This week YALSA Board members are discussing their experience serving on the Board. This post is one in that series.

This podcast is the final post in YALSA’s Life on the YALSA Board series. In this audio you’ll hear YALSA Director Sara Ryan, Fiscal Officer Mary Hastler, Secretary Francisca Goldsmith, and Immediate Past President Sarah Debraski discuss what it’s like to serve on the YALSA Board, the work that they do, the time that it takes, and why it’s a worthwhile experience.

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This week YALSA Board members are writing about their experience serving on the Board. This post is one in that series.

The Fiscal Officer is elected for a three year term. A three year term is just right as I wrap up the second year of my three year term as Fiscal Officer. The first year provides an opportunity to experience and become familiar with the responsibilities of the position, the second and third years are all about implementation. The Fiscal Officer is a member of the Executive Board as well as a voting member on the YALSA Board. Read More →

This week YALSA Board members are discussing their experience serving on the Board. This post is one in that series.

The position of Secretary was added to the YALSA Board, by membership vote,’  only four years ago.’  Until my term began, in 2008, the role of keeping our volunteer association’s formal record fell to YALSA staff.’  The addition of this position to the Board places that responsibility with membership; in addition, the position of Secretary adds another voice—and set of energies—to the Board’s Executive Committee.

I ran for the position of Secretary for several reasons:’  I had been on the YALSA Board when the idea of creating the position was under discussion and then development and I was a promoter of the concept.’  In addition, I have served in a few other elected offices, in other professional organizations, at the time when that position was first initiated, so I had a good sense of the kind of ground-breaking and flexibility the initial office-holder needed to bring to the effort of “launching” how the position might work to the advancement of the Board and membership as a whole. Read More →

This week YALSA Board members are writing about their experience serving on the Board.’  This post is one in that series.

The unique thing about running for YALSA President is that, if elected, you will fill three distinct roles in three years. All of the things that Sara Ryan mentioned in her perspective as a Board member hold true, plus there are additional responsibilities.

As President-Elect you will spend the year working hard on making committee and task force appointments.’  This is no small task, but it is a great way to get to know many YALSA members.’  You will also be serving on the Executive Committee and have those meetings (including an in-person meeting in the fall), in addition to regular YALSA Board meetings.’  There is a lot of observing and learning during this year, as well as developing a working relationship with the President and Executive Director.

What skills do you need to be President-Elect? An attention to detail, a willingness to learn, and a good system for organizing your work. Read More →

This week YALSA Board members are writing about their experience serving on the Board. This post is one in that series.

First off: the work of the Board takes place all year round, not just when the Board meets in person at the Midwinter meeting and Annual conference.

Tip: Talk with your supervisor and your loved ones before you decide to run. Make sure they understand and support the commitment that will be involved. Read More →

Have you ever thought about running for a YALSA Board position? Have you ever wondered what being on the YALSA Board is really like? If you answered “yes” to either of those questions, then the posts coming this week on this blog titled Life on the YALSA Board are perfect for you. Each day this week a different YALSA Board member will post about her experiences as a YALSA Board member. The schedule is: Read More →

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usWhen you sign up for Second Life, it is said that your avatar is born. Today, Michele Gorman teleported to the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library open house that happened to be going on at the time and her avatar was ‘born’ today.

While YALSA is indeed the fastest growing division of ALA, we could be the fastest growing division of Second Life avatars!

I’ve started a link on the LibSuccess: A Best Practices wiki here for YALSA members to list their avatar name and whatever other information they would like to include.

Today when I was on Second Life, a teen came to the information desk and said, ‘wow, what is that’? I found out that he was into drafting/architecture. Second Life will help teens with building skills. Also, teens that are attracted to MySpace because they can manipulate and customize their environments, might be attracted to Second Life as well.

The 3D environment is an interface that will be a skill we will need to know how to navigate in. If you purchase clothes online for example, knowing how to size your avatar to figure out if they will look good in a certain outfit can translate to you and whether you want to purchase it or not.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Hello members!

The YALSA/ALA election kicks off Monday, March 8. Over the course of this week, we have published interviews with all of the candidates. Please take a moment to read through these, and most importantly, VOTE when you receive your electronic ballot from ALA.

Enormous thanks goes out to member Sarah Sogigian for conducting these interviews!

