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 Kate McNair, Teen Services Coordinating Librarian, Johnson County Library and YALSA Board of Directors member.

What drew you to the Board?
I became interested in board work when I was chair of the Financial Advancement Committee (this was before FAC chair was an ex-officio member of the board). My board liaison, Pam Spencer Holly, was someone I really looked up to. She asked me if running for the Board was something I was interested in, and to be honest, I hadn’t considered it at all. But once Pam put that bug in my ear, I started exploring what the board did, following more board actions and documents and decided this was something I wanted to work toward. I had been on many YALSA committees and chaired my fair share as well. I was ready to take on the next challenge and I really wanted to give back to an organization that had given me so many opportunities for development and growth.

What do you do on the board?
I think board work (for me at least) can be divided into three parts: fiduciary, guidance and governance.

One traditional board duty I work really hard to fulfill is my fiduciary responsibilities to YALSA members, we make sure that YALSA has the resources necessary to accomplish our goals and provide value to our members.

We also provide oversight and guidance to YALSA’s committees. For instance, if you have served on a committee you may have heard the term Board Liaison. Each board member is assigned certain committees to work with. I like to keep in touch with my committee chair’s monthly to check in on what they are doing, pass on any news that I think might impact their committee’s work, talk through any challenges they are facing.

Lastly we help shape YALSA policy and practice. We suggest changes to current systems that might help YALSA improve efficiency or increase reach of a program or service. In alignment with the strategic plan (approved in 2016), we work to start new committees, change existing structures and identify new opportunities for YALSA.

What the board is doing for its members?
I am the chair of the Advocacy Standing Committee this year (standing committees are groups of board members organized around one of the portfolios of the strategic plan). We are help to advocate at a national level for libraries and teens services ,and putting the processes in place so that members have the tools they need to advocate for teens at the state and local level. Last year, YALSA updated the Advocacy Toolkit and President Sarah Hill and Executive Director Beth Yoke worked hard to support the #saveIMLS campaign and attend National Library Legislative Day (to which we were able to send additional  YALSA members!). But the fight isn’t over yet! Congress is on leave, which means this is a great time to talk to your legislators while they are home on break and before they approve the final budget (including funding for IMLS). Check out this great blog post from President Sandra Hughes-Hassell on what you can do this August to support teens and libraries.

For fun; include a teen book you may be reading or a recent program you may have done with and for teens.

I actually just got done, this weekend, with a collaborative program between my home library, Johnson County Library, and the Kansas City Public Library. As ALA Annual came to Chicago this year, a few of us Kansas City librarians were discussing how sad it was that ALA could never come to Kansas City (we don’t have the convention space necessary) and how our teens would never be able to speak at the BFYA teen feedback session. And then we realized, we didn’t need a big conference, we could do it all on our own! We encouraged teens all summer long to read BFYA titles (and nominate their own suggestions) then we organized a day long event with workshops on review writing skills and it all culminated with a livestreamed event that was watched by several BFYA committee members. The teens had a great time and loved the skills they picked up in the review workshops. We will be writing it up for the YALSA blog so keep an eye out for more details soon!

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