Get ready to vote in this year’s YALSA election!  To help you make informed decisions, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2018 YALSA Governance candidates. Voting will take place from Monday, March 12 through Wednesday, April 4.  To help you further prepare for the election, be sure to check out the recording of the Candidates’ Virtual Town Hall and read the sample ballot.

Serving three-year terms, YALSA Board members are responsible for jointly determining YALSA’s current and future programs, policies, and serving as liaisons to YALSA’s committees, juries, taskforces and advisory boards. Members work year round, and attend in-person meetings at ALA’s Midwinter and Annual Conferences. A full description of Board duties and responsibilities can be found here.

Melissa McBride, School Librarian, Southold Elementary School

What best qualifies you for being a member of the YALSA Board of Directors?
I have been a YALSA member for 15 years. I began volunteering for the organization in 2008 and since then I have served on most of the process committees that YALSA has. Those experiences have allowed me to see all aspects of the organization and develop an understanding of how everything fits together. Currently I am serving my second term as Chairperson of Organization & Bylaws. Our committee helps to ensure that YALSA is running to the best of its ability and working towards its stated mission and goals. As the chairperson I serve as an ex officio member of the board; meaning that I am involved in all aspects of the Board’s work but I do not vote on board decisions. This experience has given me a solid background that will allow me to transition to a full member of the Board.

Talk about the experiences and expertise you’re bringing to the position in terms of leadership, nonprofit or association governance, and strategic thinking.
As I mentioned before, I have been working with the Board for the last two years in my role as Chairperson of Organization & Bylaws. In those two years, O&B has helped to transition the awards committee member terms, committee members are now appointed instead of a mix of voting and appointments. We have also re-written the bylaws to allow for our new Governance Board Committee and we are currently working on rewriting the Chair Manual to give more support to our member volunteers. These tasks have given me great insight into the governance of the organization and we have had to think at a highly strategic level to make sure that the changes would benefit our members the way we hoped they would. I have been the chairperson of various committees over the years and I think that has given me the skills necessary to work with the other Board members as well as liaise with various member groups.

While I am currently working as an elementary school librarian in a K-6 building, I have also been a high school librarian and a Youth Services librarian at a local public library. Because of these positions I have varied experience across the YA spectrum that is helpful when thinking about big picture things for the Board.

How do you envision furthering the mission of YALSA as a member of the Board of Directors?
Given my background, I would like to continue looking at the bylaws and the overall organization of YALSA to make sure that we are best serving our members and meeting their needs. I would like to continue to find ways to engage membership with short-term volunteer opportunities as well as find new ways for membership to engage with YALSA.

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?
Working on the Board allows you to see things from a vastly different perspective. The things that concern me day-to-day are not what you need to think about as a Board member. In turn, having that new, high-level, strategic perspective helps with the everyday part of the job because you rethink why and how you do certain things. It helps you connect with teens, and your colleagues who work with them, in a new and beneficial way. You have the ability to meet new people that you wouldn’t come into contact with regularly. This allows you to influence people outside your normal sphere and in turn, they impact you and the work that you do.

What about YALSA’s Organizational Plan excites you most and why?
As someone who loves the work of O&B, and enjoys thinking strategically, and seeing how things come together I have a hard time picking one thing. I guess I would have to say the concept behind the plan and the way that it was written. The whole plan is a wonderful example of what organizations should be doing to move themselves along. The simplicity of the plan is wonderful – it is easily digestible and can easily be explained, but seamlessly covers so many different aspects of what the organization plans to do for its members. The entire plan clearly explains what the “teens first” concept is and what the three year outcomes are for our organization. Anyone, whether they are a board member or a library school student, can look at our Organizational Plan and understand what YALSA’s goals are, and can then see how those goals can be translated to whatever organization they work for.

How would you embed the concept of “teens first” in the work of the board?
Everything that we do as librarians, educators, and YALSA members must focus on the needs of teens and the people who work for and with them. I want to make sure that the entire organization is working as efficiently as possible towards those goals in our organizational and implementation plans that emphasise that concept. If we ensure that the organization has “teens first” built into the actual structure then it becomes much easier to implement ideas that address that concept.

Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of the board of directors?
Because I am passionate about this organization, teens, and the people who serve them. I want to help YALSA keep moving towards its goals. I want to be a voice for other school librarians and the unique challenges they face. I love being a YALSA member and I want to give back as a thank you for everything that YALSA has given to me over the last 15 years.

About Meaghan Darling

Meaghan is the Youth Services Librarian at the Sparta Public Library in Sparta, New Jersey.

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