Outgoing YALSA President Judy Nelson began the day by welcoming us and introducing new committee chairs, board members, and presidents.
Of course, if you haven’t heard yet, YALSA is celebrating 50 years of service to teens and the librarians who in turn serve them. We were then treated to a slide show with pictures of YALSA presidents over the last 50 years.
Where is YALSA today? Judy Nelson’s theme has been “Still reading after all these years…” We most recently have added a new award for best audiobook production, the Odyssey award. YALSA is still the fastest growing (number 4) with 5,565 members and counting!
YALSA has worked on key areas in YALSA’s strategic plan:
1) Advocacy: social networking, “@ your library” campaign, building ties with ALA, etc.
2) Outreach: support teen literature day, launch of Teen Tech Week, first Wrestlemania reading challenge, YALSA Myspace
3) Marketing: new communications specialist, Teen Read, first-time young adult author award
4) Research: variety of surveys such as those partnered with PLA
5) Mentoring: continuous learning such as the Young Adult Literature Symposium in Nashville, task force with continuous education
6) Assocation sustainability: how do we keep our members while going through “growing pains,” dues increase, board restructuring, reviewing committee structure, participation of ALA’s first emerging leaders program (2 of 25 applicants), grants to help build library services in several key states
Beth Yoke, Executive Director of YALSA provided a few quick additions. For one, there are a lot of committee appointments coming up, as well as participating in our several discussion and interest groups. These groups are a flexible opportunity for virtual participation in YALSA. It’s a bottom-up way to engage (or create, as the case may be) your niche in teen library services. YALSA has four folks on staff to help handle questions, so feel free to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Teen Read Week is “LOL @ your library” (humor theme, of course) and will be launching in October, along with the Wrestlemania reading challenge. The year 2008 Teen Tech Week theme is “Tune in @ your library.” YALSA is also working on a non-fiction award, as well as member awards (scholarships and ALA convention funding) and has some really great publications in the works.
Judy Nelson explained that YALSA gives out five different grants this year: Great Books Giveaway, Sagebrush Award, and others. Congratulations to all the winners! Apply, because the more applications we get, the more we can prove that we need more money to fulfill them!
Then we learned about and thanked the Friends of YALSA, who help raise additional financial support for programs, awards, and services.
We then welcomed Paula Brehm-Heeger as incoming president, who greeted us with a Powerpoint full of pictures from YALSA’s Flickr page. We then rehashed all of YALSA and YALSA member’s efforts to promote teens and reading, technology, and more. Paula’s theme is “Leading the Way,” in which Paula will be focuses on commitment and engagement form member leaders, encouraging and supporting members to try new and exciting activities, and increased partnership & sponsorship opportunities. Paula encouraged us to share our ideas with Paula and the board and asked (rhetorically) how YALSA can make our processes more understandable & accessible for us.
We then started “A Day in the Life of an American Teenager – Five Decades with YALSA.” Four delightful young teens gave an enthusiastic rundown of YALSA’s history and the history of teen library services over the last few years. It was so entertaining that I couldn’t think to take notes. You had to have been there when they unleashed a massive sword in their performance of Robin McKinley. What an awesome job! I got quite “verklempt” during Stargirl.
What’s been happening in the last 50 years of teen reading? Michael Cart facilitated a panel celebrating Young Adult literature own 40th birthday, for it was in 1967 that S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and Robert Lipsyte’s The Contender. The panel featured authors Robert Lipstye, David Almond, and Nick Hornby, as well as editor Joanna Cotler.
What does young adult literature even mean? Nobody could really answer the question, except to say that they learned it from Michael Cart. Nick Hornby took the closest attempt, in that they–like any other book you could hope for–are books that use simple language which don’t exclude people but address complicated and insolvable issues. Joanna first thought that it meant something edgy & dark but came to a different understanding as the years progress.
One trend is established “adult” authors who are now publishing “young adult” books. In many cases, like with Francesca Lia Block’s Weetzie Bat, it’s just an author who submits “a book” that winds it way into the hands of editors in teen-specific imprints of their respective publishers. We’re also looking at a number of books who are originally published for children but embraced for teen audiences. David Almond finds these teen-specific editors are a lot more validating and encouraging–perhaps because the teens themselves are a lot more open and capable readers.
Joanna also mentioned that a lot of consternation toward the number of “young adult” books is probably a reaction to its own mirroring of the variety found in adult books, in terms of how its published (e.g., series) and who its being published for (e.g., “chick lit”). The authors then talked about their own sense of self in their novels, as well as the process of finding a narratorial voice. Nick prefers to simply speak in text, so that the books can have an intimacy in tone. Joanna says that voice creates the clear feeling that builds books that readers will love.
Edit: this is like the blog form of “jinx”