Ever wanted to get to know the YALSA Board of Directors more? Here’s your chance! All month long, we’ll be posting fun mini interviews with each board member so you can get to know them a little better. Here’s the next Director.

Melissa McBride is a K-6 elementary school librarian at Southold Elementary on the North Fork of Long Island. She has also worked in Teen Services and as a high school librarian. Her favorite things, in no particular order, are: her husband, her cat, the NY Islanders, Mets, and Jets, reading, Jack Johnson, and paddleboarding.

YALSA: What does YALSA mean to you?

MM: For me, YALSA is the reason why I am where I am professionally. It means a lot on so many levels! In grad school, one of my professors told us that we should all join our professional organizations while students. She explained that it would be a wonderful resource to us, as well as save money with the student rate! I took her advice and immediately felt at home with YALSA. My work on committees, and now with the board, has enabled me to become a leader in my school district. Working with YALSA has given me the confidence to present at conferences, lead committees in my district and given me so many resources to use with my students and staff. I was recently named the Suffolk County (NY) School Librarian of the Year and I really don’t think I would have developed the program I have without the skills I learned through YALSA. Now I have the opportunity to give back to the organization by serving on the board, and that really couldn’t mean more to me. I really don’t think I would be where I am today without YALSA.

YALSA: What are your hopes for the future of teen services?

MM: At the most basic level, I want everyone to understand the need for year round teen services provided by dedicated teen services staff, and to understand why that need is so important. Beyond that, I want teens to know that they have allies in the library world and to take advantage of the wonderful resources that they have access to. I want teens to learn how to advocate for themselves and to understand that the library should be a place where they can go to learn how to do just that. I want dedicated teen services staff in every high school, middle school, public library, and any other space that serves the needs of our diverse teens!

YALSA: What are the top 3 things on your bucket list?


  • Paddleboard in the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and Southern Ocean, no way am I going in the Arctic Ocean. One down, three to go!
  • See Jack Johnson in his home state of HI
  • Travel the world with my husband

YALSA: What’s your Hogwarts House?

MM: Ravenclaw!

YALSA: Which city is your favorite to travel to and why?

MM: Probably New Orleans – I’ve been there six times. There is no better place to see live music and eat some of the best meals of your life.

Ever wanted to get to know the YALSA Board of Directors more? Here’s your chance! All month long, we’ll be posting fun mini interviews with each board member so you can get to know them a little better. Here’s the next Director.

Valerie Tagoe is a high school librarian in Texas. She is the immediate past president of the Dallas Association of School Librarians and currently serves on the YALSA Board as the Organization & Bylaws chair. In addition to serving on the board, she is also active in the Texas Library Association as a member of its legislative committee. She holds a B. A. in French with a minor in History from the University of Oklahoma, a Master of Bilingual Education from Southern Methodist University and an MLS from Texas Woman’s University.

YALSA: What does YALSA mean to you?

VT: To me, YALSA means innovation and information for those who serve teens. YALSA provides a means to learn about innovative ways to serve teens along with issues and trends in librarianship. As a high school librarian, I can put into practice what I learn from YALSA webinars and at conferences to help my students meet their educational and personal goals as they move into adulthood and pursue college, career. YALSA also provides insight into current trends and issues in librarianship across the country.

YALSA: What are your hopes for the future of teen services?

VT: My hope is that even with all the budget changes we are seeing in public, academic and school libraries that teens, no matter where they live, have access to teen services at schools and in public libraries, and access to a librarian who can provide instruction, assistance, and programming.

YALSA: What movie have you seen multiple times in theaters?

VT: Black Panther.

YALSA: Name one cool fact about yourself.

VT: I have been to four countries outside the US.

YALSA: Which city is your favorite to travel to and why?

VT: Paris, France is my favorite city. I traveled there for a summer study abroad program at the Sorbonne and just loved all aspects of the city. I wanted to finish my last year of college there then return for graduation.

Ever wanted to get to know the YALSA Board of Directors more? Here’s your chance! All month long, we’ll be posting fun mini interviews with each board member so you can get to know them a little better. Here’s the next Director.

