Get ready to vote! The YALSA election runs from March 13 through April 5, and to help you be an informed voter, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2017 YALSA Governance and 2019 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.

Today we have an interview with Derek Ivie.

YALSA Governance: Member-at-Large (Three Year Term) Candidate Derek Ivie, Youth Services Coordinator, Suffolk Cooperative Library System

Q: What best qualifies you for being YALSA Board Member-at-Large?

A: In my current position at the Suffolk Cooperative Library System my job is centered on creating workshops, trainings, and supporting other opportunities for growth to the librarians in my county. I believe my work now reflects this role on the board. In addition, as Youth Services Coordinator I work with libraries with varying populations, staff, and physical spaces, much like the rest of the country. These diverse experiences enable me to be able to help create services that would benefit libraries anywhere at any size. I work with 56 member libraries in my county and well over 100 librarians throughout. I am lucky enough to be able to consult with these librarians on the services they provide, the spaces their population inhabits, and anything else they might need help with. Here at the system, I am able to concentrate on trends in the STEAM and maker movements and other growing areas of librarianship. I hope to be able to bring this work to YALSA as well. This position has afforded me the opportunity to learn from and work with these amazing, completely independent libraries.

Before working here I worked at the New York Public Library in many positions including page, information assistant, public programmer, and of course librarian. Throughout all of this, and in fact from the time when I was pursuing my MLS, I have been an active member of YALSA. The thought of being able to connect with other members in my field, with a passion for young adult services, always excited me, whether it be through meeting at a conference, watching a webinar or serving on a committee. YALSA committee work has been one of my greatest accomplishments in my career. I have been able to meet and work with so many amazing people. One specific instance of leadership that I have held in YALSA was when I was able to act as the chair of YALSA’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. In this role you deal with reading, nominating, scheduling, balancing voices, scheduling, connecting, and more. I believe that all of my experiences both in YALSA and professionally would support me in my role on the board.

Q: How do you envision furthering the mission of YALSA as Board Member-at-Large?

A: YALSA’s new and improved mission is something that I find quite inspiring. In today’s social climate we have an even more important duty to our teen patrons more than ever before. We must make sure they are represented fairly and have access to anything that can help better their lives, whether it is information, an internet connection, or just a physical space in which to feel safe. We as librarians must hold this mission taught in our grasp and know that we have the right knowledge, personalities, and resources at our disposal. As Member-at-Large, I hope to be able to work with the board to bring librarians nationwide the training opportunities and the wealth of knowledge to bring these goals to fruition.

Q: What are some ways that being a member of the YALSA Board can help you serve as an even better connector to helping libraries become thriving learning environments for/with teens?

A: If I were to be on the YALSA board I would be able to have more of a connection with the members of the organization. In a leadership position, members of the board are able to find new, interesting, and important things for our librarians to learn to bring back to their teens. Serving as a board member would afford me the opportunity to hear from more people than ever before – to learn from them about what their teens are looking for, and then to create resources that can help them and their patrons.

Q: What about YALSA’s Organizational Plan excites you most and why?

A: The part of YALSA’s new organizational plan that excited me most is in the Vision statement. Personally I think the fact that we value a teen’s personal growth, along with more traditional metrics like academic success and career readiness, is key to their wellbeing and success. The library can be a safe space for teens who are facing difficult issues in their lives – a place where they are accepted without judgement and where their voices have value. In situations where those who are different may feel unsafe we can offer them a place in our buildings to learn and grow. The stronger the connections we are able to form with our teen communities, the more we can help them grow and reach their highest potential. In the incredibly inspiring words of RuPaul, “If you can’t love yourself how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?” I take from this the fact that we have to be able to aid our teens to grow and accept themselves as who they are, and then from there we can help them build their confidence to work on the incredible futures they have ahead of them. Looking even further into the Organizational Plan, we can then work with the teens to find out what they actually want and let them lead us in a co-creation of new programs. It’s taking the main elements of a Teen Advisory Board and running with it!

Q: How would you embed the concept of “teens first” in the work of the board?

A: Everything we are working towards in YALSA is for our teens. Although our membership is librarians, we are giving them the tools to better work with their communities. What is offered through YALSA always has teens in the final product of whatever is being discussed or learned. YALSA is always discovering new and better ways to engage teens both inside and outside our libraries. Whether it is an amazing booklist or a new program idea on Teen Programming HQ, everything is centered on them. I hope that if I were to be a part of the board I could continue pushing this “teens first” mentality.

Q: Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of the board of directors?

A: First I would say I am grateful to anyone who would choose me to be a member of the YALSA board. As an active member of YALSA I have been able to serve on both selection and award committees. I hope that I am able to have the opportunity to move forward in another area of YALSA where I can bring my varied experiences in two very different, large systems to the table as Member-at-Large. I enjoy working with people on projects with which they can really make a difference in the lives of our patrons nation-wide, and would be deeply honored to be chosen for this opportunity!

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