September 22, 2017

Youth Division Candidates Sound Off

By LJ Staff

AASL, ALSC, and YALSA presidential hopefuls compare priorities

What’s the biggest issue in children’s services, and how would you tackle it? That’s the question SLJ posed to the presidential candidates of the American Library Association’s (ALA) three youth divisions. Youth division members must cast their ballots by April 26.

American Association of School Librarians

“The biggest issue is the issue of equitable access to appropriate and valid information,” says Betty Marcoux, an associate professor at the School of Information Resources and Library Science, at the University of Arizona. “The collaborative process between the children’s librarian and the parent provides the best filter and opportunity for access to appropriate and valid information; there is no substitute for this partnership. Equitable access means not denying children access to appropriate information regardless of geography, ethnicity, economic status, gender, or culture.”

Frances R. Roscello, a school library media services associate for the New York State Education Department, wants to see librarians take a major role in supporting federal and state reading initiatives. “Librarians, both school and public, need to be at the table when decisions are made with reading programs, to ensure that all children read by the third grade,” she says.

Association for Library Service to Children

Funding is the main issue for Kathleen Simonetta, head of youth services at Indian Trails (IL) Public Library. “It comes down to PR and partnerships,” she says. “We need to get out there and make our presence known so funding keeps coming our way. We also must look for alternative [corporate] sources and be more assertive about locating those sources, learning their language, and asking for funding.” Simonetta also wants librarians who are successful fundraisers to sha
re their expertise.

Cynthia K. Richey, director of the Mount Lebanon (PA) Public Library, emphasizes that librarians need to make the “profession more attractive and more remunerative. We need to work with ALA’s task forces on pay equity and make sure children’s librarians are included. We also need to work with other initiatives outside of ALA—Laura Bush’s $10 million recruitment proposal, for example—and make children’s librarians a part of that. We need to prepare information and marketing pieces that will help articulate our message and help recruit people to the profession.”

Young Adult Library Services Association

“The library is the cultural institution of the community and the telecommunications center for the highest at-risk population, which are youth,” says Betty Acerra, branch manager of the Brighton Beach Branch of the Brooklyn (NY) Public Librar
y. “As president of YALSA, I will focus on the needs of the most vulnerable and continuously try to keep this fight for freedom of access [to information] in the forefront.”

Audra Caplan, associate director of the Harford County (MD) Public Library, cites “the lack of youth librarians going into leadership roles” as a big issue. “If I’m elected, one of my major goals is to provide leadership training for YALSA members and mentoring opportunities between new youth librarians and those in management and administration.”