I can’t believe this is my final column as your ALSC President. This year has been full of uncertainties, but I am so proud of the work we have been able to accomplish together. The Board just completed its annual review of our Strategic Plan, and you can follow along the progress of the plan’s implementation by checking out the progress reports.
Thank you to everyone who stood for positions on the 2021 ballot and congratulations to all who were elected! We have a new Vice-President Elect, Amy Koester, and three new Board members: Sada Mozer, Tori Ann Ogawa, and Georgina Rivas-Martinez. Caldecott, Newbery, Sibert, and Children’s Literature Legacy Committee election results also were announced. Many of these positions begin at the close of ALA Annual Conference and I sincerely thank you in advance for your service. Also, a huge thank you to ALSC members for voting, ensuring our organization can continue its great work.
Whether you are interested in serving in a leadership position or as a member of one of our committees, I strongly encourage you to complete a volunteer form if you haven’t already. Vice President Lucia Gonzalez is beginning to make process committee appointments. Information on the appointment process and timeline, as well as a link to the volunteer form, is available on the Appointments/Volunteering webpage.
On May 14, we will host A Celebration of Illustration!, a one day special conference featuring the 2021 book and media award medal and honor illustrators and focused on the role illustration and art play in creating engaging and memorable children's books. I am so excited for the programs and look forward to moderating the opening panel where I get to have a conversation with Michaela Goade, Raúl Gonzalez, and Frank Morrison.
Annual Conference will be held virtually June 23-29; are you attending? While the ALSC Board will meet outside of the conference times, we plan to continue our other suite of programming, the membership meeting, and our awards celebrations during the virtual event. Be sure to check the Virtual Conference Scheduler page for the most up-to-date information. This year my Charlemae Rollins President’s Program is going to be a little different. The focus is on graphic novels, so the President’s Program committee is going to host a members-only panel in June, followed by a creator panel discussion the day before Comic-Con begins! The members-only discussion panel will be on Tuesday, June 1, at 12:00pm CDT and will be a panel conversation with library professionals about graphic novels as a medium for literacy and learning. Attendees will hear about new titles, how to promote graphic novels to their communities, and the importance of graphic novels to support struggling readers with different learning abilities. The second event, The POW(!)er of Graphic Novels to Support Youth Literacy, will be held virtually on July 20, 2021, and will feature creators Nidhi Chanani, Jerry Craft, Varian Johnson, and Nadia Shammas in conversation about how their work has been shaped to engage and support youth. I hope you can join us at one of these programs.
Stay safe and I hope to see you soon.—Kirby McCurtis, 2020-2021 ALSC President
Big things happen at ALA! Children’s librarians are dreamers at heart, and when we come together we dream big! ALA is no exception. At annual conferences, children’s librarians from diverse backgrounds and remote geographical locations come together to exchange ideas, to dream, to plan, and to envision future endeavors. Many successful ALSC projects, longstanding partnerships and initiatives, and even prestigious awards can all trace their origins to a casual exchange of ideas at an ALA Conference.
This year, ALSC celebrates the 25th anniversary of two such “big” dreams: Día - El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day) and the Pura Belpré Award, jointly cosponsored by ALSC, REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking, and as of this year, YALSA, as the award expands to include young adult readers (ages 14-18).
Each year for the past 25 years, libraries from across the nation have joined in the celebration of Día with programs and activities aimed at linking children and their families to diverse books, languages, and cultures. As the fight against racism, bigotry, and discrimination takes center stage, the inclusive message of Día becomes more relevant than ever. On this 25th anniversary year, join ALSC in celebrating Día every day by offering programs, resources, and collections that embody the diversity of our communities and our country. In the words of Día founder, author, and poet Pat Mora, “let’s share the bookjoy!”
And, as the Pura Belpré Award turns 25, join ALSC, REFORMA, and YALSA in a special 25thAnniversary Virtual Celebración on Sunday, June 27. The Celebración is an inclusive and festive free event that features presentations by Belpré winners and honorees. Prior to its inception in 1996, the Pura Belpré Award was ten years in the making. It started with a conversation at an ALA Conference where children’s librarian Oralia Garza de Cortés first met librarian Sandra Rios Balderrama and discussed the need for an award to highlight and promote children’s literature created by Latino authors and illustrators portraying the Latino children’s experience in the US. In the years that followed, ALA, ALSC, and REFORMA librarians worked hand-in-hand to make the dream come true.
While writing this column, I received the sad news of the passing of my beloved professor and mentor, Dr. Henrietta Smith (1922—04/21/2021). Her work transformed children’s librarianship, and her legacy spans generations of library professionals. She was an illuminated scholar, author, storyteller, history maker, and trailblazer in children’s librarianship. Professor Emerita in the School of Information at the University of South Florida, Dr. Smith was the 2008 recipient of the ALSC Distinguished Service Award, and in 2011, she became the first practitioner recipient of the Coretta Scott King/Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement in Librarianship. She was soft spoken yet firm and determined. I would like to leave you with her words from an interview for The History Makers (https://da.thehistorymakers.org): “You should attend your professional organizations and you should offer yourself as a presenter and then present something that expands the listeners’ knowledge of your particular field of interest…You’ve got to let people know that the world is a mixed world and you have to keep growing in that sense.”
As we celebrate the 25th anniversaries of two dreams that grew from the simple exchange of ideas at ALA, I invite all of you to offer yourselves as volunteers and presenters, share your thoughts, your perspectives, your stories, and your wildest dreams. They will shape the next 25 years of ALSC and the future of our libraries.—Lucia M. Gonzalez, ALSC Vice-President/President-Elect
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