First, a little background on Presidential Advisory Taskforce Director Ryan Moniz:

Early on in my career I realized that what motivates me is providing all members of my community, regardless of personal limitations or disabilities, with opportunities to learn, succeed, and improve their quality of life. I have more than 10 years of experience in strategic planning, project management, program development, instructional design, community outreach, along with public speaking and have had a fulfilling career because I have chosen to work for organizations that give back to their community.

YALSA: What does YALSA mean to you?

RM: I’ve always thought of YALSA as a compass for not just library professionals working with teens, but anyone who is committed to serving teens and youth in their community. It can guide both individuals and organizations down the sometimes challenging road of teen customer service. It’s a group of bright minds and passionate people who are committed to doing their part to make the library world a more equitable place for teens and it stands tall as a positive model for our library peers.

YALSA: What are your hopes for the future of teen services?

RM: I’d like to see more of an emphasis placed on teen spaces when designing new library branches. I’ve grown tired of visiting library systems across North America only to see teen spaces no bigger than a broom closet. We put so much thought into the design of children’s spaces but for some reason completely forget about teens. It would be refreshing to see library systems actually consult with teens in the community to get an understanding of what it is that they want, not just what a bunch of senior managers in a room think they want.

YALSA: What was your favorite band as a teen?

RM: I was obsessed with Blink-182. I listened to them to and from school, while I was showering, making food, and doing homework. I was especially obsessed with their album “The Mark, Tom, and Travis Show” since it was a live album and I could close my eyes and pretend I was actually at the concert. Their music marked so many milestones in my life, but I’ll always remember their song “Not Now” as a bookmark for a defining moment in my life when I left home and all of my closest friends for university. It’s a great track that hits right in the feels.

YALSA: What’s your ultimate comfort food?

RM: Oh without a doubt my go-to comfort food is a serving of butter chicken (extra spicy) with a bowl of chicken biryani (also extra spicy) and a crispy naan. My fiancée and I have a ritual after we return from any trip; we always pick up this exact meal on the way home from the airport and chow down the minute we get home. Nothing like a warm and flavorful meal after a long flight!

YALSA: Which city is your favorite to travel to and why?

RM: My fiancée and I just returned from a road trip in Iceland and I can easily say that Reykjavik has leapfrogged to our favourite city we’ve traveled to thus far. The downtown core of Reykjavik has something for everyone; the food was amazing, the people were friendly, and there’s history around every corner. On our final night there we went out for Indian food and once our bellies were full, we just started walking and taking in the sights. By the end we both chatted about how we could see ourselves living there…so who knows what the future holds!

Ever wanted to get to know the YALSA Board of Directors more? Here’s your chance! All month long, we’ll be posting fun mini interviews with each board member so you can get to know them a little better. Here’s the next Director.

Kafi D. Kumasi is an associate professor of library and information science (LIS) at Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, where she teaches in the areas of school library media, urban librarianship, multicultural services and resources and research methods. A Laura Bush 21st century scholar, she holds a PhD from Indiana University, Bloomington and a master’s degree in LIS from Wayne State. Her research interests revolve around issues of literacy, equity and diversity, particularly in urban educational environments spanning K12 and graduate school contexts. Her publications include book chapters, and journal articles in (among others) Journal of Education for Library and Information ScienceThe Journal of Research on Libraries and Young AdultsSchool Libraries WorldwideSchool Library Media Research, and Urban Library Journal.

YALSA: What does YALSA mean to you?

KDK: YALSA means that I have a dedicated space to bridge my research around issues of youth, literacy and librarianship with policies and best practices for teen services professionals who ultimately reach young adults through their work in libraries.

YALSA: What are your hopes for the future of teen services?

KDK: I hope that teen services expands in ways that attract young people to get involved with libraries by the sheer relevance and fun that they see possible from existing programs and services that reflect the way they live and learn today.

YALSA: What are the top 3 things on your bucket list?


  • Travel the site of a future Olympics to see my daughter compete
  • Create a passive stream of income based on a passion/hobby
  • Visit every city where my son plays a game rookie season as a professional athlete

YALSA: What show do you like to binge watch?

