Midwinter Musings


Lisa Kurdyla

Before I begin this (long) (rambling) note, I am compelled to say huge congratulations and thank you to ALA for once again organizing and pulling off an amazingly professional, well organized, and eminently expedient conference. The attention to detail in every aspect and the flawless presentation of immense amounts of information at ALA conferences is unrivaled.

So, this morning in the dark, quiet of 5:00 a.m., adjusting to being home after a whirlwind weekend at Midwinter 2017, I was browsing through my normal online “places,” catching up, checking in, reading the latest in the world of YA lit and librarians, while sipping my coffee and snuggling with fat dog. I came across a post on a blog that really touched me, both for its beauty and its strength—and how both related to reading books, even while the underlying reason for the post was cancer. It was shared by someone I have the privilege of working with because of VOYA Magazine.

That post, as well as the past four days—and the past seven years—collided into a miasma of thoughts about VOYA Magazine and my relationship to it. Since becoming reviews editor for the journal, I have learned about many aspects of the young adult library world, the young adult publishing community, the business of publishing a trade journal, and the privilege and considerable responsibility of handling the reviews that are published in VOYA.

As such, I have spent most of my time focused exclusively on those tasks. While I think “quick study” would fall into the category of “alternative facts,” I now feel confident in my ability to continue the great legacy of VOYA reviews while also becoming more involved in other aspects of this historical journal.

This weekend, I had the honor of convening a small, but powerful, VOYA Advisory Board meeting at the iconic Sun Dial restaurant in Atlanta. (We all survived the glass elevator ride without a single [diagnosable] panic attack.) Seated at the table with me were Pam Spencer Holly, Anthony Bernier, Kimberly Patton, and VOYA Editor-in-Chief RoseMary Ludt. Other members were unable to attend, but it ended up being an intimate, intense, but fun and exciting exchange of ideas for VOYA’s future.

Here is where I am going to be braggadocious. It is unprofessional and unbecoming to brag about oneself, even if “oneself” refers to a company. So, I am not going to brag about VOYA Magazine. I am going to brag about the people who support VOYA Magazine, in its up and its downs, in its historic past, its present incarnation, and in its vigorous, vital future. With the unwavering belief in the value and viability of VOYA Magazine, our board members (past and present) are remarkable icons of advocacy, expertise, and enthusiasm for young adult readers and those who serve them. These amazing, busy, sought-after professionals chose US. They chose to serve VOYA and VOYA’s readers. We are both bolstered (and braggadocious) and humbled by their choice and inspired to make the most of their contributions.

I won’t include their own remarkable achievements here – feel free to be amazed by checking out the “profiles” link on our website. But, this made me reflect on the others who have also given so much to VOYA through the years, simply in service to the mission we serve and the philosophy we follow – all laid down a generation ago by founders Dorothy M. Broderick and Mary K. Chelton. I thought about former board members Teri Lesesne (author of the above-mentioned blog post and VOYA reviewer), cj bott (current VOYA contributor and reviewer), Linda Braun, Jack Martin, and of course, Mark K. Chelton; former VOYA editor Cathi McRae (current columnist); queen of graphic novels Kat Kan (columnist of more than 20 years for VOYA); a cadre of more than 200 current reviewers who faithfully review whatever they are assigned (some who have been with VOYA for more than 25 years); and the teens who review for us, send us cover photos they have taken themselves, write amazing poems for the poetry contest, and send us their insights for “Teen Underground.” VOYA gives these amazing people a place to be heard, but without each of these amazing people, VOYA would not have the outstanding quality of information and insight that each issue offers our readers.

Then, there are our readers. These are men and women who work every day to make the literary life of teens and young adults appropriate to exactly what each teen needs, at that moment, to develop cognitively, emotionally, socially, and culturally. They do it with an undying enthusiasm despite the setbacks and difficulties they may encounter in their line of work. They read VOYA because they want to improve, expand, and continually grow in their efforts to reach and inspire young adults. I can’t think of a more altruistic calling.

So, I know it’s unprofessional and brash to brag about one’s accomplishments. It lacks subtly and could engender distaste among our colleagues. In this one particular instance, I felt it was justified to brag about VOYA, not because of what we do, or how much we do it, or whatever our “success” as a journal might be. Those are, quite honestly, incidentals to me.

I am bragging about the amazing people who offer so much to VOYA so generously and graciously because they believe in our mission, our principles, and our value to our readers—the ones on the frontline carrying out the hard work that ultimately leads to the fulfillment of all our hopes: that young adults will reach their full potential in all the areas of their lives that matter because they are empowered by BOOKS.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to those who believe in us enough to become part of us, to join us freely and generously with your immense knowledge, wisdom, creativity, enthusiasm, professionalism, accolades, and recognized dedication to young adult librarianship.

I’m gonna brag about you, even if makes me braggadocious.



Lisa Kurdyla is the owner and reviews editor of VOYA Magazine.


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