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: Josie Andrews, Teacher-Librarian, Nevada Union High School
How has your experience prepared you to address issues within YALSA related to equity, diversity and inclusion?
My experience over the last 20 years of library service working with and listening to the voices of diverse youth has informed my perspective on how to address issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Over the last two years, I have worked with my district on an anti-racisct and inclusivity task force, dedicated to revising policy, process, and curriculum to be more inclusive and equitable. I currently serve on the board of the California Heritage Indegenous Research Project, a non-profit organization that supports land rights issues, tribal recognition, and education. I am currently working with students to create a Dismantling Racism Club on campus that will focus on education and programs that promote anti-racist learning school wide. In book club, we are reading and discussing books that focus on traditionally marginalized people and work towards making sure that we have a collection of materials available to students that represent the diverse world that we live in. I have taught classes in social justice, restorative practices, and trauma informed practices. My experience with social justice informs my practice as a youth services librarian and I am dedicated to keeping equity, diversity, and inclusion at the forefront of my profession.
What are your ideas on how YALSA can collaborate with our Affiliate organizations like AILA, APALA, BCALA, REFORMA?
Building community with affiliate organizations will be key to successful collaboration. In order to build community, the YALSA board members will need to work on identifying key stakeholders and work together to reach common goals. My priority is working with youth and amplifying youth voice. I think that the board can work together to build relationships with ALA affiliated organizations, as well as local and state organizations in our own communities. I would love to work with folks to develop some cross-organizational training so we can support youth across our organizations.
In your opinion, what do you feel is the biggest challenge ahead for YALSA?
Currently the biggest challenge that I see is the challenge and removal of materials in libraries. Youth deserve to have access to equitable, diverse, and inclusive collections that provide windows and mirrors, encourage literacy, and amplify student voice. Across the nation, youth library services are under attack by a vocal minority who want to censor what and how kids read. It’s no coincidence that these groups are looking to pull items that represent marginalized groups. It is imperative that YALSA leadership protect the first amendment right of young people to read. I would also like to find ways to support teen library staff that are new to the profession to stand up to intimidation from those who wish to censor library materials.
How will you make YALSA’s mission, vision, and intended impact meaningful for current and potential members and supporters?
I plan to work with my local, state, and national communities to promote YALSA through networking, outreach, promotion, and advocacy. I would love to work on professional development concepts, to bring to youth librarians and organizations, and work directly with youth to make sure that they have a seat at the YALSA table. It is important that the organization work to remove barriers and increase access to library services for youth by creating physical and virtual spaces that focus on meeting the diverse needs of teens through transformative library services.