Hi, Naomi! Thank you for being here!
TXS&S: You run an amazing young adult book blog! Thank you for helping spread the word about books for kids! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do, and who or what inspires you?
NB: I've been in the library world since 2000, and boy, has time gone by fast! I cut my teeth in a small school district (Sabinal ISD) in South Texas with about 350 students. In 2003, I decided to go big city and am now in a 5A school district (Northwest ISD) with about 2500 students.
I love love love three things: my family (and dogs!), books and technology. They are my passions and what pushes me to do better, go beyond, and find those gems waiting under the surface. When I get a new book I've heard about, I'm excited!! When I troll through the internet, and find a cool site, I can't wait to share! All of these exclamation points probably make you think I'm high strung but I'm not! :)
The biggest professional inspiration in my life are two things. First and foremost is Dr. Teri Lesesne. I had her for a YA lit class while getting my master's at Sam Houston state and I was mesmerized. She made me want to do more and be more. After graduation, I followed her workshops and admittedly became a groupie (she may say stalker) and now I'm so proud to call her a colleague.
The other inspiration was an unexpected phone call I received asking me if I'd be interested in serving on the TAYSHAS committee for TLA. It wasn't until after I said yes that I realized how many books (125+ a year!) I would have to read. I was in heaven and hell at the same time, because I enjoyed reading and getting those galleys, but also the amount of time was the devil! It was that experience that led me down the path to becoming more involved professionally with the library world from local to state to national levels.
TXS&S: What were your goals when you started blogging, and how has that vision changed now that some time has gone by?
NB: I started blogging because I had read so many books, I wanted to share them with others. At first, my blog was mainly book reviews, but the more blogs I followed and the more diverse my passions became, I knew I had to change up the blog. My vision now is to post book reviews, which are by far the most read, but also to post technology, book trailers, lists, information....anything that encompasses what a librarian would want to know. I know how much more important the role of librarian is changing to encompass 21st century technology, so I focus on that just as much. And of course humor is always a good thing, so I post funny things I've found online to share as well. We aren't all buns and glasses, but definitely have a fun side too :) I love the acronym for my blog, YA Books and More (YABAM!) That's how I feel when I post and find out people are reading and following it. :)
My future vision includes pairing reading for Common Core standards. Although Texas hasn't adopted these standards, I believe they are SO relevant to our readers, and non-fiction is so under-represented but yet so interesting! I'm (hopefully) bringing the Cinderella of YA reading to the forefront!
TXS&S: What has been the biggest surprise since you've started?
NB: A big surprise every single time I look are the stats I see from the blog. YA Books and More has been accessed by all fifty states and 12 countries. That always surprises me. I find it an honor....
Also, I had no idea my blog would branch out into other social media. Because of YABAM, I now tweet and have schooltube and youtube channels. My Twitter is mostly about technology, but the mothership, my blog, will have it all :)
Another big surprise is when I get an email from an author about a blog post from a review or book trailer I've created thanking me - talk about wow factor!
TXS&S: How do you see reading changing for teens in the next couple years? What challenges do you see? And what can we do to help?
NB: E-books e-books e-books. I'm still finding a lot of diehard readers still enjoying the smell of the pages, the crinkle of mylar, but I am so curious about those kindergartners and how they'll impact our evolving profession. And we need to be prepared....not wait until it happens, but start preparing now and getting ahead of the game.
The challenges I see are those who play ostrich and don't embrace change. I know I'll get flak for saying this, but it's not like days gone by. The library has changed so much and those who have changed with it are the ones that are standing up as leaders. We need to challenge ourselves to become important not only in our physical buildings, but virtually as well, which will be a huge component the more time goes by.
Authors are helping by embracing change by allowing their works to be published dually as hardcopy and digital. They are creating facebook, twitter and youtube channels and finding their audience growing. Authors are amazing! Just send me more galleys to preview and blog :) (just kidding! unless you really want to!) And Texas authors....AWESOME!!!! We are so privileged by how many amazing authors live in this grand state. Just like you can't buy a Texas-sized coke in another state, you can't find Texas-sized authors except in this state we all love so much.
TXS&S: Would you consider yourself a Sweetheart or a Scoundrel?
NB: Ummmmmm....half and half? Sweetheart because I'm open, enjoy rubbing shoulders with colleagues and authors, teaching how to go forward, continuing to blog without reservation and being a part of a team. Of course there's some salt in my sweet, but dang it, I believe in hard work and going above and beyond, whether online, offline, and in between. As they say now, YOLO! (you only live once)
BIO: Naomi Bates first became a librarian in 1999 and received her MLS at Sam Houston State University in 2003. She currently works at Northwest High School in Justin Texas and lives with her peeps and a dog named Bella.
If you know of someone who would make a great Featured Sweetheart, please let us know!
The best part? If you nominate someone, we'll send you a $5 Starbucks gift card :)