Thoughts about Book Selection Lists

enhanced-buzz-24540-1374618713-43In the afterglow of the Youth Media Awards comes the distribution of YALSA’s latest selection lists. These lists have long been resources for both readers’ advisory and collection development, keeping library staff abreast with the new and wonderful. There was a time when the Best Books for Young Adults list (now re-envisioned as the more narrowly focused Best Fiction for Young Adults) delivered many new book choices for library staff to add to the young adult collection.

That was then. Now it’s not unusual for library staff working for and with teens to discover books before they are even published, via web sites like NetGalley, Edelweiss, or by direct publisher contact. There are many networking opportunities, including the yalsa-bk listserv, that crackle with vitality, producing on-the-spot book recommendations and compiled lists.  The YALSA Hub has hundreds of lists on current topics. In addition, there are fabulous blogs about young adult literature, some by library workers, and some by teens. Surely YALSA’s carefully chosen book selections should be somewhere in this swell of activity. Unfortunately, they don’t generate the buzz of online exploration and discovery.

We can do better. It’s time for transformation!

8792688521_2f7538d895_mrHere’s an example. In 1988, YALSA (then YASD) compiled five annual genre lists, covering  Horror, Mystery, Romance, Sports, and Science Fiction. Eventually, Fantasy, Humor, and Historical Fiction were also included. In 1996, these lists were replaced by the Popular Paperbacks selection committee.

The Popular Paperbacks list continues the process of compiling  topical lists. The committee chooses topics that might be of ongoing interest to teens, such as the genres above. The books must be available in paperback, to keep them within easy purchasing range. It allowed libraries to stay on top of teen reading fads without breaking the budget.

It was a fabulous idea – twenty years ago.

But the appeal of paperbacks has changed over the past two decades. They used to look cool stuffed in the back pocket of blue jeans. Tucked inside a textbook, they allowed teens to read Judy Blume instead of history. Those paperback spinners that once housed countless volumes of Babysitter’s Club and Fear Street serials now are storage headaches. Current paperbacks are often too large to fit in the spinners. Add in the growing popularity of e-books, and Popular Paperbacks just doesn’t sound very hip.

girl readingBut dynamic lists on fascinating topics? Always in demand.

I certainly don’t mean to pick on the Popular Paperbacks committee. It’s dear to my heart because I served on that committee for three years; I met a lot of great library folk and learned much from them. And the 2016 chair, Katie Salo, led her committee in developing some awesome lists. Thank you, and all of those who worked so hard on this year’s impressive selection lists.

The YALSA Board is currently involved in organizational planning, driven by the call to action in YALSA’s Futures Report. In taking a step back, we can really focus on how best to build YALSA so that it is aligned with the vision of teen services as outlined in the report. With that momentum, we are well-positioned to support members as we all strive to build a futures-focused teen program at our libraries.  The Board is working with an expert on organizational planning who has encouraged us to embrace an “everything is on the table” approach that allows us to think about  the kinds of support members need most, including collection development and content curation, and how we best provide that.

This topic and its relation to selected lists like PPYA is actually just one example of what the board will be considering once a new plan is in place and the work of aligning existing programs, services, initiatives and resources begins.  The goal is to have a draft plan put together by early Feb., work throughout the month to refine it and have a final, new plan in place by March 1.  The aligning work will take place after that and lead to the development of proposals for the board’s consideration, most likely at their meeting in June.

To keep up to date on the organizational planning process, check the YALSAblog for regular updates. And join YALSA president Candice Mack for her Member Town Halls on Twitter via the #yalsachat hashtag. The next one will be Friday, Feb. 5, noon to 1:00 pm (Eastern).

It’s a good time to look ahead.

Don’t Delay, Join PPYA!

by Lisa Goldstein

Wondering which YALSA committee to apply for? Consider Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults.’  I’m currently the chair of PPYA, and this is my third year on this selection committee.

PPYA creates three to five themed booklists each year. Past themes have included food, body image, and spirituality; this year’s themes are war, humor, and GLBTQ. Books of any format – fiction, nonfiction, graphic novel – which fit the declared themes and are popular among teens make the list. Literary quality is not a strong consideration. Members use circulation stats and teen feedback to gauge popularity, and do their best to ignore standards in taste, writing, or cover art.

Committee members serve on two of the subject lists, for which they acquire, read, and evaluate every nominated title. Each list usually ends up with between fifty and seventy-five nominations, and is eventually whittled down to twenty to twenty-five titles.

