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. 

Photo of YALSA Fiscal Officer, Kate Denier
Kate Denier, YALSA Fiscal Officer

Name: Kate Denier

Title & Library: Senior Branch Manager, Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library- North Central Branch

Role on the Board: Fiscal Officer

Year on the Board: 3rd year as Fiscal Officer

What does YALSA mean to me?

KD: I have been an active YALSA member for several years now. I’ve been on many different types of committees and have been chair of committees and a taskforce. I’m really thankful to be on the Board now. Not only has YALSA helped build my leadership skills, being on Board allows me to give back to an organization that has done a lot for me and the teens I have served. I think I have used just about every resource YALSA has to offer and I try and encourage others to do the same. YALSA has directly impacted my ability to serve teens at my organization and my ability to lead.

What are your hopes for the future of teen services?

KD: My hope is that ALL teens have a space to go to in their local library (wherever that library may be) where they can be safe, be themselves, be heard and get the resources and information they need without judgment. I hope teen services staff are given the support they need to provide the highest level of service to teens. I also hope that people who work with teens continue to advocate for teen services, both locally and nationally.

What is your favorite YALSA Committee or Committee that would love to be on again?

KD: Morris Award Committee. It was really fun and rewarding.

What’s your ultimate comfort food?

KD: Apple Cider Slushies- because if they are available, it means it’s fall!

What TV show or Movie do you watch on repeat? Or a book that you love reading when you’re in between new books?

KD: Schitt’s Creek!

What would you do or where would you go if you won the lotto? 

KD: I would buy a beach house on Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Want to run for YALSA Board?  We’re looking for candidates for the 2024 ALA Election. If you will be at ALA Annual Conference in Chicago this summer join us at YALSA 301 to learn more about YALSA Governance. Want to find out the duties and responsibilities of the YALSA Fiscal Officer? Find them in the YALSA Handbook here.   If you’ve been thinking about it why not fill out the nomination form today? Just click here.

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.  Our next interview is with the YALSA Board Secretary.

Photo of YALSA Board Secretary Joel Shoemaker
Joel Shoemaker, YALSA Board Secretary

Name:  Joel Shoemaker

Title & Library:  Associate Director of Library Services, Methodist College

Role on the Board: Secretary

Year on the Board: 1st year

 What does YALSA mean to me? 

JS: YALSA is an amazing organization that is extremely important and relevant today, especially when considering the challenges that we face with regards to young adult books and young adult authors. The advocacy is always meaningful, but especially so today.

What are your hopes for the future of teen services? 

JS: I hope to see us finding ways to really engage teens and bring them into the library. I know it’s hard for many in the public sector, but it’s also difficult with our young adults in academia. We need to be creative and innovative in finding ways to better serve our teens.

What is your favorite YALSA Committee or Committee that would love to be on again?

JS: I think my service on the Morris committee was my favorite. Debut novels are the BEST. And the YALSA members I served with were just incredible humans.

What’s your ultimate comfort food? 

JS: I just love cheese. Not all kinds of cheese. I don’t understand blue cheese. I’m not mad at people that like blue cheese – my husband likes blue cheese. It just isn’t for me. All other kinds of cheese for me though, please.

What TV show or Movie do you watch on repeat? Or a book that you love reading when you’re in between new books? 

JS: The greatest TV show of all time is Boston Legal. The pairing of William Shatner and James Spader is unmatched and the depiction of male friendship is not often seen. Incredible television. Five seasons. I own them all. You can borrow them!

What would you do or where would you go if you won the lotto?   

JS: If I won the lottery I would go to New Zealand. They have a Lord of the Rings tour that we’ve been eyeing for a long time.

Want to run for YALSA Board?  We’re looking for candidates for the 2024 ALA Election. If you will be at ALA Annual Conference in Chicago this summer join us at YALSA 301 to learn more about YALSA Governance. Want to find out the duties and responsibilities of the YALSA Board Secretary? Find them in the YALSA Handbook here.   If you’ve been thinking about it why not fill out the nomination form today? Just click here.

