Get ready to vote! The YALSA election runs from March 13 through April 5, and to help you be an informed voter, we’re sharing interviews with each of the 2017 YALSA Governance and 2019 Selection Committee candidates.

Today we’ll hear from a candidate for the 2019 Nonfiction Award. Members on this committee serve a fifteen 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 Nonfiction Award committee’s primary job is to select the best nonfiction title published for young adults between Nov. 1 and Oct. 31 of the current year.

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 Anne Dame.

Name and current position: Anne Dame, Teacher-Librarian, Einstein Middle School, Shoreline, WA

Talk about the experiences and expertise you’re bringing to the award committee in terms of material evaluation and selection, and as working as part of a team.

Collaboration seems to be one of the buzzwords in education these days, and while that can make it seem a bit trite, it is so essential to what I do every day. I have been a teacher-librarian for 8 years and collaboration, or teamwork, is a crucial piece of helping our students succeed. I work with staff in the building to plan appropriate lessons regarding information literacy and engagement with reading. I have found that working with others helps me be a better teacher, librarian and resource.

As a teacher-librarian, I have sole responsibility for book and material selection for my library. In order to make informed decision, I read 300-350 YA books per year. I track everything I’ve read in GoodReads. (Feel free to find me and see what I’ve been reading!)  I also belong to two review groups in my area: WASHYARG (Washington Young Adult review Group) and PSC (Puget Sound Council for the review of children’s and young adult materials). I read and review for both of these groups, with copies of my reviews going to the publishers.

I believe that all of these things will be useful skills if I am elected to this committee.

Talk about the ways you’ve leveraged literature with teens to address some of the issues that negatively impact their lives.

My students are always looking for books that are new and interesting, so I always have a display table with titles that will attract their attention. These include diversity, bullying, LGBTQ+ issues, eating disorders, suicide, and depression… In addition to this, I occasionally create special displays based on topics that are of current concern within my school or the world more generally. For example, when some of my students were expressing anxiety about the results of recent presidential activities, I created a display called “Choose Love” and included books on youth activism and powerful leaders from our past.

When I do book talks, I always make sure to include a wide variety of genres and topics and have books available that represent all of my students’ beliefs, backgrounds, and cultures.

Many of my students have discovered that I am open to their questions and often come to me for recommendations of titles in a particular area of concern for them, such as books with LGBTQ+ characters and situations. For those who are not as comfortable approaching an adult with these types of requests, I have created topical book lists that are available as well.

What are some ways award-winning titles can be used to help teens acquire critical skills across multiple literacies?

Award-winning titles, especially non-fiction ones, like this committee will be working with, can help students examine issues in a way they had never thought of before. Making connections to current events from things that have happened in our past, focusing on ways to use information from one topic in a completely new and different setting are skills that all of our students can and should use as they strive to learn, grow, and become independent thinkers, ready for new tasks and challenges.

Serving on an award committee requires strict confidentiality and high ethical standards.  What actions would you take to ensure there were no lapses in confidentiality or ethics?

While I am a frequent user of Goodreads, I would not put any of my reviews for books from this committee onto my profile until after the final decisions have been made. I hold myself to high standards of integrity and would refrain from giving out my opinions or any other information until the committee had already released the results of our work.

Why should YALSA members choose you to be a member of this award committee?

My passion for working with youth and ensuring they have high quality books to address their needs and interests, my ability to work well in a group, and my ability to read and review large quantities of books in a relatively short period of time, plus my organizational abilities make me an excellent candidate for this position. I would strive to do my very best work and would be honored to be a part of such an important and interesting committee.

About Casey McCoy

Casey McCoy is a Librarian at San Jose Public Library and earned her MSLIS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2014. She has a passion for working with teens as well as discovering ways to use technology as a community engagement tool. Her thoughts on libraries, technology and attempts at adulting can be found on Twitter @CayMcCoy.

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