The Power of Youth People in Associations!

We are just wrapping up our WI fall library conference. Our Youth Services Section board and volunteers (the street team) is always a vibrant, supportive, welcoming presence.  They not only promote and provide interesting program content, but also social opportunities for any youth folks who attend and games and activities to engage youth folks at their booth in the exhibits.

This year they played a secret game that I found out last night was called "I Saw Marge". Attendees got a small picture of me and needed to secretly take a picture of me (and themselves) displaying the little picture - all unbeknownst to me. I was spending most of my time shadowing our current association prez and working with my 2018 conference chair to begin plans for next year's conference when I'm prez. And chatting of course.
Typical stealth photo with a clueless me

A bunch of my 772 students spoofing the prof ("We want a pix with you!")
When all was revealed at the YSS social and R-Rated storytime last night, it was both a hilarious and touching moment. To me, it represented one of the quintessential reasons why associations (especially state associations) are so important: they bring like-minded library advocates together in real time to meet, develop friendships and move librarianship forward. And in Wisconsin, a vibrant Youth Services Section does just that.

I would never have run for president of WLA without the nurturing, support, wisdom, leadership opportunities, networking, brainstorming power of YSS and my YSS colleagues. They have problem-solved, promoted, created meaningful and fun opportunities to participate for youth folks from every size library. My work on the YSS board, as YSS chair, as a volunteer taught me a ton and made everyone I ran into a valued friend and colleague. It launched me into serving n assocaition wide committees and boards.

YSS is a vibrant part of the association. They regularly nominate colleagues as the Librarian of the Year. Just in the last 7 years, 4 youth librarians have received this association-wide honor (hurray Tessa Michaelson Schmidt, Elizabeth Timmins, and this year's winner Leah Langby) out of a total of 12 youth librarians who received the honor since its inception in 1956. 

YSS gives members opportunity not just to learn but to provide content of the learning.  YSS hosts state-wide webinars (co-sponsored by systems who provide the platform) to feature the expertise of members; writing for our blog YSS Shout-Out; involving them in sharing program content in the Early Literacy Calendar, 52 Weeks of YA Programming and soon to be published 12 Months of Coding Programs. 

And YSS is recognized as a vibrant and integral part of the larger Association. Our WLA exec director and finance director attended our YSS business meeting yesterday and were blown away by the can-do problem solving around increasing membership of the association as a whole.

So I hope that in your own states, you step up and join your associations and create leadership magic, IRL networking and support for everyone in your state. I know it is expensive. Maybe you can cut out one eat-out meal a month or two barista-made coffees monthly to afford it. Maybe you can set aside $10-20/month in a savings account just for membership dues. Perhaps you can suggest a family member give you an assocation membership for a holiday or birthday. Better yet, talk with your board/administration and point out the REAL benefits that happen with association memberships (legislative lobbying power; learning; leadership; a chance to share and gain expertise) and seek their support.

Associations need the mightiness of youth services folks. Together, we ARE stronger!

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