Get ready to vote in this year’s YALSA election! To help you make informed decisions, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2023 YALSA Governance candidates. Voting will take place from March 13 through April 5, 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 LibLearnX 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: Kim Dare, Teacher-Librarian, Herndon High School, Herndon, VA
What best qualifies you for being on the Board of Directors?
I have been a member of YALSA throughout my library career, and have served in various capacities, including book award committees, selection committees, and process committees. I had just begun chairing the YALSA Book Awards Oversight Committee when the pandemic shut things down. I worked closely with the Board that year to support award committee chairs in their new world of virtual meetings and to help plan YALSA’s part in the annual Youth Media Awards. I am excited to support YALSA members—and the teens we all serve—in this new capacity.
How do you envision furthering YALSA’s mission if elected to this position?
I love that YALSA’s mission statement is all about empowerment—empowering all in our profession to provide equitable, diverse, and inclusive teen services. There are challenges to that empowerment these days, as various groups seek to limit the work we do to support teen learning and enrichment and to foster healthy communities. As a high school librarian, I work closely with teens on a daily basis, and the library is a safe haven for so many of them. I am passionate about ensuring that every teen can see themselves—and discover more about themselves—in libraries, and will work to implement practical support for librarians in all parts of the country who are facing roadblocks to YALSA’s mission.
What would be the most exciting aspect of this position? The most challenging?
I am most excited about the opportunity to work collaboratively with a group of professionals who are committed to providing practical support for librarians as they meet their teens’ needs. I have learned so much from each of my past YALSA appointments and look forward to gaining a deeper understanding of the issues our profession faces, and ways we can continue to thrive.
I anticipate that one of the most challenging aspects will be to encourage more of our members to take the next step in their membership journey. I think that the pandemic left us all with such a sense of fatigue, and I have seen a decline in volunteerism in other organizations to which I belong. We can do so much together and need to figure out a more effective way to bring members in from the sidelines of the organization to the committees, juries, task forces, and advisory boards that will further YALSA’s mission of equitable, diverse, and inclusive teen services.
Please share a recent example(s) where you made a shift to better focus on the current needs of teens in the wake of the pandemic.
Our high school library has tried to meet students where they are over these past several years. While students were learning remotely, we offered curbside book checkouts and drove books to students’ homes if they couldn’t make it to school. We offered a virtual student book club and (since snacks were always a popular part of the book club), delivered a brown bag of snacks on book club days. The return to in-person learning has been wonderful in a lot of ways, but we are all changed, and the ways that we teach and interact with students have changed, too. Recently, we implemented a Student Library Advisory Board, which meets monthly. The student members reflect our very diverse school, and we have been so appreciative of their suggestions for little things we can put in place to increase accessibility and use.
What is the most pressing issue facing YALSA today?
Membership, and member involvement, are our most pressing issues right now. It is essential that librarians who serve youth are able to see YALSA’s relevance and value. YALSA can be a strong advocate for librarians who are committed to teen services, but we are only as strong as our members and our member involvement. There are so many exciting ways to get involved—committees, juries, task forces, advisory boards—and members have the option of participating in many of these opportunities virtually rather than in person. I have made friends from all over the country through my YALSA work and am a better librarian for it.