What is the YALSA Board? What do they do? Who is on the YALSA Board? These could be questions you may have and if they are you’ve come to the right place. Each month, two YALSA Board of Directors are interviewed and their responses are shared here in order to help members get to know more about the Board members, the Board itself and things the Board is working on.

YALSA’s board of directors has the principal responsibility for fulfillment of YALSA’s mission and the legal accountability for its operations. The board has specific fiduciary duties of care, loyalty, and obedience to the law. As a group they are in charge of:

  • establishing a clear organizational mission
  • forming the strategic plan to accomplish the mission
  • overseeing and evaluating the plan’s success
  • hiring a competent executive director
  • providing adequate supervision and support to the executive director

This month meet Nick Buron, Chief Librarian, Queens Library and YALSA Board Fiscal Officer and Diane Colson, Library Director at City College Gainesville and YALSA Board of Directors member.

What are you working on in the Board?
I was honored to be selected by the YALSA Board to complete a one year stint as YALSA’s Fiscal Officer.
My first few months has been coming up to speed with current issues with the Board, YALSA and ALA finances as they relate to Divisions.  As this is my third time with the YALSA Board (Three years as Board Member at Large and three years as YALSA Councilor to ALA Council) I feel I have been able to make the on-boarding a quick process.
What do you want others members to know about the Board and YALSA?
The YALSA Board’s responsibility is to insure a strong, self sustaining professional organization for its members.  That takes time, innovations and sometimes changing the way things have been done in the past.  I encourage all YALSA members to be involved so that they can benefit from this hard work.  Also, the Board is simply a group of members that have dedicated themselves to do for the association – this can be you. Members should feel welcome to step forward and be the next group of leaders on the board.
How does one get involved in the Board?
All Board meetings are open to the public and members are encourage to attend at either Mid-winter to Annual conferences,  If that does not work, YALSA Town Halls, committee assignments and events are excellent ways to know what the board is doing and get involved.
What book you are reading or what is your most favorite recent teen program?
My new favorite Teen program at my library is our Young Adult Literacy program.
Four times a year, at three Queens Library locations, 60 young people who have not succeeded in traditional secondary school programs meet to raise their math and literacy levels to the point they can study for the HSE (high school equivalency) test.  Students are given incentives when they do well academically or have good attendance habits, free metro-card for transportation and internships .  The success rate has been high with many teens succeeding where they did not in the past.

What are you working on in the Board?

I am interested in the potential of YALSA Interest Groups as a dynamic venue for member engagement. Currently, we have just three Interest Groups. Two of them serve to connect YA communities in geographical areas (Washington DC, LA) and the other focuses on the topic of Teen Mental Health. Interest Groups are a natural first step for YALSA members who would like to be involved in the exchange of ideas without a formal commitment. They can be a way for members to bond over shared passions no matter what sort of library they work in or where in the world they work. Interest groups can lead to conference programs, blog posts, or a group of experts that assist YALSA as needed.

I’m also the chair of our Advocacy Standing Committee and, in the past couple of months, have worked with other board members to create a Board Self-Assessment document.

What do you want others members to know about the Board and YALSA?

Teens really do come first. Library staff in many types of settings work with teen patrons, and YALSA aims to provide support for all of these diverse endeavors.

One recent example of this is the wiki page prepared in response to the presidential election. This very thorough collection of resources was assembled within days of the election, so library staff could respond to the concerns of young people in an informed and supportive way. Members can be proud of the level of expertise and focused leadership provided by YALSA staff and the Board.

How does one get involved in the Board?

For me, it was a matter of staying involved over the course of many years. My first official YALSA event was a “Serving the Underserved” Training program in 1999. After that, I was appointed to the 2004 Outstanding Books for the College Bound Committee, and then Popular Paperbacks. I was fortunate enough to work on a number of award and selection committees, but I also served on process committees such as Organization & Bylaws and Strategic Planning. Eventually, I worked up the courage to run for YALSA Board.

I think that YALSA leaders are always looking for members who love the organization and its work. While I personally prefer volunteer assignments that put me in touch with literature, my commitment is to YALSA as a full, dynamic entity with many tasks and responsibilities. That kind of fervent commitment doesn’t go unnoticed!

What book you are reading or what is your most favorite recent teen program?

I love adult books that have teen appeal, so often my favorite books fall in that category. I’ve recently read The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson and Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt.

Program-wise, I’m really enjoying putting together materials for my students about identifying fake news. It’s the kind of presentation that makes them laugh (who would believe THAT?) but also helps them to analyze news in a more discerning way.

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