Monday, January 20, 2014

Heartbroken: my reaction to the YALSA Blog Reboot

I started on the YALSA Blog Advisory Board in July of 2013. It's a two year position. When I first read the termination letter from YALSA President Shannon Peterson, I was confused and a little hurt. Then the message went viral with mention of rebooting the YALSA Blog. You can read the full message here, but here are my thoughts on some of the highlights. 

1. Stats are down on the blog.

I can understand that (I think that's normal across many blogs - this one included) and if that is the major concern, than I think the advisory board could have helped create more content, generate ideas, recruit more bloggers, or beef up the social media sharing on posts.  This never came up.

2. "The YALSAblog has not been meeting YALSA’s needs in terms of raising awareness of YALSA resources, or advancing YALSA’s strategic goals. Posts are regularly made live that fail to mention appropriate YALSA resources. For example, a recent post about STEM programs failed to mention YALSA’s STEM Programming Toolkit, and a recent post about planning author visits failed to mention YALSA’s state by state directory of YA authors."

Now while I understand this, I wish it had been talked about when I turned in posts. You could search the blog posts and uncover the person who wrote these two posts. But I'll save you the trouble. Both of them are mine.

I wrote about not understanding much about STEM programs and then realizing I knew more than I believed after researching. There's a line in there that was added into the post about the toolkit and I didn't mind at all.

The second post was on Skyping with Authors as an idea for planning your next author visit. This post was based on a presentation I co-presented at NELA. Other resources were used in the presentation and those were used on the blog post - primarily focused on authors who Skype. The point of Skyping with authors is reaching out to authors you might not be able to host at your library because of travel costs. While the authors listing by state is a great idea, it wasn't the point of the post.

And in learning that both of the examples given were mine, I feel like a big fat failure. I feel like I let down YALSA and the community. Then I wished that my failure weren't quite so public. If the posts were that bad, I wish someone said something to me so I could make my future posts better.

3. "Sunset the current Advisory Board and put out a call for new board members, based on the revised mission and committee charge"

This I don't understand. After my application was accepted, I signed a two year contract. If I had to sign a contract, shouldn't YALSA honor that contract? I've only been on the board for 7 months. Why hasn't this come up in emails or conversation? Why weren't we given a chance to help make changes? Why weren't we given the chance to make the blog better? Why weren't we part of the revision and blog overhaul? Isn't that the purpose of the advisory board - to help advise?

I had a great working relationship with Wendy. I pitched ideas, she listened. She asked for content, I wrote up drafts. We talked about them until we were both happy with them. Clearly, someone above her wasn't happy. I'm glad they waited until the end of her term for the reboot, but the whole document seems to tell all of us involved that we failed. The letter came as a shock and the document feels like a slap in the face.

I was so excited to be a part of the blog and be on the board. It's a great step from me personally and for my career. I was excited to be working more at the national level. And now, I feel horrible. I feel like I've failed, like I haven't been given a fair chance, and that my thoughts don't matter. I'm heartbroken and heartsick and I'm not sure where to go from here. 


Jenny B. Jones said...

Hang in there. Love your blog, always learn a lot from your posts, and you do a ton to promote libraries and books, which I greatly appreciate.

Unknown said...

I hate that you are going through this. You are a great blogger and may I say very inspiring as a fellow librarian.

Unknown said...

I hate that you are going through this. You are a very talented and inspiring blogger and I look forward to your updates. You're enthusiasm is contagious and I can't tell you how many books I've bought for my library thanks to you.

Anna Tschetter said...

You didn't fail. It was a stupid and to me, panicky and impulsive move on their part. Pretty unprofessional if you ask me, since they didn't even give the chance for your feedback or opinions. Don't be down on yourself. It wasn't you!

YA Sleuth said...

Sounds like politics and bad communication on their part. I greatly enjoy your blog, and find this puzzling...

I've been through things like this, and I hope that you (like I did) will look back on this moment as a time you were able to shift your focus on things that will get you in a better place.

Jennifer Rummel said...

Thanks everyone, I appreciate your kind words!

Teen Librarian's Toolbox, Karen said...

Jennifer, I love your blog and you are an awesome librarian. I am sorry all this has happened and it seems to have been handled poorly. Communication is so very important. Keep your chin up, you rock.