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

Photo of Board Fellow, Morgan Brickley-Jones with two thumbs up.
Morgan Brickley-Jones, Board Fellow

Name: Morgan Brickley-Jones

Title & Library:  Director of Community Engagement, UTA Libraries

Role on the Board: Board Fellow

Years on the Board: 1st year

Tell us a little about yourself. Who is this years Board Fellow?

MBJ: Hello, I am your YALSA 2022-23 Board Fellow, Morgan! I have been an on-and-off member of YALSA for roughly ten years, and the Board Fellow position was my first experience working with the actual YALSA Board. I am the Director of Community Engagement at the University of Texas at Arlington Libraries. 

How did you first get involved with YALSA?

MBJ: My first committee volunteering experience was with YALSA- in 2014, I volunteered for the Teens Top Ten Committee. This committee gave me valuable experience working with colleagues in a virtual, asynchronous environment. During that time was an active book reviewer and enamored with book selection committee work, so when my Teens Top Ten service had ended, I quickly applied to be on the Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers committee. This committee was foundational in my experience working with librarians from different types of libraries at ALA annual conference. I loved every minute of my two years on Quick Picks and really do remember my time on that committee fondly.

What made you decide to apply to be the Board Fellow?

MBJ: Over the past few years, I doubled down on my work volunteering with my state-level committees and let my YALSA and ALA members lapse. Recently, I was putting together my resume and dossier for promotion and started to wonder about what I could do to contribute to ALA and YALSA again. I contacted the now YALSA’s immediate past president, Kelly Czarnecki, and she gave me a list of opportunities. I was attracted to the Board Fellow position because it seemed to be what I needed then, lower stakes than a full board member but it is given the opportunity to look behind the curtain. The YALSA Board Fellow position has given me just that ability- I have been able to work with YALSA board members. I have seen board initiatives pass and other issues discussed among colleagues working to reach a consensus.

Why do you think the Board Fellow is an important part of learning about YALSA Governance?

MBJ: I think that the Board Fellow position is ideal for YALSA members at all different stages of your journey. If you have dedicated your volunteering to committees, the Board Fellow position will let you know if board work is your next step. It is also an excellent idea for YALSA members looking to get more involved with the organization’s governance. I better understand how the big picture of YALSA functions and just how vital volunteers are to the framework of YALSA and ALA.

If you have been thinking about YALSA Governance are not ready to make the three-year commitment.  The Board Fellow position is the first step in seeing what kind of work the board is doing.  Morgan mentioned that being the board fellow was a look behind the curtain, and many of the past board fellows have said similar in past blog posts.  All the YALSA Board meetings are open to members, the Board Fellow positions allows them to see the work that happens in between the meetings.  Some of the work done by the board is swift, but much of the work is a long slow march that can take a few years to complete. If you are interested in becoming the Board Fellow apply here.  If you have questions, feel free to contact Morgan or any of the YALSA Board Members for more information. 

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 is the YALSA Board? What do they do? Who is on the YALSA Board? These could be questions you may have and if they are you’ve come to the right place. Each month, two YALSA Board of Directors are interviewed and their responses are shared here in order to help members get to know more about the Board members, the Board itself and things the Board is working on.

YALSA’s board of directors has the principal responsibility for fulfillment of YALSA’s mission and the legal accountability for its operations. The board has specific fiduciary duties of care, loyalty, and obedience to the law. As a group they are in charge of:

  • establishing a clear organizational mission
  • forming the strategic plan to accomplish the mission
  • overseeing and evaluating the plan’s success
  • hiring a competent executive director
  • providing adequate supervision and support to the executive director

This month meet Franklin Escovedo, Principal Librarian for the City of Coronado, California.

What drew you to the Board?  

I think I have a strange back story for my involvement with the YALSA Board.  So at Annual in 2008 in Anaheim, my first ALA conference, I went to the member meeting GLBT-RT, and they were asking if any members were members of YALSA, “the perky librarians” the chair asked at the meeting.  Myself and a colleague who is no longer with us, were the only two members hopping up and down trying to get their attention.  We laughed about this later, since we did indeed fall into the category of perky librarian.  They were looking to fill a Liaison position for the round table, since the Liaison position had become vacant.  So I was appointed to be the liaison.  They didn’t seem to know what had happened to the previous one, they just told contact two people.  One of those was Beth Yoke and the other was a Board Member who was also a member of the GLBT-RT.  Since this was my first official activity in ALA, I was pretty lost at what to do, figured the best way to find out what YALSA was doing was to go to Board meetings.  So at Midwinter in 2009, I attended my first board meeting and was the only observer.  Sometimes they forgot I was there and would get into really heated debates, then someone would point out that there was an observer.  But from that first meeting in Denver, I was really impressed at the work that the Board did.  And from then on people kept asking me to be more involved and run for board.  So for several years I kept telling them I wanted to learn more about YALSA before I would run.  But what has kept my interest is the passion that the members of the board have for YALSA and the future of teen services, the need to adapt to the current and future landscape of teen services and for the librarians working with teens.  This is a division that hasn’t rested on its laurels but one that is trying to keep pace with the ever changing landscape of information and library services for teens, whether physically or virtually.     

What do you do on the board?  I’m one of the Board of Directors; I’m helping to shape the future of YALSA by helping to implement the new organizational plan.  I also liaison with few Chairs, the Teen Top Ten Committee, the Interdivisional Committee.  I’m also our liaison for the Division to ALA Advocacy group.  I’m currently working on a way to evaluate some of our older committees and to see what needs to be changed so that they will align with the new org plan.

