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 Gretchen Kolderup, Youth Librarian at the St. Helens Public Library in Oregon

What drew you to the Board?

I’d really enjoyed the committee work that I’d done with YALSA and at some point I started sitting in on board meetings and conference calls and thought the work the board was doing was really engaging and something I could contribute to. I’d gotten a lot out of my time with YALSA up to that point, and it seemed like a good opportunity to lend my time and talents to the organization. I also appreciated that board service gave me the chance to work with awesome people, to develop skills I didn’t already have, and to broaden my perspective on libraries to a national level.

What do you do on the board?

Like all board members, I liaise with chairs of member committees and task forces and contribute to our monthly board chats and our meetings at conferences. Board members are responsible for monitoring the financial health of the organization and attending to governance issues.

In my three years on the board, I’ve been on three different standing committees: Continuing Education, Research and Best Practices, and Advocacy. As part of those groups, I’ve helped bring documents to the board for consideration during meetings.

My term on the board also happened during a time when we’ve been very focused on strategic planning, and I think my experience in suburban, urban, and rural libraries has been helpful there. Board work is much more nebulous than committee work; it sort of reminds me of being a supervisor vs a front-line staff member.

What is the board doing for members?

Over the last year, the board (and YALSA’s Executive Director and staff) have been working on better aligning what the organization does to its organizational plan. There isn’t infinite staff time or infinite money, so we want what we’re doing to be as useful to members as possible!

For example, there’s been a renewed focus on supporting members as they create and run interest groups so that people who are working on similar projects or who have similar focus areas can come together and exchange information and ideas (for example, there are teen mental health and DC- and LA-area interest groups).

The board also directed the president to create a task force that’s been reviewing member grants and how members are recognized for excellent work; we’ll discuss their recommendations at Annual and that’ll lead to better grant and recognition opportunities for members.

We’ve also been looking at how to measure how effective different member groups are and what members get out of being on committees and task forces so we can make that experience even better.

All of this — and more! — will be on the agenda for Annual, so stop by a meeting if you can!

What’s a recent program you may have done with and for teens?

I recently planned and hosted an open-house style event called MakerFest that celebrated local makers and featured a bunch of hands-on activities. While our attendees were mostly kids, it was a great opportunity to work with the schools: the middle school librarian brought kids who ran a button maker and our Hour of Code station, and the high school robotics team did demonstrations.

I also met the teacher at the high school who does the metals classes and she wants to partner on school-year programming for middle schoolers as a recruitment tool to the CTE (Career and Technical Education) programs, so MakerFest wound up being both a great program and also a great way to build connections in my community!

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