Friday, January 30, 2009

What A Day! NJLA YA Section Meeting

I'm not sure what the rules/expectations are around sharing the outcome of today's NJLA YA Section meeting where we selected the twenty titles that will appear on the ballot for the Garden State Teen Book Award (Grades 6-8). Thus, I won't share the final ballot list and will leave the sharing to the committee. Instead, I'll share a little bit about the meeting (my first!) and the GSTBA.

First, let me just say that it was really exciting to be in a room meeting with over 50 other librarians focusing on serving young adults. Sure, I'm kind of a dork for thinking this, but I don't care. We began the meeting receiving a bunch of updates, including some fret over budgets in this tough economic time and a "Save the Date" for this year's NJ Statewide Children’s and Young Adult Author Conference, and all-day event which will be held on Friday, May 8th. I attended last year's and it was awesome: authors reading aloud, booktalking their own books, and explaining the writing process coupled with a low cost that includes breakfast and lunch. SOLD.

But of course, the highlight of today's meeting was the selection of the titles for the GSTBA ballot for Grades 6-8. In the end, the GSTBA are chosen by votes from actual NJ teens through voting at school and public libraries. But first, the committee of librarians from around the state must create the ballot. As the NJLA website's GSTBA page describes, titles are selected "based on teen appeal and quality of writing from the previous year's "Best Books" list." At a previous meeting, readers were assigned to each read a selection of books, and today, armed with notes and a willingness to "die for" getting personal favorite titles on the list, we narrowed a list of almost 100 titles down to 20. I was not a reader, and thus couldn't vote, BUT one of the readers who was unable to attend had prepared a detailed evaluation of her picks and I was called upon to advocate for her selections, which was pretty neat. Not to brag, but all four of her favorites (and two of her second tier choices) made the list, so I feel like I represented her well.

There was a bit of contention over a few titles, with racial diversity, author integrity and accuracy in telling stories from other cultures and time periods, and genre all issues to consider. I had braced myself for some snark and attitude from librarians fighting to the death to get certain titles on or keep certain titles off the list, but it really wasn't too bad. (Though I hear the "real" wars are waged over the books for grades 9-12, which are selected at next month's meeting.) All in all, I was just really happy to be there, listening to people passionate about books talking about what they loved about a certain book and how teens they'd worked with had responded to different books. Pretty neat.

If you're not doing anything, I encourage you to attend next month's NJLA YA Section meeting. It'll be at the South Brunswick Library on Friday, February 27th at 9am. You won't be able to vote unless previously assigned as a reader, but you can join in the discussion and maybe even represent for someone unable to make it!

P.S. They also announced this year's (2009) winners, but again, I'm not sure that announcement should come from me, so I'll wait until it's publicly posted. In the meantime, you can check out the ballot, pick your own favorites and wait patiently for the results.


  1. Sounds like fun!

    Are you going to blog about the 9th-12th grade title selection?


  2. Definitely. It should be an exciting meeting! And I'll make sure to talk to someone in charge about whether it's cool for me to post any outcomes.

  3. I don't think that you are at all dorky for thinking it's cool to be part of a group like that! It sounds great.

  4. Hey, another NJLA YA blogger! I'll see you next meeting! And you can check, it may not be too late to volunteer to read titles for the 9 to 12 or NF list.

    Re posting the list: I think they'll be final by the April Conference. They're not announced officially, yet, because sometimes the final 20 has to be tweaked because of availablity of titles.

  5. Thanks everyone for your comments! At your suggestion, Liz, I've reached out to see if they need any additional readers. Hopefully they do! Either way, I'll be at the meeting and look forward to it.