KDK: I recently binge watched all 3 seasons of Insecure in a single weekend. I am absolutely smitten with the fresh take on life for a 30 something Black woman from Inglewood, CA. It has all the things I enjoy in a series and leaves me wanting more.

YALSA: Name one cool fact about yourself.

KDK: I teach Zumba and have a twin brother.

Ever wanted to get to know the YALSA Board of Directors more? Here’s your chance! All month long, we’ll be posting fun mini interviews with each board member so you can get to know them a little better. Here’s the first one to kick it off!

Colleen Seisser is the Board Liaison to Division and Membership Promotion and the chair of the Fund and Partner Development Standing Board Committee. Here’s a little background:

I started on a path towards libraries early on as I worked at my local library as a shelver on and off for about 6 years as I finished high school got my Associate’s in Arts and then my Bachelor’s in Art History. I needed a break from school, and I found a job working at Washburne Middle School’s Library with Julie Halpern. She introduced me to teen services and I fell in love. She was also the first to get me involved with YALSA by gifting me a YALSA membership. I earned my MLIS in 2009 while returning to work part-time in the Technical Services and was hired as the first Teen Services Librarian at the Deerfield Public Library one semester before I graduated! I got to create the Library’s entire Teen Services from scratch since there had been little for teens there before. I then moved to the Mount Prospect Public Library and was their Teen Services Librarian for 5 years. During this time, I started volunteering more with YALSA, most significantly working with Amazing Audiobooks for 3 years starting as Admin Assistant and ending as Chair, and more recently chairing the Division and Membership Promotion committee for 2015-2017. In 2017 I started a new path as a Selection Services Librarian at the Aurora Public Library, and most recently in September 2018, I was promoted to Collection Services Manager (and luckily, I still get to select materials for teens for the library!) I love to create art and like finding new methods of creation, and I also love to garden.

YALSA: What does YALSA mean to you?
CS: YALSA has had a huge impact on my career as a Teen Librarian. I knew I could always look to YALSA to find resources that would help me with any opportunities or problems that came my way professionally. However, I am so thankful to have also found that as I started volunteering and attending events and programs, YALSA also provided me an important network of people who I could connect to, not only for on the job questions but also for friendships that have withstood being states apart. For me, it has been an invaluable organization to turn to because its members are always willing to help each other out.

YALSA: What are your hopes for the future of teen services?
CS: I hope that we continue to meet teens where they are and that we, as an organization and as professionals, continue to change with our teens and their needs. It’s been so exciting to see the libraries who are engaging teens on the civic level and facilitating the development of that part of their life. I also hope to see libraries continue to rise up as community centers, especially in regards to our teen communities, so we can continue offering well-rounded services that support and grow teens in all aspects of their lives.

YALSA: What show do you like to binge watch?
CS: Great British Bake Off (and yes still, with new hosts and no Mary Berry).

YALSA: What is your favorite fairy tale?
CS: Snow White and Rose Red.

YALSA: Name one cool fact about yourself.
CS: I am a second-degree black belt in martial arts.

Anita Mechler, YALSA Executive Director

Today YALSA welcomes a new Executive Director, Anita Mechler. YALSAblog interviewed her about her past experiences and what she’s looking forward to accomplishing with YALSA.

Tell us about your background and what led you to this position.

I have been active in a variety of causes throughout my life from human rights to legislative work from my high school days to now. I found a perfect fit for advocacy, helping people, and being able to “nerd” out on information sharing by pursuing my MLIS degree. The American Library Association’s ​Code of Ethics​ resonated strongly with me when I was going through graduate school and has continued to inform my professional work. I joined the library profession to provide the best services I could to help people pursue and live successful, fulfilling lives. The mission of YALSA perfectly aligns with my goals. Like educators and other library professionals, I have a passion for finding the best answer to a question, the most efficient solution to a problem, and logic and order to confusing situations.

