Serving on Amazing Audiobooks

Shortly after Midwinter, YALSA published its selected lists, signaling the end of one committee year and the beginning of another. Last year I served on AmazingAudiobooks, and as I take over as chair and gear up for a second year, I’m finding myself reflecting on last year and what I’ve learned.

That's a lot of audiobooks!I learned a lot about audiobooks. Over the course of the year, I listened to audiobooks in the car, at the gym, during lunch, while getting dressed in the morning, while making meals, while doing housework, and while sitting on the couch feeling like maybe I would never finish all of the listening that I needed to do (look at all of the titles we received last year!). But all of that listening helped me develop a more sophisticated sense of what makes a good or poor audiobook (you don’t always like something, even if it’s really good).

I learned a lot about how other people listen to audiobooks. We discussed titles online over the year, but the majority of our discussion happened during meetings at Annual and Midwinter. Everyone brings different experiences, backgrounds, and preferences to their listening, and it was interesting to hear what others heard that I didn’t or what was important to them (I don’t think I really appreciated the value of pacing until these discussions). This has helped me become better at listeners’ advisory and I feel much better equipped to put good audiobooks in the right hands.

I learned a lot about myself and how I work. I think Amazing Audios is a good first selection committee because you know how much time you need to spend listening every day. While you can’t speed read an audiobook the way you might a print book if you were on BFYA, you also don’t encounter titles that take you an unexpectedly
long time to get through. Knowing how many hours I needed to spend listening every day meant I became more organized with how I used my time and how I fit that listening in–and when to stop listening and do something else.

Now that I’m beginning my term as chair, I’m learning even more. A selection committee chair has all of the responsibilities of a committee member (meaning I’m still on the hook for lots and lots of listening!), but there are other responsibilities like communicating with publishers, communicating with committee members,
setting up the behind-the-scenes stuff like where our discussions take place and creating instructions for committee members to review their assigned titles (I like this especially because I like organizing), requesting meetings at Annual and Midwinter, calling for field nominations, reporting on our progress to the Board, creating a monthly list of nominated titles, and, eventually, finalizing our annotated list and turning it in. I’m sure there are a lot of other things I have yet to discover, too!

Being on Amazing Audiobooks has been a great experience. I’ve learned a lot about audiobooks, about myself, and about YALSA. I’ve grown as a listener, an organizer, and a librarian. I’m so thankful that I was given this opportunity, and I can’t wait to share our final list with you next year!

About Gretchen Kolderup

Gretchen Kolderup is the Manager for Young Adult Education & Engagement at the New York Public Library and a member of YALSA’s Board of Directors.

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6 Comments

  1. What a great snapshot of what’s it’s like to serve on this committee. Love that picture of you and the enormous stacks of audiobooks!

  2. Thanks! That’s actually not even *quite* everything I received–I found another box with about 20 audiobooks once I’d started disassembling my giant wall. Yikes!

  3. I love the picture of your huge stash of audiobooks! I’ll admit, after talking to you at Midwinter, you got me all excited about Amazing Audiobooks. I want to be on this committee someday!:)

  4. You should definitely give it a try, Sarah! Although really, where do you go after being on the Printz committee!

  5. I am almost finished with my MLIS and the first thing I want to do is join an award committee. I was already interested in Amazing Audiobooks. But seriously, how do you find time to listen to all of those!? Not to worry, I am not discouraged; it just makes me want to join even more fiercely now! 🙂

    • You find time and you make time! I listened while I was getting ready in the morning, on my commute, when I was doing housework or preparing food or working on any other task that didn’t require too much of my brain. You know how much is assigned to you, so if that isn’t enough, you set aside extra time at lunch or before bed. It takes work, but you can do it!

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