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. Polls are open from March 19 to April 27.

Today we have an interview with Dorcas Hand.

What experience do you have that makes you a good candidate for the Excellence in Nonfiction Award?
I read reviews and many, many books each year – realizing I don’t always agree with those reviews and read the book myself whenever possible. I have worked every year for 20+ on the HAISLN Recommended Reading List to update one level or another of this K-12 list, a process which has me reading and discussing the relative merits of a variety of books for our purpose. Many years ago, I chaired SLJs “Adult Books for Young Adults”, an experience that taught me much about book evaluation. I have reviewed for The Horn Book (1982, when I lived in Boston) and SLJ for many years. This combination of experiences leaves me well trained for this committee.

Why do you want to be a member of this awards committee?
I especially love nonfiction as it is published these days, and recognize the wealth of good writing that is included in the genre. I organize an annual program at AOS to bring in a nonfiction author for four days of master classes with students in 4-8th grades who have research projects in process. I have been able to work with Susan Bartoletti Campbell, Jennifer Armstrong and Marc Aronson among others in the 8 years of the project; Tanya Stone will be coming in 2012. I look forward to reading high quality nonfiction to find the most exceptional this year.

What are you most looking forward to in being a part of this award decision process?
I look forward to meeting new people in my colleagues on the committee, to learning more about book evaluation in the course of the discussions, and to reading many wonderful books to share with my students and faculty colleagues. Of course, at the end of the process, I look forward to meeting the authors!

What do you feel are the key factors for decision-making for the Excellence in Nonfiction Award?
Interesting content and a unique perspective on content would be at the top of the list. There are many adequate nonfiction titles available; excellence implies a more insightful treatment and an approach that welcomes readers to the discovery process and the excitement of the new knowledge.

The reading load for awards committees is very high, how do you plan on managing the work load of award committee life?
The good news is that several other commitments are ending as I head off the AASL Board, the TLA Conference Planning Committee and the local dance group board. I look forward to lots of reading!

What have you learned from past experiences on awards, juries, or other YALSA committees that you will bring with you to this committee?
I have been very active in ALA/AASL/ISS for 30 years, as well as in the local library community. This consistency of involvement has provided a wealth of variety in dealings with people and assignments. I meet every challenge with an excitement for the new learning that will come with a different project.

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?
Reading reviews in journals is helpful, but I am always aware that the review offers only a single voice. From my experience writing reviews and being that single voice, I especially value the awards lists because they reflect a collective voice that relies on careful reading and rereading of the winning titles. Awareness of the focus of the award in combination with the group voice gives me confidence to include these books in my collection.

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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