The live Candidates’ Forum will take place via Zoom tomorrow, Friday, March 5 at 3pm ET / 2pm CT / noon PT. This event will include all YALSA candidates, along with the three candidates for President-Elect of the American Library Association. Please register to attend the Forum.

The final two candidates are for the role of YALSA Board Director-at-Large. Today we hear from Abigail Phillips and Tess Wilson. Yesterday, we interviewed the other two candidates for this position, Melanie Wachsmann and Traci Glass.

Name and current position:
Dr. Abigail Phillips, assistant professor, School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

What best qualifies you for being on the Board of Directors?
AP: I have a lengthy time of service with YALSA, first as a committee member, then a Board Fellow, and currently as the Division Councilor. I believe my dedication to YALSA is well represented through these positions. I also have a passion for working with youth to learn more about how to improve their lives and the library’s role within it.

How do you envision furthering YALSA’s mission if elected to this position?
AP: I will work hard to continue the research I conduct in my current researcher. My research focuses on ways in which librarians and library workers can support and aiding youth. I focus largely on neurodiverse youth and marginalized youth, who are, in many situations, one in the same. In addition to research, I also teach future librarians through our MLIS program. In my public libraries course, I ensure that youth services, particularly by using YALSA resources, is a feature of overall library services. As a Board Member, I will ensure that the voices of teens are represented through the work I do as a researcher, teacher, and librarian.

What would be the most exciting aspect of this position? The most challenging?
AP: I would be excited to continue my work on the YALSA Board and strive to represent a unique voice. With my previous experiences as a rural public librarian serving teens alongside my ongoing experience as a researcher and instructor, I see myself as a welcome addition to the other voices on the Board. As always, it is an exciting prospect to hold a leadership position in such an established and progressive ALA division and work with membership and others to create the best possible environment our work.

Please share a recent example(s) where you made a shift to better focus on the current needs of teens.
AP: Recently, a colleague and I worked on a research project where we focused on teen voices, ensuring that we really heard what teens were saying, not what researchers and other said teens thought or said. So often in youth research, the true voices of these teens are overshadowed by the researcher’s (or researchers’) voice. However, it is critical, to best serve teens, to know what they really want and need in the ever-evolving world surround them. Teens and teen voices first!

What is the most pressing issue facing YALSA today?
AP: I believe the most pressing issue facing YALSA right now is building our membership and maintaining relevancy within the youth services community. Members and potential members should feel represented and included in the work that YALSA, YALSA staff, and the community does on a day-to-day basis. Without the support and interest of members, YALSA would not be able to accomplish the goals and vision, which it has set for itself.


Name and current position:
Tess Wilson
Community Engagement Coordinator, Network of the National Library of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region

What best qualifies you for being on the Board of Directors?
TW: Throughout my life, I have worked with youth in a variety of capacities. I have taught as an arts educator, worked as a youth-serving librarian, presented best practices trainings to mentors and mentees, and even performed with an educational theater group. This wide range of experience allowed me the opportunity to view youth services through many lenses and truly understand the power of a supportive network of advocates. My experience in the field– navigating challenges and learning from others–has given me a perspective necessary to providing for the unique needs of library workers who serve teens. Similarly, my experience serving on a number of advocacy boards in my own community has given me a better idea of how to leverage these positions of power to support those we serve.

How do you envision furthering YALSA’s mission if elected to this position?
TW: The Board is in a unique position to use its platform to advocate for teens and those who serve teens. If elected to this position, I would encourage the Board to consider the following phrase in our mission statement: “especially those with the greatest needs.” I would examine the ways in which we determine the needs of teens, the methods we use to reach these communities, and the strategies we employ to engage communities with limited resources.

What would be the most exciting aspect of this position? The most challenging?
TW: One of the most exciting parts of managing YALSAblog and serving on the editorial advisory team for YALS has been drawing from experiences outside the library world. I would like to spread this interdisciplinary approach to the Board, looking towards trends and challenges in other teen-serving fields and learning from experiences outside our own. This type of broad exploration of teen services can inform the resources we share, the support we offer, and the framework for the future of YALSA. In addition, by leveraging our connections with others within and outside libraries, we can expand the variety of collaborative educational opportunities we can offer our community. I anticipate that, as we transition into whatever our new normal is, we will need to mindfully balance the support we offer. That is to say, we will continue to offer our network what they need to navigate a world impacted by COVID-19–from virtual programming ideas to workplace mental health resources to COVID protocol support. Simultaneously, we must do what we can to consider the larger field of youth services and equip our library workers to remain systems of support for their teens not just in the next year, but the next five years, the next ten years. In other words, I believe we need to think deliberately about both the micro and macro needs of our community at this moment in history. This transition will certainly be a challenge, but we can look to the library staff in our own YALSA community as models of adaptability, creativity, and resilience as we move forward.

