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
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.

I’ve been involved in YALSA in one way or another for much of my professional librarian life. My YALSA journey began with an impulse visit to a New Member session at a long ago ALA which led to submitting volunteer applications to serve on a selection committee. I guess you could say I jumped straight into YALSA’s labyrinth of service, networking, learning, and support. Over the years I’ve served on multiple committees, attended countless YALSA sessions at conferences and online, presented at the YALSA Symposium, and now serve as this year’s YALSA Board Fellow. 

What is the YALSA Board Fellow Program? It’s a peek behind the curtain. Prior to being appointed the Board Fellow, I had a very limited understanding of how the Board worked. I’d attended YALSA Board sessions at conference a few times, but freely admit to being somewhat confused by what I observed. The Board Fellow position is a chance to dip a toe into the waters of YALSA’s governing body and a chance to grow your leadership potential. The Board Fellow serves a one-year term and becomes a full, non-voting member of the YALSA Board. You’ll attend the monthly YALSA Board chats, the twice a year meetings, and participating in ongoing projects and discussions via ALA Connect. During my time as the Board Fellow I’ve learned a great deal about the inner workings of YALSA. 

Being surrounded by people as passionate about Teen Services and providing the best possible support to Teen Services library workers has been a blessing in this year of COVID upheaval. An added benefit of being selected as the YALSA Board Fellow is a stipend of up to $1,500 total to attend the 2 Annual Conferences (which is another blessing as library budgets are tight). I’ll be using this stipend to cover the cost of ALA’s Annual Conference which is to be held virtually due to the pandemic. If you are looking for opportunities to grow your leadership potential, get involved with YALSA, and make your voice heard, then the YALSA Board Fellow Program is the opportunity you need! For more information on YALSA’s Board Fellow Program visit  http://www.ala.org/yalsa/awardsandgrants/yalsa_fellows_program.

The application window for next year’s YALSA Board Fellow has been extended and I encourage anyone who is interested to submit their application here:  https://www.emailmeform.com/builder/form/4bes9ZdudTy. If you have questions about the program I’m happy to chat about my experience, please email me HPL.Teen@houstontx.gov.

This post was submitted by Rebecca Denham, Teen Services Coordinator at Houston Public Library.

What’s really cool about the money that is donated to Friends of YALSA (FOY), like through our Give $20 in 2020 campaign, are the programs the donations support. One program especially close to my heart is YALSA’s Board Fellow program! In 2019, I was honored and thrilled to be named YALSA’s Board Fellow.

I first heard about this opportunity a few years prior at the 2016 ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. I sat next to a YALSA member on a bus to a publisher event that evening. I was so happy being a part of the Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection committee, but I was also thinking of going outside my comfort zone in terms of getting more involved in YALSA. I really had no idea how to do that until I started talking to the YALSA member next to me. All these years later, I wish I knew who I spoke to because that person changed my YALSA life I explained to them about feeling like I wanted to do more, but I wasn’t sure how to do that exactly. I felt like applying to be on the YALSA Board proper was too big of a step for me, and it was then that they told me about the Board Fellow program. It seemed like the perfect step in the direction I knew I wanted to go. I could meet Board members, see how the process worked, be active and engaged, and grow my leadership skills in ways that I could use in my YALSA volunteer work, as well as at my own organization. I would be a non-voting member, but I was totally fine with that! I wanted to see how it worked before I threw in my “ayes” or “nays”.  It took me another couple of years to muster up the courage to apply, and I am so glad that I did.

I feel the Board Fellow program really opened my eyes to the work of the Board and introduced me to so many friends I have made in the process.  My experience as the Board Fellow showed me the bigger picture of YALSA work and how it affects all of us who work for and with teens in our libraries. I was incredibly thankful to receive the stipend that the Board Fellow receives from monies donated to FOY to help defray conference attendance costs over my one year appointment term.

The application for YALSA’s 2021 Board Fellow is due by December 1! I hope everyone who wants to take that next step in YALSA leadership will consider applying. And, thank you to everyone who has donated to FOY. Your contributions have helped members like me and from around the world. As I mentioned in my post last month, we know that everything is challenging right now. If you’d like to and are able to contribute, please consider becoming a Friend of YALSA (any denominations welcome) or donate $20 as part of this year’s Friend of YALSA fundraising campaign Give $20 in 2020. Thank you for your work supporting teens in our community and supporting your colleagues near and far.

