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: Melissa Malanuk, Coordinator of Teen Services, Queens Public Library
How has your experience prepared you to address issues within YALSA related to equity, diversity and inclusion?
I’ve spent my library career working in one of the most diverse areas in the world. While working for Queens Public Library I have had the opportunity to work in different communities and to provide programs and services for people of different cultures and backgrounds. When I was promoted to Coordinator of Teen Services for QPL I had to think about equity, diversity and inclusion in a much larger scale. Inclusion, equity and diversity is something I think about in all facets of my role including developing programming, finding new vendors, staff training and collection development and reader’s advisory. Celebrating and representing all cultures in our programming is something we discuss a lot and are working to incorporate into all of our system wide programs. I am currently working on developing training on cultural competencies for our youth serving librarians and will be working with our collection development team to train on diversity audits. Equity and inclusion is also something I think about when deciding where to place programs or which platform to hold programs in. This is something we were constantly discussing when the pandemic forced us to go virtual. We are very aware that not all youth will access to the same resources and do our best to plan accordingly. Our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion is something we pride ourselves on and our always striving to improve on.
What are your ideas on how YALSA can collaborate with our Affiliate organizations like AILA, APALA, BCALA, REFORMA?
I think the best way we can work with Affiliate organizations is to break down silos and to make sure we are communicating with everyone. I imagine that we are already doing similar work around equity, diversity and inclusion and civic engagement. Communicating with each other to see where there is opportunity to pool resources and to amplify our messages and work is a strong first step. For YALSA we can share information via The Hub or our newsletters and email blasts. It is also important to keep those pathways to communication open and to make sure YALSA’s committee chairs are kept in the loop and are informed about the various work the Affiliate organizations are doing. There are so many smart and creative library professionals working on our committee and I am sure once those pathways to communication open up we will find lots of different ways to collaborate.
In your opinion, what do you feel is the biggest challenge ahead for YALSA?
Building up our membership and getting new and fresh members to volunteer for committees. YALSA has created an exciting strategic plan that I am excited to help implement but YALSA is only as strong and diverse as its members. We need to be better at spreading the word about all the great resources and opportunities YALSA provides and at recruiting and retaining new members.
How will you make YALSA’s mission, vision, and intended impact meaningful for current and potential members and supporters?
I think YALSA’s mission, vision and intended impact is already meaningful to the majority of us who work with teens. I imagine that the majority of library staff who work with teens want to create inclusive and diverse programs and spaces, be it virtual or in person, and to help set teens up to successfully navigate adulthood. I think this is something that YALSA’s members are already striving for. The role of the Board is to help connect the mission, vision and intended impact to all of the work we are doing and to continuously reinforce that messaging. As someone who has volunteered for many different committees and task forces I know how easy it can be to forget the bigger picture and to just focus on the work in front of you. This is especially true for supporters who are not actively working on committee’s and taskforce. We need to be diligent in making sure we connect all of our work back to the mission, vision and intended impact.