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 is the next interview with this year’s Board Advocate, an ex-officio member of the board.

Photo of YALSA Board Advocate Siva Ramakrishnan, an ex-officio of the YALSA Board.
Board Advocate, Siva Ramakrishnan

Name: Siva Ramakrishnan

Title & Library: Director, Young Adult Programs & Services, The New York Public Library

Role on the Board: Board Advocate

Year on the Board: 1st year

What does YALSA mean to me?

SR: YALSA provides a caring community of practice for library workers across the country who serve teens.

What are your hopes for the future of teen services?

SR: I hope we continue to think expansively about what it means to serve teens through public libraries — that getting teens excited about reading will always be important — but so will things like supporting mental wellness, civic action, a first job, and the ability to relax in a safe environment.

What is your favorite YALSA Committee or Committee that would love to be on again?

SR: I served on YALSA’s Presidential Taskforce last year and loved it! It was an opportunity to dig into an aspect of teen service (last year was “social capital”), and organize webinars and a conference presentation designed to engage our colleagues.

What’s your ultimate comfort food?

SR: Spicy mac and cheese.

What TV show or Movie do you watch on repeat? Or a book that you love reading when you’re in between new books?

SR: Currently, I’m enjoying “Lovecraft Country”. “Lilith’s Brood” is a series I keep coming back to. 

What would you do or where would you go if you won the lotto?

SR: I’d raise sheep, dye my own yarn, and run a dosa cart someplace warm.

The Board Advocate is an ex-officio member of the YALSA Board and is appointed by the YALSA Board.  This position is for someone who works with teens but is not a YALSA member. If you know someone who might be interested in applying for the Board Advocate send their name to YALSA President, Franklin Escobedo at franklin.yalsa [@] gmail.com or YALSA President-Elect Colleen Seisser at cseisser [@] gmail.com.  Or if you’re a regular reader of the YALSA Blog and would like to apply, click here.

Cover of YALS Journal Winter 2022 Vol 20, Number 02 of YALSA

CFP:  Theme Issue on Book Banning and Book Challenges – Young Adult Library Services (YALS) Journal

Call for articles on the theme of book banning and challenges for the Spring/Summer issue of the journal of the Young Adult Library Services Association, Young Adult Library Services (YALS).

Over the last few years, newspapers, ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, and librarians across the country have seen a steep increase in book bannings and challenges in both public and school libraries. It has become increasingly politicized, using social media to spread through both large and small groups and communities.

In 2022, according to the American Library Association, there were 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources, the highest number ever recorded in the more than 20 years that the ALA has compiled statistics. A record 2,571 unique titles were targeted for censorship, a 38% increase from the 1,858 unique titles targeted for censorship in 2021. Of those titles, the vast majority were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community and people of color, and many also targeted more than one book. Of the reported book challenges, 58% targeted books and materials in school libraries, classroom libraries or school curricula; 41% of book challenges targeted materials in public libraries. Of the overall number of books challenged, 90% were part of attempts to censor multiple titles, and 40% were in cases involving 100 or more books. Prior to 2021, the vast majority of challenges to library resources only sought to remove or restrict access to a single book.

Has your library had any recent book challenges?

If so, who were the individuals or groups that made the complaint, i.e., individual parents, social media groups, local formal or informal organizations, local/state/national organized groups? What was the result of the complaint?

How has the staff of your library been impacted by the increased number of challenges and bannings? This could include, but not be limited to, increased stress both on and off the job, quitting work at the library, changing to other careers.

Does your library provide training for library staff on what to do in a challenge situation? If so, what topics does it include?

How do your librarians help create your library as a safe space for teens? How do they get this information out to teens?

