There’s a profusion of pollen and awards in the air. It must be springtime. ‘Tis the season that YALSA rolls out the award announcements for the Printz, the Morris, the Edwards, the Odyssey, and more; the Spring issue of YALS is devoted to awards, the winners, and the speeches. But even so, in the flurry of awards that get announced in the late winter and early spring, it can still be easy to overlook a few. ‘ But don’t forget Alex!

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Are you excited about the YALSA elections? They are coming up soon (March 19th-April 27th), and your participation is vital! This is your chance to help determine the who will be deciding on those books featured in our wonderful awards in the next few years. Many positions are appointed, but three lists rely on elections to fully populate them. This year the positions open on the YALSA awards slate are (the full slate with candidates is available on the YALSAblog):

  • Margaret A Edwards
  • Excellence in Nonfiction
  • Michael L. Printz

While you are no doubt very familiar with the awards themselves, you might be less familiar with what is expected of the folks serving on those committees.
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As the chair of the inaugural YALSA Writing Award Jury, I am proud to announce the four outstanding pieces of writing contributed by YALSA members last year. After receiving a shortlist of nominations from the respective publications’ editors and managers, our committee carefully considered each of the article’s merits to select the winners. Without further ado, here are the winning articles:
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Librarians working with young adults need no proof that their services have an impact on teens and the community that surrounds them. As soon as you make that vital connection with a teen who trusts you to find a good book for them, or to show them resources for an important paper, you have influenced a life. The greater community, however, may not see the value of this intangible work. It’s taken many years to convince library boards and administrators of the importance of a librarian dedicated to the service of young adults. Now, as budgets are slashed and libraries forced to close, the need to champion the work of young adult librarians is even greater than before.’ What we really need are some Great Ideas that emphasis the urgency of young adult advocacy.

In the new Strategic Plan, Advocacy and Activism play a vital role in YALSA’s ‘ future goals. Since’ YALSA’ is an organization with members working in a variety of settings, we need a variety of Great Ideas. What does your institution do to increase awareness of teen services? What do you wish it would do? What would you do as an individual, given the time and resources?
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Join YALSA with LIVE streaming video of all the YMA announcement, presented jointly by the YALSA Blog and The Hub. Along with the video, we’ll also be offering quick polls and pulling Twitter hashtags like #printz and #alexawards. You can log in to the live session with your Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or OpenID username (which will include your avatar), or just jump right in.

YALSA Blog manager mk Eagle (username pandanose) will be offering transcriptions of all the announcements, with live video from The Hub blogger Jessica Pryde. Coverage begins at 7:30 central on Monday, January 23.

Tuesday, Nov. 1st (ahem, tomorrow) is the deadline to submit your nomination for Library Journal’s Movers & Shakers list. That doesn’t leave you much time to nominate that person you met at ALA Annual whose efforts caught your attention. Or your co-worker who seems to be ahead of every trend. Or yourself! It may be that you don’t know anyone who fits the strict criteria. Oh, what are the criteria, you ask?

A M&S is a “leader in the library world” who is “innovative, creative, and making a difference”. Previous teen services-related winners have kick-started teen services in their branch, library system, and community. (One winner got gaming systems in all 20 branches in her library system!!) Others began a project on a small scale only to have it adopted by their surrounding community. Let me highlight a few previous winners so that you might be inspired to nominate someone or strive to be a contender for next year’s award.

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This fall YALSA is launching a brand new online course. Brenna Shanks, instructor for Secrets of the Seal: The Michael L. Printz Award, chatted with me about the course.

Eve: You’re teaching a new class for YALSA that starts in October. Tell us about Secrets of the Seal: The Michael L. Printz Award.

Brenna: I wanted to build a class that would reveal some of the Printz trends and give participants a taste of what its like to be on the committee. We have a final project that basically replicates the committee work. Also, I wanted to discuss what makes a Printz book a Printz book.’  We’ll look at questions such as, what criteria drives the selection process. It isn’t just about what we like as readers. It goes beyond the reading taste of one individual, which is why its sometimes hard to explain or understand each committee’s choices.