-Traci Glass, Financial Advancement Committee Chair

Are you passionate about teens and teen services? Do you want to be an ambassador and advocate for YALSA? Then you should consider taking a leadership role in our organization. The Board Development Committee is looking for dedicated, committed volunteers with the skills and desire to run for several board positions: Director-at-Large, Division Councilor and Vice President/President-Elect.

YALSA’s volunteer members are the driving force behind our organization and make it the innovative, responsive organization it is. Dedicated volunteer leaders run the organization and influence its future.  You can find out more about the responsibilities of Vice-President/President-Elect and Division Councilor positions here and Director-at-Large position here. These positions are elected by the membership for a three-year term.

Each year, specific positions are available, and each opening has requirements based on its description and the current makeup of the Board. The Board Development Committee is looking for the most qualified individuals and broad representation. This includes a commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. As the YALSA Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Plan states: “The vision for YALSA is to be a diverse, inclusive and equitable organization which flourishes on the exchange of ideas from different perspectives. We believe the diversity of viewpoints that comes from different life experiences, identities, cultural backgrounds, and more enables YALSA to better achieve its 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.” Having this kind of representation on the Board allows YALSA to attract new members and retain long term ones, all the while making sure we are innovative, educational, professional and fun.

If you feel you have what it takes for one of these leadership roles, fill out the Governance Candidacy Form. The Board Development Committee reviews all the forms and looks for the best match of skills and background for the available positions. Submit the form by July 31.

Don’t wait to let us know you are interested! The Board Development Committee’s deadline is coming up fast. We only have until the end of the summer to present a slate of candidates to the YALSA board for approval. Successful candidates will run for election in the Spring of 2021 and begin their terms in June 2021 at the Annual Conference in Chicago.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Gail Tobin (gtobin@stdl.org) or Ritchie Momon (RMomon@mymcpl.org), the Board Development Committee Co-Chairs.


Get ready to vote in this year’s YALSA election! To help you make informed decisions, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2020 YALSA Governance candidates. Voting will take place from March 9 through April 1. To help you further prepare for the election, be sure to check out a sample ballot!

The President-Elect serves a three-year term — first as the President-Elect, then as the President during the second year, and finally as the Immediate Past President during the third year. The President-Elect is a member of the Executive Committee alongside the President, Immediate Past President, Division Councilor, Fiscal Officer, Secretary, and Executive Director. The Executive Committee works with its ALA counterpart to build ties between the two organizations and helps with the fiscal oversight of YALSA.  A full description of the President-Elect’s duties and responsibilities can be found here .You can learn more about ALA elections here.

Name and current position: Franklin Escobedo, Library Director of the Larkspur Library

What best qualifies you for being President-Elect?
I have been an active member of YALSA for the past twelve years. Serving on committees, juries, selection lists, the Printz Award committee, and serving three years on the YALSA Board. Before running for the Board, I really wanted to learn about our association, and over this time I have seen the association grow and change. While our association has changed in many ways, it’s still focused on serving and supporting our members. 

What do you see as the primary role of the YALSA Board?
I still believe the primary role of the YALSA Board is to speak for the membership. Part of the role is to help guide the association to develop resources and services for our members and those working with teens on a daily basis. The Board’s role is also to oversee the financial health of the association to assist the Executive Director in making decisions that ensure the continued viability of YALSA.

How would you embed the concept of “teens first” in the work of the board?
The concept of “teens first” has been around for few years now. As librarians, it’s a parallel to outcome-based programming. For every decision we make about programming, readers advisory, and professional development, “teens first” is the ultimate outcome. How will the decision impact the teens we serve and how do the decisions we make empower the teens we serve?

What is the most pressing issue facing YALSA today?
The most pressing issue is the same one facing ALA itself: member retention. The association cannot work without the support of its members. For many members, we’re paying our own dues without the support of the libraries we work for. YALSA needs to continue to innovate and create resources that our members can use to develop their careers.  

What would be the most exciting aspect of this position? The most challenging?  
The most exciting part for me is the opportunity to lead YALSA and to help guide the future of our association. When I first became involved in YALSA, I was the YALSA liaison for the GLBT-RT (now the Rainbow Roundtable). I did this for four years early in my career. As an observer of the Board, it was always hard to hold back when issues were being debated and decisions were being made. As a member of the Board while serving as Secretary, it was exciting being able to be part of the decision-making process. I loved this part of the work. The most challenging part is anticipating the future and the future needs of our teens. While many of us are currently at home due to the ongoing health crisis, I worry about the immediate future. How can we continue to provide robust services to teens through the online environment and how do we reach teens in the age of information overload? What resources and tools can we provide to our members to help them work with teens via online resources? 

