When I took on the role of the National Guidelines Oversight Committee chair I didn’t know this was going to be the last year for the committee, but it makes sense to me. You’ve no doubt heard about the big changes ahead for YALSA that are being guided by the “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: a Call to Action” report. It’s always a good idea to take a hard look at what you are doing to make sure you are putting your efforts where they will be most effective and support your mission. YALSA did just that and decided to re-envision itself. As part of the restructuring the National Guidelines Oversight Committee will be sunsetted and its work moved to staff starting in July 2017. If you want a good overview of what’s happening and the new organizational plan check out Sarah Hill’s recent blog and the link she included to a great PowerPoint slideshow that summarizes the changes.

So what was the purpose of the Committee and why sunset it? Here is its official charge:

“Oversee YALSA’s portfolio of national guidelines, including performing such tasks as: working with staff to disseminate and promote the guidelines ; regularly evaluating the existing guidelines and making recommendations to YALSA’s Board for updating or revising guidelines and/or the need to create supplementary materials or tools; assisting staff with establishing and maintaining liaisons with appropriate decision makers and stakeholders , both inside and outside the library profession, that monitor and evaluate the performance of teen services programs and librarians. While the Oversight Committee is charged with making recommendations, the authority to adopt, direct the revision of and/ or sunset guidelines rests with YALSA’s Board of Directors.”

Judging from my experience on the YALSA Board a few years ago, I think YALSA staff is doing most of this already. Moving responsibility for oversight of the guidelines to staff means they can stay focused long-term, unlike a committee whose members have a one year commitment and then move on. That does not mean the work of the committee isn’t important or hasn’t been valuable over the years, and sunsetting the committee doesn’t mean members will no longer be able to have input. Going forward staff can be focused on regularly evaluating the various guidelines to make sure they reflect the changes happening in the library profession and in the organization. Once they identify areas that need attention, they can create more volunteer opportunities by seeking input from members and inviting them to participate in updating and/or creating new tools and resources.  However, right now the responsibility remains with the six virtual members of the National Guidelines Oversight Committee and we are focused on the National Guidelines and promoting them.

I have to say that before taking on my role with the committee, it had been a while since I really looked at the National Guidelines and I was glad I did. There is a lot of valuable information to help us in our work, but the guidelines need to evolve along with the profession. Looking at them now I am happy to see that YALSA (and previous National Guidelines Oversight Committees) have stayed on top of this. The Teen Programming Guidelines and Core Professional Values were updated just last year.  The Competencies for Librarian’s Serving Youth and a new Research Agenda are in the process of being updated and will hopefully be approved by the Board soon. Even YALSA’s micro-credentialing program, Badges for Learning, which focuses on the Competencies are being updated and you can look for the new version in early 2017.

The Competencies are a good example of the need to continually evaluate and update to stay relevant. They were last updated in 2010, and the Futures report was adopted by the YALSA Board of Directors in December 2013. The report challenges us to think differently about what we are doing and that means we have to carry this through to the guidelines. When I look at the Competencies I can’t argue with anything the document says, but I’m looking forward to seeing how the updated version will address the issues brought up in the Futures report.

This is an exciting time for YALSA! When was the last time you reviewed YALSA’s guidelines? If you’re anything like me you get busy and might need a little prompting to take the time to look, but be sure to check back and see what’s changed. You’’ll be glad you did!

Gail Tobin is Branch Coordinator of Schaumburg Township District Library, IL & National Guidelines Oversight Committee Chair.

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