Selection Committee Prep Work

I’m thrilled to announce that in 2015 I will be serving on the YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (BFYA) selection committee! This is both exciting and daunting. Along with 14 other committee members, we will be selecting about 75 of the best YA fiction titles published between Sept. 1, 2014 and Dec. 31, 2015. This means I have to read a lot—more than I have ever read in a single year. This year’s committee has about 110 nominees, but we will have to read many more than that to find the good stuff. Good-bye to the rest of my TBR pile, I’ll see you in 2016!

My BFYA binder!

With so much reading, it’s crucial to write detailed notes about what books I’ve read and what I think about them, as well as keep track of review books received from publishers, what books I need to read, and what books I need to track down. This means I had an excuse to buy some office supplies—woo! Inspired by Jennie Rothschild, my current set-up is a bright pink 3-ring binder with dividers and lots of blank paper for notes. I have put the committee policies and other important information in one section. Another section houses my notes for eligible books I have read. Right now, I have reserved a page per book where I write down character and plot details and my impressions of the book. Once nominations start in February, I will separate the notes out into two sections—nominated and not-nominated. I will also be putting any teen feedback I have into the binder. I also bought some 4×6 post-it notes to have on hand while I’m reading to jot down thoughts.

Page of notes for an eligible title
Committee policies and procedures for quick reference

I debated analog vs. digital for keeping my book notes. I like being able to scribble and draw a bit in my notes and I think the hard-copy version will work better for me as a reference in committee meetings, but I will be doing some digital tracking. As back-up, I will be taking photos of my hand-written notes and saving in Evernote. I also plan to keep a Google spreadsheet of books received, books read, and books to-read, so it will be easier to reference both at home and at work. Finally, I have a separate BFYA-only Goodreads account, mostly to keep track of eligible books to look out for, since I like the visuals and sorting capabilities. No stars or reviews from me on there, though. It’s already been hard not to gush about some of the 2015 books I’m reading!

And don’t forget that all YALSA selection lists take nominations from the public. If you read an awesome YA book in 2015, please nominate it to bring to the attention of the committee.

Webinars and Other Online Training for Teen Librarians

Whether you’re a long-time librarian looking to strengthen your skills or a newbie just starting out, there are lots of online learning resources for teen librarians and others working with youth. These are a few options—some are free, some cost money. If you know of any other opportunities, let me and other readers know in the comments!


YALSA of course offers regular webinars of interest to teen librarians and others who interact with teens in the library. Starting in January, all of the webinars will be free to YALSA members! Webinars are usually monthly and last an hour. Past webinars (from 2010 on) are archived for viewing free by members or $19 for non-members.

YALSA also holds online courses, which are typically 10 hours long. These carry a fee—the most recent course was $155 for YALSA members, $195 for ALA members, and $215 for others. They occur three times a year on rotating topics.

Other ALA divisions also have webinars that may interest teen librarians, some with fees depending on your membership, including Public Library Association (PLA) and Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC).


Infopeople is a federal grant funded program through the California State Library that primarily provides training to library workers in California. They host webinars that are also open to those from other state. These webinars run the gamut of library specializations, but they do offer a couple each year that are of specific interest to librarians working with teens and tweens. All webinars are archived and date back to 2006.


Webjunction is a service provided from OCLC that offers many online learning opportunities for librarians. There are many options each month on a variety of topics, with a few every year geared toward young adult services. The archives number almost 200 webinars back through 2007.

Programming Librarian

This initiative from the ALA Public Programs Office hosts occasional webinars of interest to public services librarians, including teen librarians. Some of the archives are free and some are available for purchase. Some interesting webinars include “Engage! Teens, Art & Civic Participation” and “Programming for At-risk Tweens.”

School Library Journal

SLJ hosts regular webcasts, including publisher previews, author chats, and curriculum tie-ins. They usually offer a couple each month and are free with registration.


Booklist offers regular webinars about upcoming titles, publishing trends, and other book-related topics, like collection management. Presenters include editors, authors, and librarians.

Baker and Taylor

Baker and Taylor, a book distributor, offers webinars on book-related topics with presenters from publishing companies and libraries. Some topics include middle grade fiction, African American Literature, and graphic novels. The archives are free—no need to be a B&T customer.

Simmons Graduate School of Library and Information Science

Simmons holds regular online continuing education classes on many library topics. Most courses are $250 and offer continuing ed credits, if needed.

Other Options

Webjunction posts a monthly list of free webinars of interest to librarians from a variety of sources.

Check with your state library or local association. Many offer their own training open only to local members or offer free or discounted access to other online training opportunities.