YALSA YA Lit Symposium: The Student Perspective

yalsa_ya_lit_symposium2014Are you getting excited? YALSA’s YA Literature Symposium in Austin is just a few days away! If you’ve never been to a YA Lit Symposium, you might be wondering what it’s all about. Leading up this year’s Symposium, we’ve been featuring interviews with Symposium attendees past and present to give you a picture of why you should attend and what to expect.

Our final interview features Alyson Feldman-Piltch, who shares with us the valuable perspective of a library school student. 

What was the most memorable thing about the YA Lit Symposium you attended?

This was the very first conference ever attended, so that in itself makes it fairly memorable.  I just remember being in awe that I was in the same room as all these authors- and that they actually wanted to talk to me; and that other people wanted to talk to me too!  I was nervous that as a student I wasn’t going to fit in, but I talked to people, made some contacts, and even keep in touch with a few!

What was your favorite author experience/presentation at the Symposium?

Right before I came to the Symposium I had read No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Michaeux Nelson.  Since I had never been to a conference before, I had no idea if I would actually get a chance to interact with the authors, so I wrote her a letter thanking her for sharing her family’s story and telling her how much I appreciated her book.  In the hubbub of some mixer, I handed her the note and just sort of walked on my way, but later on she came up to me and thanked me for my note.  I was totally on cloud nine. Continue reading YALSA YA Lit Symposium: The Student Perspective

Gearing Up for the YA Lit Symposium: Let’s Talk Reality

yalsa_ya_lit_symposium2014We’re just over a week away from YALSA’s 2014 YA Lit Symposium in Austin, Texas. Are you getting excited? We are!

The theme for this year’s Symposium is “Keeping It Real: Finding the True Teen Experience in YA Literature.” Let’s take a minute to mull that over before the Symposium kicks off next week, shall we?

  • What books or authors do you automatically think of when you think “realistic YA fiction?”
  • Is there a pivotal YA book in your life that reflected your experiences so clearly, or conversely, opened your eyes to a totally different reality?
  • Do you naturally gravitate towards realistic fiction, or are you a genre reader?
  • How does today’s realistic YA fiction differ from the YA “problem novel” a lot of us grew up reading in the 70s and 80s?
  • Do you have a “go-to” recommendation for realistic YA fiction that seems to win the heart of most any reader?
  • What forthcoming realistic YA lit titles are you most looking forward to reading in the coming months?

My answers to a few of the above questions… Continue reading Gearing Up for the YA Lit Symposium: Let’s Talk Reality

YALSA YA Lit Symposium: The Value of Making Connections

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It’s November, and YALSA’s YA Literature Symposium is right around the corner! We hope you’ll be joining us in Austin! If you’ve never been to a YA Lit Symposium, you might be wondering what it’s all about. Leading up this year’s Symposium, we’ll be featuring interviews with Symposium attendees past and present to give you a picture of why you should attend and what to expect.

Today we have an interview with Dorcas Wong, an active YALSA member from California who recently served as chair of the 2014 Morris Award Committee. 

Dorcas, why do you think someone should attend the Symposium?

The symposium is a professional development and networking opportunity. This is a chance to learn and update yourself on the current reading trends, focus on a genre or area of reading, and get to know your peers and what innovative things they’re doing. What you learn here may inform your future purchases and program development. And it’s just fun to talk about what you’re reading.

Share your #1 tip for getting the most out of the Symposium for a first-time attendee.

Talk to people! Introduce yourself to authors, other library staff, YALSA staff, presenters, teens who come in for the panels. Seems like a no-brainer, but do you actively go out and do it, or do you wait for someone to come up and talk to you? Yeah, don’t wait. Get to know new people in your field and don’t just stick with the group you came with.

Plus one side tip, for attending major events in general: If possible, try to schedule a day off before the event and/or after. ‘Before’ you have time to settle in, look around, and ‘After’ you can decompress and relax. You’ll be less stressed about rushing back to work and writing up those reports and what not.

What’s the most unexpected thing you’ve had happen at or that you’ve taken away from the Symposium?

At my first symposium, which was focused on graphic novels, I was mainly interested in just hearing what more people were doing with graphic novels, managing the collection, researching and seeking out new titles, and different viewpoints on the spectrum of GNs in general. I was fresh out of graduate school and working part-time/temporary as a librarian. I not only came back from the event with new knowledge, but new connections to different people working throughout the U.S. dedicated to young adult literature. Years later, I ended up working with some of these colleagues that I met through this event in YALSA committees and resource sharing.

If your trip to the YA Symposium was covered by work, how did you convince them to pay for it?

Depending on your system’s budget, you’ll want to think about framing a convincing argument to attend these types of events. Much like what I’ve mentioned in the previous question, this is a continued education or professional development opportunity and many systems allow for this in the budget. You may ask at human resources, or your supervisor, about monetary support. Another talking point, is that you’ll be representing your library system at an important professional level. This shows other people in the library world that your system is interested in keeping active and up to date in your work with young people.

