In February we are posting interviews with each of the 2012 Candidates for YALSA’ Award Committees. This week we are focusing on the Margaret A. Edwards 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 Edwards Committee is charged with honoring an author, as well as a specific body of his or her work, for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature. The annual award recognizes an author whose book or books, over a period of time, have been accepted by young adults as an authentic voice that continues to illuminate their experiences and emotions, giving insight into their lives. The book or books should enable them to understand themselves, the world in which they live, and their relationship with others and with society. To see more about this committee, please see their policies and procedures here. Committee size: 5, three to be elected, plus two appointed by the YALSA President-Elect.

This is your chance to get to know this year’s candidates that have been nominated to’ serve on the Edwards Committee.

Sarah Ludwig is a candidate for the Margaret A. Edwards Award Committee.

What experience do you have that makes you a good candidate for the award position for which you are running?
I am an avid reader of young adult literature — it’s pretty much all I read, in fact. I go through brief periods of reading adult books, but I always come back to young adult lit. I find YA books so compelling, not necessarily because they “bring me back” (though some do that), but because they’re so often about transformation, change, and overcoming great challenges. I also love how great teen novels can serve both as a boon to teens who are struggling and as an inspiration, with lots of strong characters of all backgrounds. Putting the right book in the hands of a teen is one of the most satisfying things I can do as a librarian.

Why do you want to be a member of this awards committee?
I like committee work. I’ve served on several YALSA committees and I find it satisfying and professionally uplifting. I also love the idea of being a part of the legacy of the Edwards award. To be connected in such a meaningful way to the literature that I love would be, frankly, pretty cool. I have the background and perspective to serve as an open-minded and thoughtful member of the committee, and I would take my task very seriously.

What are you most looking forward to in being a part of this award decision process?
I look forward to the prospect of discussing — and maybe even debating — teen literature with a group of my peers. I also very much look forward to revisiting the books that I’ve read over the years, and to hearing the perspectives of fellow readers of young adult books. The feeling of connection over a book — whether a similar response or a new perspective — is an intellectually and often emotionally fulfilling one.

What do you feel are the key factors for decision-making for this award?
I do think that the criteria for the Edwards award are objective, though there are a few factors that would lead me to considering one author over another for the award. The literature itself must be well-crafted. The author’s books should have advanced the genre — that is, challenged the notion of the type of literature available to young adults. I am especially interested in stories that expose the reader to new perspectives, cultures, ways of life, or situations. As teens are constantly learning about themselves and their world, we must acknowledge the books that help them do so.

The reading load for awards committees is very high, how do you plan on managing the work load of award committee life?
I read several books a week as it is, so I don’t anticipate that this will be an issue for me. If I am appointed to the committee, I would make it a high priority to set aside time for reading.

What have you learned from past experiences on awards, juries, or other YALSA committees that you will bring with you to this committee?
The most important thing I’ve learned is how to collaborate remotely. I’ve also gotten a LOT better at delegating tasks, which mostly applies to chairing committees, but still applies to membership in general. I’ve become adept at using a whole host of online tools to communicate with committee members all over the country, and I’ve also learned how to organize my own personal tasks and stay on track.

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?
Having now worked in three libraries that have needed to develop young adult collections from scratch, I have used YALSA’s lists and awards extensively. They’ve proved invaluable to me as I’ve tried to build up core collections of materials for teens. In addition, I love the varied perspectives these lists can give me, from Quick Picks to Popular Paperbacks to BFYA. I love YALSA’s commitment to providing librarians with selection tools that can support a wide audience of readers.

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