Valerie A. Ott
Relatively speaking, I haven’t been a YALSA member for that long—just six or seven years. In that short time, however, I have been afforded some great growth opportunities—serving as the editor for this journal, for example. I’ve served on a couple of committees and made some new friends as well. In reading the reminiscences of fellow YALSA members, though, I realized that YALSA can continue to enrich the professional lives of its members for as long as one chooses because there are myriad ways to be involved. Most, if not all, of these reminiscences point to the fact, too, that YALSA is like a big family, an association of friends who work passionately and tirelessly toward the same goal: to provide the best possible library service to teens. YALSA members are truly the lifeblood of the association; however, it occurs to me that the blood wouldn’t be pumping if it weren’t for the heart of our association: teens. Several of the reflections and memories shared in the coming pages certainly speak to the fact that teens drive what we do, just as a heart pumps blood through a body.
Teens are the inspiration for authors, too, as evidenced in the Printz speeches contained in this issue as well as in the reflections of past Printz winners. While the Printz Award is arguably one of YALSA’s greatest achievements in the past fifty years, there are certainly many more successes about which we can boast. YALSA’s numerous booklists, such as Best Books for Young Adults, guide teachers, parents, librarians, and teens to exemplary materials for young adults. YALSA’s member awards, such as the Sagebrush Award, highlight the accomplishments of librarians who connect teens with reading through innovative programming. These examples serve to bring me back to my point: that teens have always inspired and motivated YALSA members to work as hard as they most assuredly do, and that teens will continue to drive us for the next fifty years as well. Happy birthday, YALSA!