YALSA Membership Meeting and President’s Program Overview

For those of you who couldn’t make it to NOLA for ALA’s Annual Conference (which, by the way, rocked!), here is a wrap-up of the Membership Meeting and President’s Program held Monday afternoon.

2010-2011 YALSA president Kim Patton hosted an inspiring program. Her first order of business was to ask members to speak briefly about recent success in YA librarianism. The speakers included:

  • Austin Public Library’s wildly successful Anime Con called YomiCon which attracted 1,500 teens in only its third year.
  • Suffern Free Library in New York hosted a Harry Potter Tri-Wizard Tournament (a la Goblet of Fire) beginning with a Yule Ball in December.  
  • A library in Central Arkansas put/is putting a Teen Center in the bad area of town.
  • One library has a teen author in residence for 2 months in the Fall
  • One library employs 30 teens 
  • Baraboo library has a YA Lifestyles Program for those in late high school and college
  • MS State Lib hosts training on how to work with Teens
  • NYPL’s anti-prom garnered attention from NYT Style Section

Following a lot of clapping and cheering, Kim introduced Sarah Flowers as the 2011-2012 YALSA President. Sarah unveiled her theme as Building the Future. She noted that she will be seeking out sponsorships for grants to put more money into YALSA member programs, research, and scholarships.

Kim’s President’s Program continued with authors Paul Volponi and Richard Peck. Volponi taught reading and writing to incarcerated youth at Riker’s Island in New York and is now a celebrated speaker amongst youth and adults alike (he had us in stitches). An admitted non-reader (“I had not-reading down to a science”)  Volponi was eventually influenced as a senior in high school by Mark Twain’s honest portrayal of society in Huck Finn. He is intense, honest, and unforgiving about what he writes, making him a champion against censorship. “I’m proud of the way [librarians] stand up to those who tell you no. What’s in the real world is on your shelves…told in the same way it really happened.” He admits that he writes for his daughter and all young people who deserve the truth.

Newbery award-winning author Richard Peck spoke to us “book and word people” about censorship, technology, the changing roles of librarians and libraries, and his upcoming books. He spoke on the importance of research, “Stories are not based on an author’s experiences. I never served in WWI and J.K. Rowling never went to Hogwarts. All books begin in the library in hopes that it ends up there as well.” He slammed technology, claiming that he still writes on an electric typewriter. He said of his newest book, “My first anthropomorphic novel is set in 1891 and there’s not a wi-fi hotspot in it. I’ve labored 40 years and brought you a mouse.”

Both authors were at times funny, at others serious, giving the audience a lot to think about and take home to their libraries and teens. The president’s program wrapped up with poster sessions by four YA librarians .

2 thoughts on “YALSA Membership Meeting and President’s Program Overview

  1. Thanks for the overview April! The poster sessions were given by Wick Thomas from the Kansas City Public Library, Stephanie Squicciarini with the Fairport Public Library, and Kelly Czarnecki from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (apologies for leaving off the fourth name, my notes have gone by way of the bayou). Each poster (and PPT!) represented a program that embraced the concept of libraries taking teen advocacy to a level that modeled Kim’s ‘Think Big’ theme. Poster presentations may be available on the YALSA web site in the near future under YALSA presentations: http://bit.ly/g5EEdZ.

    In regards to Richard Peck’s comments about technology that you referenced in your post, I admit I was disappointed. While I don’t have his exact words, the sense that I got was that it seemed to be pose a threat to publishing and to stories themselves. Since I think he is such a good storyteller, I hope that isn’t lost just because materials are available in different formats and teens are reading differently.

  2. Kelly, thanks for re-capping the poster sessions. I spent so much time at one that I didn’t get to the others. Bad blogger!

    Regarding Mr. Peck…yes, I also got that feeling. But in the same breath that he hated on tech., he spoke about his upcoming paranormal YA novel, a genre he said that he did because his publishers asked/encouraged it (obviously because it’s a huge trend right now). So trends are good, but progress isn’t? Maybe I misunderstood, but I don’t know…

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