An award that recognizes a truly stellar career is always good news, and it’s even better news when that award goes to one of your own. Pat Scales, the recipient of the ALSC Distinguished Service Award, more than qualifies on both counts.
Among those in the library field, especially in the youth sector, Pat is a legendary and larger-than-life figure. She’s a steel magnolia, on the front lines of the intellectual freedom wars, but she doesn’t just advocate for books; she’s made it her calling to educate librarians and teachers on the issue so they can stand in their own defense of literature, libraries, and readers.
During her career, which spans 38 years in the field, she’s served on, and often chaired, various ALSC committees, including Newbery, Caldecott, and Wilder. She was also ALSC president in 2008–09. But we at Booklist appreciate her just as much for her enormous contributions to our publications.
Along with being a frequent contributor to Booklist, writing reviews of unfailing acuity, she has also been associated with Booklist’s sister publication, Book Links, throughout its 25-year existence. Book Links was the brainchild of Barbara Elleman, the magazine’s first editor, and in the November 2015 issue, the magazine’s silver-anniversary edition, Pat recalls sitting with Barbara discussing the first issue of a unique publication designed “to connect children with high-quality, literature-based resources.”
Since then, Pat has been the featured voice of Book Links. As Bill Ott, publisher of Booklist and Book Links put it recently, “Pat Scales has been with us from the beginning, contributing her expertise on school libraries and her remarkably extensive knowledge of children’s books, both in individual articles, and for the last eight years in her column ‘Weighing In,’ which often addresses concerns of intellectual freedom on which Pat is one of this country’s leading experts.” Bill adds that “editors have come and gone, but Pat has been the heart of Book Links since volume one, number one.”
Smart, steadfast, and always lots of fun, Pat has promised to continue at Booklist until “my fingers are too arthritic to use a keyboard.” I guess we can’t ask for more than that. But we might try.