Get ready to vote! The YALSA election runs from March 15 through April 22, and to help you be an informed voter, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2016 YALSA Governance and 2018 Selection Committee candidates.

Today we’ll hear from a candidate for a one year term for the Board Director-at-large position. YALSA Board members 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 and YALSA Election FAQs here.

Today we have an interview with Jessica Snow.

Name and current position
Hello, my name is Jessi Snow and I’m the Teen Services Team Leader, Central of the Boston Public Library

What best qualifies you for being a YALSA Board Member?
I am very excited to be running for the Board Member-at-Large-1 year position. I have been a strong and consistent supporter of YALSA since 2001 and have been getting more involved in the division over the last five years. I have been in youth services and most specifically in teen services for 12 years. I have experience in working directly in the field with and for teens, supervising and managing teen services. I have a proven track record of leading people in the area of teen services.

Talk about the experience you’re bringing to the position with leadership, advocacy, and impact on teen services in the library?
I am coming to this position with 15 years of direct experience developing programs and services specifically for and with teens. I have served in a mentoring capacity both formally and informally with a number of library students and new librarians. I created, developed and implemented a partnership in 2010 between the Boston Public Library and the Department of Youth Services (DYS serves teens ages 12-20 in the juvenile justice system). This partnership serves over 100 teens served by DYS each month with teens receiving books chosen by teen librarian’s, the teen’s own book requests as well as programs and library services. This program has expanded to now being provided by 7 librarians.

How can being a YALSA Board Member help make a difference with issues teens may be struggling with?
I have always made myself accessible and available to my colleagues, teens, community partners, the wider YALSA community and would continue to do so with any and all YALSA members. I would bring this to my work in serving on the YALSA Board. I also believe that my awareness and sensibility in working with and for teens in crisis or in struggle would be utilized to serve as informational resources I would make available to YALSA’s members.

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?
I feel being a YALSA Board Member requires a certain amount of responsibility to reach out to members and represent oneself as a YALSA Board Member and commit to that role locally and nationally. I would do this within my own institution, my state level association and nationally. I would continue to make myself visible and accessible to the wider YALSA community in person as well as in a virtual environment.

Share a recent example(s) where you made a shift to better focus on the current needs of teens.
I work in a beautiful and newly renovated teen space in the Boston Public Library, Teen Central. When the space opened in February 2015 I worked with the staff to develop and implement programs in the space that ran about four to five times a week. This came out to about 20-25 programs a month and we did this for 3 months. While this may sound great on paper the reality is while we developed these programs the response from teens is that there were sometimes 4 teens that participated or maybe only 1. Why? Were the programs of interest, was the time not working for teens? This response caused me to stop and reassess what it was we were trying to do in Teen Central. We wanted to offer cutting edge programming that teens were interested in that addressed their specific needs (technology, college/career readiness and STEAM) and teens participated in them. We began to survey teens systematically asking them what they were interested in specifically, what time(s) works best, kept track of their responses and then built programs around this input and focused rather on the quality than quantity. This approach feels more deliberate and really looks to teens to help design the programs and services that would be of interest as well as addressing 21st century needs.

Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of the governance committee?
I am accessible and approachable. I am collaborative and open to ideas and feedback. I will continue to move the division forward by collaboratively working with and gathering input from teens, my colleagues, community partners, YALSA members and supporters. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you, meeting you and working with you all!

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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