FAQ on YALSA’s Selected Lists

Updated 01/27/10

Have a question? Send it to us at yalsa@ala.org.

Why the change in YALSA’s selected lists and awards?

  • Meet the needs of members and the library community by providing a portfolio of lists, each with a specific focus and of the highest quality
  • Increase awareness among the library and education community as well as the general public of YALSA’s selected lists and awards as a means of helping people discover the best in teen reading, listening and viewing
  • Guarantee that each of YALSA’s selection committees are able to be successful in selecting materials and that they are recognized as the authority on that particular genre, format or audience;

Is there any change to any of YALSA’s book or media awards, such as the Michael L. Printz or the Morris Awards?

There will be no change to YALSA’s awards except that the Alex Award committee will now publish a vetted list of nominated titles along with the ten winners.

Why are graphic novels, adult books, and nonfiction no longer on what was the Best Books for Young Adults (BBYA) list?

The goal was simply to ensure that YALSA’s portfolio of lists of recommended reading and viewing created and disseminated by YALSA were the best they can be.  When the “Books for Young People” (the first name for BBYA) list was established in 1930 it made sense to have a single list of recommended reading for teens. However, the number of books being published in the US has grown exponentially since then.  Additionally, new formats have come into existence since the 1930s, such as graphic novels and audiobooks.  By re-focusing each of YALSA’s lists on a single format, genre or audience, YALSA is able to:

  1. tap experts in these specific areas.to serve on the committees and
  2. ensure that the committee members have a manageable work load. 

By accomplishing these two things, YALSA can ensure that members and librarians have access to top quality collection development and readers’ advisory resources. 

What is the “Best of the Best for Young Adults?”

Each year each of the selection lists committees (not award committees) will produce a top 10 list along with their more comprehensive one. The titles on these will be compiled into a Best of the Best for Young Adults. This title will also be used when disseminating the complete portfolio of YALSA’s selected lists and awards. Several of YALSA’s selected lists committees already produce an annual top ten list. For those that don’t, YALSA will be working with those committees to develop a process for highlighting the best titles on their annual lists.

Will the nominations for the Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults and the Alex Awards be published?

While these are awards and not selection lists, and therefore their nominations are not made public and their meetings are closed, a vetted list of nominations will be published each January. These nominations will be selected by each committee.

Will the Best Fiction for Young Adults list include teen participation?

Yes! There will continue to be teen feedback sessions at conferences. Other YALSA lists also integrate teen feedback into their process, for example Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers makes their selections primarily with teen input and the Teens’ Top Ten list is generated 100% by teens. Other committees are welcome to investigate ways of bringing teens into the selection process, whether face to face at conferences or via other means.

What are the terms of service for YALSA selection committees?

All selection committee members will have a two-year term. The first year will be a trial year and, if re-appointed, the member will have an additional one year term. (For a two-year maximum term on any selection committee.)  Previously, Quick Picks and BBYA members served three year terms. The Board, responding to member feedback, approved this change during their August 2009 meeting.

What will the evaluation process be for the new selected list policies?

In order to evaluate the changes, in 2011 a YALSA member group, appointed by the President, will review the implemention of the changes, gather information about how the new processes are working and solicit feedback from members (including members of selected list committees). Areas that will be evaluated include but are not limited to the processes used for creating the lists and awards, the quality of the lists, and use of lists by librarians in the field.

Will honor and winning Printz titles still be added to the BBYA/BFYA list, as current policy states?

The Michael L. Printz Award winning title and honor books used to be automatically added to the BBYA list.  As some of the Printz titles may be non-fiction this addition would not fit the BFYA charge. Printz titles will not be automatically added to the Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA) list.

How can I find out about the latest nonfiction titles now that there is no longer a monthly list of BBYA nominations?

The YALSA-BK electronic discussion list and professional review sources are tools available for learning about current nonfiction. 

If I want to be involved in the process of vetting and recommendin g books and other materials for teens, what can I do?

