The Pickerington Public Library in Pickerington, Ohio is hosting its first YA Author Fest on July 26th. A dozen young adult authors will be speaking with teen readers about books and writing.
Amanda Fensch, the Adult Services Manager at the library, has been an integral part of structuring this event, but she could not have pulled it off without her Teen Advisory Board.
“Their ideas, their interests have helped me shape the festival,” said Fensch.
The teens were curious about the entire process of book publication – from the spark of an idea to when the book lands on the shelf – but what was most special to them was the one-on-one time with authors.
“They admire authors. They enjoy interacting and talking to them,” said Fensch.
That admiration and passion became the heart of the festival. But while the event will be about spending time with authors, the event will also feature discussion panels about all aspects of the publishing industry. There will be ten-minute workshops and the last hour of the event will center on meeting authors and getting books signed. Half Price Books will be selling copies of the authors’ books.
For Fensch, the festival extends beyond fun.
“Libraries and librarians have a duty to promote young adult literature just as much as any other type of literature, and maybe a bit more so because YA lit has a stigma against it,” said Fensch.
Because young adult literature is still young, Fensch believes the stigma against it is still fairly new. Anyone who searches young adult literature online is likely to find numerous forums and articles about YA that discuss its lack of literary merit or that claim YA books are not “real” books.
Fensch disagrees wholeheartedly.
“Being a voice for YA literature, at least in libraries, also means championing YA across every platform available to you and doing it in a way that’s positive for everyone involved.”
Fensch believes that libraries should involve teens as much as they can. “You might be pleasantly surprised at the results.”
While Fensch and her Teen Advisory Board are champions of young adult literature, there will be twelve other champions in attendance: the authors. Some
Edith Pattou, author of East, is of the mindset that libraries raised her. Growing up, libraries were her haven. Though books now are much easier to access, the “community of a library is irreplaceable.”
Jasmine Warga, whose debut novel My Heart and Other Black Holes will be released in February 2015, spent a lot of time at her library not only as a consumer of free books but as part of her library’s YA advisory board. Some of her favorite memories are from the hours she spent with that group as a teen.
Mindy McGinnis, author of Not A Drop to Drink and an assistant librarian, and her district librarian believe that everyone is a reader – if the right book for them can be found. For McGinnis, knowing her audience and her materials is part of the job. She feels that with these things and a few questions can turn a reluctant reader into a reader.
Liz Coley, author of Pretty Girl-13, knows that libraries are crucial to the success of YA titles. Not only are they important because of a library’s reach but also, libraries are important to the business side as well. Librarians do a number of things for releases and the industry as a whole.
“Librarians are considered fair judges of a book’s qualities and not only nominate books for major lists and awards, but also recommend books to their customers,” said Coley.
Emery Lord, whose debut Open Road Summer hit shelves earlier this year, will be in attendance at the event. Like Fensch, Lord recognizes that young adult literature is “in its teens.”
“Sometimes I feel disappointed with the way YA is received,” Lord said.
But that when she thinks about the direction the genre is moving, she’s hopeful.
The Pickerington Public Library YA Author Fest will be held at 1 P.M. at the library on July 26th, 2014. The full list of attending authors includes Liz Coley, Carey Corp (Doon) Lorie Langdon (Doon), Ryan Gebhart (There Will Be Bears), Geoffrey Girard (Project Cain), Melissa Landers (Alienated and Invaded), Emery Lord, Erin McCahan (Love and Other Foreign Words), Mindy McGinnis, Edith Pattou, Natalie Richards (Six Months Later), and Jasmine Warga.
To find out more about the event, please visit
Feature image courtesy of Amanda Fensch.