A History of MAYALIG

In the early 90s there were minimal library services for teens in the metropolitan Washington, DC area. Library calendars were crowded with preschool storytimes and elementary school programs and many youth librarians saw a need to expand services to include the elusive teen population. To that end, Cathy Chauvette, program coordinator from Fairfax County, and her counterpart, Linda Holtslander from Loudoun County, invited colleagues to join them for an informal meeting to discuss issues of teen services. On March 22, 1992, a group of librarians from Prince William County, Loudoun County, Winchester, and Fairfax County responded to an invitation to meet at the Fairfax County government center. The respondents all lived in proximity of Washington, DC, and thus MAYALIG (Metropolitan Area Young Adult Librarian Interest Group) was born.

These early meetings, located at various libraries throughout the area, were informal, freewheeling, passionate, and productive. Frustrations were aired, strategies shared, books discussed, and trivia contests and book lists developed. An early attempt at a film contest to include teens in the various counties was developed. This project (Young Filmmakers Video Festival) never got off the ground for all the systems but Fairfax County Public Library continued on with its annual Cool Clips video contest. The group bonded and grew and was soon joined by members from as far away as Charlottesville and later from Fredericksburg.

By the late 90s the group had gained confidence and a bit more organization. Jackie Gropman from Fairfax County and Maureen Smith from Loudoun County shared organizational tasks such as note taking and mailings. The group occasionally invited speakers to address their meetings.

In 1999 it was decided to present a day-long conference of noted YA speakers. With the help of Pat Muller of the Library of Virginia, a grant was written and accepted by the Margaret Alexander Edwards Foundation for the first MAYALIG conference to be held in March of 2001. In order to receive a grant it was necessary to make MAYALIG a corporation with dues-paying members and a Board of Directors. The first Board included Susan Woodcock, Fairfax County, President; Mary Alice Giarda, Fairfax County, Treasurer; Secretaries Jackie Gropman, Fairfax County, and Maureen Smith, Loudoun County; and Member-at-Large Jane Drabkin, Prince William County.

The first conference was a big success and MAYALIG had come of age. It was decided to continue the conferences every other year so that regional YA librarians could attend the Zen of YA Literature Conferences as well as the Margaret A. Edwards Books for the Beast conferences held in alternate years.

MAYALIG has come a long way from those early days of communication by fax and phone but the group strives to retain its original spontaneous and informal character. The meetings continue to rotate throughout the region with the hostess/host setting the agenda and facilitating the meetings. The group is more devoted than ever to the purpose of encouraging, inspiring, and validating each other in our commitment to the issues of young adults and pleasure of working with them.

Additional information on MAYALIG conferences.