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 Jane Gov.
YALSA Governance: Board Member-at-Large (Three Year Term) Candidate Jane Gov, Youth Services Librarian, Pasadena Public Library (CA)
Q: What best qualifies you for being Member-at-Large?
A: I have been an active YALSA member since joining ALA in 2009; I’ve served on YALSA committees consistently since joining as a student. This was at least four years before I became a librarian, but I was a dedicated advocate of young adult services and volunteered for several youth serving community organizations. I have over ten years of related experiences—as a library paraprofessional not working with teens, as a youth advocate with other nonprofits, and as a bookstore manager. I bring the perspective of a still-somewhat new librarian, and a front-line librarian, which may round out the current Board’s makeup.
I am currently the Financial Advancement Committee (FAC) chair, a role I’ve held for a little over a year now. The FAC chair is an ex officio member of the YALSA board, so I understand the commitment being a board member requires. And, while I have some board experience, I have not been on the board long, and therefore may bring a little fresher perspective into the voice of the Board.
The cast of my background is wide, so I try to make all decisions with thoughts of how various levels of teen advocates will view it, and how these decisions can sustain the organization.
Q: Talk about the experiences and expertise you’re bringing to the position in terms of leadership, nonprofit or association governance, and strategic thinking.
A: Since I became Chair of the Financial Advancement Committee, I’ve had the opportunity to help develop and finalize the new organizational plan. And since the plan was adopted in spring last year, through my work on the board, I have been helping to put strategies in place to implement the plan. Including my current role as chair for FAC, I’ve been chair of three other YALSA committees.
I’ve been a teen librarian for about three and a half years, and since I started, I’ve been a part of a community advocate group of youth and adult allies of youth who are working on a Youth Master Plan, a strategic plan and vision for our city, school board, and community. The Youth Master Plan outlines service priorities as identified by hundreds of teens in our community.
Though another community coalition of youth serving agencies, I’m chairing the effort of developing a youth leadership curriculum, which identifies the top areas of importance for teen leadership skills, lists a guided breakdown of lesson plans, and gathers best practices from all youth serving agencies in our community. This will be implemented as a two-full day conference for youth in all youth leadership teams in the city including advisory boards and internships.
Q: How do you envision furthering the mission of YALSA as Board Member-at-Large?
A: Although the primary role of a board member is to set policy (not necessarily carry out policies), the creation of the strategies to carry out the policies will drive the mission of YALSA. Ideally, the board develops techniques that are not only feasible and in the best interests of our members, but is also fiscally appropriate, aligns with the mission, and puts teens first. After any decision is made, these activities will be communicated to members, with a plan for a follow up or evaluation.
As a board member, I envision finding solutions to implement strategies, strengthening my critical lens in the process, and asking how can we do better and what do members need.
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: In many ways, I’ve been putting YALSA’s new mission and vision in practice, adapting the plan to suit a library system. The strategies employed by YALSA are more or less also employed by me in my library system, with the teens, with library staff, and with other teen librarians in my area from meetups and the YALSA L.A. County Interest Group, a group I am convening, which was created in response to the priorities in YALSA’s organizational plan. The skills I’ve learned on the board so far have been applied to improving my library’s Teen Advisory Board such as adding a standing committee structure and empowering the teens to advocate and deliver services and programs to their peers.
Being on the YALSA Board has built my confidence in advocacy and drives me to do things I never thought of doing before—such as writing to my congressional representative. I’ve taken more of a leadership role in my own community—in chairing a youth leadership training effort that could be adopted by most youth serving organizations in the city.
Being on the YALSA Board makes me a better librarian, a more informed advocate, and a more skilled mentor to teens.
Q: What about YALSA’s Organizational Plan excites you most and why?
A: I’m most passionate about member engagement and cultural competency. There’s a lot in the organizational plan that improves and keeps YALSA going, but I feel two key aspects of moving forward together is remaining relevant to our members and addressing the needs of today.
Cultural competency is not a new concept and many libraries are acknowledging the need for more education in this area, but for YALSA to officially state Cultural Competency as a priority is admirable. It encompasses many aspects of YALSA’s vision—mental health, inclusiveness, and personal growth.
Besides specific strategies, I’m excited to see the organization look to better efficiencies. This is an opportunity for YALSA to reevaluate all that we do, all that we support and really investigate what kinds of impact each of these efforts are making and how we can make it better.
Q: How would you embed the concept of “teens first” in the work of the board?
A: As the board reviews and develops techniques to achieving some of the goals in the next three years, the suggestions should be viewed with a critical eye in how we’re embedding the concept of teens first. I would ask myself these questions as I review the proposals made to the board:
Do the techniques suggest examining something or place emphasis on a task that doesn’t affect teens as much as it could? Are there more opportunities as we make these changes to engage teens through engaging members? Does one technique engage them less than the other? Are we encouraging librarians to plan out their own programs or do we strongly suggest they mentor their teens in planning out a program? Do we focus more on giving strategies to librarians to convince administration of the importance of their work or do we focus on giving strategies to librarians to equip their teens to advocate to administration? As we look to make changes, how can we retain what “teens first” efforts are already embedded?
Q: Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of the board of directors?
A: As I mentioned above, I bring a unique set of experiences and background to the current board, which could mean rounding out the diversity of voices. I have a wide variety of experiences including other areas of library services. I have been a manager before, but am not currently. I work directly with teens and am active in my community. I have board experience, but have not been on the board long.
I can put personal opinions aside and advocate for the best interest of members and the organization as a whole. I’m a big picture seer, but strategic in how I make decisions. I make decisions carefully, but decisively.
At my library, I’m coordinating mental health first aid trainings to youth, library staff, and adults working with youth from other organizations and in our surrounding communities. These efforts are important because it is a strategic approach to affecting teen services as a whole and not just within the walls of my library. We’re a part of something bigger. That’s what I think of YALSA board in its reach to young adult services in libraries. I am committed to improving services to YALSA members.