Get ready to vote in this year’s YALSA election! To help you make informed decisions, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2022 YALSA Governance candidates. Voting will take place from March 14 through April 6, 2022.

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. You can learn more about ALA elections here.

Name and current position: Joel Shoemaker, Associate Director of Library Services, Methodist College

How has your experience prepared you to address issues within YALSA related to equity, diversity and inclusion? 
I’ve been working on EDI for awhile within the past two organizations I’ve worked for. In my current position I sit on the EDI Committee and in my last position I gained a DEI in the Workplace Certificate from the University of South Florida. Additionally, as an ex-officio member of the current board, I have worked with the board on the new strategic plan including currently coming up with recommendations on how to make progress on developing initiatives to support library workers of color who specialize in youth services. 

What are your ideas on how YALSA can collaborate with our Affiliate organizations like AILA, APALA, BCALA, REFORMA? 
I think being present at their events would be an easy first step. Showing support by attending and participating in events put on by these organizations wouldn’t take a lot of effort but could go a long way in saying YALSA is invested in the work of each organization and is interested in participating in their success. 

In your opinion, what do you feel is the biggest challenge ahead for YALSA? 
I think the biggest challenge is with retaining members. It sounds like we’ve seen a steady decline and, while I’m sure that has something to do with COVID and is probably a more universal issue, I still think the board should try to do something about keeping the members we have and getting more members. I wonder if some kind of incentive to join such as reduced or waived fees for a period of time. I also wonder if there’s a way to survey members that don’t renew. Sure, many would just not respond but it could be helpful to read responses that do come in. 

How will you make YALSA’s mission, vision, and intended impact meaningful for current and potential members and supporters? 
YALSA’s mission speaks to empowering all in the profession. As Secretary, it would be my personal endeavor to make sure empowerment of our members is kept in mind as we go through the motions of board meetings and making decisions and capturing minutes on a regular basis. I feel that it can be easy to get swept up into those mundanities and fail to remember not only why we’re doing the job but why we’re passionate about our field in the first place. 

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