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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

When Does Virtual Work?

ALA Annual is coming up, which means both fun and work.

Part of the work: the YALSA Board meets. It’s quite a commitment, being on the YALSA Board, and it’s on my bucket list of things to run for, and in the meanwhile, I like to read the board documents, both before and after things like ALA Annual.

So, for those who are also interested in what’s happening in YALSA, what’s being talked about, etc., here is a link to the board schedule and documents: Board of Directions Annual 2012 Meeting. As with anything, members really should read all of them. It’s our organization, we pay dues, etc.

A few things caught my eye: the emphasis on how many email addresses were obtained through the controversial fill-out-a-form website change; financial issues; and virtual selection committees. (As an aside, at least as of right now, log in is not required to see the board documents; I’m pretty sure in the past I did have to log in. I could be wrong.)

Item 13, Piloting a Virtual Selection Committee, will be discussed on Sunday during the 4 to 5:30 time slot. (I’m already double-booked for that time period so will not be able to attend in person).

In a nutshell, (but PLEASE read it yourself to reach your own conclusions), YALSA is being sensitive to members needs and financial limitations and wanting to be involved in YALSA but being unable to attend the midwinter meeting and/or annual conference.

So, the suggestion on the table is a pilot program for two committees, the Margaret A. Edwards Award and Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, to go entirely virtual.

I have mixed thoughts on this. (I know, how new and different for me, to have mixed thoughts!)

I like the idea of seeing what does and doesn’t work virtually.

Having been on committees that are mostly face to face; a mix; and all virtual (and here I’m talking the Cybils, too); I think that face to face is needed for selection work. Not face to face exclusively; but I have reservations about exclusive virtual meetings. Also, personally, if I had run/accepted being on a committee that was switching from face to face to all virtual, well, I’d have liked the opportunity to say no and pursue a non-virtual slot. Another point — virtual participation is its own skill set. It’s not that easy to get people to participate or work with it.

Since I like to have one’s cake and eat it, too, I wonder about a committee that is a mix of virtual and face to face; that is, say a committee has 9 members. What if 2 or 3 of those were virtual, and participated in the face to face meeting via SKYPE? (Of course, that makes certain assumptions about the technology available to members.) Or, since Midwinter is usually the decision-intense meeting, have Annual be virtual and Midwinter be face to face?

As a former member of the NonFiction committee, I also have questions about what this means for reduced attendance at Midwinter. The more committees that are virtual, the lower attendance at Midwinter, which means people are even less likely to attend functions such as the reception for the NonFiction and Morris Awards.

What are your thoughts on virtual selection committees?

Or, did something else interesting in the board documents catch your eye that you want to talk about?

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About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is lizzy.burns@gmail.com.

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