  • Anyone can nominate titles for YALSA’s lists and awards. Nomination forms are available on the YALSA web site at www.ala.org/yalsa/booklists (select an award or list and then select the “Nominate a title” link). 
  • Members of YALSA are welcome to submit a Committee Volunteer form in order to be considered for appointment to a YALSA selection or awards committee. Appointments are made each October.
  • Apply to be part of the next round of Teens’ Top Ten teen book discussion groups. Applications will go online this spring at www.ala.org/teenstopten.
  • Consider starting an official YALSA Interest or Discussion Group. Groups can be formed on any topic relating to YA librarianship by submitting a petition with 15 member signatures. For example, would you like to lead or participate in a group that talks exclusively about YA science fiction? Then start a Discussion Group on the topic!  Learn more at www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/yalsa/aboutyalsab/faq.cfm
  • Some positions on the Printz, Edwards and Nonfiction award committees are elected positions.  YALSA’s Nominating Committee is currently looking for individuals who want to run for a spot on these 2013 committees.  If this interests you, contact the Nominating Committee Chair, John Sexton, for more information and/or fill out a Nomination Form at www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/yalsa/aboutyalsa/nominating.cfm.

Is poetry still eligible for YALSA’s lists and awards?

Poetry is eligible for every single YALSA list and book award.  Not one list or award, including the new Best Fiction for Young Adults list, excludes poetry from eligibility. 

How did YALSA communicate with members about the selected list proposal that was on the Board agenda at their 2010 Midwinter Meeting?

After the Board discussion at their 2009 Annual Conference, the Board directed the Executive Committee to develop a new selected list proposal keeping in mind member feedback gathered at the conference (online & face-to-face) and previously.  A draft of the proposal was to be ready for discussion by the Fall Executive Committee Meeting and then presented to the Board in November for review, comment and refining.  A final proposal was developed with Board input in December and was presented at their 2010 Midwinter Meeting.  Board documents and minutes from their meetings are posted online in the Governance section of YALSA’s web site.

YALSA kept the membership informed about progress toward the proposal primarily through the YALSA blog.  Between July and January there were 11 blog posts from YALSA’s President, Linda Braun, with information about the status of the selected lists proposal.  A minimum of one update a month was provided, and in some months more than one update was shared.  Information about Board actions at the Annual Conference was printed in the Fall 2009 issue of YALS.  The January 2010 issue of YAttitudes included an extensive section on the Midwinter Meeting, including information about the Board’s meetings and provided links to the agenda and 48 separate documents.  Those documents also went online via YALSA’s web site on January 5th, as soon as they were completed. 

Updates about the implementation of the selected list plan continue to be provided through YALSA’s blog.  President’s Reports also contain information about key YALSA activities, including the development of the selected lists proposal.  All President’s Reports are posted on the blog and are also available from the President’s Page on YALSA’s wiki at http://wikis.ala.org/yalsa

What is meant by the phrase "vetted list of nominations"?

It means that the titles that appear on the final list of official nominations are those that have been read and discussed by the full committee, in accordance with the committee's policies and procedures, and that the committee has come to a consensus that these titles are worthy of being placed on the official list of nominations. 

If the workload of the BBYA Committee was the problem, why didn't YALSA just change the nomination process or make other adjustments to the committee's policies and procedures?

The workload of the committee was one problem YALSA's Board sought to address. The number of books that were eligible for BBYA more than doubled from 1966 to 2008.  In 1966 when the list was re-invented into its current form as the Best Books for Young Adults list, there were 19,444 adult titles and 2,375 juvenile titles published in the US. "Juvenile" combined children's and YA into one category. In 2008, there were 46,050 adult titles and 2,100 YA titles - excluding children's books - published. Adjusting the nomination process or making other small changes to the way the committee did its work could not adequately address the fact that the number of eligible titles has grown exponentially since 1966.  Compounding the problem is the fact that YA books have actually increased significantly in page length over the past several years, making the job YALSA was asking committee members to do even more of a challenge.