Does your library offer programming for teens on how to combat book challenges and bannings? Are there displays about the importance of reading/viewing banned and challenged books and other media? Does your library have displays on challenged/banned titles during the entire calendar year, or just for BBW?

How have the teens in your library spoken up on the topics of book challenges and bannings? What have they said, what have they done, and what has the result been?

Since most of the book challenges have been about books written by the LGBTQIA+ community and people of color, how has your library focused on these two groups when adding their titles to your teen collection?

How does the library staff prepare for meeting materials challenges when new titles that are likely to be challenged are added to the teen collection? (a challenge file with supportive information on these titles? Interviews with authors defending their books, and explaining why they wrote them? Other methods?)

Have the selectors for your teen collection ever decided not to buy a book or other material because it was likely to be challenged or banned? How frequently does this happen? In other words, are any of your book selectors self-censors? What kind of training have your selectors had concerning purchasing titles that are likely to be controversial or to be challenged?

Are there politically oriented groups in your community or region that are actively promoting a conservative agenda about materials in library collections? Are there active groups that support libraries, their staff, and their collections?

What is most important to you, and why, concerning book challenges and bannings? What is your reaction to recent legislation and local attempts to prevent teachers from having classroom libraries, harassment of school and public librarians who want to have diverse and inclusive teen collections, and the librarians who are leaving the profession because the stress of doing their jobs is too great?

Book banning is nothing new, and is becoming more widespread through social media and through politically oriented groups. This is one of the most important issues facing our profession, and our collections for teens are among the most vulnerable, in both school and public libraries. Please speak up, and add your experiences and your beliefs about this serious situation to the Spring/Summer 2022 issue of YALS (Young Adult Library Services)

Please note that this is a volunteer writing opportunity with no monetary compensation. YALSA has the right to first refusal.

If you have an article idea for this themed issue, please submit article proposals by May 1, 2023.

If you know someone who has experience on this topic and would be interested in writing for YALS or have questions, please contact YALS’ editor, Joni Richards Bodart at joni.bodart@sjsu.edu or yalseditor@ala.org. While the journal’s main focus is on teen literature, and programming and services for teens, articles from those dealing with the issue of challenges to materials in different professions.

As President-Elect of YALSA, one of my duties is to appoint YALSA volunteers for both our Fall and Spring appointment cycles. I have been working to appoint YALSA members to our current Spring volunteer openings and I am pleased to report the following:

I have filled the following committees and task forces (YALSA Staff are working to contact members now about these opportunities for acceptance):

  • AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School/Public Library Cooperation
  • Teen Programming HQ Taskforce
  • Teens’ Top Ten committee
  • Symposium Planning Taskforce
  • Symposium Evaluation Task Force 

We still need volunteers for the following committees, task force, and advisory boards. Click on the link to learn more about the volunteer position.

Please consider volunteering for YALSA today!

We currently have no volunteers for the Board Development CommitteeMembers with governance experience are highly encouraged to apply for this committee! We need those members who have served in YALSA Board positions specifically to volunteer as this committee oversees the Board’s effectiveness and helps put together and promote our YALSA slate each year.

If you are interested in volunteering, you can access our YALSA Volunteer form with this link: https://www.ala.org/CFApps/volunteer/form.cfm 

As you fill out the nomination form, please refer to my post from last fall: How to Fill Out YALSA’s Volunteer Form.  Please email me (President-elect, Colleen Seisser) with your interest as that will expedite the review of your application and ensure I have eyes on it. You must be a current YALSA member and you must not already have three ALA volunteer commitments.

Respectfully submitted by Colleen Seisser, YALSA President-Elect

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. 

Photo of YALSA Director-at-Large Melissa Malanuk
Melissa Malanuk, YALSA Director-At-Large

Name:  Melissa Malanuk

Title & Library:  Coordinator of Teen Services, Queens Public Library 

Role on the Board: Director-At-Large 

Year on the Board: 1st year

What does YALSA mean to me? 

