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.

Kate Toebbe 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 on several committees that have prepared me for this position. Locally, I am a member of two Southwest Ohio and Neighboring Libraries committees: Reviewers of Young Adult Literature (ROYAL) and the Cincinnati Area Reading Group for Youth Services. I have been on YALSA’s Wrestlemania Committee, Baker & Taylor Award Jury and I am currently a member of the Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults selection committee. I received the 2009 Baker & Taylor/YALSA Award, I presented at YALSA’s Teen Services Mashup Table Talk at the 2011 Annual Conference and I presented at the Ohio Library Council’s 2011 Southwest Chapter Conference. I have a diverse knowledge of teen literature and I make every effort to stay current and seek out learning opportunities.

Why do you want to be a member of this awards committee?
I have spent my career as a teen librarian working with inner city teens. I have seen first hand how literature has helped shape the lives of the teens in my library’s community. Whether the literature is helping to give a teen confidence or distracting them from tough times, it can really make a difference. I would really love the opportunity to help celebrate authors who do so much for so many people.

What do you feel are the key factors for decision-making for this award?
Teens must be able to connect to the winner’s body of work in a real way. The voices in the books need to be genuine and realistic. Whether the books are set in a fantasy world or a future society or in the past, teens need to be able to take something from each book that will stick with them. The winner’s work must be accessible, enjoyable and thought provoking.

The reading load for awards committees is very high, how do you plan on managing the work load of award committee life?
For the last two years, I have been on the Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults Committee and a member ROYAL. These commitments having given me a lot of experience managing a high reading load. Over time, I have come up with a system to pace myself that has served me well and I utilize audio books and e-books when possible. Sometimes I even find time left over for non-required reading!

What have you learned from past experiences on awards, juries, or other YALSA committees that you will bring with you to this committee?
Being on YALSA committees has taught me so much. I have been a member of a variety of different groups and I have taken something away from each one. My time management skills, reader’s advisory skills and communication skills have all improved. A few years ago, I would have sat quietly in a group setting. Now, I speak up in meetings and give my opinions freely. I’ve learned about books, authors, resources, programming ideas and even apps from other committee members that I never would have known about otherwise. Being around people who have similar jobs and interests but totally different experiences has been invaluable to my career.

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?
Not a work day goes by where I don’t use YALSA’s resources. I use the Awards and Lists to recommend books to my teens, make displays, put together teacher collections, select book club books and integrate literature into programming. These lists have exposed me to teen literature that I may not have found on my own, and I have been able to pass those books on the teens in my library. No matter how much reading I do, I cannot read everything. I depend on YALSA’s recommendations to help me do the best job I can.

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