Are you going back or would you in the future? If so, why?

Of course! This year’s theme is Keeping It Real: Finding the True Teen Experience in YA Literature. I’ve seen more titles published in realistic fiction or ones that explore diverse experiences recently, and my teens, who still love all the fantasy, mystery, and adventure, are looking for more stories that they can relate to. I’ve been checking out the preliminary program agenda on the website and have marked several panels I want to attend. Some are at the same time, so I’ll be working out some creative time management. And I’m already looking forward to next year’s theme.

I’ve met many colleagues through past library conferences and events who are presenting this year. I’m thinking of putting in a proposal of my own one of these days, but for now, I look forward to reconnecting with my peers and learning something new.

Thanks so much, Dorcas! 

YALSA YA Lit Symposium: What It’s All About

yalsa_ya_lit_symposium2014Are you going to YALSA’s YA Literature Symposium this November? Advanced registration is open until October 13, so register now and join us in Austin! If you’ve never been to a YA Lit Symposium, you might be wondering what it’s all about. Leading up this year’s Symposium, we’ll be featuring interviews with Symposium attendees past and present to give you a picture of why you should attend and what to expect.

Today we have an interview with Lalitha Nataraj, a youth services and academic librarian in Southern California, Hub blogger, and member of the 2016 Printz committee. She attended YALSA’s inaugural YA Lit Symposium in 2008.

What was your biggest takeaway from the YA Lit Symposium?     

I attended the YA Lit Symposium when I was fairly new to the profession, and it was a valuable opportunity to network with others who were equally passionate about YA literature and serving teens. Since it can be an uphill battle trying to convince administrators, colleagues, and even the general public of the value and importance of serving teens in the library, the YA Lit Symposium was also a place where I felt more connected and understood in my role as a teen librarian. In addition to leaving with new ideas and deeper knowledge of teen literature, I felt more confident about getting involved with professional activities with YALSA.

What surprised you most about your Symposium experiences?

This conference was really the first time I got to have actual conversations with actual authors – I can be such a tongue-tied fangirl, so I was really surprised at how approachable they were. The YA Lit Symposium was also where I became acutely aware of the critical partnerships between authors and librarians – we support each other in so many vital ways.

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Did you make any memorable author connections at the Symposium?

I really enjoyed meeting Mitali Perkins – we had a lovely conversation about shared cultural experiences, and the importance of translating such experiences into relatable literature for young adults. I’ve stayed connected to Mitali over the years through social media, and was so pleased to see her again (and revisit our conversation) at the 2014 ALSC Institute.

Any practical tips for first-time Symposium attendees?

Logistically, I definitely recommend (if at all possible) staying as close as possible to the meeting venue – I remember my hotel being a few miles away from the conference hotel, and I felt somewhat isolated. Others have said this before, but it bears repeating – don’t be afraid to go up to someone and introduce yourself.

Are you going back or would you in the future? If so, why?

I won’t be at the 2014 Symposium, but it’s definitely a conference I want to attend again in the future – it’s a wonderful way to keep up with trends in teen library services and programming, and also spend time with folks who share my professional values.

Thanks, Lalitha!

 

YALSA YA Lit Symposium – Why Should You Attend?

yalsa_ya_lit_symposium2014

Are you going to YALSA’s YA Literature Symposium this November? Early Bird registration is open until September 15, so register now and join us in Austin! If you’ve never been to a YA Lit Symposium, you might be wondering what it’s all about. Leading up this year’s Symposium, we’ll be featuring interviews with Symposium attendees past and present to give you a picture of why you should attend and what to expect.

Our first interview is with Gretchen Kolderup, Manager for Young Adult Education & Engagement at the New York Public Library, member of YALSA’s Board of Directors, and previous Hub Manager. She attended YALSA’s YA Lit Symposium in 2010 and 2012.

Share your #1 tip for getting the most out of the Symposium for a first-time attendee.

Make friends! This is true of every conference, but it’s extra-easy and extra-rewarding here since everyone at the Symposium cares about the same thing (teens and their literature) and all of the scheduled events are at the hotel where everyone is staying — it’s like sleepaway camp for YA librarians! Meeting new people at the conference gives you someone to sit with, chat with, and go out to dinner with that weekend — but it also builds a professional connection that you’ll use to keep learning and growing long after you leave Austin! Most of my “best friends” in the YA library world are people I met at the Symposium.

Why do you think someone should attend the Symposium?

Because it’s both useful and fun. Where else do you get to really dig in to teen literature in meaningful ways with hundreds of other fans and the authors themselves over a weekend? You’ll learn a lot; have a great time; and go home with new ideas, more developed expertise, and lots of connections to authors, resources, and other librarians to help you keep learning, growing, and reveling in the best that YA lit has to offer! Continue reading YALSA YA Lit Symposium – Why Should You Attend?