YALSA President's Report

July 2007

Paula Brehm-Heeger

“YALSA: Leading the Way”


Following the Annual Conference, Board members have been busy working with committee chairs, reviewing pending projects and planning activities for the coming months. I sent a quick “Getting Started” message to new incoming process committee chair people to help them as they transition to their new leadership roles. YALSA members who had taken the initiative to submit requests for Board action at the annual conference have been contacted by Board members and have been informed of the Board’s decisions regarding each request for action.

The 5th Round of
Excellence in Library Service to Young Adults winners were announced and I sent notes of congratulations to each of the twenty-five winners. YALSA Program Officer Nichole Gilbert sent ALA President Loriene Roy a list of winners (at Loriene’s request) so that she, too, could send congratulations to those winners who provided such impressive and valuable programs to their teens.

YALSA is always looking for dynamic
partners and sponsors it is vital that our members are knowledgeable about the formal process for approaching these potential partners and sponsors. Executive Director Beth Yoke created an FAQ detailing the process for working with the YALSA Office on sponsorship questions and I communicated this FAQ sheet to committee chairs and Board members.

ALA’s Emerging Leaders program will continue again this year and YALSA will be sponsoring one member to participate.
General information about the program and
details about applying to receive YALSA sponsorship were distributed to members via division electronic discussion lists and our blog.

YALSA office staff and I both worked to
provide ALA President Loriene Roy resources about teens and reading for her many interviews related to Harry Potter and also with support material for her interview featured on NPR’s “Tell Me More” radio program concerning the importance of multicultural literature for young people.

I submitted my first
President’s column to
editor Valerie Ott and received my summer issue of
YALS, guest edited by Sarah Flowers. I would like to extend a thank you to Sarah for doing such an outstanding job and for her willingness to take on this task. Applications for the YALS editor position are now being accepted and the deadline for applications is September 3rd.

I worked with YALSA Communications Specialist Stephanie Kuenn to make
appointments for YALSA members to represent our division to such groups as ALA’s Literacy Assembly, ALA’s Schneider Family Book Award and ALA’s Professional Ethics Committee.

In Progress

July has been spent preparing for the upcoming August phone call with Board members. This is a new addition to the Board meeting schedule. A major point of discussion will be committee post-conference reports (submitted after annual conference). The agenda includes a number of important items beyond these reports, further indicating just how active our Division has become! The agenda and complete list of Board documents for this meeting are available on the For Members Only section of YALSA’s website.


I wish to express my deep appreciation for the entire YALSA staff when it comes to working with the media, in particular the newest member of YALSA’s Office staff, Communication Specialist Stephanie (Stevie) Kuenn, with whom I have been working closely. I’m fortunate that YALSA is now able to financially support a staff Communication Specialist and have certainly benefited from the resources and support material Stevie has provided—often at a moment’s notice—this past month.

It seemed July was all about Harry Potter! The release of the fourth movie and final book in the popular series created a flurry of activity and I received many requests for interviews. The focus of the interviewers ranged widely, with some asking for predictions about the fate of Harry and others looking for comments about the series long-term impact on teens’ reading. Harry Potter–related contacts included:

  • Series of email questions from the Books Editor at the
    Denver Post asking for ideas about how to keep teens reading after they’ve finished the final Harry Potter book. Marin Younker, chair of this year’s Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults Committee, also responded to this Denver Post interview based on the “Magic in the Real World” list on which the PPYA committee is currently working.
  • Phone interview with a reporter from the
    Austin American-Statesmen in Texas about the rise of enthusiasm for reading among older children and young adults.
  • Phone interview with reporter from the Web site Revolution Health asking for specific recommendations for teens who have finished Harry Potter (My suggestions included
    The Lightning Thief,
    The Book Thief, and
  • Live Radio interview with “Think Mornings” WDYT 1220 AM Think Radio in Charlotte, NC to talk about how the Harry Potter series has encouraged a generation of young people to read.
  • Taped radio interview with WBUR's “Here and Now,” where I was one of two guests discussing the issue of whether Harry Potter has increased teen reading overall.
  • Phone interview with reporter from the
    Times Herald in Port Huron, MI for a series of “Pottermania” stories focused on how J.K. Rowling stacks up against authors such as Beatrix Potter, Dr. Seuss, Charles Dickens, and Judy Blume.
  • Phone interview with the German Press Agency about the popularity of Harry Potter.
  • Phone interview with a reporter from
    USA Today about whether Harry would live or die.

A list of articles based on many of these interviews is available on YALSA’s wiki page, “
YALSA and YA Services in the News."

Other media contacts included:

  • Phone interview with a reporter from the
    Syracuse Post-Standard in NY regarding disruptive young people at the local library.
  • Spoke with local reporter from the
    Cincinnati Enquirer about my new position as YALSA President. This story was picked up by American Libraries Direct.
  • Answered questions for a Harry Potter-related press release created by Stevie Kuenn, YALSA Communications Specialist, as did PPYA Chair Marin Younker.
  • Answered questions for a press release discussing both the new results from a Harris poll conducted by ALA and the recently released PLA Public Library Statistical Report.

Thanks to the Board, staff, committee chairs and members and to everyone in YALSA for your support during my first full month as your President!