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?
I love how it brings together so many people from diverse and disparate backgrounds to focus on making the lives of teens better. Helping to carry out the mission and vision of YALSA has provided me with a meaningful complement to my professional life. #teensfirst

What are your hopes for the future of teen services?
More communication, connection and collaboration. Bringing teens together and including them in decision-making. Finding ways to measure our successes, pivot when needed, and learn from (and not dwell on) our failures.

What are the top 3 things on your bucket list?
Three places to travel to: Alaska, Australia, and Portugal (planning to check this one off in 2020!)

What was your favorite band as a teen?
Oh gosh. I’m dating myself with this one. The Smiths because they were about as angsty as can be. Probably why I still relate so well to teens today!

What’s your ultimate comfort food?
A wilted kale salad, topped with roasted vegetables. Possibly a bag of Cheetos as a chaser. With a slice of lemon meringue pie. And iced tea, a lot of iced tea.

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?

MM:

  • 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.

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?

KDK:

  • 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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We’re all members of YALSA, or should be, but you’re reading this blog for a variety of reasons. You love libraries. Or you love working with teens. Or you’re just trying to find out what’s happening in YALSA. But you’re here, reading this blog post. As members of YALSA we all participate in our association in a variety of ways, sometimes passively by donating to the scholarships or actively by volunteering to serve on committees, by volunteering to blog for a list, by contributing your programs to Programming HQ. 

In a recent YALSA survey many respondents voiced the opinion that their voices weren’t heard or weren’t acknowledged or they felt that their perspective wasn’t represented in YALSA. And I’d be the first to admit, yes it happens, it’s the reason I got involved. There was a time when I felt that my voice wasn’t being heard or felt in the list being created by the volunteers doing committee work weren’t representing my experience or worldview. So I stepped up and started volunteering. We make our association work; if you don’t volunteer or if you decide to drop your membership because you disagree, YALSA is going to fall apart and you know who will ultimately loses? Teens! The teens we support in our libraries, whether it be academic, public, or school; we serve the teens in our hometowns, whether it’s a big city or a small country town.
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Get ready to vote in this year’s YALSA election!  To help you make informed decisions, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2018 YALSA Governance candidates. Voting will take place from Monday, March 12 through Wednesday, April 4.  To help you further prepare for the election, be sure to check out the recording of the Candidates’ Virtual Town Hall and read the sample ballot.

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.

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YALSA’s Organizational Plan has three goals, one of which is advocacy.  As part of this goal, YALSA seeks to provide resources to members to help them be effective advocates.  The 2017 – 2018 Implementation Plan approved by the YALSA Board of Directors at the 2017 ALA Annual Conference states that someone should “inventory YALSA advocacy resources. Update those deemed useful and ensure consistency of language and messages across resources. Sunset other resources whose shelf life has expired. Organize all advocacy resources into a more user-friendly format and develop an advocacy curriculum based on them.”
In order for this work to be completed, two members of the Advocacy Standing Board Committee, Kate McNair and Derek Ivie, are asking the Board to recruit a YALSA member to tackle these tasks.  You can read more about the tasks in Board Document #20, in which the recommended action is that the “Board directs the YALSA President to appoint a member volunteer by Mar. 1, 2018 which will inventory YALSA’s portfolio of advocacy resources and provide recommendations to the board by no later than May 22, 2018.”  Does this sound interesting to you? Contact YALSA President, Sandra Hughes-Hassell, to find out more information about the position.
Sarah Hill, YALSA Immediate Past-President

A common question that I get, especially from new board members, is about where funds come from to support YALSA and its members.  The answer is pretty straightforward, although not one many people expect.  Member dues make up only about a third of YALSA’s total funding.  The other two thirds comes from product sales (award seals, books & e-learning); events (YA Services Symposium & ticketed events at ALA conferences); grants; corporate sponsorships; interest from YALSA’s endowments; and individual donations.  Many people are surprised to learn that funds from ALA or the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) are not a part of YALSA’s annual budget.  Actually, YALSA receives important services from ALA, such as HR and legal counsel, but not regular financial support.  IMLS offers competitive grants that YALSA is eligible for, and we have been awarded two.  If you’re interested, you can learn more about YALSA finances in my latest annual report.

All the funds that come into YALSA, from whatever source, are used to

  1. Provide members with services and support, like free monthly webinars and the summer learning grants we now have available
  2. Create and share resources with the library community, at no cost to library staff, such as our short, informational videos and newest toolkit about teen literacies

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