Officially Speaking | May 2024

President's Column | Vice President's Column | Thank You to Our Friends

Magnificent Memories of the 2024 ALSC Children’s Literature Lecture

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Dear ALSC Members: In addition to events such as the Youth Media Awards at LibLearnX and the Newbery-Caldecott-Legacy Banquet at the ALA Annual Conference, an annual highlight of our organization is the ALSC Children’s Literature Lecture. Each year, a committee chooses the lecturer (e.g., an author, illustrator, editor, historian, scholar of children’s literature) and the hosting site. The lecturer is tasked with presenting a paper that makes a significant contribution to children’s literature. Last year, the lecture was in Dayton, Ohio, and I drove down from Columbus with several Ohio State University graduate students.

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At that time, I was teaching a course on the history and development of African American children’s literature, and one of the classic texts we had examined and discussed in class was Little Brown Baby: Poems for Young People by Paul Laurence Dunbar. I planned a tour of the Paul Laurence Dunbar House for us before going to hear Bryan Collier’s lecture, which was magnificent! One of my students said that visiting Dunbar’s home and hearing Collier’s lecture helped her connect the work of past and present African American writers and creators—a full-circle moment for her. After last year’s events, I had high expectations for this year’s annual lecture, and it did not disappoint!

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The 2024 ALSC Children’s Literature Lecture was hosted by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, together with the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Computing and Information, the Allegheny County Library Association, the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, and the United Black Book Clubs of Pittsburgh. They were all excellent hosts! Alena Rivers, ALSC Executive Director, and Sarah Polen, ALSC Deputy Director, also took very good care of me! ALSC is extremely lucky to have these two ladies who are highly dedicated and work so doggone hard. I offer a special shout-out to Andrew Medlar, the president and director of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and a former ALSC president, for his kindness and support during our visit. Upon walking into the library, visitors were greeted with several lovely posters featuring the three delightful characters in the trilogy by Rita Williams-Garcia, this year’s lecturer, about sisters Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern: One Crazy Summer, P.S. Be Eleven, and Gone Crazy in Alabama.

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After ALSC Lecture Committee Chair Debby Gold and I offered opening remarks and an introduction, Rita Williams-Garcia superbly delivered her lecture titled “A Funny Thing About Memory.” She focused on how memory, at times imperfect and complicated, is what makes each of us who we are and informs the stories we tell. She was accompanied by her husband and daughter as well as HarperCollins’s School and Library Marketing Director Patty Rosati and Rosemary Brosnan, who has edited Williams-Garcia’s children’s and young adult novels for over 25 years. At the event, I had an opportunity to spend some quality time with Debby Gold and Angela Moffett, who served on this year’s lecture committee. For delivering a magnificent evening for all attendees, I offer a special thank-you to both of them and the other three committee members: Christine Chai, Elissa Gershowitz, and Nicole Powell. The location and lecturer were fantastic choices!

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In Pittsburgh, I had some free time, so I embarked upon a self-guided sightseeing tour of the city. I visited The Andy Warhol Museum, where I met Warhol’s nephew Donald Warhola, and saw the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood exhibit at the Heinz History Center, which featured artifacts such as his iconic sweater and sneakers and Mr. McFeely’s “Speedy Delivery” tricycle. I had not known that Mr. Rogers filmed his beloved children’s television show in Pittsburgh, and it was truly delightful to see his “Neighborhood of Make Believe” in person.

On my drive back to Columbus, I reminisced about the wonderful memories I had made in Pittsburgh, and I began thinking about upcoming major ALSC events to be held at the ALA Annual Conference this summer in San Diego (e.g., the Newbery-Caldecott-Legacy Banquet, President’s Program, Pura Belpré Celebración, ALSC Membership Meeting, ALSC Awards Program). I look forward to seeing all of you at the conference and making more magnificent memories!--Jonda C. McNair, Charlotte S. Huck Endowed Professor of Children’s Literature, The Ohio State University, 2023–2024 ALSC President, she/her/hers

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Serving ALSC and Spreading the (Appointments) Love

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In my early days as a member of ALSC, I was very unsure about how the organization worked or what all was happening that I was unaware of. As the years have gone by, I have served on numerous process and award committees. With each appointment, I learned more and more about what goes on behind the scenes and how the gears keep turning. One of the most interesting experiences was serving on the Nominating Committee and seeing what all goes into the search and the vetting process for Board committee nominations. I also saw how much we rely on the expertise and passion of our member volunteers, and how much energy and time these people put into the guidance and governance of ALSC.

Now that I am in the position to appoint people to committees over the next year, even more is becoming clear, and that is how much we need people to step up and volunteer for committee service. We have dozens of committees (process and awards), and what I have noticed while working through the volunteer database, is that there is a core group of people who show up again and again. I want to balance experience with new perspectives, but I find myself looking to some of the same people repeatedly. While I am incredibly grateful for their dedication, I do worry about burning people out.

All of this is to say that I am beyond grateful to each and every individual who has filled out a volunteer form. I am humbled by the expertise, experience, and passion of all our members, and I’m hoping to spread the love with committee appointments so that everyone (especially new members) can learn about the inner workings of ALSC and have the chance to build solid friendships and connections, like I have been able to do over the last decade.

Along with the amazing ALSC staff and an advisory working group, I am working hard to make appointments in the coming months. So, make sure you keep an eye on your inbox and don’t forget to renew your membership!--Rob Bittner, 2023–2024 ALSC Vice President

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Thank You to Our Friends

Many thanks to the following generous contributors to Friends of ALSC. To learn how you can support ALSC, visit our website.

Silver Circle - $250 to $499

Maria Gentle

Friends Circle - up to $99

Jill Bellomy
Lucia Gonzalez
Marcie Haloin
Maria Kiely
Sada Mozer
Rachel Payne
Megan Schliesman
Amy Sears
Susan Zeigler

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