One of the most helpful things about PPYA work is also one of the trickiest: most books do not fit neatly into one category. Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens, for example, is hilarious, but it also has fantastic GLBTQ characters. Which list does it belong on? This can lead to fascinating discussions with committee members, and helps immensely with readers’ advisory further down the line. Does a teen in your library need a book with a positive portrayal of a transgender character? Give her Bray’s Beauty Queens. Does another teen want a funny book? Recommend Beauty Queens. Because PPYA doesn’t focus on new releases, committee members attain a well-rounded knowledge of young adult literature. Reading and categorizing over one hundred young adult books can’t help but aide readers’ advisory, as well as the creation of book lists and pathfinders. Continue reading

YALSA Update: Symposium Early Bird Extended, Teen Read Week reg, Webinars & More

Symposium Early Bird Extended! YALSA has extended early bird registration for the YA Lit Symposium in Albuquerque, New Mexico through Sept. 17! If you register in the next two weeks, you’ll enjoy our lowest rates. Join us Nov. 5-7 to network with your fellow librarians and educators, meet 30+ YA authors, and earn 12 contact hours. Learn more about the symposium and register at www.ala.org/yalitsymposium.

Bundled Registration Now Open Planning to attend both ALA Annual Conference and Midwinter Meeting in 2011? Take advantage of bundled pricing and save. YALSA members pay just $300 for both conferences if they register at www.ala.org/midwinter by Sept. 30.

Teen Read Week Registration Teen Read Week registration ends in less than a month! Register by Sept. 20 to be entered into a drawing for free books from Carolrhoda Lab, Cinco Puntos, and Viz Media. Plus you’ll help show YALSA that initiatives like Teen Read Week or worth supporting. Learn more and register at www.ala.org/teenread.

YALSA’s Reluctant Reader Webinar Looking for guidance to reach out to reluctant readers in your library? Sign up for YALSA’s Sept. 9 webinar, Ready, Set, Go: 30 Ways to Reach Reluctant Readers in 60 Minutes, presented by Jen Hubert Swan. The webinar takes place at 2 p.m. Eastern and costs $39 for YALSA members, $49 for all other individuals. Group registration costs $195. Learn more and register at www.ala.org/yalsa/webinars.

After the jump, we have news on the Teens’ Top Ten, Selection Committee Volunteer Forms, online course registration, the I Love My Librarian Award, the YALSA Dessert Cookbook we’re auctioning off at Midwinter, and a link to American Libraries’ interview with Rob Reiner, director of Flipped!

Continue reading

Time to Send in That Form

I know, you’ve been putting it off, thinking you had plenty of time, but now time is running out. You only have to the end of the month (Sept. 30) to submit your Selection Committee Volunteer Form if you want to be on a selection committee for 2011-12.

And this year, you have the chance to be on a new task force, the one that will be starting up YALSA’s new Readers’ Choice List. This is a list of books that members will get to vote on, and we need some motivated, tech-savvy, organized types to get the list off to a great start, by coming up with categories; receiving, organizing, and vetting the nominations; and conducting the online vote next November.

Also, don’t forget about putting your name in to be on an ALA Committee. There are some fascinating opportunities in ALA committees, like Accreditation, Website Advisory, Public & Cultural Programs Advisory, Literacy, and many more. The ALA Committee volunteer form is open until November 5.

Committee Appointments and More Committee Appointments

Two separate rounds of committee appointments are going on right now. I want to know why YOU should be appointed to a committee, and for that, you need to submit a volunteer form.

Anyone who wants to serve on a 2012 YALSA selection committee (starting work Feb. 1, 2011) needs to fill out YALSA’s volunteer form by Sept. 30—but please don’t wait until the last minute! Be sure to read the policies and procedures of the committee you are interested in before you apply. Selection committees are great fun, but they are also a lot of work, so think carefully about which one is the best fit for you. Check out http://tinyurl.com/YALSAgetinvolved for more information.

And don’t forget about the 2011 -2012 ALA committees that begin work on July 1, 2011. These require the ALA volunteer form to be submitted by Nov. 5th. ALA committees are a great way to meet people from other divisions and expand your horizons.

Please remember that YALSA selection committee members are still required to attend all conferences during their appointment. Here’s a list of upcoming conferences and dates: http://www.ala.org/ala/conferencesevents/upcoming/index.cfm.