2021 Nonfiction Award Finalists Selection Process

With the recent release of the 2021 Nonfiction Award Finalists, we want to be transparent (while respecting confidentiality) about the award’s criteria and selection process. The process for the Nonfiction Award selection is a rigorous task.  The Nonfiction Award Committee is charged with recognizing the best in the field of nonfiction books. With that in mind, each meeting is conducted with a thorough review of the purpose and eligibility requirements, with a particular emphasis on excellent writing, research, presentation, and readability for young adults. All finalists are vetted through a year-long process following YALSA’s protocol.

For the past several years, YALSA has been utilizing an EDI (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) lens to transform the foundation upon which YALSA’s policies and procedures are built. As part of the year-round virtual work undertaken by the board, they recently identified the need to re-evaluate all volunteer groups’ charge, including all book awards’ and selection lists’ evaluation criteria for nominated titles according to YALSA’s EDI Statement and EDI Plan, which is embedded within YALSA’s current interim strategic plan. The YALSA Board’s interim strategic plan’s goal is that “100% of all programs, products, events, and education will support YALSA’s statement on EDI.”

Incoming YALSA President Seeks Taskforce Members

The incoming YALSA President 2020-2021, Amanda Barnhart, seeks member volunteers to serve on the Presidential Taskforce. This role is for a one-year virtual appointment whereby the taskforce will focus on developing activities that support the President’s theme, Representation in Recruitment and Retention: Further Supporting YALSA’s EDI Plan. Three outcomes will guide the taskforce work,

  1. From such examples of how to start an affinity group to understanding intersectional identities, the Presidential Taskforce will work with YALSA staff to develop and provide the membership with quarterly continuing education strategies and ideas that support and celebrate the diversity of library staff and the teens they serve.
  2. The taskforce will identify and engage in efforts that aim to study the value of YALSA resources amongst library staff who work with teens that are seen as “non-members.” There are many non-member library staff whose actions adhere to the YALSA mission or support the YALSA vision and who utilize YALSA resources regardless of having purchased a YALSA membership.
  3. Finally, the taskforce will develop a report that includes findings from the aforementioned study, as well as provide recommendations on strategies for engaging non-members.

Consider applying for this taskforce as an opportunity to further develop your network with fellow advocates invested in EDI work. At the same time, please consider your capacity and knowledge to valuably contribute to conversations on equity, diversity, and inclusion. Interested members should contact Amanda via email AmandaBarnhart@kclibrary.org with a reply to the prompt: Explain which outcome you feel is most important and why. Applicants may also include relevant education or experience. Deadline for volunteering is Monday, June 22nd.

The direction of this taskforce was also influenced by recent work from the YALSA Division and Membership Promotion Committee 2019-2020. YALSA appreciates their efforts in engaging with LIS students and their ideas on reaching out to affiliates.

Libraries Welcome all Families: Collaborating on Inclusive Summer Initiatives

This post was written by School and Public Libraries Collaboration Committee members April Witteveen, Natasha Carty, Jill Woychowski, and Robin Gibson.

Public libraries are beginning to look ahead to their summer reading or summer learning programs. Through school and public library collaboration librarians can identify approaches for success using an equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) lens.

In order to reach as many students as possible with information about library summer programs, a great strategy is to collaborate on school visits. Natasha Carty, who’s been a public librarian, school teacher, and now a school librarian, has seen the value of these visits from all angles. As a public youth librarian, Carty’s school visits resulted in a 50% increase in participation. She’s now looking forward to inviting her local public librarians to school to promote their summer reading program, and she will be investigating if there are ways to get students registered for the program while still in school. Carty stresses the importance of summer reading as a way to address the summer slide when working with students and their families at school. She has handed out recommended reading lists from the public library in order to encourage participation in programming. Both school and public libraries have the opportunity to create summer reading lists that represent diverse characters and experiences. This School Library Journal article shows the need for increasingly diverse summer reading lists.

Summer meal sites offer another opportunity for librarians to extend their reach beyond standard library locations through both program promotion and participation. Jillian Woychowski, a high school librarian in West Haven, Connecticut notes that her local public library’s youth librarians “coordinated activities to happen before or after the [meal] delivery times” at school sites. Robin Gibson, Youth Services Manager at Westerville Public Library in Ohio shares that “Youth and outreach staff visit local WARM (Westerville Area Resource Ministry) lunch sites that provide free lunches during the summer months. We visit to promote the summer reading program and to distribute books to kids of all ages. Many of these children don’t come to the library itself, and we are working to add more services (think early literacy and playful literacy building activities) to these summer visits.  We are a school district library with one location, so we need to get out of the building to reach more families. Artificial boundaries (like a main highway) make some neighborhoods feel distant, so we are working to overcome these barriers and build relationships with these often underserved families.”

Carty concurs, saying that she loves “the idea of public librarians going to where the children and students are to read to them, maybe have a quick craft project, and to sign up students for the summer reading program and promote reading.” WebJunction has an archived webinar on “starting or expanding a USDA summer meals site” at your school or library.

Looking for more ideas to bring EDI to your library? On February 28, Amigos Library Services is hosting a full-day online conference: Open Doors: Reaching Underserved Populations. Speakers will discuss a variety of inclusive library practices and programs, sure to provide inspiration and ideas for librarians working on their plans for summer initiatives.