MM: To me, YALSA means community and support.  Library staff that works with teens often feel like outliers or isolated. YALSA helps to connect us in our shared passion for working with teens.

What are your hopes for the future of teen services? 

MM: Teens lost a lot of learning during the pandemic, both academic and social/ emotional.  My hope for the future of teen services is to provide teens with opportunities to build skills in a fun and engaging way, and to connect teens to needed resources and support.

What is your favorite YALSA Committee or Committee that would love to be on again?

MM: I’ve served on a lot of YALSA committees, but my favorite was the Morris committee.  I loved celebrating new YA authors. 

What’s your ultimate comfort food? 

MM:  Pizza!

What TV show or Movie do you watch on repeat? Or a book that you love reading when you’re in between new books? 

MM: I have a habit of watching episodes of New Girl when I don’t know what I want to watch.

What would you do or where would you go if you won the lotto?   

MM: If I won the lotto I would travel around the world starting with a trip to Europe.

Want to run for YALSA Board?  We’re looking for candidates for the 2024 ALA Election. If you will be at ALA Annual Conference in Chicago this summer join us at YALSA 301 to learn more about YALSA Governance. Want to find out what the responsibility of the YALSA Director-At-Large is find it in the YALSA Handbook, here.   If you’ve been thinking about it why not fill out the nomination form today? Just click here.

YALSA is seeking a Member Manager for the YALSA blog. The deadline has been extended to submit an application by May 5, 2023. The Member Manager will be responsible for the content and look of the blog and will work closely to recruit and oversee designated bloggers. The mission of the YALSA Blog is to provide a virtual space for publishing information about time-sensitive issues and to provide a forum for members and the library community to discuss matters relating to serving teens through libraries.

List of Qualifications:

  1. Excellent verbal and written communications skills
  2. Experience in web publishing, either in editing or writing, sufficient to enable the individual to recruit and manage bloggers, with responsibilities including but not limited to identifying timely topics, maintaining a high standard of writing, and ensuring compliance with YALSA’s Blog Policy
  3. HTML proficiency
  4. Familiarity with content management software including WordPress for the administration of blog sites
  5. Dynamic, self-motivated individual
  6. Ability to delegate.
  7. Strong organizational skills
  8. Ability to set and meet deadlines.
  9. Experience in library services to young adults
  10. Membership in YALSA

General Responsibilities:

  • Communicate with bloggers and the YALSA Office on a regular basis in order to generate ideas for content, assign posting topics, and discuss blog management.
  • Review and edit audio and video content submitted to the blog to make sure the quality is acceptable and that it includes YALSA branding prior to posting.
  • Manage blog postings daily to guarantee the quality of content and appropriate tagging and category identification.
  • Manage comments and spam daily in order to guarantee that the blog content is appropriate.
  • Recruit bloggers on a regular basis
  • Meet with and provide any necessary training to bloggers via Zoom or another online meeting tool
  • Attend the YA Symposium and Annual to recruit bloggers and inform committees about the blog
  • Write reports prior to the Summer and Winter virtual meetings for submission to the YALSA Board.
  • Work with YALSA and ALA Office staff as appropriate to update and manage blog software.
  • Keep track of add-ons and plug-ins to blog software to make sure they are up to date and to add to the blog as necessary.
  • Work with the YALS, JRYLA editors, and The HUB Blog manager as appropriate to coordinate the dissemination of information to members and the library community.
  • Co-Chair the YALS and YALSA Blog Advisory Board
  • Answer questions and inquiries about the blog.
  • Follow all established blog policies and guidelines, enforce them as necessary, and periodically conduct a review of them to ensure currency.

