Get ready to vote! The YALSA election runs from March 24 through May 1, and to help you be an informed voter, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2015 YALSA Governance and 2017 Selection Committee candidates as well as the ALA President-Elect Candidates.

Today we’ll hear from a candidate for the 2017 Printz Award. Members on this committee serve a twelve month term. The committee consists of nine members including a chair. Four members and the chair are appointed and the remaining four members will be elected by the membership of YALSA.

The Printz Award committee’s primary job is to select from the previous year’s publications the best young adult book. A full description of the committee’s duties and responsibilities can be found here.

Full biographical information on all of the candidates can be found on the sample ballot.

Today we have an interview with Marianne Follis.

Name and current position:
Marianne Crandall Follis; Senior Librarian at the Valley Ranch (Irving) Public Library in Irving, TX.

Besides reading YA materials, what best qualifies you for being a member of this YALSA selection committee?
In addition to being a big fan and reader of YA, I select for my library’s collection, serve teen readers, have written reviews for YA, taught classes on youth literature and served on two of the Texas Library Association’s teen reading lists: The Lone Star List (grades 6-9) and the TAYSHAS Reading List (grades 9-up).

I feel that I have a clear understanding of both the literary merits of the literature, and the need for appeal and authentic voice teen readers seek.

Talk about the experience you’re bringing to the selection committee with selection, evaluation, and working as part of a team.
I have previously served on the ALSC Newbery Award Selection Committee. While it is a different division, and age group, I think the skills learned and experiences gained are applicable. When you read *that* many books and serve on a committee with other individuals who do the same, you quickly learn so much about your own reading strengths, weaknesses and preferences. While serving on a committee may not change who you are as a reader, the process of committee reading gives you a more even approach to your evaluation. For example, I love voice and tend to shy away from overly explicit settings. I know that about myself, so when I read a book where setting is key (and yes it can be to almost all books) I am a more engaged reader paying closer attention than one would in a causal reading instance.

What role do you think books can play in addressing some of the issues that negatively impact their lives?
It is important for young adults to be able to see themselves in books. I think they need to see others in the same position they are in and have those positions be treated with care, authenticity and respect.

Many adults are far removed from the world their teens navigate. I have heard adults say “What I wouldn’t to have school be the only thing I *had* to do” but if an we would stop and remember, there was so much more going on than just school. Teens today are bombarded with information, images and are more connected than any previous generation. It is important that there are books that accurately portray the world teens navigate, and the pressures and obstacles they face.

What are some ways the award winning titles can meet the need of teens to have a more expanded view of literacy?
I think the great achievement of Award winning books are their visibility. People gravitate towards award winning books and once teens find them they are exposed to an expanded world view. Add to this the variety of genre, literary styles and appeal and you have the foundation for a broader world view and a larger conversation.

Using critical literacies the award books are great launching points for discussions and possible social change on important topics, such as death and suicide in Looking for Alaska.

There are also increased ways to share ideas and opinions on books that engage multiple literacies. Book blogs, vlogs, fan fiction and fan art engage teen on multiple learning levels while engaging in digital literacies.

Share a time when you’ve advocated for a library collection to be more influential in the role of a connected learning center and what was the result?
Our library recently underwent a renovation to include 5,000 unused square feet of storage into a larger library. During the process I advocated for a Digital Media Lab to be included in the new and improved teen area. I cited research done by our state educational commission on the skills that many teens lack when entering the work field and college. I supported this with demographics from our neighborhood and suggested that we have a large gap in access to technology and equipment.

The result was THE GREEN ROOM, a digital media lab fitted with software and media equipment where teens can explore, experiment and create. While this may not seem like a traditional library collection, it does when you look through an expanded lens of the role of the library. Teens can check out and use video and still cameras, light kits, microphones and software to edit it all.

THE GREEN ROOM has opened up programming for us to include mentors with special skills from the community to model and hang out with teens while they experiment with their digital creations.

It has altered the way staff views teens. As the teen librarian, I love not having to know everything and allow my teens to teach me. This serves everyone in so many ways, allowing the teens an opportunity to be proud when sharing their knowledge, while allowing the adults to be inspired by the role models our teens have become.

Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of this selection committee?
Well, as most people who work with young people, I am passionate about teens, and the authors, books and programs that serve them.

I respect my teens. I remember what it is like to be that age and know that they are doing the hard work of becoming their true selves, while fighting the world assigning roles and values.

I have a good understanding of the history of Young Adult Fiction, the audience it serves and how books impact the lives of the teens who experience them.

I have experience on book selection committees and in evaluating YA.

I will make some nifty campaign buttons.

I am uncomfortable talking about why you should vote for me in first person. Third would be even worse.

Talk about a time when a teen shared with you how a book influenced them.
We recently had a suicide in our community. One of my teens and many of her peers were left missing their friend, and wondering what they could have done to prevent the situation. Like so many people who survive suicide there is this self assigned responsibility for the actions of others.

While rummaging through my collection of ARCs, this teen found All the Bright Places (Nevin, 2014). The book served as both a cathartic venue for expressing emotions and grief, and as a way to understand that mental health issues are a very real and sometimes insurmountable obstacle for those in serious pain.
This teen shared “I wanted to think that I could have stopped her from leaving us. That there was a secret message in her texts that I could have decoded, said the right thing, and stopped her. But I guess you don’t ever know how the world looks from someone else’s eyes.”

Books don’t always give you all of the answers, but can be a quiet places for us to visit with our feelings and see the world through someone else’s eyes.

About Kelly Czarnecki

Kelly Czarnecki is a Teen Librarian at ImaginOn with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She is a member of the YALSA blog advisory board.

One Thought on “YALSA Election: An Interview with YALSA 2017 Printz Award Candidate Marianne Follis

  1. marianne follis on March 20, 2015 at 4:52 pm said:

    Thanks for giving us this forum to introduce ourselves, Kelly!


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