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Sorry this is so long here

I sent a message to LM_NET and the TLC listservs regarding an item
that popped up suddenly right before the ALA conference last week in
Chicago, about the possibility of the YALSA (Young Adult Library
Services Association) board eliminating the BBYA (Best Books for Young
Adults) committee and list. It was interesting that the action item
was vaguely titled “Modernizing Selected List Portfolio”.

But in the document relating to this action item, it was clear that
the target was the Best Books for Young Adults committee. Here’s part
of that document:

79 years ago when YALSA launched the Best Books for Young Adults list,
it served as a one-of-a-kind resource for librarians serving teens. In
the decades since the launch of the list:
·      YALSA has added a number of other lists that focus on a variety of
formats and genres, including lists devoted to adult titles, graphic
novels and YA nonfiction. Increasingly in recent years there has been
noticeable overlap between BBYA and other lists. The lists that have
been established since BBYA therefore supplant the need for one
generic list of best books selected by a small group of librarians.
·      The number of adult and YA books published in a given year has grown
dramatically since the 1930s when BBYA was established.
·      The YALSA membership has indicated they want YALSA to find ways to
allow for greater participation in the development of selected lists.
·      There is concern among member leaders that the BBYA list, as it is
now, is not useful to many members or the library community.
·      Multiple BBYA Committees have raised a concern about the workload
and other issues, but despite multiple attempts no viable solutions
have been found. "

There was a groundswell of support for the BBYA list that seemed to be
a surprise, and the action item was downgraded to a discussion item
before the board meeting. I myself received many, many expressions of
support and consternation, with one person suggesting that we need
more lists with input from teens.

About 30-40 people were in the audience at the YALSA board meeting.
Those wishing to speak were limited to 2 minutes, then 1 as the time
passed, then 30 seconds, because the board wanted to move on to other
agenda items. They opened a can of worms and had to limit speakers
when more than they anticipated wanted to talk. Speakers in support of
BBYA’s continuation included former committee chairs, library school
instructors, librarians in the field, and members of other committees
such as the Newbery and Printz awards.

The BBYA committee does have problems: many people drop off after a
year or two because of lack of funding for conferences and
consternation about the reading load, every book nominated (upwards of
200 each year) is not read by every committee member as is required,
new committee members don’t really know the amount of reading involved
(about a book a day) ahead of time, and many people are not aware that
there is a field nomination process for suggestions from teens and
librarians (here’s the link to that:

So----thanks for your support. I just thought you might like an update
from my point of view. It wouldn’t hurt to tell the YALSA board of
your concerns, but I think they are getting the message. I hope the
BBYA committee will benefit from the YALSA board scrutiny, and come
out the better for it.

Sorry to be so long winded.

Diane Roberts
Best Books for Young Adults Committee 2010
Saint Thomas High School
4500 Memorial Drive
Houston, TX 77007

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