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.

Lynn Rutan 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 have been for fortunate in being able to serve on several selection and awards committees with YALSA and with ALSC. ‘ I served on Popular Paperpacks, had a three-year term on Best Books for Young Adults and also chaired that committee. ‘ I served on the Michael Printz Award and chaired that committee as well. ‘ I am currently serving on the Newbery Committee. ‘ The experiences on these committees were very enriching and I had what felt like a post-doctoral course in literary analysis, organizational methods and how to work collaboratively with a group. ‘ I was a school librarian for many years and reader’s advisory and booktalking was a big part of my job so I have a long and happy experience with the wealth of YA literature. ‘ I think I have a solid understanding as well as a love of the body of literature for teens.

Why do you want to be a member of this awards committee?
I have enormous respect for the gifted people who write for teens. ‘ Their work enriches and even saves young lives. ‘ Most YA authors are seldom as appreciated by the greater world, as they should be. ‘ The Edwards is such a special award and one small way to recognize the authors who give their careers to writing for young people. ‘ I would very much like to be a part of this process.

What are you most looking forward to in being a part of this award decision process?
Two things really jump to mind. ‘ First is the opportunity to work with a YALSA committee again and with only 5 members, it is a committee that will be able to get to know each other really well. ‘ Secondly, my current job as a reviewer and blogger requires me to be reading the newest releases and I seldom get a chance to go back and read some of the wonderful books in the canon. ‘ I am excited by the idea of being to read back in time too.

What do you feel are the key factors for decision-making for this award?
I think it is important to assess the enduring quality of the body of work as well as the impact on young people and their experience of the world. ‘ As with any award committee, the charge is what guides the committee.

The reading load for awards committees is very high, how do you plan on managing the work load of award committee life?
Having served three years on BBYA in the days when we considered nonfiction, graphic novels and adult books, I’ve learned how to organize my time in order to manage the work load. ‘ I’m currently serving on Newbery where I’ve had to put those lessons into practice again. ‘ I’m a dedicated compulsive reader and I’ve learned how to balance the demands of my “regular” life with the reading load required with committee service.

What have you learned from past experiences on awards, juries, or other YALSA committees that you will bring with you to this committee?
Committee work has taught me so much! ‘ I gained organizational skills and learned how to manage my time to handle the reading requirements and the administrative tasks when I chaired committees. ‘ By serving with so many exceptional people, I improved my literary analysis skills. ‘ I learned the art of collaboration and how to work with a group to come to consensus. ‘ I think I also learned that every single committee member has something important to bring to the work and any committee benefits from the input of all of its members.

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 YALSA lists and awards have been invaluable to me as a working librarian. ‘ The vetted lists help me so much to be aware of what is valuable for collections, what is of high interest for teens and what stands out for a very crowded field. ‘ I use them all constantly and always referring back to past lists and awards.

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