YALSA Election 2012: An Interview with Michael L. Printz Award Candidate Emily Williams

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 Award Committee.’  Polls are open from March 19 to April 27.

Today we have an interview with Emily Williams.

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

I’ve worked pretty extensively with our statewide book award for the last six years. I served on the Sequoyah Book Award’s Intermediate master list selection committee from 2005-08, and was chair from 2007-08. During that time I helped advocate for a high school master list, which successfully launched in 2008. I’ve been on the Sequoyah High School committee since 2009, currently as their faculty advisor.

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

I have been an advocate for YALSA since I started working in libraries in 1997. I teach a graduate-level YA literature class at the University of Oklahoma, and according to students’ comments in my class evaluations, my love of young adult literature and my passion about the field is evident. Having promoted the Printz since the first award was named in 2000, I would be deeply honored to serve on this committee. I feel like my entire career up to this point has been preparing me for this.

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

I am most excited about working with other librarians that are as passionate about this award as I am, and creating something of which we are immensely proud.

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

The Printz is an award for literary excellence. I think key factors of that are books that grip you, make you feel something, and leave a lasting impression. Maybe even change you.

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

I fully understand that the reading load will be insane. I am organized, focused, detail-oriented, and I thrive on the challenge of an extensive reading list. I am used to reading hundreds of books a year from my state award committee experience and I am ready to live and breathe for the Printz. You will never catch me without a book.

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

Colleagues on past committees have found me to be an effective and valuable team member. You have to be flexible, open-minded, and willing to re-read titles.

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 coordinate our library system’s YA Services for a large area that includesOklahoma Cityas well as many small rural communities. I do a lot of outreach to local schools, hospital facilities, community groups, and the detention center. YALSA’s awards and lists are easy tools to use when working with these widely varying populations. Their variety and scope are invaluable in helping me kick start pull lists and book talks.

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