Changes to the YALSA Website

Some changes are afoot at the YALSA website, particularly, who can access certain information and how. It looks like it’s a work in progress.

At the moment, if you go to the YALSA website, and click on the menu item Book Awards and Booklists, instead of getting any information about the awards and lists, there is a log on screen. YALSA members can sign in and view content; non-YALSA members are taken to a form to fill out before getting to the content.

Abby the Librarian has posted about the whys and wherefores of the changes. Abby raises a bunch of questions and issues, from how this change was announced by YALSA to the reasons for it. I don’t want to duplicate what she says, so, yes, go over and read the conversation and comments. Abby is a strong champion of involvement in professional associations like ALA and YALSA.

Kelly at Stacked also blogged about this recent change. Like Abby, Kelly has a bunch of questions and observations. Kelly (like Abby and myself) are all YALSA members, so, like us, Kelly is approaching this from the point of view a member but with a different perspective from Abby. Please click through to her post, about how and why and what these changes mean. For example, if anyone can nominate a book for an award, but now they need to fill out a form to get to that page, will there be less field nominations? As with Abby’s post, an interesting conversation is taking place in the comments, so read the post and comments.

I just want to add that I think it’s important to be aware of what happens with our organization. What content should or should not be members-only has been informally in discussions as long as I can recall. In the comments at Abby’s post, Jen Rothschild(Biblio File blog) recalls, “you had to be a YALSA member to get the annotated lists, but you didn’t in order to get just the titles and going back to that is something I could support.” I recall that, also; and it’s how I had initially interpreted the October 2011 Fall Executive Committee Meeting.

According to YALSA’s Tweets (here and here) (as well as a YALSA-BK email, but I don’t like quoting a listserv email, but the listserv archive is here so you can find it), a technology issue is causing the current situation (needing to log in or fill out a form to see the existence of YALSA awards/lists, as well as all criteria, and the current lists and list archive) and the intent is for the lists (current and archive) to be members only or fill out a form. (Disclosure: I haven’t directly followed up with YALSA about this, because the tweets and YALSA-BK email seemed pretty clear to me; and I’m writing this up as an informal blog post, not an article).

Right now, Abby and Kelly are making valuable observations, but it’s a bit hard to know the long-term impact of what information is or isn’t “members/form” only because the current situation (total block) appears to be a temporary technology issue that is getting sorted. Of course, every day that gets worked out is a day that someone goes to discover what awards and lists YALSA has and encounters a barrier. Is filling out a form that big a deal? That’s an individual decision: for some people, yes, it’s a barrier. Others may say, “no big deal.”

So, just out of curiosity:

Did you notice the change? Right now, it’s possible to access the information if you go to it directly (i.e., use a search engine to search “yalsa best fiction for young adults 2012”) but that work around only works if you are already aware of the list’s name. Also, I suspect that it’s temporary and when the technology issues get sorted it won’t be possible. It makes me wonder — once that gets locked down, how will that affect search bots and search results? Could the YALSA page fall from the number 1 return for that search to further down the list?

Does it matter to you?

What types of content do you think should or should not be members only?

How big a deal is filling out that form? Does your answer change based on how often that form needs to be filled out by an individual?

Edited to add: From the YALSA blog, Changes to YALSA’s Website explaining what has happened. Rather than cut and paste, please click through to read the whole post. What do you think? Is something free if you have to supply an email to access it? How do you then expect your email to be used? Do these changes promote the awards and lists?

Edited to add: The Venn Librarian talks about this in Membership Has Its Privileges. Some good food for thought about what encourages membership.


8 thoughts on “Changes to the YALSA Website

  1. Thanks for bringing up the issue and presenting the many discussions going.

    I believe very strongly in the importance of a professional organization and sympathize with the idea of providing something special for members. But I also believe that we are a service profession and providing access to important information on selection lists and awards to non-members is also important. Many many people value the information but don’t want all that YALSA membership provides. Maybe the question YALSA ought to be asking is not what to block but how they could gain more support.

    Even as a member I am irritated by the extra steps and by the atmosphere created by asking people to fill out forms. It seems far more productive in the long-term to welcome those wanting this information and winning them over to importance of what we as a profession provide. That old adage of attracting more flies with honey springs to mind 😉


  2. I am fine with YALSA making certain aspects of the list privileged information–like the annotations, but to make the lists and the award criteria completely unavailable is ridiculous. Granted, I can see that they want people to join the organization, but alienating people isn’t the way to go about that. Membership in ALA and YALSA is expensive, especially if your organization refuses to foot the bill for your professional memberships. If they want more members, try lowering the price some rather than restricting access and alienating potential users. I am a member of ALA, so I am not griping for being on the outside looking in–I am merely sympathizing with those who find those lists valuable, but don’t have the $ for membership. The extra steps are tedious, and they really aren’t winning any friends. I have to agree with Lynn, that we really need to do more to win people over rather than alienating them with forms and restrictions.


  3. Lynne, “flies with honey” – YES. And I also agree that it’s good to provide something special for membership, but I don’t see this as either the “special” or the way to do so. As I’ve seen (and participated on) at comments and Twitter, some do not see this as a big deal etc. Enough discussion going on to say that it’s not a simple, cut and dried, issue. It seems from YALSA’s post that this is about gathering information from non members for various methods; I think it’s a rather inelegant method at this point, especially with how it’s implemented now.

    Melissa, I agree, the steps are tedious. When it comes to membership, I think part of the reality is people cannot afford it. It’s the economy. People don’t have the money.


  4. I would question what they’re putting behind a members-only filters. Don’t we want more exposure for YALSA Awards, not less? Isn’t that something we want the general public to know about?

    Now, information about choosing the awards, “inside” discussion of what titles are worthy, you can make a case for that, but if we ever want the Printz to have half the klout of the Newbery, it needs more exposure, not less.

    How can we complain when Newbery winners don’t get on the Today show, then turn around and restrict access to Printz Award lists?


  5. As an author with a novel (WHAT CAN’T WAIT) ON the 2012 BFYA, I’m bummed about YALSA’s extra step/info-mining because I know this is going to dramatically decrease the visibility of the list.

    How do I know? I noticed the restricted content on YALSA today when I was trying to create a link to the list from my website. The request for an email address struck me as odd, and I didn’t fill out the form. If I–an author ON THE LIST–wasn’t cool with this, how many casual visitors will be?


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