YALSA’s 2018 Great Books Giveaway provides more than $40,000 in materials to libraries in Mississippi, Virginia, and Michigan

For Immediate Release
Fri, 01/26/2018


Anna Lam

Communications Specialist

Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)


CHICAGO — The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), named Purvis (Mississippi) High School, the Suffolk (Virginia) Public Library System, and the Oak Park (Michigan) Public Library as the recipients of its annual Great Books Giveaway.

Each library will receive a share of more than $40,000 in books, audiobooks and other materials donated to YALSA from publishers and producers in 2017.

The Purvis High School is located in Purvis, Mississippi and serves two communities – Purvis and Baxterville – with a majority of the 615 students experiencing economic need and a lack of access to technology at home. While the school library has already begun to transition into a 21st century working environment for its students by providing an attractive physical environment, and an improved collection of books for pleasure reading, budgetary constraints and a dated collection make it impossible to meet their rigorous collection development goals to provide nonfiction titles to assist students in research projects correlated to state standards.    

“It is a tremendous honor for the Purvis High School Library to receive the 2018 Great Books Giveaway Award from such a prestigious association as YALSA,” said Purvis High School Library Media Specialist Denise Ladner. “Because of YALSA's generosity, our library will be equipped with more materials in one year than we could normally accumulate through our yearly budget over five years.”

The Suffolk Public Library System serves a large geographic area covering 430 square miles in Suffolk, Virginia. 89,273 residents of diverse backgrounds and needs make use of three branches and a bookmobile to meet their library needs. Although a large number of the system’s users are young adults, teen collections are small and outdated. The library system has a number of goals for improving service to young adults, many of which are related to providing teens with current books featuring diverse characters representing a variety of backgrounds and circumstances as well as up-to-date, high-interest non-fiction.

Sarah Townsend, Assistant Director of Libraries, stated, “We are so excited about receiving this award which will be a huge help in improving our collections to serve the extremely diverse needs of the teens in our library system. We have a great deal of need for materials for this age group. We do an enormous amount of outreach to the schools, where the kids are hungry for literature, materials and programs that reflect the lives they lead. Winning this award will allow us to greatly improve our collections and services. We are very grateful to YALSA.”

Oak Park Public Library is situated in a culturally and ethnically diverse city of just 5 square miles in a suburb north of Detroit, Michigan. 85% of the students in the Oak Park School District are classified as being from low-income families and 91% are eligible for free or reduced lunches. The library is adjacent to the Oak Park High School and staff believe that a teen-friendly and attractive collection of new materials will help increase literacy in the community where reading proficiency rates are low.

“This will be life-changing for a lot of our teens,” said Oak Park Youth Services Librarian Charli Osborne. “I am so thrilled to get some new materials for our kids. We have great kids here: a mix of reluctant readers, below-grade readers, and graphic novel readers. Many of the books in our collection are pretty old. This award will let them read for pleasure and read for homework. It’s very exciting.”

The application form for the 2019 Great Books Giveaway is available in the Grants and Awards section of the YALSA website. Applications must be received by Dec. 1, 2018.

The YALSA Great Books Giveaway Jury members are: Chair, B. Allison Gray, Goleta Library, Goleta, CA; Claire M. Houghton-Kiel, Passaic County Technical Institute, Wayne, NJ; Leslie Roy, Maury High School, Norfolk, VA; Jennifer Claire D. Siron, Los Angeles Public Library, Chatsworth, CA; Christina Alexandra Walsh, Salt Lake City Public Library, Salt Lake City, UT.

The mission of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) is to support library staff in alleviating the challenges teens face, and in putting all teens ‒ especially those with the greatest needs ‒ on the path to successful and fulfilling lives. For more information about YALSA or to access national guidelines and other resources go to www.ala.org/yalsa, or contact the YALSA office by phone, 800-545-2433, ext. 4390; or e-mail: yalsa@ala.org.