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.

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 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 and YALSA Election FAQs here.

Today we have an interview with Robin Kurz.

Name and current position
Robin F. Kurz, Assistant Professor, School of Library & Information Management, Emporia (KS) State University

What best qualifies you for being a YALSA Board Member?
I have been an active member of YALSA since joining in 2009 and have served on both selection and strategic committees in progressively responsible ways, culminating over the past year by serving as chair of both the Awards Nominating Committee and the Organization and Bylaws Committee. Because the chair of Organization and Bylaws serves on the YALSA board ex officio, I have gained valuable experience on the board this year and fully understand the time, attention, and responsibilities of this important role. I am committed to ensuring that YALSA members and the teens in their communities have a voice in board decisions.

Talk about the experience you’re bringing to the position with leadership, advocacy, and impact on teen services in the library?
Besides my experience in public library youth services, I am in my eighth year of teaching youth services courses and my fourth year as a faculty member. I have worked to update the youth services curriculum at two institutions, started a youth services certificate that includes cultural competency and multiple literacies elements, and created service-learning assignments and field experiences to give students real-world teen services experience before they graduate. Thanks to the Friends of YALSA, I was able to attend National Library Legislative Day in 2014 and I also serve on the Advocacy Support Taskforce.

How can being a YALSA Board Member help make a difference with issues teens may be struggling with?
One of the areas I’m most excited about is the work the board is currently doing toward taking the cultural competency piece of the Futures Report and making it a priority for moving YALSA forward. Unfortunately, as a profession, we have not been as proactive as we could be in serving teens of color, Native teens, and GLBTIA+ teens. As a bisexual teen, I certainly did not find my public or school library welcoming and the collection and services had little to make me feel less isolated than I already felt. I see it as my responsibility to advocate for those teens who are not seeing themselves reflected in their libraries’ services and collections and to make sure that YALSA is prioritizing cultural competency in a meaningful, enduring, and authentic way.

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 use many YALSA resources in the courses I teach and my students are constantly amazed by the innovative research and toolkits YALSA has created to make it easier for them to create these environments (both virtually and physically). One of the benefits of serving in governance is the access to and knowledge of these resources as well as opportunities for sharing them with members via conferences, symposia, blog posts, tweets, etc.

Share a recent example(s) where you made a shift to better focus on the current needs of teens.
One of the best examples relates to the new course I was instrumental in creating at my institution: Multiple Literacies in Libraries. As a featured elective for our youth services students and a required course for the youth services certificate, this course starts in August and will prepare students to integrate technological, textual, visual, and digital literacy into youth programming and services.

Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of the governance committee?
As you will read on the ballot, I believe that serving on the YALSA Board is both an honor and a responsibility. It is an honor to work on behalf of the members and teens in communities across the United States. At the same time, I believe that, for me, serving on the board means making sure that I am responsible by being both transparent and accountable in the decisions that I make on behalf of the members and teens. I strongly support the work of the Futures Report and the need to move the division forward, particularly in respect to cultural competency. I believe that change is possible while still being respectful of the decades of work that members, past and present, have dedicated to shaping YALSA’s legacy.

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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