MK’s Comments Have Helped Clarify The Issues
Thanks to MK for her (?) thoughts and comments, which have helped me to define exactly what is wrong with the new system.
1) Splitting up one committee into many means there will be no place where ideas cross-pollinate. Lets face it, that means that fiction lovers will be exempted from getting to know other genres — until they get a list of authors and titles they do not know, have not shared with teenagers, and are free to ignore.
2) Right now, as Linda admits in her response, there is no public venue for discussion of NF at ALA, no list for libraries to use, no model. MK points out that very few NF titles came up in recent ALA teen session. The obvious conclusion is that it would not tax the committee to be open to NF and would not extend the list a great deal. In other words we have a loss now that would be easy to remedy.
3) Linda objects that ALA discussions are not terribly important since 85% of the YALSA membership does not attend conferences. But as MK points out, the teen session was available as a live webcast — so we already have the means for substantially changing that ratio.
Thus — the new rules remove two valuable functions of BBYA 1) cross-pollination of genres 2) public discussion by informed committee members and teens of NF — and offer no means of replicating these benefits in new formats — except for the vague promise of possible change in the future. And yet, it would be easy as pie to fix this problem — just add NF back to F — little additional work, much benefit.
Finally, I cannot help thinking that one of the animating forces behind these changes is that there are YA librarians who like fiction and dislike NF and prefer to be able to concentrate on their own passion. As they say in law and detective stories, when you want to know who is responsible for an action, look for who it benefits. This arrangement frees fiction lovers from having to consider NF, if they want to serve on BBYA. And to me that attitude is a betrayal of what a librarian is supposed to be — not an advocate for his or her passions, but a conduit from the great wide world to all of the interests, passions, and needs of those who use the library.