The Member Manager will be selected by the YALSA Executive Committee by May 26, 2023. The year term will begin in June 2023, with an option to renew in May 2024. The Member Manager will receive an honorarium of $500 per year plus $500 towards travel to each Annual Conference and YA Symposium while serving as Member Manager. Candidates should send a cover letter and resume, which includes writing and web publishing experiences to:

LaMoya Burks, Interim Executive Director at lburks@ala.org

and cc, Franklin Escobedo, YALSA President at franklin.yalsa@gmail.com

All resumes, etc. must be submitted via email. For further information contact Franklin Escobedo, YALSA President at franklin.yalsa@gmail.com.  The deadline for submission is May 5, 2023.

Image: Flyer for Under Scrutiny: Helping Staff Feel Safe and Empowered in the Face of Book Challenges
Presenter: Darcy Lipp-Acord
April 11, 2023 2 PM CDT
Under Scrutiny April 11 2 PM CDT

This YALSA webinar is co-sponsored by AASL (American Association of School Librarians), PLA (Public Library Association), and ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children).

All around the country, politically motivated challenges to library patrons’ freedom to read and library staff members’ ability to do their jobs are increasing. Many of these challenges have moved from simple complaints and removal requests to abusive, sometimes dangerous behavior.

In this new webinar, you’ll hear from Darcy Lipp-Acord, the Youth Services Librarian at Campbell County Public Library in Gillette, WY. As someone who has been on the front lines of this harassment, she will present information linking strategies of book challenging groups with abusive behaviors typically found in domestic relationships and offer strategies for dealing with those behaviors as front-facing library staff.

You’ll learn about common strategies used by political groups in their efforts to censor youth materials, how to identify and name these behaviors, and how doing so can empower library staff to develop proactive strategies for responding in ways that protect their safety and integrity.

After participating in this event, learners will:

  • Be able to identify common abusive behaviors being used by book challenging groups
  • Be able to recognize the patterns utilized by these groups
  • Understand how to adapt strategies taught to domestic abuse victims to library situations, and to utilize these strategies to help staff cope with abusive behaviors

Darcy Lipp-Acord is the Youth Services Librarian at Campbell County Public Library in Gillette, WY. Since July 2021, she has been directly involved in dealing with a local group attempting to move youth materials out of children’s and teen areas of her library. The group, like many such challengers nationwide, has resorted to abusive techniques that demoralize staff. Lipp-Acord has researched the links between these techniques and abusive strategies often used in domestic situations and presented her findings at the 2022 YALSA Symposium in Baltimore.

This event will be hosted in Zoom. Registration is limited to 1000 individuals. Automatic captions will be enabled for this event. This event will be recorded, and the recording will be freely available to all, including those who did not register for the live event or were not able to attend.

Register today space is limited. Register by clicking here.

Get ready to vote in this year’s YALSA election! To help you make informed decisions, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2022 YALSA Governance candidates. Voting will take place from March 13 through April 5, 2022.

Serving three-year terms, YALSA Board members are responsible for jointly determining YALSA’s current and future programs, policies, and serving as liaisons to YALSA’s committees, juries, taskforces, and advisory boards. Members work year-round and attend in-person meetings at ALA’s LibLearnX and Annual Conferences. A full description of Board duties and responsibilities can be found here. You can learn more about ALA elections here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.  Please share a recent example(s) where you made a shift to better focus on the current needs of teens in the wake of the pandemic.

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

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

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

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

Your donation to the Friends of YALSA can make all the difference, as it can truly impact the lives of library staff and the communities they serve. Each year, FOY donations are used to support member awards, grants, scholarships, and stipends, and we are grateful for your generous support.

One of the programs funded by the FOY is the YALSA Board Fellow Program. This program allows a YALSA member to serve on the board for a 1-year period. This is an excellent opportunity for a YALSA member interested in taking on a more significant role within YALSA. In addition, the board fellow receives a $500 stipend to attend Annual Conference and LibLearnX.

Those interested in donating can visit the Friends of YALSA page. Your donation will help YALSA meet its goal of supporting equity, diversity, and inclusion for all members. 

Respectively submitted by Celeste Swanson on behalf of YALSA’s Financial Advancement Committee