For immediate release | February 14, 2012

Three libraries win $40K in materials in YALSA’s 2011 Great Books Giveaway

CHICAGO — The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), named Southeast Arkansas Regional Library in Monticello the winner of its annual Great Books Giveaway. The library will receive more than $20,000 in books, audiobooks and other materials that publishers and producers donated to YALSA in 2011. Due to the volume of donations, YALSA was able to name two runners-up: Jefferson High School in Edgewater, Colo.,took second place and Barton Library in El Dorado, Ark., took third place. The estimated value of the entire collection is more than $40,000.

Southeast Arkansas Regional Library is a system of 14 branches serving a population of 68,000 residents over a large rural area, where more than 28 percent lives beneath the poverty level. SARL’s libraries share a $48,000 collection budget, of which just 1 percent is devoted to juvenile items. Forty-one percent of the library system’s books for youth were published in 1980 or before; 15 percent were published after 2000. SARL began separating YA collection items in 2010, with a total of 3,200 books divided among the 14 branches (one branch has just 10 items), but the small collection has been well received, circulating 9,300 times in one year.

“This gift doesn’t just impact one community, but 14, so we were thrilled and overjoyed to receive the news,” said Judy Calhoun, SARL’s assistant director. “The young adult readers in our rural communities are hungry for more material than we could provide, so this will allow us to give them new fiction, nonfiction and other media that deals with contemporary problems that affects their lives.”

Jefferson High School is in Colorado’s largest school district, but it is the oldest high school building in its district with an aging collection. Nearly 90 percent of Jefferson’s students receive free or reduced lunches; 46 percent of its students are English Language Learners, and the library offers services to its community year-round, including a summer reading program when grant funds are available.

“Free, current library materials for our school? What's not to love!” exclaimed Polly Whiteside, teacher-librarian and JHL. “Coming in second place in a nationwide competition is a beautiful, colorful feather in our cap. The addition of this many engaging and new library materials over just a few months to our current library collection will be very exciting for students and staff.”

Barton Library serves an area of 24,000 with a central library and five branches; in 2011, 8,600 young adults used services or checked out materials at Barton Library, many of which are from low-to-middle income families and depend on Barton Library for computer access and homework help. The library’s nonfiction collection, which many teens rely on for school projects, is mostly 40 years or older.

“Budgets to purchase books are cut every year, so this truly is a blessing for us and our five branch libraries,” said Mindy Farley, youth services librarian. “We will now have updated books for our teens to check out so I know they will be thrilled!

The application form and information for next year’s Great Books Giveaway are available on the YALSA website, Applications must be received in the YALSA office by December 1, 2012. For more information contact the YALSA office, (800) 545-2433, ext. 4390, or e-mail,

The YALSA Great Books Giveaway Jury members are: Chair Carolyn Dietz, St. Louis Public Library; Megan Garrett, Blue Springs, Mo.; Lori Guenthner, Baltimore, Md.; Anne Rouyer, New York Public Library, Tompkins Square Branch; and Heather Sostrom, Alchua County Library District, Gainesville, Fla.

For more than 50 years, YALSA has been the world leader in selecting books, videos and audiobooks for teens. For more information about YALSA or for lists of recommended reading, viewing and listening, go to, or contact the YALSA office by phone, (800) 545-2433, ext. 4390, or e-mail,