September 2023 Member of the Month: Cathy Andronik


My first professional job was a surprise, more or less a favor from a church parish my grandmother helped found, but months after getting my MLS I found myself working as the librarian (no media specialists back then) at a small Catholic high school in my hometown. That job set the rest of my life--because it’s been so much more than my career--on its trajectory: I discovered that I LOVED young adult/teen services. Fast forward over thirty years, to my “retirement” (LOL) from a large, diverse, urban public high school on the other side of the state, where I’d served as teacher librarian (my preferred term) for seventeen of those years. There, a colleague and I started a student book club that, when I retired, numbered over fifty dedicated and enthusiastic members who also welcomed top-tier visiting authors and attended nearby young adult author festivals. I cultivated readers, and through the recession of the early 2000s, I managed to keep new books on the shelves through grants and award committee participation. None of this would have been possible without YALSA, which I joined around the time I got that job. I’d belonged to other professional organizations, but none made me feel as welcome or as eager to participate as YALSA. I discovered that I enjoyed being on committees, and that my input was valued. If I had time and/or energy to give, YALSA had a place for me. I volunteered to present at YALSA-related conferences, and gained the knowledge, confidence, and poise that led to a job with the Bureau of Education and Research, for whom I now conduct seminars on . . . you guessed it, young adult books and services. That confidence also carried over into my leadership role with my state’s book award committees for many years. Involvement with YALSA has put me on a first name, hugs at conferences basis with some of the biggest names in today’s YA literature. It sparked my desire to pursue a Ph.D. with a dissertation on the wonderful explosion of diversity in teen authors and their work. The goal: to I do more with my newest passion: teaching future school and teen librarians, whom of course I encourage, early and often, to become a part of YALSA.