What else would you like voters to know about you?
While I may be a Library Director now, I began my career as a Young Adult Services Librarian. As I always remind colleagues that have moved up in their organizations, we still work with teens. We have the opportunity to help shape the library and library services that impact teens by developing a library-wide “teens first” attitude.

What are you reading? What are you watching?
I’m currently reading a few books: Docile by K.Z Szpara, The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson, and The King of Crows by Libba Bray. I’ve just started watching Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker. I’m loving it!

Hi everyone,

As we continue to adjust our lives to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to send a short message of assurance that YALSA continues to support its members during this unprecedented crisis. Our mission states that we support library staff in alleviating challenges that teens face, and this may be the greatest challenge of our time. COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the United States, and as testing ramps up, it is a foregone conclusion that many, many more cases will be diagnosed in the coming days and weeks. Healthy teens and young people, thankfully, seem to be able to weather the virus themselves, but as we know, they also have a tendency to feel invincible. Young people sometimes do not realize the consequences of their actions; in this case, unknowingly spreading the virus throughout the community and to those who are immunocompromised, along with the elderly. These are two populations that have not had the same rate of success dealing with the lethal strain. If you are in communication with teens, please encourage them to stay at home with their families or guardians as they are able. Community spread must be tempered to prevent the virus from wreaking havoc with our lives.

Your YALSA virtual volunteer work is always appreciated; however, during this difficult time, we understand that committee, task force, and/or jury work has taken a backseat to your daily life. While there may be an opportunity to get things done, as many of us now have unexpected “downtime”, the YALSA Board and YALSA staff understand that not every volunteer has the same amount of time or mental energy to devote to these projects. We will continue to assess previously stated deadlines and goals as the days go on.

If you haven’t yet, please read the message from ALA Executive Director Tracie D. Hall about the ALA response to COVID-19, and check out the #LibrariesRespond information on the ALA site, which also addresses the xenophobia that sadly has already become associated with this outbreak.

The CDC has provided resources to deal with manage anxiety and stress as we work through this uncharted territory. Keeping yourself healthy and uncompromised is of paramount importance.

Something to consider, depending on your current work and life schedule: if you haven’t cast your ALA/YALSA ballot yet, this may be a good chance to do so. Virtual ballots arrived to your email on file with ALA last Monday through Wednesday, March 9-11. The election ends April 1, 2020, at 11:59pm. If you have not received an ALA ballot for the spring election, contact the ALA office for more information.

Edited to add, 12:15pm March 17, 2020: The ALA Executive Board has just released a statement, encouraging all libraries to be closed to the public.

Thank you as always for the work you do for and with teens, and please, stay safe and healthy.

Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020 | Twitter: @toddbcpl

Hello YALSA members and readers of the YALSA blog!

At the ALA Annual Conference in Washington DC last week, I was inaugurated as the 2019-2020 YALSA President. Having served on the YALSA Board since 2015, it was an honor to become President-Elect in 2018. Over the years, it has been my pleasure to meet many of you in person at ALA events and/or at YALSA Symposia, and I’ve been in contact with many members virtually. My hope is to engage with as many YALSA members as possible during my year as President! I’ll do my very best to continue the amazing leadership of our past YALSA presidents, including my terrific predecessor, Crystle Martin. It’s always critical for the president to work closely with colleagues on the YALSA Board and our Executive Director, Tammy Dillard-Steels and her staff to fulfill the mission and vision of the organization and our ongoing strategic plan. Finally, you will come to know my enthusiasm for the concept Teens First and all that entails.

A little bit about my work life and background: for nearly fifteen years I have been employed as a Selector in the Collection Development department at the Baltimore County Public Library in Towson, Maryland. This affords me the opportunity to help shape the library system’s collection, including areas of interest to YALSA members such as our teen and graphic novel collections. This has allowed me to become acutely aware of the trends of what materials teens using our branches are seeking out, and I hope to learn from YALSA members in diverse communities around the country and internationally about the relationship between teens and their libraries, in terms of collections, services, programs, and interactions. I’m originally from the Midwest and in my career I have worked as a bookseller, research librarian, rare books librarian, library director and more.

