The End of child_lit: The Literary Listserv Era Comes to a Close
I go away for five measly days and look what happens! We briefly lose the sun, questions about ALSC and social media are raised, and then to top it all off the child_lit listserv comes to an end.
I found out about it through Facebook, actually. For the past three days I’ve been holed up in a lovely little house in the middle of Michigan without any Wi-Fi access, for the sole purpose of writing something above and beyond blog posts. Occasionally, though, my writing partner and I would step into the sun, blink, and head for a nearby town to munch. When that happened the phones would light up with news, and there I found out about child_lit.
If you’re unfamiliar with the listserv, that probably isn’t surprising. And if you need me to explain to you what a listserv is then please see previous statement about it not being surprising. I can’t say exactly when I joined, but if I was going to harbor a guess I’d say it was when I was in grad school back in 2003. That was a time when I’d read scholarly children’s periodicals on my lunch break. Child_lit just seemed like a logical offshoot of that, and indeed it did begin as a scholarly site. Children’s scholarship has not disappeared, so why is the listserv?
So. A couple thoughts. Folks on the listserv are probably aware that in the last few weeks there were some heated words exchanged in conjunction with the release of the Vulture article The Toxic Drama on YA Twitter. This was not the first time folks have disagreed on the listserv, and I would have bet it wasn’t the last, except for the fact that now it’s ending. So I guess it was. The last. Now that the site administrator Michael Joseph has made his decision there are a variety of responses. Some say that the timing is suspect. Others that the listserv should move to a different venue. Still others that it was a huge help to them over the years and that they’ll miss it.
Me? I always liked the scholarly side of things on child_lit. There’s not much of anywhere else to find these kind of long-form discussions, unless of course you happen to go to blogs where the commenters are loquacious in their thoughts and feelings. Michael says that the scholarly discussions were pretty much gone the last few years. I suppose it’s true, but it was my last connection to them. I don’t belong to ChLA (and maybe I’d better start) and since the death of the ccbc-net listserv this was my last one with a tangential connection to in-depth children’s literary conversations.
Where to go now? It’s difficult to say. For news there’s PW Children’s Bookshelf. For an assortment of thoughts on children’s literature there’s The Niblings. But nothing quite hits the same note. Listservs may have been an outdated model but we’ve yet to see something that matches them. At least in the children’s literary world.
In the end, I say goodnight, child_lit. You were almost old enough to rent a car. Godspeed, friend. See you on the other side.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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