Each Midwinter, I listen to and watch the immediate responses as YALSA's media awards are announced, fascinated by how many interpretations audience members make of what doesn't "win" and what the winning titles "say" about those who selected them. book with post it notes francisca goldsmithOver the years, I've served on three YALSA awards committees (Margaret A. Edwards, Odyssey, and Printz), a couple of YALSA list selection committees (former versions of these are now swept into what we call Amazing Audiobooks), and both award and selection list committees for other organizations (the Eisners, the Audies, and the California Young Reader Medal among them). For way longer, I've been reviewing books and media for an array of professional journals (Library Journal, School Library Journal, Booklist, VOYA, Public Libraries, Busted) and a couple of "general reader" publications; my typical annual review production numbers somewhere between 100 to 150 titles, mostly assigned to me by editors.

As a fairly long-term readers' advisory practitioner and instructor, I read widely beyond what I review and what I judge for lists and awards. What I hope to provide here is some focus on how all these different book and media considerations differ in both purpose and approach.

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The second YALSA YA Lit Symposium abounded in riches for the inclusive title hungry: where to mine for new GLBTQ books, how to evaluate requests from teens for street lit, when to stop and do a good readers advisory interview instead of just stocking the shelves and expecting the goods will be found by the readers who want them. Pam Spencer Holley called out the difference between a teen's reading interests and that of his or her (overprotective?) parent.'  Robin Brenner showed off sequential art panels that speak louder than words.'  Author, educator, and activist Sophia Quintero reminded all that discussion is a necessary adjunct to reading tough stuff. Read More →

This week YALSA Board members are discussing their experience serving on the Board. This post is one in that series.

The position of Secretary was added to the YALSA Board, by membership vote,'  only four years ago.'  Until my term began, in 2008, the role of keeping our volunteer association's formal record fell to YALSA staff.'  The addition of this position to the Board places that responsibility with membership; in addition, the position of Secretary adds another voice—and set of energies—to the Board's Executive Committee.

I ran for the position of Secretary for several reasons:'  I had been on the YALSA Board when the idea of creating the position was under discussion and then development and I was a promoter of the concept.'  In addition, I have served in a few other elected offices, in other professional organizations, at the time when that position was first initiated, so I had a good sense of the kind of ground-breaking and flexibility the initial office-holder needed to bring to the effort of “launching” how the position might work to the advancement of the Board and membership as a whole. Read More →

Reno advertises itself as “The biggest little city in the world” and it certainly does seem big enough to hold—simultaneously—a national conference of school librarians and a cowboy association get-together….along with the requisite slot machine pullers, prospective newly weds, and the “just plain folks” who live here all the time.

Friday evening, Becca Todd, the district librarian from Berkeley schools, and I sought out dinner at Louis' Basque Corner, which she'd overheard in an elevator (whether from a cowboy or a librarian, I don't know) is “the best Basque food in town.” In true Basque restaurant style, all the seating is family style, so if your party is less than eight, you become joined with someone else's undersized “family.”

We were seated as the final two at a table where a foursome in their late seventies and a pair of equally seasoned men were already at table, but hadn't yet ordered. The two fellows next to us did a superb job of including us in some of their convo. while leaving us to our own between times. They introduced themselves as Reno natives and we allowed as we were visiting librarians. Notably, they snickered only a little when we allowed as we were from Bezerkly.

Some time between the goat soup, tripe, mussels, and main courses, the fellow next to Becca looked us over mildly and asked:

“So, what do you make of this Dumbledore thing?”

Becca, ever the librarian, clarified the question” “You mean his being outed?”

“Yup. Do you think it was necessary?”

“Well, no, and maybe that was Rowling's point: his sexual orientation isn't the point of the story.”

“Hm. I have this friend—she's a witch, you know, a Wiccan? But now she's mad about this Dumbledore thing. Too bad, huh?”

“Yes, too bad.”

And we finished off the meal (cheese for me, sundaes for Becca and the guys), all contented in our new found shared literary interests.