The theme of my presidency is Striving for Equity Using YALSA’s Teen Services Competencies for Library Staff. Each month, from August through May, we will look at one of the ten competencies and think about them through an equity lens. More information about that in the weeks ahead.

Please let me know if you have any questions for me and the YALSA Board!  Feel free to contact me at todd.yalsa@gmail.com with any thoughts you have about YALSA and your place in the organization.

I’ll reiterate this intentionally: I am very much looking forward to engaging with the membership in as many ways as possible.

Thank you for reading, and for your support!

Todd Krueger, YALSA President 2019-2020

P.S. Happy Canada Day to our Canadian members and to all in the “True North” who serve teens!


Photo by Paula Willey

Get ready to vote in this year’s YALSA election! To help you make informed decisions, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2019 YALSA Governance candidates. Voting will take place from Monday, March 11 through Wednesday, April 3. To help you further prepare for the election, be sure to check out the YALSA Candidates’ Forum on March 7th!

Serving three-year terms, YALSA Board Members-at-Large 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: Valerie Tagoe, Media Specialist Wilmer-Hutchins High School

What best qualifies you for being Board Member-at-Large?
Experience. I am currently on the Board serving a one year term as Organization & Bylaws chair. Prior to my appointment as O & B Chair, I was a member of the YALSA Advancing Diversity Taskforce & the National Library Legislative Day Taskforce

How do you envision furthering the mission of YALSA as Board Member-at-Large?
As a Board Member-at-Large, I hope to lend my ideas and insight as a high school librarian to the work of the board so that we can continue to further the mission of YALSA in supporting library staff in serving teens. Our teens face a myriad of challenges and opportunities.  Libraries and librarians can play a vital part in their learning and equip them with the information needed to be successful in school and in life.

What are some ways that being a member of the YALSA Board can help you serve as an even better connector to helping libraries become thriving learning environments for/with teens?
I am the immediate past president of the Dallas Association of School librarians, and I am also active in the Texas Library Association-presenting at conferences and as a member of the legislative committee. As a YALSA Board Member, I will bring the an understanding of what is going on in libraries at the state, local, and national levels and share the information with librarians in various organizations.  This will help me to be a connector to help libraries become thriving learning environments.

How would you embed the concept of “teens first” in the work of the board?
In my daily work in the library I seek the input of teens and their needs and interests and I believe the board can do the same take into account the needs and interests of teens in the work that we do.

Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of the board of directors?
My experience and work at the state and local levels are reasons why YALSA members should choose me to be a member of the Board of Directors. I believe my perspective as a school librarian serving teens in a diverse urban school district will also be beneficial to the board as well.

Get ready to vote in this year’s YALSA election! To help you make informed decisions, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2019 YALSA Governance candidates. Voting will take place from Monday, March 11 through Wednesday, April 3. To help you further prepare for the election, be sure to check out the YALSA Candidates’ Forum on March 7th!

Serving one-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: Ryan Moniz – Learning & Growth Librarian – Markham Public Library

What best qualifies you for being a Board Member?
The short answer would be my commitment to the work I do. It would be easy to list all the personal qualities and characteristics you look for in a candidate like time-management, a team player, good under pressure and all the other buzz words. My entire career is built on a simple guiding principle: do good. I believe it isn’t always possible to do good by doing what’s easy and I pride myself on challenging myself to never do things the “easy” way just because I can. I’m someone who is committed to providing a voice for underserved populations and a hand-up to those in need of help so that they may have an equal opportunity to succeed. I believe that is exactly what is needed from a Board Member.

How do you envision furthering the mission of YALSA as a Board Member?
I always joke around with colleagues that I’ve never considered myself a traditional “librarian.” I don’t have extensive knowledge of authors and books so my bibliotherapy skills may be lacking when compared to others. My background is working with disabled populations and at-risk youth and I’ve always felt that their needs aren’t part of the important conversations we have, specifically when it comes to library services. Regardless of any position or title I’ve held I have always spoken out about the need for more inclusive services, and that is exactly what I plan on doing as a Board Member. I’ve never been comfortable doing anything simply because it’s the easiest option, whether it’s a family storytime or job skills program for teens. Library services can never be one-size-fits-all, especially when your audience includes teens and young adults. YALSA is an innovative organization, but we must never become complacent. I always challenge my colleagues to ask tough questions and find ways to make improvements that work not just for one segment of the population, but for all members of our community. As a Board Member I plan on pushing the Board to take the necessary steps to advocate on behalf of all those we strive to serve.

