Get ready to vote! The YALSA election runs from March 15 through April 22, and to help you be an informed voter, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2016 YALSA Governance and 2018 Selection Committee candidates.

Today we’ll hear from a candidate for the 2018 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 and YALSA Election FAQs here.

Today we have an interview with Edi Campbell.

Name and current position
Edith Campbell; Education Librarian; Indiana State University

Talk about the experience you’re bringing to the selection committee with selection, evaluation, and working as part of a team.
I bring experience from three prior book selection committees (Best Fiction in Young Adult Literature; CYBILS Nonfiction committee; WNDB’s Walter Award Committee). These committees have taught me that while it’s important to have a background in literary analysis, it’s also important to really listen to what others bring to the discussion because their knowledge, passion and insight as just as valid as my own. Each of the committees I’ve served on has selected books that were meant to appeal to wide array of young adults and as such, the selection could only be made by a team of people.

What role do you think books can play in addressing some of the issues that negatively impact the lives of teens?
It’s very much like Rudine Bishop Sims said, that fiction books can act as doors, windows or mirrors for readers. Books can create a view of the world that lets the reader know they’re not alone and sometimes, there is comfort in knowing the universality of one’s suffering. Well-written fiction can be like a window that provide insights into situations, thus allowing the reader to walk away with a greater understanding. At other times, readers find a reflection of their world that they can observe for a better understanding.

What are some ways award-winning titles can provide teens with a more expanded view of literacy?
Award winning literature should push young readers beyond their comfort zone to read authors or genres they may not typically read. This is where we find books that may not have been the most popular, may not have had the most marketing behind them but, they’re excellent literature. The authors may have explored with literary styling or written with greater complexity than more popular books. Award winning literature should provide doors and window to greater imaginings and deeper realities.

Describe a time when you’ve advocated for books to be more influential in connected-learning spaces.
I think this is something I just do rather than advocate; I make sure books get where they’re needed. My children grew up in a home filled with books, library cards and internet capability. As a school librarian, I would deliver carts of books to classrooms that would support units being taught. Learning spaces would often be extended when classes would come to the library to work on research projects.

When I attend meetings around campus, I am always considering what role the library can play with regards to what is being discussed and my first item will be either a Libguide or a booklist. I also make sure there are books in the library to support areas of study that I know about in the College of Education. I email professors directly to ask if they’d like to have a new book placed on hold for them to read. Whenever possible, I purchase ebooks that can be linked to in Blackboard, making books part of the online learning environment. My most current personal project has been to adopt a first grade classroom and becoming their personal librarian. This is crucial in Indiana when our students must be proficient readers in the 3rd grade in order to pass that grade. Each month, I have a selection of books delivered to the classroom so that the books can be right there for the students to read. I supply them with books that represents a diverse America with fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, worldless books, concept books and as many other types of books as I can find that will hook each and every one of those kiddos into reading.

Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of this selection committee?
YALSA members should choose me because I will do an excellent job of representing them on this committee. I believe that whatever I do, I should do it well and this will be no exception. Most people in YALSA who know me, know me through my dedication to diversity. I will work very hard to have a multitude of diverse books considered for this award. I believe this is a process that demands a critical analyses of each book, much reading, much dialog and much dedication to teen readers and I’m willing to do the work to get it done.

Talk about a time when someone shared with you how a book written for teens influenced them.
I was standing in the waiting area at Applebees and ran into a former student whom I hadn’t seen in a good 10 years. I had her in my World Geography class during my first year of teaching high school. We caught up with each other and began sharing memories of our time together at the school. And then, she remembered that I’d given her a copy of Push by Sapphire and she began to tear up. She said, “Mrs. Campbell, you don’t know. You just don’t know what that book did for me.” And she hugged me, and held on to say “thanks”.

As teachers, we don’t often get to know the true impact of what we do for students, but to see this former student, a young woman, and to have such emotional reaction to something so long ago was truly touching. And, I wasn’t even a librarian at that time!

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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