CHICAGO -- The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) , a division of the American Library Association (ALA), awarded Peggy Hendershot, youth information specialist at the Johnson County Library, Blue Valley Branch, the 2015 MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens. The MAE Award provides $500 to the recipient and $500 to the recipient’s library and is sponsored by the Margaret A. Edwards Trust.
With guidance from Youth Information Specialist Hendershot, the Blue Valley Library’s Young Adult Advisory Council (YAAC) established a Young Adult Diversity Discussion Panel to address the frustration these young people have with finding stories that reflect their experiences. Using contacts the group had made with YALSA’s YAGalley/Teens’ Top Ten program, they initiated an online program to discuss diversity issues with publishers. Three publishing houses accepted, and in July 2014, the YA Diversity Discussion Panel, on a Google Hangouts forum, held a successful dialogue.
Hendershot revealed that the YA Diversity Panel was valuable to the library’s teens for matters of awareness (acknowledgement of their concerns), validation (identification that they were not alone in their frustration), teamwork (together, they work to make a difference) and empowerment (be a real force with the decision makers in the publishing industry). Hendershot writes, “When true diversity in literature becomes a reality, they will read as adults knowing that they had some small part in bringing about that change.”
The power of the Young Adult Diversity Panel, Hendershot submits, was that “it was developed by the teens themselves…They worked together as a diverse team, used research skills, discovered that their feelings were shared by many other people, viewed themselves as part of a greater whole, and realized their ability to bring about positive change.”
The 2015 YALSA MAE Award Jury members are Tony Carmack, chair, Placer County Library, Rocklin, California; Stephanie R. Charlefour, Wixom Public Library, Canton, Michigan; Katherine Covintree, The Wheeler School, Providence, Rhode Island; Jackie Parker, Sno-Isle Libraries, Seattle, Washington; Kimberly Rouleau, Our Lady of Mercy High School, Rochester, New York.
For more than 50 years, YALSA has worked to build the capacity of libraries and library staff to engage, serve and empower teens. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.