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 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.

Photo of YALSA Board of Director candidate Rachel Milburn, Candidate for Director at Large.
Rachel Milburn, Candidate for Director-At Large

Name and current position:  Rachel Milburn, Youth Services Manager, Frankfort Community Public Library, Frankfort, IN

  1. What best qualifies you for being on the Board of Directors?

I have loads of experience working with young adults/teens/tweens even before becoming a librarian. Previously, I worked in schools, youth programming, and literature clubs. I originally went back to school to become a teacher. However, I switched my major to English with a plan of becoming a librarian. I chose this path after working in the schools in order to share my love of learning in a more creative manner. As the Teen Services Manager at the Frankfort Community Public Library, I created several new programs including Adulting 101, Self-Care Programming, Homework Help, and a Teen Advisory Board to name a few. I am always instituting new ideas that allow young adults to explore information and learning in unique and creative ways. Also, I am an extremely hard-working person with a passion for library services, specifically library services for young people. They are, arguably, our most important patrons and bridging their library usage from children’s programming to adult programming ensures we create life-long learners. My passion, determination, and hard work would be a wonderful asset to YALSA, with me on the Board of the Directors.

2. How do you envision furthering YALSA’s mission if elected to this position?

I would promote the need for outreach. More than ever, I believe that since Covid restrictions are lifting it is time for Y.A. Librarians to reach outside our walls. We need to find and serve the young people that are not yet experiencing the library. 

3. What would be the most exciting aspect of this position? The most challenging?

The most exciting aspect of this position would be meeting and learning from librarians from all over the country. I greatly hope to increase my network and continue to learn from the wonderful and diverse individuals that serve in this profession. The most challenging aspect would be planning travel and arranging my schedule for conferences. However, I believe that going to these conferences is important in achieving my goal of increasing my network. That is why I am committed to making travel and conference attendance happen.

4.  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.

I was the first librarian in my library system to begin virtual programming. The minute that we closed our doors, I went straight into virtual mode. I shared blog posts and press releases with online resources and advice for young people working on e-learning. I also completed a course on well-being and began virtual self-care programming for our youth.  The previous fall, I had “inducted” the first Teen Advisory Board at our library. Then without having met often, the library closed. I did not allow that to prevent us from communicating. I regularly reached out to our T.A.B. members and their families throughout the stay-at-home order and while the library was closed. Each of our T.A.B. members agreed to do four hours of volunteer service at the library a year. When the library reopened following the pandemic, all of our T.A.B. members returned to their volunteering. Some of these young people eventually took jobs working in our library system. Retaining these members is evidence of the success of our service to them thru the pandemic.

Following the pandemic, I have been working to get young people back in the library. As the head of our Summer Reading program, I planned our program with the goal of getting people back in our building. This includes weekly incentives, collaborations with several community organizations, and a hefty social media marketing campaign. Likewise, one of my roles is the head of our county’s Youth Theatre. For our 2022 Summer Musical, our first back on the stage, I generated promotions that led to 5 sold out performances (we only planned on 4). Our Winter Show, saw all our social media numbers increase to the highest they had ever been, which led to the highest sponsorships. Finally, as we plan for our Summer Musical we were able to conduct over 80 youth auditioning for our the show. This success is a result of continued work on outreach, disseminating the information that these programs are here, and harnessing the power of social media.

5. What is the most pressing issue facing YALSA today?

The threat of censorship is a huge issue facing YALSA and all areas of librarianship. The fact that so many librarians must fear criminal prosecution when sharing books with young people is terrifying. I believe our only hope is to work together to develop new ideas on how to protect the freedom to read.

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