YALSA President’s Report

June 2007

“Still Reading after all these Years””

Judy T. Nelson

For the last time I am writing my monthly President’s report. This is a bittersweet moment for me so let me start by saying “thank you”. You gave me the opportunity to lead you in 2006-2007, and it has been a privilege and a pleasure. YALSA continues to be the most dynamic division in ALA, a testament to each of you…..your passion, your dedication, and your willingness to help all your fellow colleagues. It is also a testament to our wonderful YALSA staff who take your ideas and help turn them into action.


At the start of June I spent doing as many of the last minute chores as possible to be ready for Annual and the change of Presidents.

  • Board documents were finalized, and shared with board members.
  • Remaining task force slots were offered to candidates,
  • and there were a flurry of newspaper interviews about teens and reading, teens and libraries and changing teen services.

This month, much of the hard work on the initiatives for our 50th Anniversary celebration bore fruit. Several articles were published about YALSA and teens including the Booklist article “50 Years of YA Favorites ” sharing YA books that have been watershed books pushing YA literature in new directions. The article included input from YA authors, and former YALSA presidents. VOYA offered an article on teens, “The Beasts have Arrived; the blooming of youth participation in the Young Adult Library Services Association” describing how teens now contribute to the products our committees create. And finally, American Libraries printed my letter to the editor. I responded to the youth column on Gossip Girl books and YALSA’s supposed lack of literary response to requests by parents for better literature. There were also several newspaper interviews, including the Boston Globe on teens and book clubs, and the New York Times on whether or not more teens are reading and/or using the library.

Then it was time to travel to Washington DC. YALSA had over 1200 members pre-register for this conference, that’s over 20% of our members coming together! We offered many, many programs, two pre-conferences, three ticketed events that sold out, and participated in the ALA Day on the Hill, and press conference on the Hill supporting AASL/ALA’s request to Congress for additional language in the No Child Left Behind reauthorization bill. The new language is in what is being called the Skills Bill.

The two pre-conferences, “the Sins of YA Lit” and “A Beginner’s Guide to Teens in Libraries” gained rave reviews from newbies and seasoned conference goers alike. YALSA 101 had a packed room of first time conference goers. Hopefully the information and the happy hour that followed helped these newbies have a fun and fulfilling conference experience.

The Booklist Forum for Youth celebrated the very first Printz winners, and this time all four of them were able to attend. (first time British author David Almond was not able to be there in 2000). All the Printz winners spoke eloquently about what this award meant to them personally and professionally.

Lois Lowry, the Edwards award winner, reminded us why
The Giver continues to be one of the most requested books on amazon.com (currently at #372).

Our first ever YA Author breakfast was a huge hit. If only it could have gone on forever…the authors were gracious, funny and our very own superstars!

The Day of YA Authors was also a big hit, we averaged over 65 viewers/listeners per author!

The teen actors from H. B. Woodlawn School in Arlington VA who performed at my President’s Program “A Day in the Life of a Teen” were fantastic (take a look at the conference blogs for more details on their performance). And the author/editor panel was insightful, funny and very engaging…it was hard to call a halt to the program.

There were dozens of other terrific programs that I was not able to attend but that our members raved about.

All of this happens because of our members and our office staff.

The conference ended with the ceremonial handing over of “the gavel.” You are in great hands with our new President, Paula Brehm-Heeger. This next year will only be bigger and better than the last ones.

Still Pending:

I have two task forces that are completing their work, the Selected Lists task force and the Awards task force. Two more task forces are still being populated, the Continuing Education task force and the Wrestlemania task force. I will be sending out thank you notes on behalf of our hardworking committee chairs over the next couple of weeks. (It is not too late for chairs to send me that contact information.)

As Past President I now have new tasks to learn. I have enjoyed serving as your President. Thanks for this opportunity and have a great rest of your summer.