Please share a recent example(s) where you made a shift to better focus on the current needs of teens.
TW: When I volunteered to run for 2020 Youth Services Division Chair of the Pennsylvania Library Association, I could have never predicted the kind of term I was in for. Of course, the past year has forced us all to flex–and in some cases, overextend–our adaptability muscles. As a leader within my state’s association, my priorities certainly shifted in order to support my fellow library workers as they moved quickly behind the scenes to provide for their communities. As I worked with my leadership team to plan our monthly meetings, we considered what might be most immediately helpful for those serving teens. We facilitated several highly practical meetings, featuring our own library staff from around the state who offered their ideas for virtual programming, plans for take-and make kits, and reliable mental health resources. We also offered these meetings as a space where our community could voice pressing concerns– for example, how to best track attendance and evaluate impact in a virtual environment–in a receptive and supportive environment.

What is the most pressing issue facing YALSA today?

Recently, I delivered a training to mentors in my community. Within this curriculum, we show a video demonstration of “The Privilege Walk,” an interactive exercise that shines a light on the many dimensions of privilege and inherited social capital. After the video ended, a participant made a point that still echoes in my thoughts. She noted that, while this exercise made a good point, it was made by amplifying the trauma of others. It is essential to consider not just issues facing our community, but the larger context of those issues. If we are to truly offer support to staff who work with youth “from a variety of backgrounds,” we must take on the challenge of continuous education, we must be comfortable being uncomfortable, and we must view our work through a lens of cultural humility. The most pressing issue facing YALSA today is ensuring that inclusivity is a top priority.

Hello members!

The YALSA/ALA election kicks off on Monday, March 8. Over the course of this week, we will publish interviews with all of the candidates. Please take a moment to read through these, and most importantly, VOTE when you receive your electronic ballot from ALA.

Enormous thanks goes out to member Sarah Sogigian for conducting these interviews!

The live Candidates’ Forum will take place via Zoom on Friday, March 5 at 3pm ET / 2pm CT / noon PT. This event will include all YALSA candidates, along with the three candidates for President-Elect of the American Library Association. Please register to attend the Forum.

The next two candidates are for YALSA Board Director-at-Large. Today we hear from Melanie Wachsmann and Traci Glass, and tomorrow we will publish interviews with two more Director-at-Large candidates, Abigail Phillips and Tess Wilson.

Name and current position:
Melanie Wachsmann, Assistant Library Director [Harris County Public Library, Houston, TX]

What best qualifies you for being on the Board of Directors?
MW: I have been a member of YALSA throughout my entire library career and have served in various capacities, including selection committees, award committees, and as a Teens’ Top Ten sponsor. Being a member of the Board of Directors would provide me the opportunity to continue to support YALSA, its members, and the teens they serve in a new capacity.

How do you envision furthering YALSA’s mission if elected to this position?
MW: I have always viewed YALSA as an extended network of librarians who provided me with information and new ideas. If elected, I would strive to encourage more members to participate in sharing their own ideas and experiences, as well as, investigate methods to increase membership.

What would be the most exciting aspect of this position? The most
challenging?
MW: All my experiences with YALSA have been exciting in some way or another. The most exciting aspect of the position is that it would give me a view of the intricacies of how the organization works with its members and ALA to carry out their mission statement.
The most challenging aspect of being a new member in a leadership position, is the introductory period where it is important to listen to understand the issues, the operating procedures, and the workflow of the committee. Having served on various committees, I am comfortable with asking others for help and clarification and enjoy learning from those who have more experience and knowledge to share.

Please share a recent example(s) where you made a shift to better focus on the current needs of teens.
MW: In response to the pandemic, I have worked to move programming and information to a digital space, including outreach book clubs at local high schools where I join them via Zoom.

What is the most pressing issue facing YALSA today?
MW: The most important issue facing YALSA today is advocating for spaces and programming for all teens, no matter their race, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and ability.

