More YALSA Website Changes

As I mentioned in February, YALSA changed how people could access the awards and booklists on their website: Changes to the YALSA Website.

To recap, at the time, if one went to the YALSA website to look for information about awards and booklists, one had to either login as a YALSA member or fill out a form, supplying information and an email address.

Now, if you go to YALSA’s website, the only time you have to supply that information is to access the lists for both current and past awards and booklists.

For some reason (and I believe this is across the board an ALA website issue), the link on that actual YALSA pages brings you to an access denied 403 error; the better way to login is to use the button on the top menu. A further ALA website quirk? If you had already logged into your account somewhere other than the YALSA website, it gets a little confusing — at least for me. I cannot even try to replicate here, except I got into a bit of a wash/rinse/repeat cycle of trying to access lists and being told I needed to login while the top login button clearly reflected I was already logged in. I also ran into similar multi-click issues one logged in, with the sidebar links to awards/lists not recognizing I was a member and having to say I wanted to login but that no longer bringing me to the 403 error but now bringing me to a page where I could click for awards and lists and some of them had errors (the nonfiction one didn’t work at all because of a typo)… Well, yes, this website/login/email form seems just as much a work in progress, but at least now the information about the awards and lists arent blocked. Neither are the nomination forms. If you have different experiences logging in as a member and trying to get to the various lists, let me know.

I haven’t experimented with non-member access, because I don’t want to clutter up whatever database YALSA is putting together with my experimental logons to see how many times the form needs to be filled out. If you’re a non-YALSA member who has filled out the form, is it a one time only deal?

The previously noted workaround still works: to bypass the logon/form entirely, use a search engine to get to the specific list information.

Website and implementation quirks aside, now the conversation becomes much more focused. Only the awards and lists (annotated or not, top ten or not) require action by the person looking for them.

So, the following questions:

Will requiring this step be viewed by a burden that people won’t want to do, and so they will look elsewhere? Elsewhere could be going to another source for the same information; or deciding, that the specific list isn’t what is needed and so other lists (for example, the Cybils) will be used instead.

Why the jump from filling out a form for annotated 2012 lists (per the October 2011 Board document, see my prior post) to a form for all lists, current and past, annotated or not? Where/when did this conversation take place where membership could give their input? I try to keep up on the various places YALSA puts news and conversations (ALA Connect, its blogs, twitter, listservs, membeship emails, board documents) and if I missed something (which is entirely possible) I want to know, what should I have been doing as a YALSA member to be informed?

Is not having to fill out a form to get to current/archived lists a membership benefit?

In informal conversations I’ve had with people about membership benefits and lists, well, the reactions vary, from people seeing this as no big deal to those who think it should all be open-access without any hoops to jump through.

Your thoughts?

9 thoughts on “More YALSA Website Changes

  1. I’m still in library school so I can’t exactly theorize my future choices, but if I wanted to have a link to those award lists on my school website, I’d pretty much be required to link to a list someplace else. I’d be very wary of linking to the search-engine-generated access link for fear (a) that it might not work consistently or (b) that navigating away and returning would generate the form.

    I’m not opposed to the purpose behind this change but I do think it means I’ll be unlikely to use the YALSA website as a source for (maybe) the one piece of YALSA information that readers want most.


  2. Sometimes those error messages don’t mean a thing, just keep going and the info shows up. Yes, I think it’s an ALA web quirk.

    Like you, at first I was a little nonplussed about the login, but decided it’s no different than many other sites that require a login. Think about NetGalley – in return for a great copy of a book, if the publisher okays the request, I just need to login. Let’s be positive and look at the lists and awards the same way…in exchange for my login, I get some great info. Although there is one more step involved for YALSA nonmembers, they do still have access. We just get so used to accessing information in one way, that any change throws us at first. You’ll be fine.