What the board is doing for its members

One of the biggest challenges that the division has had over the past few years is how do you make YALSA more accessible to it’s members.  How to do you get more of the members involved?  One of biggest changes and exciting change is the ability to get more members involved in virtual committees.  The move of PPYA to a virtual committee made it possible for members who can’t afford to go to conference accessible.  One of the biggest road blocks for many members is the cost of attending a conference.  Like a lot of my colleagues, my library doesn’t cover the cost of me attending let a lot membership dues.  A not everyone is crazy like me, who pays for everything themselves.  Going to conference is no cheap affair.  So changing the charges of the selection committees has allowed more of our colleagues to participate.  This new change will allow many more librarians to get involved and help create selection list faster and hopefully get librarians who may not have participated in the past more actively involve.  YALSA is still trying to create better resources for its members and I believe for teen librarians in general.   We know that YA Librarians are often rare in libraries and that there a lot of generalist as well as paraprofessionals who serve as the Teen Librarian.  We want to continue to advocate for YA Librarians being added to the payrolls of libraries and schools.  We want to help with the continuing education of a YA Librarians, the new, the old, and the newly reassigned librarians who want to provided better services for teens.

Are you reading a teen book you may want to share or a recent program you may have done with and for teens.  I’m currently reading several books, one book is the first of the Magnus Chase series by Rick Riordan. I’m also reading Echo Park by Michael Connelly for my mystery book club that I run at my library. And I’m halfway through this year’s Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award winner, If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo.  I was lucky enough to meet Meredith at the Coffee Klatch in Orlando.  I’m so thrilled that it won! 

During my final year of my PhD program in the School of Information at Florida State University, I decided to take a risk and apply for the YALSA Board Fellows program. Having been out of libraries as a practitioner for a few years, I felt nervous about applying to a program that seemed out of my league. But the risk turned out to be worth it as I began to meet people from a range of backgrounds within YALSA who inspired me to become a better LIS researcher and librarian.

At first, my fellowship seemed daunting. Not only did I add another project on top of my dissertation, but I also immersed myself in a position that required quite a bit of outspokenness and willingness to contribute my own ideas, critiques, and concerns to a well-spoken and passionate group of individuals who made up the Board. This is not an easy task for those who (like me) tend to write instead of speak and find public speaking to be an overwhelming experience. As an introvert, I find it easier to not share my opinions (at least aloud) and to sometimes allow the thoughts and opinions of others to drown out my own. However, by taking on this fellowship, I grew as both as public speaker and critical thinker. I’m still quiet and shy, but I’ve found the smaller discussions and breakout groups that we took part in as a board a less intimidating step towards public speaking.

As part of the fellowship, I conducted a year long project, focusing on a specific project that could be of benefit to the YALSA Board. Figuring out my project took more time and thoughtful reflection than I expected. Having little experience with board work in general, I couldn’t quite see how I could contribute meaningful content to an already functioning and relevant board. Eventually, I settled on a topic: resources the Board could use to build stronger relationships with funders. Through my project work, I dug deeper into how a board functions and the many aspects necessary to nurture the work of a board. This is one of the many reasons that I appreciate my time on the YALSA board. Without this project, I wouldn’t have an awareness of board work and the difficult elements that contribute to a successful board. I hope that as I grow in my career I can continue to offer my services to YALSA either through committee or board work. Knowing that I am offering my skills to a board that has the needs of its members, organization, and profession foremost in its view is exciting and meaningful.

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I first learned about the Board Fellowship program while serving on YALSA’s Board Diversity Task Force. Our chair, Nicola McDonald, previously served as a Fellow. I found my work on the Task Force to be incredibly fulfilling. I was excited to be part of a forward-thinking organization that values diversity and was willing to explore inclusion from the top down. Just before the deadline, I decided to apply for the Fellowship – I wanted to be part of the team guiding an association I value and respect.

My Board Fellowship began in June 2016 at ALA Annual in Orlando. As conference approached, I wondered if I’d gotten in over my head: was I ready for this commitment, did I even understand what my responsibilities would be? My anxiety was dispelled when my welcome packet was delivered. I pored over the materials in preparation for conference. I still had some nerves, but was excited to learn and looked forward to my Board training and beginning my term in Orlando. Four months later, I’m still learning and looking forward to the challenges the future will bring.

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It is almost that time again! Time to apply to be a YALSA Board Fellow. You can read all about the details of being a Board Fellow here. But what is the experience really like? Check out these posts from previous Board Fellows:

Nicola McDonald first and second post about her experience as Board Fellow.

Carrie Kausch’s post about her experience as Board Fellow.

Applications are due on December 1st. Click here for the application requirements.

When I received my acceptance letter as YALSA’s 2014-2015 Board Fellow I was so ecstatic. I’d been involved in YALSA before I even began my time in library school at Drexel University. First serving on the Fabulous Films for Young Adults Committee and then YALS editorial Advisory Committee and the Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults Committee. But this I knew would give me a different experience that I was looking forward to, especially thinking at the time that I would love to run for an opportunity to sit on the YALSA Board of Directors.

Well, my year as Board Fellow did not disappoint. In fact, it proved to be so much more than what I bargained for when I first started out. I had certain tasks to fulfill as described in the YALSA Board Fellow Program – a major task of which was to undertake a project for the year. Stemming from a mega issue discussion, I quickly realized that the conversation of board diversity needed to continue and, with the help of Beth Yoke and Shannon Peterson, I put together a board document that would later be discussed at ALA midwinter 2015 and voted on to be moved forward via the work of a task force. I agreed to Chair this taskforce and work is currently underway to make suggestions for how YALSA can increase and maintain ongoing diversity among the board of directors.

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