With this position, I want to enact more positive change for a wide range of users who would benefit most from the services that YALSA, ALA, and other important organizations provide. There are plenty of negative forces at work in the world and I want my work and the organizations that represent young adults to do good work, bring about the most positive change, and to provide that one interaction for a young adult user that could change the course of their lives for the better. As an Executive Director, I will be able to enact policies, develop strategies, and advocate for legislation from the highest level of this division that will have the power to positively affect lives all over the United States.
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The 30 Days of Working for and with Teens for Social Justice campaign is wrapping up, but that doesn’t mean your actions have to end. As I mentioned on December 1st, Opportunities for White People in the Fight for Racial Justice suggests great ways to get involved in the cause and help spread awareness. Actions range from asking for little effort (but causing a big impact), to major changes we can help implement through our libraries.

If you haven’t tried anything yet, check out the site and do something quick, like:
follow writers and activists of color on social media
teach teens about racism, violence, privilege, and more
diversify your reading list

If you’re attending Midwinter, make room in your schedule for Racial Justice at Your Library hosted by Libraries4BlackLives.

Be sure to check the Hub to make sure you didn’t miss any posts in this collaboration!

December 1st kicks off 30 Days of Working for and with Teens for Social Justice, a collaboration between YALSAblog and the Hub. On the odd days of December, you’ll find social justice posts here on YALSAblog. On even days, make sure you check the Hub for more information and resources.

Let’s start the month by thinking critically. Think about your library’s population: Is it diverse? If you answered no, why don’t you think the population is diverse? Keep in mind that diversity is not always something you can see, like skin color, a hijab, or a wheelchair.

Beth Yoke, the executive director of YALSA, shared a great resource to help everyone think about their library population and what they can do to promote social justice for their patrons. This month, in the spirit of 30 Days of Working for and with Teens for Social Justice, you’re encouraged to visit Opportunities for White People in the Fight for Racial Justice.

Read over the site, and try to accomplish the challenge posed:

“Commit to taking 3 actions in the next month, and share these with a trusted friend, colleague, or family member in order to increase your accountability to follow through on your commitment.  Can you take at least one action in the next two weeks in the Ally or Accomplice category?”

Email information about the actions you take and how it impacts your library’s teens to yalsablogmanager [at] gmail.com. We’ll share the submissions in a wrap-up post at the end of the month.


I started a new job as a teen services librarian one month before I graduated with my MLS. I was thrilled to get a full-time position serving my ideal population – at a dream location, to boot! My MLS program was amazing, and I learned more than I expected to. I felt confident with my library skills as I started the job. But any librarian can tell you, everything isn’t book-smarts! (No library pun intended.)

The skills that have really helped me roll with the punches as I get comfortable in my new position were learned from YALSA. Blog posts about passive programming have helped inspire me to bring some easy-to-implement ideas to my library’s teen section, which are looked at favorably since I’m new and not asking for lots of programming money right away. And countless other posts, along with the wiki, have good ideas for programming that I’m adding to my list for when I do feel comfortable asking for money.

It’s also nice to know you’re not alone, that other librarians and library workers have the same problems you might face: “Finally the big day arrives, it’s program time and…not one teenager shows up. Now you’re standing in the middle of the room, surrounded by supplies, and alone with your formerly fabulous program idea.” [from Pop-Up Programming 2 by Becky Fyolek]. And I say “you might face” already knowing, just two months in, that you are going to be alone in that programming room, and it’s going to make you feel pretty pathetic.

As far as really not feeling alone, YALSA resources like Teen Programming HQ, Badges for Learning, and assorted electronic discussion lists have been amazing. Any time I feel stumped, I turn to one resource or another and find a solution – or at least a welcoming community I can ask.

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Employment for teens with disabilities is notoriously low, with 16.6% of teens with disabilities ages 16-19 having jobs. On the other hand, 29.9% of teens with no disabilities are employed (“Youth Employment Rate”). Libraries can help local teens land jobs—for the summer or beyond—by hosting career preparation workshops. These workshops should be open to, and helpful for, teens with disabilities and without, but some of the advice is exclusively for teens with disabilities.


(image credit)

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