What are some ways that being a member of the YALSA Board can help you serve as an even better connector to helping libraries become thriving learning environments for/with teens?
As a Canadian librarian I get to share a unique perspective with my American colleagues. I know, Canada doesn’t seem like it would be that different, but there are many significant fundamental differences regarding our library infrastructure. I believe understanding those differences are key to innovating the services we offer in our respective countries. Fundraising isn’t as much of a concern for Canadian libraries, so we don’t always speak about the importance of advocating for libraries in our communities. In America, not all systems have the luxury of being able to provide staff with necessary training so that they may provide effective customer service and gain the ability to adapt those services based on the needs of their customers. This is just a brief example, but it demonstrates the need to have different views, opinions, and experiences on a Board. I know my professional experience in the social service industry as well as my perspective as a librarian North of the border would help to push for responsive initiatives and innovative services for our shared community; teens and young adults everywhere.

What about YALSA’s Organizational Plan excites you most and why?
I’ve spent the majority of my career in program and service delivery, so it goes without saying that leading the transformation of teen library services is what I’m most excited about. Our services have an ability to enhance the quality of life for teens and young adults in communities across North America. It’s more than just a good program, I’m talking about effective training for front-line staff so that they have the tools necessary to properly serve their users. I’ve always felt both go hand-in-hand. When you have staff that are tuned in and interested in making a change, they’ll be more engaged and open to learning. When you learn you change how you think and how you work. Those changes can lead to some of the most innovative programs and services imaginable.

How would you embed the concept of “teens first” in the work of the board?
Ensure that teens have a voice. No one enjoys being spoken for. As a kid I would get so irritated when people just assumed that they knew what I wanted or what was “best” for me, especially when they never asked for my opinion. It’s easy to get caught up in that pattern of behaviour as an adult. We think we know because we’re a bit older and a tad bit wiser, so we start believing we know what’s best. In my community I always ensure that our teens have a seat at the table when the conversation is about something that would directly impact them. Some of the best ideas for programs and services I’ve had were a result of community conversations with young people in my city.

Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of the board of directors?
It may sound cheesy to say, but there’s no going wrong with anyone on the ballot. Every person who has submitted their name has done so because they care about teen services and they want to do what they can to improve our industry. It’s not an easy task so I applaud all of them for taking the first step. Like my peers, I care deeply about serving teens and young adults not just in my small Canadian suburb, but across the world. Being a teen is 2019 is difficult and I believe that libraries are in a unique position to be more than a place for books, but a safe welcoming space that can support the healthy development of young people everywhere. Wherever I go I know I will work tirelessly to help make that possible, and if you allow me, I’d like to work towards that goal as a Board Member.

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:

What does YALSA mean to you?
YALSA means a chance to connect. Opportunities to connect with new and exciting ideas in the world of young adult services. Connection amongst your peers to learn what is happening in other parts of the country. New ways of connecting with your patrons either through Program HQ, Teen Tech Week, Teen Read Week and more. YALSA has always been a bridge to the library world outside my four walls through committee work, professional development opportunities, conferences, and now my role on the Board. YALSA means being able to broaden my horizons in young adult services to better serve my patrons.

What are your hopes for the future of teen services?
As teens services progress I hope to see more inclusion for everyone. As YALSA moves forward with its Mission we see more opportunities to connect with those inside and outside the library. I hope that teen service staff members can always serve their communities to the best of their abilities by finding out what patrons need and then working with them to bring that to fruition. I think there is still a lot coming on the technology front, but we have new and exciting things to think about surrounding cultural competencies and creating communities amongst our teen patrons. Libraries have always been a safe space and I see that continuing and growing.

What was your favorite band as a teen?
My favorite band as a teen was Fall Out Boy. I wanted to be Pete Wentz so badly, but was far too preppy and was never brave enough to wear eye liner.

What’s your ultimate comfort food?
Give me a bag of puffy Cheetos and I am set! So cheesy. So delicious. So orange.

Which city is your favorite to travel to and why?
This year I was lucky enough to take a trip to Tokyo. As an anime and manga geek I was in heaven. On top of that and the beautiful sites the city is clean, the people are wonderful, and the subway system is the most efficient public transportation I have ever taken. As a New Yorker who has ridden the NYC subway his whole life this is a big deal! It was extra magical since it was cherry blossom season. I already know I will go back someday.