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.

Melissa McBride 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?
My time as a school and public librarian has exposed me to a wide range of writing for young adults. ‘ I read constantly, both because I love YA literature and because it is part of my job. ‘ As part of my job as a school librarian, I have run Mock Newbery and Mock Caldecott awards, had students create book trailers for Newbery & Printz winners, led discussion groups about various award winners, and created presentations for students about the awards and current winners. ‘ I feel that these experiences have prepared me for my work as a member of the Edwards Award Committee.

Why do you want to be a member of this awards committee?
I want to be a member of the Edwards Committee because I find the charge to be challenging. ‘ I love the idea of being able to recognize an author for their body of work, not just one book that they wrote. ‘ To be considered for this award an author has to consistently write quality literature that teens identify with over a long period of time. ‘ I think that is a hard thing to do given the way society changes over time. ‘ I like the challenge of finding authors that meet the criteria for this award.

What are you most looking forward to in being a part of this award decision process?
I think this ties into why I want to be a member of the committee. ‘ I am looking forward to working with a group of people that love YA literature as much as I do and who want to reward an author for their contribution to the YA canon. The Edwards Committee must look at so many different factors in deciding the award, the discussions must be heart-felt and lively – I can’t wait to, hopefully, be a part of them!

What do you feel are the key factors for decision-making for this award?
Fortunately, YALSA has a very clear set of criteria for this award. ‘ Picking a winner would be very difficult without those terms. ‘ I think in some ways the narrow focus of the award makes it easier to choose a winner. ‘ There are only so many authors who will meet the criteria, compared to who is eligible to win the Printz Award. I think that one factor will be finding someone that the whole committee can agree on. ‘ There are quite a few authors who meet the basic criteria for the award, but finding that one person that we can all agree on will be the biggest factor.

The reading load for awards committees is very high, how do you plan on managing the work load of award committee life?
I am fortunate that I am a school librarian; this gives me ample time over vacations and summer, as well as time at night to be able to devote to reading. ‘ I will also make sure to schedule time for reading in my calendar. ‘ Reading the titles is also considered part of my day job – I need to stay on top of the newest titles to be able to recommend to students and staff. ‘ I think if I make sure I set aside time each day to read for the committee that I will be able to manage that with my other work.

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 learned so much from my work with YALSA committees, that it is hard to list it all here. ‘ I gained insight into how committees work from Organization & Bylaws, I ‘ gained invaluable experience during my time as a member and Chairperson of Division Marketing & Promotion, and my current position as Chairperson of the 2012 Awards & Booklist Marketing Taskforce is helping me to understand how these awards can best be marketed to the general public and YALSA members. ‘ I think that my work on these three process committees will be very helpful to me as a member of the Edwards Award Committee.

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?
The Awards & Lists have made my life infinitely easier! I have a trusted resource that I can guide staff, students and parents to for book recommendations. ‘ I use the lists and reviews to help build my collection as well. ‘ I can use the lists to build book displays or make bibliographies. ‘ They are a useful asset to my program.

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