In February we are posting interviews with each of the 2012 Candidates for YALSA Award Committees. This week we are focusing on the Excellence in Non-fiction 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 Excellence in Nonfiction Award Committee honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults (ages 12-18) during a November 1 – October 31 publishing year. The Committee is made up of eight members, including the chair. You can read the Committee policies and procedures on the YALSA website.

This is your chance to get to know this year’s candidates nominated to serve on the Excellence in Nonfiction Committee. Don’t forget the polls are open March 19 through April 27.

Today we have an interview with Maria Gentle.

What experience do you have that makes you a good candidate for the Excellence in Nonfiction Award?
I was very fortunate to be part of the first Printz Award committee (2000) and the Newbery Award committee of 2010 among others. Being part of these committees taught me much about cooperation, time management, and sound literary judgment among other things.

Why do you want to be a member of this awards committee?
I love reading nonfiction. The above mentioned award committees emphasize fiction over non-fiction, so I would love to be part of a group that would select outstanding nonfiction. I think a good part of our youth population enjoys reading nonfiction and to be able to recommend well-written nonfiction books is important for librarians.

What are you most looking forward to in being a part of this award decision process?
I look forward to working with like-minded librarians who believe nonfiction is as important as fiction for young people. There is a lot of fabulous nonfiction materials out there that needs to be brought forward, noticed, recognized.

What do you feel are the key factors for decision-making for the Excellence in Nonfiction Award?
Key factors for decision-making for the Excellence in Nonfiction Award for me are: accuracy, timeliness, and appropriateness of treatment among others.

The reading load for awards committees is very high, how do you plan on managing the work load of award committee life?
For Printz and Newbery I managed to keep up with the reading load by waking up at 5:00 am every morning and reading for two hours every day of the week. I also read during the day, but my first two hours of the day were sacred, devoted to reading in order to keep up. I knew I would have to give up other things such as going to movies, etc. but I knew it was only for one year which kept everything in perspective.

What have you learned from past experiences on awards, juries, or other YALSA committees that you will bring with you to this committee?
I learned from both Printz and Newbery that we do not work in a vacuum but as part of the committee. We each are important but it is a committee decision, which means that in the end your number one choice may not be everyone’s choice. It is great to see how each person defends his/her choice but in the end there is compromising to be done in order to reach the ultimate objective.

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?
YALSA Award and Selected Lists are so dependable. They are not one person’s opinions but a group of well-read, thoughtful and caring librarians that read vastly that year and came to a consensus in their choices. I always depend on them whenever patrons ask for recommendations which makes my job much easier.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

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