YALSA Election 2012: An Interview with Michael L. Printz Award Candidate Elizabeth Schneider

In February we are posting interviews with each of the 2012 Candidates for YALSA Award Committees. This week we are focusing on Michael L. Printz 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 Printz Committee is charged with selecting from the previous year’s publications the best young adult book (“best” being defined solely in terms of literary merit) and, if the Committee so decides, as many as four Honor Books. The Committee will also have the opportunity for input into the oversight and planning of the Printz Awards Program. Committee size: 9, four to be elected, plus a consultant from the staff of Booklist, and an administrative assistant if requested.

This is your chance to get to know this year’s candidates that have been nominated to serve on the Printz Committee.’  Polls are open from March 19 to April 27.

Today we have an interview with Elizabeth Schneider.

What experience do you have that makes you a good candidate for the award position for which you are running?

For the last three and a half years, I have served on the Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults Committee as a member and twice as a subcommittee chair.’  Through this experience, I have honed my reviewing skills of young adult materials, most importantly evaluating books for both literary merit and popularity by their audience.’  One of the fundamentals of working with teens in a library is learning to listen to what they have to say, and making your services, programming and materials reflect their interests.’  Taking that philosophy to heart, I asked my vibrant Teen Advisory Board to participate in reading the titles nominated for PPYA.’  They filled out forms, giving their feedback on the books, which helped PPYA members choose the best books for the list.’  I believe I will be an asset to the Printz Committee because I work so closely with teens, discussing what types of books they like to read and how teen literature affects their lives.

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

It would be an honor to serve on the Printz Awards Committee, and be a part of choosing the most notable literature written for young adults in a given year.’  I have a great passion for young adult literature, and helping teens discover books that speak to them personally.’  Others before me serving on this committee have helped me in so many regards, from collection development to being able to confidently recommend a wide array of well written literature for teens.’  Serving my professional community in this capacity would be a great privilege

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

I have a great desire to contribute to my professional community.’  Being able to work with a team and decide on the paramount young adult literature for a given year would help libraries spend their book budget money effectively on high quality titles for their collection and serve as a recommendation list for teen readers.’  It would also be a pleasure to be a part of a forum that recognizes young adult authors.

What do you feel are the key factors for decision-making for this award?

Quality literature can be very subjective.’  So when choosing the winner of the Printz Award, I believe literary merit, longstanding value and thought-provoking content are key factors.’  A winner of this prestigious award should be able to stand the test of time and not fade into the woodwork by the next year or become quickly outdated from frequent pop culture references.’  The work should generate discussion and allow teens to discover different walks of life through literature.

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

My past experience of serving on an awards committee with a heavy reading load has helped me in creating an organized plan of attack for completing the reading.’  As each book arrives at my house, I put the title into an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the books I have ready access to.’  These books are placed in bookcases in a specific room in the house.’  When a book is nominated, I add the title to another spreadsheet.’  As each book is completed, I add notes to the spreadsheet, and fill out a form to be added to my reading binder highlighting the pros and concerns of the book.’  In February I will be starting a term serving on Best Fiction for Young Adults.’  During my term, my goal is to read one book a day or five books a week.

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

Working well as a team is one of the most important attributes to bring to an awards committee.’  When a group of people read the same well-written book, it is hoped that is till spur on a discussion.’  Many readers will have different points of view, and it is very important to listen to all of those sides because something may come up that never crossed your mind.’  Creating a space where all committee members feel comfortable and respected sharing their views is key when working on a committee to producing a high quality project with everyone’s valued input.

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?

Serving on a YALSA selection committee has encouraged me to read outside my usual interests, increasing my knowledge for recommending all genres of young adult literature to my diverse community of teens.’  My experience has helped me to be a leader in my own public library, encouraging colleagues to read outside their comfort zone to better serve our clientele and be active in the professional library community volunteering on national library committees.

“Giving a teen the right book at the right time”

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