2020 Bill Morris Seminar: Book Evaluation Training

ALSC is seeking applications for its seventh biennial “Bill Morris Seminar: Book Evaluation Training,” to be held on Friday, January 24, 2020, prior to the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia, Pa.  This invitational seminar supports and honors William C. Morris’ dedication to connecting librarians and children with excellent children’s books. The Morris Seminar will bring new ALSC members and members with limited evaluation experience together with those who have served on ALSC’s media evaluation committees in an environment to train and mentor them in the group process and in children’s media evaluation techniques.  The seminar will result in new and emerging leaders for future ALSC evaluation committees. The Morris Endowment supports those selected to attend the training seminar by offering the seminar at no charge to the attendee.  This includes all materials, breakfast, lunch, and afternoon break on Friday.  To help defray additional costs for hotel and other expenses, a…

Bill Morris Seminar at #alamw18

On Friday during ALA Midwinter, I had the privilege of attending the 2018 Bill Morris Seminar. Here a cohort of ALSC members were trained by the masters in book discussion and book evaluation. As I prepare to better myself as a gatekeeper of books and to truly place quality materials into children’s hands, here are five of my top takeaways: When evaluating books, leave your “at-home” stories there. Focus on information pertaining to the quality of the book, that will truly help the conversation move forward. Every committee is different and an award decision is truly based on the committees decision. A decision is based on the process of a large number of people (can go from 8-15). The committee is stronger together because committees are comprised of a multiple of background, world views and personalities. I heard the line, “trust the process,” many many times– there is an integrity…

How the Morris Seminar Changed My View on Awards

It began immediately after the Youth Media Awards were announced on Monday. Quiet whispers to friends and colleagues: “I was surprised by this committee’s choice” and “Why wasn’t this title selected?” and “How could that title have won?” and “My pick didn’t win and it should have!” While I’ve often heard this kind of discussion after the announcement, I haven’t always had the words to articulate a response. But this year’s announcements for me were colored by a very new and different experience — on Friday, I had the great privilege of attending ALSC’s 2016 Morris Seminar. Here are some of the things I learned: Every book has faults. It’s about what book rises to the top of the pile. Only discuss the books on the table. You can’t talk about books from previous years. When you read independently, you read in a vacuum. The committee as a whole is…

#ALAMW16 Illustrated Morris Seminar Wrapup

I had a mind-blowing time at the Bill Morris Seminar  in Boston. The gist of it is: you take a room, fill it with librarians from all over the country at varying times in their librarian and ALSC careers, and then have incredible people lecture them on book evaluation and put them into discussion groups to apply what they’ve learned. Here is my illustrated wrap-up of the day, with wise words from KT Horning (sometimes reading the words of out-sick Martha Parravano), Thom Barthelmess, Mary Burkey, Kevin Delecki, Randy Enos, Junko Yokoto, and other participants. All original artwork copyright 2016, Lisa Nowlain Lisa Nowlain is the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Fellow and Children’s Librarian at Darien Library in Darien, CT (you can be the next one! Apply by April 1 at www.darienlibrary.org/mcgrawfellowship) She is also an artist-type (see more at www.lisanowlain.com).

Apply for the 2016 Bill Morris Seminar

ALSC is now seeking applications for the 2016 ALSC Bill Morris Seminar to be held on Friday, January 8, 2016, prior to the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston, Ma. The seminar will be facilitated by ALSC member leaders including past committee members and chairs of evaluation committees, and will focus on children’s book and media evaluation. The purpose of the Bill Morris Seminar: Book Evaluation Training is to honor and support William C. Morris’ dedication to connecting librarians, and ultimately children, with excellent children’s books. This seminar will bring new ALSC members and members with limited evaluation experience together with those who have served on ALSC’s media evaluation committees in an environment to train and mentor them in the group process and in children’s media evaluation techniques. The seminar will result in new and emerging leaders for future ALSC evaluation committees. The William C. Morris Endowment was established in 2000…

Morris Seminar 2014: keep questioning

I was lucky enough to the attended the ALSC sponsored William Morris Seminar nearly two months ago at ALA Midwinter 2014. The William Morris Seminar is a day long  book evaluation bootcamp for newish youth librarians. While Amy and Abby have both already thoughtfully rounded up their Morris experiences, I wanted to focus on the questions I find myself returning with each new read. What type of reader am I today? Am I bringing my best self to this book right now? As Kirkus editor and writer, Vicky Smith noted in her opening talk, it is essential to know ourselves as readers: what makes us tick or turns us off. This isn’t navel gazing, but rather by keeping in mind how best we read and process helps articulate our reactions to a work with more awareness. For me this can often mean checking in with my “food mood.” I can’t…

Inspiring Discussion at the #alamw14 Morris Seminar!

Yesterday I was honored to participate in the Morris Seminar and my brain is still recovering from the mental workout! As Abby wrote in her post, we spent the day listening to thought provoking speeches and having rapid fire book discussions, which is what I want to focus on in this post. Each small discussion group was made up of 8-10 people and a moderator. The seminar attendees were such a diverse group of kid lit lovers of all ages, from public, as well as school backgrounds. Consequently, the groups were a brought a wonderful variety of perspectives. At first, I was nervous. Would my notes be detailed enough? Would I have anything intelligent to contribute? What if everyone hated the book I loved or vice versa? My fears were quickly swept away as our discussion began and I realized I was among friends. Really smart and articulate friends! I…

Morris Seminar at #alamw14

Or, basically everything you would want to know about evaluating and discussing books packed into one intense day. I was fortunate enough to be accepted to the 4th bi-annual Morris Seminar and if you ever have the chance, you should definitely apply. We heard from experts in the book evaluation and discussion field about how to evaluate books, how to effectively discuss books in a group, and what the experience of serving on an award committee is like. We also broke into small groups to discuss some preselected titles and practice what we had just learned about. We discussed so much that it would be difficult to talk about it all, but I will share some advice from our panelists about serving on an awards committee: Think about what your feelings are about the award and what kind of book you would like to win. Know that about yourself, but…