Eve:’  What should students expect to learn from this course?

Brenna: I hope students will gain a better understanding of committee work and the value the Printz Award adds to teen literature. Of course, they can’t read 10+ years of work in four weeks, but hopefully they can whet their appetite and approach the books with new insight.

Eve:’  Tell us a little bit about the readings and assignments for this course? How do they fit into your typical librarian’s work schedule?

Brenna: Students will read four of the Printz books (they are welcome to read more, of course!) They will also read a little about the history of the award and its trends over the past decade. They will read supplementary material too- award speeches, press releases, reviews, etc. Assignments include writing reviews and booktalks for Printz titles. The final assignment will be to pick an award and 2 honor books from the Printz titles they’ve read throughout the course.

Eve:’  How do class discussions work? Are they real-time or can I post on my own schedule?

Brenna: We will have a few real-time discussions, but mostly students will post to forums. Discussion topics will be posted each week and any questions brought up by students will be posted for discussion when appropriate. If someone has to miss a real-time chat, archives will be available.

Eve: What can students take away from this course? How can they use the lessons of this course in their day-to-day jobs?

Brenna: Hopefully they will have an increased appreciation for the Printz Award. We will also spend a week discussing ways to promote the Printz. They should come away from that assignment with useful tips for their libraries. I also hope they gain some experience reading with the Printz criteria in mind and that they get a taste of what its like to work on an award committee.

Eve:’  What are you most excited about in this course?

Brenna: Reading on the 2011 Printz committee was a wonderful experience. I’m excited to share some of the insight I gained. I’m also excited to share more great books with colleagues!

Registration for this course is open: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/yalsa/onlinecourses/secrets_of_the_seal.cfm

Did you know that YALSA recognizes the best in writing for all of its publications, including the YALSA Blog? It’s true! Along with articles in YALS and the JRLYA, the YALSA Blog and The Hub will nominate five articles to the YALSA Writing Award Jury. Any article written between Dec. 1 and Nov. 30 of the award year is eligible.

Winning pieces, which will demonstrate qualities such as originality, timeliness and relevancy will receive a plaque and a cash award.

You can find out more about the YALSA Writing Award on the YALSA website.

Our guest for episode 88 is Terri Snethen, Chair for ‘ the 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults selection committee. Hear how it all came together for the committee in it’s inaugural year.

YALSA Podcast#88

If you prefer, you may download the podcast at the’ YALSA Podcast site and transfer the file to the mp3 player of your choice.

After listening to the podcast, you can check out the committee’s work by seeing what made’ this year’s list.

Yesterday, many a fan of children’s and young adult literature tuned into Today, expecting to see a segment on ALA’s recently announced Youth Media Awards, featuring the authors of the Newbery and Caldecott, as well as a representative from ALA to discuss the awards. This year, along with the authors, YALSA’s own Sarah Debraski was pitched to lead viewers through a new year of outstanding books for children and teens, just as many ALA leaders have for the past eleven years.

Unfortunately, this year, Today turned ALA’s pitch down, citing a lack of interest and scheduling problems.

It’s a unfortunate that the YMAs weren’t able to make the cut this year, but we do appreciate the many years that Today chose to feature the awards.

UPDATE: Mark Gould, director of ALA’s Public Information Office, offered this statement:

“The American Library Association did reach out to the Today Show, and’ multiple conversations took place between’ show’ producers and Pro-Media Communications, ALA’s media relations firm,” said Mark Gould, director, ALA Public Information Office. “Unfortunately we were turned down.

“The ALA Youth Media Awards have had a spot on the Today Show for more than a decade, and while not being on this year was’ a disappointment for ALA members and book lovers across the country, we hope’ the Today Show’ can find room for us in the future.”