YA Lit Symposium Changes

At the YALSA Board’s Midwinter Meetings, the Board discussed the YA Literature Symposium and voted to make some changes, on a trial basis. After the next Symposium (Fall 2014), it will become an annual event. Then, after three consecutive years, it will be re-evaluated. In addition to being held yearly, the Symposium will expand its offerings beyond a strict focus on literature to include programming and other teen-focused topics.

There were several considerations for changing the Symposium to an annual event. The Symposium tends to draw people who are not able to attend ALA Annual and Midwinter. Many YA professionals have the opportunity only to attend one conference per year, and in that case, they prefer to attend something that is specifically YA-focused. In addition, statistics have shown that by having the Symposium in smaller venues, and moving it around the country, different people have the opportunity to attend. In St. Louis, 50% of attendees drove to the Symposium. Many of these were first-time attendees who don’t normally go to major national conferences. Holding the Symposium annually is one way to meet a need expressed by members to have more regional face-to-face opportunities to meet and engage with other YA professionals. Continue reading

Paper Presentations, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the YALSA Symposium

I was quite the eager little first-year grad student last year when I submitted my paper proposal for the 2012 YALSA YA Literature Symposium. My subject–biracial identity in YA–was something I had been interested in for awhile, so I was happy to have an outside force encouraging me to turn my informal research into something real and accountable. But that was in February, and lots of school happened in between that acceptance and presentation, including a lot of procrastinating.

But I still made it, and on the Saturday of the symposium, I presented my paper and did not melt, have a heart attack, or run out of the room screaming.

I thought I would end up titling this post either “How NOT to Present a Paper at a Conference” or “How to Be the Best Paper Presenter EVER,” but I’m not sure I have the authority to write either. If there are rules other than “don’t rush and talk too quickly” (oops–failed that one), please let me know. Continue reading

It’s All About the Connections

I’m just back from YALSA’s 2012 YA Lit Symposium in St. Louis. It’s YALSA’s third Symposium, but—for a variety of reasons—my first. There will be much discussion over at The Hub about the actual programs and presentations, but I wanted to say a few words about something else that I observed over the course of three days.

I’ve been going to ALA Annual and Midwinter for over 15 years, and they are great. But a Symposium like this is something really special, and it’s all about the connections. Let me just give you a few examples that I observed:

  • I was chatting with someone at a break who works at the library in the area where I grew up. We knew people in common from the library, but then I found out where she had gone to high school, and immediately took her over to introduce her to another YALSA member who went to that same high school—turned out they had overlapped by a year or two.
  • A librarian told me that she was rooming at this Symposium with someone she had first met at the 2008 Lit Symposium.
  • At the closing session, I was asked to take a picture of four librarians who had met and bonded at the symposium. They told me they were all “orphans” who had come alone, but met and had a great time together.
  • At the Morris Lunch, a librarian who wanted to know more about staff development models happened to be seated with another librarian who does staff development as a full-time job.
  • At the same table, a person who is interested in library apps like Boopsie was put in touch with someone in her local area who was involved in getting the app for her library.
  • The symposium Twitter hashtag (#yalit12) was trending on Saturday afternoon, as attendees live-tweeted their sessions and got into back-and-forth discussions about what was being presented.
  • I found new people to follow on Twitter, and new people followed me.
  • Attendees had opportunities to have real conversations with authors at the Book Blitz on Saturday night, and at the networking breaks. Continue reading

Beyond Good Intentions: The power and peril of prepositions

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. Continue reading

YA Lit Symposium: Some Post-Conference Reflections

There’ve been some great summaries of sessions at the 2010 YA Lit Symposium here, and I’ve written in detail about all of the sessions I attended on my own blog, but now that I’ve had some time to process everything I heard and talked about over the weekend and what I’ve read about the symposium since then, I thought I’d share some of my overall impressions from the entire conference here to continue the discussion.

One of of the themes I saw come up across multiple sessions was that reading allows us to vicariously experience things that are not part of our own lived experience, so reading books about people who are different from us helps educate us, allows us to test our values, and de-Others people like the character. In “Beyond Good Intentions and Chicken Soup: YA Lit and Disability Diversity: How Far Have We Come?” the presenters mentioned that for a lot of teens, reading a book about a person with disabilities may be their first experience with disability. Making sure that portrayal is balanced rather than stereotypical and that the character’s disability isn’t the primary problem in the story gives teens a more accurate portrayal of what people with disabilities can be like–that is, that people with disabilities are people, too. Continue reading

YALSA Lit Symposium – WOW!

And a great time was had by all!

What an interesting group of presenters and authors.  This Symposium really brought the mind’s focus around to incorporating diversity in all aspects of your collection – print, non-print, and web-based.  I particularly liked the fact that some of the authors gave us lists of their favorite diverse books (Cynthea Liu – http://www.cynthealiu.com) and that booktalks were everywhere.

I came home with lots of lists to use in buying and creating my own more diverse resource lists and in making displays. I came home energized and excited to try my own 30 books in 30 minutes program and Yack and Snack book discussion group.  I came home with determination to promote my audio collection to teachers as well as students.  And I came home with two autographed copies of Pat Mora’s Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems About Love  (Knopf, 2010) for my high school boys who will copy the poems for their girlfriends.

Hurray YALSA!  Conference job well done.

YA Lit Symposium: Your Presenter’s Preparations

If you’ve never made a presentation at an event like the YA Literature Symposium, watching the speakers might make you wonder how it all comes together.  Those polished, funny, engaging speakers must have done some hard work, but they must also be lucky, right?  Yet the process of crafting the presentation and actually making it isn’t a mysterious one, as this tongue-in-cheek timeline for a speaker at the YA Lit Symposium illustrates.

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YALSA Teen Lit Symposium: Author Happy Hour from the Authors’ Perspective

The thing I was looking forward to least about the whole YALSA Teen Lit Symposium was the Author Happy Hour. Neurotic me imagined me sitting by myself at a table while all the other tables were mobbed.

When the librarians started streaming in, I took a picture because it was just this mob of people coming in, like the Running of the Brides at Filene’s Basement in Boston. And then you mobbed us all! It was thrilling. Continue reading

YA Lit Symposium: Author’s Happy Hour

As I filed out of the excellent Images & Issues Beyond the Dominant: Including Diversity in Your Graphic Novel Collection (more on that later), I was surprised to see a milling mob of librarians waiting in the hallway.  Then I remembered the Author’s Happy Hour(s): two hours of YA author superstars, signing free copies of their books, plus snacks and alcohol.  Ah…. The eager chatter and press suddenly made sense!

Each attendee was given a small tote bag and five tickets, good for five books.  However, with over 30 authors in attendance, each one of us had to make some serious decisions about which authors we needed to gush to and whose books we must have. Continue reading

YA Lit Symposium: A Side Trip…

As I was unable to make it to the YA Lit Symposium’s Pre-Conference Session: On Beyond Stonewall, I decided to head to a local bookstore Friday night for an intimate and informal discussion about LGBT issues in teen literature.  Present were authors Malinda Lo (Ash), Lauren Bjorkman (My Invented Life), Megan Frazer (Secrets of Truth and Beauty), Alexandra Diaz (Of all the Stupid Things) and Kirstin Cronn-Mills (The Sky always hears me and the hills don’t mind), all of whose books feature characters dealing with LGBT issues. Continue reading