Local librarian receives appointment to prestigious national committee

“I’ve always loved to nudge young readers toward books that will interest them!” says Tish Wilson, assistant director of Youth Services at the Dayton Metro Library. “I’m not on the floor too often now, so my ‘kids’ are the librarians on the floor, who I know also love to connect readers with books. My career has been built around constantly thinking — ‘I have to put that book back because that’s a topic or time period I know so-and-so will love.’ Over the years, I’ve been devoted to reading what’s coming out, thinking about the kids we work with, and getting those books into the hands of those kids.”

That passion and devotion has paid off with a major national appointment. Wilson was recently appointed Chair of the 2018 Caldecott Committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association.

The Caldecott Medal is awarded each year to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. Examples of past winners of the award, which dates back to 1938, include Maurice Sendak for “Where the Wild Things Are,” Chris Van Allsburg’s “The Polar Express,” and a particular favorite of my daughters’ as they grew up, “Mirette on the High Wire,” by Emily Arnold McCully.

I recently talked with Wilson, who lives in Kettering, about her career and appointment as Chair for the committee.

“I grew up in northern Indiana, and earned an undergraduate degree in elementary education at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana,” Wilson says. “I began working at the Elkhart library in the summers beginning in 1970, and discovered that the head of the children’s department had gone to the old Carnegie library school that had been in the Carnegie Public Library in Pittsburgh. Once I knew I wanted to be a librarian, I was determined to go to University of Pittsburgh’s library school — which grew out of the original library school. It’s still a source of pride for me that I did so!”

Wilson earned her Master of Library Science in 1973 at University of Pittsburgh. She came to Ohio first to work in the Greene County Public Library; after seven years, she began working for Dayton Metro Library.

“Andrew Medlar came to my book discussion group at the Trotwood branch years ago,” Wilson says. “He was one of the kids I was always happy to recommend titles to. He went on to major in English and then get his MLS degree and become a children’s librarian. He now works in the Chicago Public Library system, and is highly respected by children’s librarians and educators.”

“We’ve stayed in touch all these years,” Wilson adds. “He’s just now completing his presidency of the ALSC, and one of his requirements is to select chairs for various awards committees. It came out of the blue that he recommended me to Chair the 2018 Caldecott Committee. I couldn’t be more thrilled.”

This seems to be a full circle for Wilson’s passion for books and connecting them to young readers.

“Picture books are important because the art work in them is incredible,” Wilson says. “The best of the books represent more than illustrations; they’re also fine are. When parents, educators or librarians share those books with children, they’re not just sharing a story, but also introducing the children to fine art. It’s important to point out techniques — chalk or watercolors for example — and discuss the art work and its impact on the story and on the reader.”

Wilson explains that seven committee members have been elected by the ALSC; seven more will be appointed by the ALSC. The ALSC strives for a diverse committee — pulling from a wide variety of geographical locations and professions (educators and librarians), Wilson says.

Once the committee begins reading and reviewing books in January 2017 — more than 500, Wilson says, committee members won’t be able to publicly review or comment on the books. However, they’ll have plenty of discussion via email and telephone, as well as in-person meetings throughout the year.

The 2018 winner of the Caldecott will be announced in February 2018.

“My job is to coordinate the committee and our review process and how we report to one another,” Wilson says. “I’m looking forward to meeting with all of my committee members and getting to know them, to reviewing the books, and eventually, to calling the winner of the award!”

Upcoming Literary Events:

• Saturday, July 23, 1-4 p.m. — Dayton Barnes & Noble (2619 Miamisburg-Centerville Road, Dayton) will host a “Person First Expo” to celebrate persons with disabilities. This free and open-to-the-public event will include sensory stations so attendees can experience firsthand the world from the perspectives of those with disabilities. The bookstore is partnering with several of the Miami Valley’s organizations that focus on disability awareness, education and health care: The Access Center for Independent Living, The Brain Balance Center, Dayton Children’s Hospital and We Care Arts of Kettering. A percentage of proceeds from all books purchased that day will be donated to We Care Arts; customers may also purchase books designated for donation to Dayton Children’s Hospital.

• Now through Sept. 1 — Antioch Writers’ Workshop (www.antiochwritersworkshop.com) will accept applications for its fall writers’ retreat, to be held October 14-16. Visit the organization’s website to learn more about the retreat leaders, location, application guidelines, and other details.