Morris Seminar

Morris Seminar: The Man, The Day, The Experience

I remember first hearing about the Bill Morris Seminar from a very active colleague in ALSC, but I was just a little bit too late to even be considered for the first seminar as all the participants had been selected and had accepted their invitations. I was politely told by a staff member in the ALSC office that the next seminar would be held in January of 2010, at ALA Midwinter in Boston. Trust me, that was a date I wasn’t going to forget.

I closely monitored the ALSC website for the announcement of when the applications were available for the 2010 seminar. I made sure it was completed with every ounce of useful professional knowledge I could pick out of my brain and chose my two professional colleagues who also had to write letters of recommendation. And then I waited.

I received the phone call from Jenny Najduch, Program Officer, Continuing Education at ALSC. I received the call while attending AASL in Charlotte. She had left me a voice message telling me I had been selected to participate in the 2010 Bill Morris Seminar. To this day, I still have that message on my phone almost 14 months later. It is a great picker upper when things are just not going right. I know how lucky I was to be chosen.

Bill Morris was legendary to those who knew him; authors, publishers, editors, illustrators, librarians, and most of all to his friends. He remains an icon in the publishing world some seven years after his death. Just ask any veteran ALSC member or a representative in the booth at HarperCollins and they can’t say enough good about him and what he did to promote children’s literature. It’s really disheartening more of us did not know him, but through this seminar and listening to bits of talk about him, you get the sense that maybe, just maybe, you knew him for a moment.

Our day was fantastic. We had two general sessions in the morning; Evaluating Nonfiction(Kathy Isaacs had the absolute, most funniest picture, of boxes upon boxes of books piled in her house when serving on the ALA Notable Children’s Book Awards Committee)and How Book Discussion Works. We then were divided into pre-assigned smaller groups for book discussion. Now being a librarian, how much more engaging and worthwhile could this be? It was absolutely the best. Hearing what others in the group had to say, their perspectives, what they liked and didn’t like was all very interesting. But also having the expertise of several ALSC member leaders to lead and guide the discussions was invaluable. They kept everything on track.

In the afternoon we had a panel discussion; ALSC Award and Notable Children’s Book Committee and another breakout session for small group discussion. Following this we had large group reporting and closing remarks.

I highly recommend the seminar to anyone who is passionate about Children’s Literature or who is considering serving on a Newbery or Caldecott Committee.

Stephanie Wilson
School Library System Director
Elmira, NY

One comment

  1. Suellen Heinrich

    I was lucky enough to know William Morris for a minute. I called and he actually talked to me on the phone. It was about a past CT state children’s book award, “The Nutmeg Children’s Book Award” potential title, when I was the Chair of that group.
    I had heard of him – and I was in awe for the entire call.

    This special seminar sounds wonderful! I’d love to apply, but maybe next year because of current health issues.

    So nice to hear about it!

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