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 Katie Richert.

Name and current position:
Katie Richert, Assistant Head of Youth Services at the Bloomingdale Public Library

Besides reading YA materials, what best qualifies you for being a member of this YALSA selection committee?
I am very passionate about YA materials. I think Young Adult is sometimes frown upon as a genre and I could not disagree more! Selecting the best Young Adult material, we are helping teens, patrons and other librarians find some material that might have been overlooked by them in the past. I believe that advocacy, passion and a great ability to organize the many notes I will have to take (oh-so-many post- its!) are what qualifies me to be a member of the YALSA selection committee.

Talk about the experience you’re bringing to the selection committee with selection, evaluation, and working as part of a team.
I have done committee and taskforce work for YALSA in the past. The most challenging and the most rewarding was the 2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifetime Learners. It was ton of reading from various fields of study. Some of those books I would never have nominated (or even read) myself but I am so glad someone else did! Committee work is all about working together to achieve the best list of books that the field can provide. I have had fun doing that every time I have been given the opportunity to do so! My next committee adventure is 2016 Odyssey committee which is very exciting for me as a lover of audiobooks! I cannot wait to see what we choose!

What role do you think books can play in addressing some of the issues that negatively impact their lives?
Teens want to see themselves in the books they read. Having a book that talks about a similar issue that also happened to them -from first heartache and losing someone they love to being bullied and being offered drugs and alcohol- can make teens feel more connected to the book they are reading and to other teens who have had like experiences.

What are some ways the award winning titles can meet the need of teens to have a more expanded view of literacy?
The first book that comes to mind is the 2014 Printz honor book The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal. That book blew my mind as an adult- exposing me to a well- researched look at something I would never have expected to find in a historical fiction young adult book. Books like this that change the rules of what is expected in teen literature really expand the worldview of readers. Unveiling new experiences, different lifestyles and how others might have lived through literature lets teens have more knowledge. That is something we can hope to give them when recommending award winning books.

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?
At the last library I worked at, the school district ran a crazy battle of the books with over 70 teams. We obviously did not have enough of a single title to fit the need of the community all wanting the same books the week before the competition. Therefore, our staff and the leaders of the event sat down to discuss what books would work best for both parties; books on past state lists as well as Newbery and Printz winners and honors so that we could utilize our multiple copies of these books as well as easily interlibrary loan them from other libraries. It was a great way to highlight award winning books and work together with the school district.

Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of this selection committee?
Because I really, really, really want to be on the Printz Committee. I am passionate about teen literature and want to give my colleagues, and teens a list of books that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature. I want to help other expand their reads and discover new worlds, exciting adventures, and great stories. It is always great to be nominated, but I am not going to lie; I want to be on this committee and will be heartbroken if I do not make it. So pick me. Pretty please?!

Talk about a time when a teen shared with you how a book influenced them.
I love it when a teen comes back after I recommended a book and they want to talk about it! The reluctant readers that now are ready for the second book in the series always make my day! My biggest goal in working with teens is always to get them a book they want to read. If we have done that, then we have done our job well!

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.

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