Name and current position:
Traci Glass, Assistant Director, Lincoln City Libraries, Lincoln, Nebraska

What best qualifies you for being on the Board of Directors?
TG: I first started working for and with teens in 2007, and it has been the most rewarding and honestly, the best part of my professional life. When I started, I was just focused on the day-to-day work that I could see reflected at my library. Programming, collections, outreach, hanging out in the teen room – those were all things that I could actively see affecting the teens that I served. As I started getting more involved in YALSA, first through writing for The Hub and selection committee work, I started to see how this work could help teens I had never met because I’m providing support to library staff who work with teens from everywhere across the globe. That really opened up my eyes to the idea of running for the YALSA Board – I want to provide support to folks who love working with their teens as much as I loved working with mine. The passion I have for this work is something that will never change – providing support, advice, and a helping hand to everyone in YALSA who dedicates their life to making their teens’ lives better through the library is something that is so close to my heart and so important to me. I’ve been active in YALSA for most of my professional life, and while I feel that knowledge is helpful, it’s my excitement and love for this work that qualifies and excites me about the possibility of being elected as a Director-at-Large.

How do you envision furthering YALSA’s mission if elected to this position?
TG: YALSA’s mission – to support library staff in alleviating the challenges teens face, and in putting all teens ‒ especially those with the greatest needs ‒ on the path to successful and fulfilling lives – is something I’ve strived for in my library work for teens and in the work I’ve done for YALSA over the years. I want to help to affect change by making YALSA the gold standard in the library world and beyond regarding issues regarding teens and how libraries serve them. Working with fellow Board members on strengthening our commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion by incorporating those concepts into everything we do! Providing more materials for library staff to use that will help them in their job and when working with their administration! I remember how exciting it was to share the Futures report with my manager and director. I had so many ideas (so many I think I overwhelmed them!), so having those ideas reflected in that report showed my administration that we were on the right path. That we could serve teens well in a variety of ways. I want all teens to feel welcome and supported in their libraries, and I want the dedicated library staff who dedicate each day to that to feel supported by their organization.

What would be the most exciting aspect of this position? The most challenging?
TG: The most exciting aspect of this position would be to work with a team of people who are passionate about teens and their libraries! I have so enjoyed working with the YALSA Board through my time as Board Fellow, interim Director-at-Large, and now through my work as the Chair of the Financial Advancement Committee. It’s been so fun and rewarding and challenging and exciting to work with so many different people from different parts of the county and world – and, all in the pursuit of making teens’ lives better and making it so library staff can lean on us for support and guidance and help as they work with their teens. I think the challenging part would be that we can’t make everything perfect for teens and library staff – but, I want to try – I want to do that work with people I respect and who I know care about teens as much as I do.

Please share a recent example(s) where you made a shift to better focus on the
current needs of teens.
TG: I love supporting the staff in my library system in the creation and implementation of great spaces and programs for teens. Based on personal experience as well as what I’ve heard from many YALSA members, teen services are often relegated to a place below services to adults and children. I think the most important things I can do as a manager is to celebrate all the ways the library staff I work with serve teens in our community and help bring their awesome ideas and practices to fruition in our libraries. Recently, our staff introduced curated bundled book subscriptions for teens to help get books into their hands during this time when they can’t come into the library. And, I’ve loved brainstorming ways to keep our TAB members and teen volunteers engaged and involved during COVID with our branch managers. Personally, since I love, love, love comics and graphic novels, I am working with our Support Services department to get all of our graphic novels out of the 741.5s and into their own dedicated collections. The most important one and the one I’m tackling first is the comics and manga collection for teens. I can’t wait until teens can easily browse our graphics collections. I also really want to start up a comics book club for teens and a mini Comic Con for them. One day! I’m always excited to try something new or support staff with a unique project when it’s dedicated to serving our teens.

What is the most pressing issue facing YALSA today?
TG: This isn’t a new thing, but I really think that declining YALSA membership, engagement, and volunteer involvement are all things that we really need to address immediately. Why do we have so many Twitter followers, but not the same amount of members? What can we do to show our members that what we offer is helpful and different and important and can help them in their day to days? The pandemic has exacerbated this – so many library staff and teens are struggling, and we are all just trying to get through each day. Coming together, as people who care about teens, can make things better. I think, for now, we have to focus on supporting each other and building a community together.