  3. Jody, that’s a shame, but I understand what you’re saying and it’s why I think the discussion is important to have.

    Pam, “ALA web quirk” — I know, I know, it’s a well established fact but still, so so annoying that it’s this way for an organization (ALA) that should be a leader in website usability. I wish that if YALSA was going to do this (and my question remains on why all lists/awards), why couldn’t ALA have it so that this could all be worked out in beta behind the scenes? It’s so, so easy to lose someone from a bad customer website experience. And for the bit about change: absolutely true, change can be a problem because things are no longer the same. Which is why in my Dream World, changes are explained and walked through before they are made (a blog post? an email?) to soften the change and explain the new procedure, so at that point the sole issue is “dealing with change” rather than “wait, what is going on? is this a mistake? am i at the right place? etc tec”


  4. I agree with you Liz- I am not a fan of having to log in every time I go to the YALSA website. It makes it twice as long to quickly access the information I wanted. My biggest problem with the new YALSA website however is the insane number of clicks it takes to actually get to the information. For example, today I wanted to see if the BFYA nominations had been posted. So I go to the YALSA website (and log in), click on Book Awards & Book/Media lists, then I have to click on Best Fiction for Young Adults, then I have to click on Winners and Nominations, where I am brought to a screen that asks me to fill out the form (even though I am already logged in), so I have to click on the logging in link for YALSA members, which takes me to the Book Awards and Book/Media Lists for Members page, where I have to click on Selected Book and Media Lists, then Best Fiction for Young Adults… and then I finally get there, and no nominations are posted yet. *sigh* If you counted that is 7!!! clicks (including log in) just to get to the page that I want- which I used to be able to get to in 2. I am sorry, that is completely and utterly ridiculous- especially since I have to essentially click through everything twice (even though I have already logged in). This is absolutely horrible customer service on the part of YALSA. 3 clicks max should be all someone has to do to find something on your website.

    I have to respectfully disagree with Pam Spencer Holley- it’s not a question of having to log in, I have no problem with that (though I would greatly prefer if ALA’s website had a remember your login feature like all the other websites that I use and have to log in frequently do) It is not being thrown by change… my problem is that it takes a ridiculously long time to access the information. If YALSA wants to drive people away, there is not better way that that. I used to link to the nominations on my library’s website- I will not do that anymore. It is too frustrating for me to find the information- I will not put that experience onto my patrons. There are other ways to find out what titles have been nominated- and other ways to find out the award winners that require much less hoop jumping.


  5. I’m not currently a member of YALSA (though I have been in the past) and when these changes came down, one of the first things I did was to see how much of the award information was on Wikipedia. No annotations, but if all I’m looking for is a basic list it’s there for all the awards except the Non-Fiction and updated for the 2012 awards. I don’t see the lists (Best Fiction, etc.) and I don’t know how fast the updating happens, but when I’m just interested in checking something quickly, I’ll go to Wikipedia now instead of the YALSA website. Also, I read blogs – lots of them post the information. And I would never post a link on our public library’s website to something that required patrons to register without making that very clear and absolutely never to something that required them to register/fill out a form every time they visited. Too annoying to foist on patrons by far. All YALSA has done with this is ensured that – unless at some time in the future I choose to become a member again, which this does not entice me to do – I won’t visit their website at all.


  6. Alyssa, thanks for sharing about the time. I have to confess, I was thinking I was doing something wrong with the multiple clicks to get to the information.

    Jen, good points about when a library would link to a site that requires this type of form to get information. For the link, are you primarily sending adults (ie other librarians, teachers) via the website? Or is this more for the benefit of teens, and so it would be teens filling out the form?


  7. We actually currently do have the link active in our library catalog and I’ve been meaning to talk to our Young Adult librarian about what to do with it. I’m at a public library and we use Bibliocommons as our patron catalog which has a page of Staff Picks. On that page there’s a category for “Award Winning Books for Teens” that has three links under it, one of which is the YALSA booklists/awards page. So both teens and adults are our audience and might navigate from there I suppose. I definitely don’t want teenagers to have to fill out this form to get the information. I’m actually currently on our library’s website redesign committee and will be strongly suggesting that we should link somewhere else for the list of teen book awards on the new site. Unless this changes, of course.

    Also, the first day you mentioned this on twitter, I did fill out the non-member form in part to see if it saved the information or if I would have to enter it over and over again. I however quite deliberately used what I think of as my spam e-mail account – the one I don’t check very often and use when I sign up for something retail related that will send me coupons and advertisements. I did check it the other day and don’t seem to have received anything yet from YALSA, but I would never put my what I think of as my “real” or professional e-mail accounts on a form like this.


  8. Jen, thanks for keeping us up to date on your experiences with the site. I really should set up a spam-type email account for these types of things.


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