Monthly, we will profile current ALSC Board members. We hope to offer information about the people who work to guide the organization so that you can feel more comfortable in reaching out to them with your concerns, questions, or comments. This month, we invite you to meet ALSC Board member, Soraya Silverman.
Hi all! My name is Soraya, like papaya, I use she/her pronouns, this is my 21 st year working for public libraries, primarily in Youth Services, and my current job is the Youth and Family Learning Manager for the Seattle Public Library. I am a GIANT nerd and love honestly most fandoms, anime/manga, games of every type, cosplay, and more. Happy to geek out any time!
Photo courtesy of Soraya Silverman
How did you first get involved with ALSC?
One of my former bosses, most impactful mentors, and beloved friends, Carla Land, now an Assistant
Branch Manager at the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, encouraged me to apply for ALA’s
Emerging Leaders program. She had participated before and believed I would have greater
opportunities to push for progressive change beyond the local level to the national level through this
program. I was thrilled not just to be accepted but also to be chosen as ALSC’s Sponsored Emerging
Leader for 2014.
This experience was life-changing. I got to understand and support ALSC from the inside, attending
Board meetings and serving on many teams since, including Organization and Bylaws, Newbery 2020,
and am on the Board of Directors now. I attended my first ALA Annual Conference, where I experienced
not just excellent professional development but also built life-long friendships, community, and even
family. Including reconnecting with a dear friend at that conference, Kendra Jones, who welcomed me
to Storytime Underground and created space to champion equity and help push our profession
I would not be the person I am today without ALSC providing such an incredible opportunity to grow as
a library professional and a human being.
What is something you have done as a member of ALSC that you’re particularly proud of?
Serving on the Newbery Award Committee for 2020. I hadn’t previously planned on serving on an award
committee since I had great experiences on process committees that I thought were a better fit for my
interests, and personally, I preferred reading YA lol. However, when the Nominating Committee asked if
I’d be interested, I was intrigued to learn more and honored they thought of me.
Being elected to this fantastic opportunity challenged me in a way I had never experienced before. I’ve
been an avid reader my entire life: fun fact, when Accelerated Reader was introduced to my elementary
school in 3rd grade, I not only read the most books/had the most points in my school but in the entire
state for that year. But never had I read hundreds upon hundreds of books in one year to this degree or
this in-depth, the majority being chapter books. My critical thinking skills, comprehension, and ability to
process information efficiently skyrocketed that year on top of meeting such rad people from all over
the country who share similar interests and passions.
As exhausting as this experience was in balancing my full-time job and personal life, it’s one of the most rewarding opportunities I’ve had so far. Not only did our team select the first ever graphic novel to win the Newbery Award in the almost 100 years of its existence (Jerry Craft’s “New Kid,” woot woot!) but also the first time the Newbery Honor was awarded to a book with a Muslim protagonist and the first Arab American author (Jasmine Warga’s “Other Words for Home,” also an incredible story!). Making this history and with all the titles we awarded, hopefully, provided greater opportunities for youth and families of all backgrounds, identities, and experiences to see themselves reflected in these stories and expands knowledge and understanding for all people/life experiences for everyone who reads these books. I personally also hope that a graphic novel winning the award will help support educators, parents, and caregivers in promoting graphic novels, comic books, and illustrated chapter books as valuable reading and learning resources for all youth, no matter their age.
What advice would you give to an ALSC member interested in exploring more leadership or governance roles?
Don’t be shy to expand outside of your comfort zones, be adventurous and try experiences you might not have considered otherwise, especially with process committees that may not sound as exciting as award committees but still significantly impact ALSC and the profession overall. Make a point to get to know your colleagues professionally and personally (as much as someone is ok with anyway), as they may become friends you’ll treasure for life. And don’t be afraid to ask! If you’re unsure of what something entails or have questions, thoughts, or concerns about anything, reach out to anyone in the organization, including the Board, to learn more about ALSC, push for progressive change, and learn about others’ experiences.
Interested in standing for election to the ALSC Board? Find out more on the ALSC election information page.