunteering for a taskforce. The nice thing about a taskforce is the work is focused and is carried out over a shorter period of time than a committee. It also gives you an opportunity to work with and get to know some of your fellow YALSA members and increase your own professional skills at the same time.

This is my second term serving as Chair of the Mentoring Taskforce and I found it to be a very rewarding experience. The taskforce reviews the applications submitted for YALSA’s Mentoring Program and matches mentors and protégés. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people on the taskforce and I enjoyed learning about the people who applied for the mentoring program. I also gained a sense of accomplishment by getting involved and giving back to YALSA and knowing these mentoring program participants will learn from each other.

So what was it like being on a virtual taskforce? We did most of our work through email. This allowed us to work at our own pace when we had time and eliminated time zone conflicts. Even though our taskforce worked asynchronously and we had a very short turnaround time to complete our matches, everyone was quick to respond to communication and we stayed on track. In early July I asked the committee members to introduce themselves to each other via email so we all had a feel for who we were working with. By the last week of July we were reviewing suggested tasks and matching protégés with mentors. We only had the information provided in the applications to decide who would make the best matches. We turned in our final matches by the second week in August. I feel good knowing that we were able to work so efficiently without ever meeting face-to-face.

If you are thinking about getting involved but haven’t wanted to make the commitment, I would highly recommend volunteering for the mentoring taskforce, or any taskforce, when you see the call go out via the weekly YALSA e-news. It’s a great way to give back to YALSA and meet other like-minded professionals without making a huge time commitment. You don’t have to commit to travel, either, since virtual members are not required to attend ALA conferences. Who knows? Maybe it will inspire you volunteer for more committees or even to run for the YALSA Board! Check out the different ways you can get involved at: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/getinvolved/getinvolved

Gail Tobin is Branch Coordinator at the Schaumburg Township District Library. She is the current Chair of the Mentoring Taskforce and a former YALSA Board member.

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