YALSA Election 2012: An Interview with Excellence in Non-Fiction Award Candidate Shauna Yusko

In February we are posting interviews with each of the 2012 Candidates for YALSA Award Committees. This week we are focusing on the Excellence in Non-fiction Award Committee. ‘ Each day this week we’ll post an interview with one of the candidates for that committee. We are posting alphabetically by candidate’s last names. ‘ 

The YALSA Nominating Committee for 2012 has been working hard to select candidates for this year’s election. The Excellence in Nonfiction Award Committee honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults (ages 12-18) during a November 1 – October 31 publishing year. The Committee is made up of eight members, including the chair. You can read the Committee policies and procedures on the YALSA website.

This is your chance to get to know this year’s candidates nominated to serve on the Excellence in Nonfiction Committee. Polls are open from March 19 to April 27.

Today we have the final interveiw with the Candidates for the Excellence in Nonfiction Award. An interview with Shauna Yusko.

What experience do you have that makes you a good candidate for the Excellence in Nonfiction Award?

In addition to reviewing both non-fiction and fiction for Booklist/Reference Books Bulletin, I have served YALSA on a number of selection committees over the years. I also work directly with young adults every day and I always appreciate their feedback on the books that they read.

Why do you want to be a member of this awards committee?

If you ask anyone who knows me, I have always had a passion for non-fiction. Perhaps this is due to being a science major, which is sort of unusual in this profession, but these were always my favorite books growing up. I love finding great non-fiction titles for my students/teens, and encouraging them to explore the amazing TRUE stories about people, places, and the world we live in. I was thrilled when YALSA created this award, and this is the award announcement that I am most excited about each year.


What are you most looking forward to in being a part of this award decision process?

I am most looking forward to the opportunity to recognize the outstanding non-fiction titles being published and promoting this genre to teens “far and wide.”

What do you feel are the key factors for decision-making for the Excellence in Nonfiction Award?

I feel that it is important to look at a variety of titles when making an award decision to get an idea of what is being published. It is also important to follow the committee’s charge and judge a book based on the guidelines. It is important to look at writing style, format, research, layout, and definitely readability for the young adult audience.

The reading load for awards committees is very high, how do you plan on managing the work load of award committee life?

I love this question! Having spent the past two amazing years on Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA), I know all about needing to do volumes of reading. Over the course of the past two years, I have discovered what works, and what doesn’t, for me to manage the reading load.

What have you learned from past experiences on awards, juries, or other YALSA committees that you will bring with you to this committee?

I have so enjoyed my time on BFYA, PPYA, and other YALSA and AASL award/process committees I have served on. I think that it is invaluable to meet with other librarians working with young adults from around the country. It is important to listen to other people’s thoughts and ideas, and also not to be afraid to offer your own opinions. It is the discussion that makes the committee process work so well.


In your experience how has the YALSA Awards and Selected Lists helped you as a librarian, or made your work better or easier or different than expected?

I am so grateful for the YALSA Awards and Selected lists because these have helped me with my collection development each year. With a VERY limited budget, these lists serve as a nice starting place for what I should be looking to purchase for my teens. These lists help me find gems that I might have overlooked!

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.
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