For immediate release | March 22, 2011

Michele Gorman wins YALSA’s Thinking Big about Advocacy Contest

CHICAGO — Michele Gorman, teen services director for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in Charlotte, N.C., won the Young Adult Library Services Association’s Thinking Big about Advocacy Contest for a teen video series promoting the library. Gorman receives $500 for her submission. The Friends of YALSA funded the contest.

After the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library endured a 46-percent cut in its operating budget, resulting in branch closures, staff layoffs and a 53-percent reduction in hours of service, teen services staff created the Teen Video Advocacy Project. Armed with Flip Video cameras, teen library users at 20 library branches created 30-second to one-minute videos to share their personal thoughts about why libraries matter and how they have made a difference in their lives. Staff and teen interns chose the best testimonials and edited them into four short videos to demonstrate the importance of keeping library branches open, preserving staff, offering high-interest teen programs and continuing to provide hours that fit into teens’ schedules, such as evenings and weekends.

The four videos are posted at and will be shared with elected officials, adult community members and a Future of the Library Task Force charged with making library funding sustainable despite the current economic climate.

“This project allowed teens to share their personal thoughts about why libraries matter and how they have made a difference in their lives,” said Gorman. “Winning this contest will allow us to share the teens’ message farther and wider than we might have been able to do without it. More importantly, we are able to share this honor with all of the teens who participated – which I believe sends a strong message to the teens that people are watching, people did take notice and the opinions of local teens do matter during difficult times like these.”

In addition to Gorman, the Thinking Big about Advocacy Task Force selected four entrants as runners-up. Each receives $100 for their efforts. The runners-up are:

  • Jennifer Lara, district director of instructional media centers, O’Fallon Township (Ill.) High School, Vernon A. Ohlendorf Instructional Media Center
  • Darby Wallace, director, Jackson County (Ark.) Library
  • Lynn Silbernagel, middle school librarian, Catlin Gabel School, Portland, Ore.
  • Michael Giller, assistant director of library services, South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenville, S.C.

For more than 50 years, YALSA has been the world leader in selecting books, videos and audio books for teens. For more information about YALSA or for lists of recommended reading, viewing and listening, go to, or contact the YALSA office by phone, (800) 545-2433, ext. 4390, or e-mail,


Stephanie Kuenn