One of the things that struck me the most about the many comments on YALSA’s new readers’ choice list, is the opposition some people in the field have had to the idea of creating a list based on input from YALSA’s 5,700 members.
One of the key messages I emphasized to the press during my year as president–something I said over and over again–was that teens and their caregivers should turn to their local school or public librarians for guidance in choosing reading materials. YALSA works hard to show that young adult librarians are the experts in the field–not just a few, but all librarians. It’s an important message and YALSA even has a white paper on the topic.
In stark contrast, respected individuals in the field have been vocal in their opposition to a readers’ choice list, somehow suggesting that the majority of YALSA members are not capable of identifying quality books for teens. This elitist attitude runs contrary to all the messaging from ALA and YALSA that says librarians are professionals with unique expertise in matching the right book with the right patron. It is also an insult to YALSA members, and I am saddened that respected individuals in the field would take this discriminatory stance.
Any librarian who works with teens should have the opportunity to select the year’s greatest young adult books. That is why I support the readers’ choice list. It can live alongside YALSA’s existing portfolio of selected lists and offer the entire YALSA membership a way to participate in the selection of materials for teens.
I love the idea of YALSA’s new reader’s choice list because, as I said during the Board discussion of it, why wouldn’t I value the opinion of 5,700 of my colleagues? Additionally, with over 2,000 books being published for teens each year, I think that a list with broad participation and input will result in a strong final product.
The theme for my presidential year was “Engaging the YALSA Community.” I hope and believe that this list does that and more.
Immediate Past President