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: Melanie Wachsmann, Library Director, Lone Star College – CyFair Library

How has your experience prepared you to address issues within YALSA related to equity, diversity and inclusion?
I began my career in education as a high school ESL teacher over 20 years ago. Those years instilled in me how important it is to listen to all voices and that they all have their own, different stories to tell. Those students taught me so many lessons, and I was often their advocate when they didn’t have one. Those experiences have carried on into my library career as a school librarian and now as the library director of a joint use community college and public library. I strive to ensure that the voices of my community are welcomed and represented in our collection and programming. Most of all I’ve learned how to listen. By listening to other’s ideas and experiences, I am better able to ensure that equity, diversity, and inclusion is not simply an acronym, but a part of everything. 

What are your ideas on how YALSA can collaborate with our Affiliate organizations like AILA, APALA, BCALA, REFORMA?
There are many avenues available for collaboration, from booklists or author spotlights that can be shared via a blog or fleshed out to more of an official selection committee list. Also, conversing with the leaders of the groups to learn more about their missions and goals and find ways that those align with YALSA and teen services in general. 

In your opinion, what do you feel is the biggest challenge ahead for YALSA?
I feel that the biggest challenge is finances. First, YALSA needs to have the full and complete financial picture and make plans for retaining the members we have, recruiting new members, and inviting back members who have left for various reasons. YALSA needs to show librarians what the organization has to offer them and the benefits of joining. 

How will you make YALSA’s mission, vision, and intended impact meaningful for current and potential members and supporters?
Communication is the key. Finding ways to tell and show stakeholders more about YALSA and its benefits, speaking with current and potential members about what they need and want from a professional organization, providing members with ways to collaborate at the state, local, and national levels. Lastly, in this era of book challenges and banning, providing librarians with resources and support is a way to make the work that the organization does meaningful. 

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