On July 9th, 2009, I boarded a plane from Austin to Chicago to meet with the 2010 Newbery Committee to discuss books for the first time as a committee. The reality of this new experience, which had seemed somewhat imaginary in the preceding six months of solitary reading, was clicking into place as solidly as my seatbelt. In my stomach I felt a mix of nerves, excitement, and slight motion sickness. In my hand was KT Horning’s book From Cover to Cover – the same copy I was given when I was accepted into the 2008 Bill Morris Seminar. The book, which is now dog-eared and full of Post-it notes, is a reminder that the Bill Morris Seminar is what made this experience possible.
The Bill Morris Seminar takes place biennially on the Friday before the Midwinter Conference. The seminar has two components: presentation and book discussion. In the presentations, experienced book and media evaluators talk about everything from discussing a book objectively to organizing pages of notes to evaluating the artwork in a picture book. Then the attendees participate in two book discussions sessions using the CCBC Book Discussion Guidelines.
I left the seminar with a deeper understanding of the books we discussed, the contact info for my fellow participants, and a binder bursting with information about serving on book and media award committees. When I returned to Austin, my colleagues and I prepared for the Austin Public Library’s first Mock Newbery Discussion. We were able to apply everything I had learned at the Bill Morris Seminar, and we even prepared a shorter version of the training for our staff. It felt like serendipity when that summer I received the appointment to the 2010 Newbery Committee. But it was not serendipity – it was good planning on the part of ALSC to create an opportunity like the Bill Morris Seminar for people who are ready to take their book and media evaluation skills to the next level.
People like you! If you are still reading, then perhaps the 2010 Bill Morris Seminar is just the opportunity you need to show ALSC leadership that although your Newbery-Caldecott Banquets may be few, you are a professional with book and media award committee potential. I urge you to apply for acceptance into the 2010 Bill Morris Seminar. You just might be very, very happy you did.
Austin Public Library