In an effort to help ALSC members make an informed decision before they vote, the blog posts today consist of statements from the candidates for ALSC’s 2022-23 Vice President/President-Elect, Joanna Fabicon and Dr. Jonda C. McNair. Each candidate submitted a written statement. Voting begins tomorrow, March 14th.
This morning’s interview is with Dr. Jonda C. McNair.
Dear ALSC members,
When I joined ALA in 2005 as an assistant professor of literacy education (and previously a
primary school teacher), I wondered how librarians would feel about me being a member and if I
would be welcome. At the time, I was an active member of other literacy-related organizations,
such as the National Council of Teachers of English and International Literacy Association. In
my mind, I was a “literacy person,” not a librarian.
Attending both the midwinter and annual conferences over the years, I now see myself as an
integral member of ALSC and feel welcome and at home at ALA. Participating in the Youth
Media Awards ceremony is a highlight for me each year and is made even more special by
sharing in these moments with friends whom I have come to love and respect. One of the most
memorable highlights was serving as emcee during a ceremony as chair of the Coretta Scott
King Book Awards Committee. I recognize now that ALSC is also for literature experts,
educators, publishers, and others committed to supporting children as readers and getting high-
quality books into their hands. Recently, after Julie Roach spoke to my class (on the picturebook
as an art object) about serving as chair of the 2020 Caldecott Award Selection Committee, one of
my current students, a teacher working on her master’s degree in children’s and young adult
literature, asked me how to become involved with ALSC. Another student, working on his
doctorate in art history, said he would love to attend an ALA conference.
I enjoy helping individuals within other organizations and across various disciplines recognize
that ALSC is a place for everyone who is passionate about supporting library and literacy
services for children, which I see as a possible avenue for recruiting new members. I believe it is
important to educate teachers about the organization overseeing awards they rely on to select
books for their students. Most teachers know of the Newbery and Caldecott Awards but are less
likely to have heard of ALSC. Supporting and mentoring newcomers to the profession is also
something I deeply enjoy.
ALSC’s commitment to diversity and equity aligns with my beliefs and my work in children’s
literature. The important task of appointing chairs and members to book award committees is an invaluable way to support this effort. In addition, considering the increase in attempts to ban
books, I see the role of ALSC (and its President) as especially important now to advocate the
sharing of books dealing with important topics and aspects of readers’ identities, such as race and
sexuality. Supporting teachers and librarians is crucial in this effort so they will not be afraid to
share books such as Carole Boston Weatherford and Floyd Cooper’s Unspeakable: The Tulsa
Race Massacre, the recent winner of ALA/ALSC and other organizations’ awards and honors,
and will have the tools and resources available to respond when challenged for sharing these
ALSC has given so much to me, such as the opportunity to serve on the 2019 Caldecott Award
Selection Committee and chair the 2021 Newbery Award Selection Committee. Attending ALSC
events has introduced me to a remarkable variety of people, such as art directors, illustrators,
authors, editors, and award committee members—many of whom have spoken to my students
over the years. Imagine having Tae Keller talk to your students about winning the Newbery
Medal in a course focused on children’s book awards, and then having her mention the course in
her acceptance speech! Serving in a leadership role for three years is a large undertaking, but I
desire this opportunity to give even more to the field, and I know there will be support from
previous presidents and current leaders of ALSC. This was my experience while serving for
three years as chair of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee.
I relish my ALSC membership because I am an eager learner and always gain from listening to
librarians. They amaze me in their evaluations and critical analyses of even the smallest details in
books during committee deliberations. I look forward to the opportunity to continue listening to
and learning from ALSC members if elected as Vice President. Being asked to run is an honor,
and I am thankful for your consideration.
Jonda C. McNair
Charlotte S. Huck Endowed Professor of Children’s Literature
The Ohio State University
Check back with the ALSC Blog this afternoon for a statement from Joanna Fabicon, the other candidate for this office.
The 2022 ALA Election opens Monday, March 14th and closes April 6th. In addition to determining key leadership positions within ALSC, the ALSC ballot also will include two proposed bylaws amendments for member consideration. To learn more, please visit: https://bit.ly/alsc2022elections and Lucia Gonzalez’s blogpost, Change is in the Air! Preparing for the 2022 ALA/ALSC Elections. And don’t forget to vote!