Friday, January 20, 2012

Behind the Scenes at ALA Book Awards

Many of us have marked our calendars for 7:45 am Monday, January 23 to hear the announcements of ALA's Youth Media Awards. Here at midwinter ALA, the final big work has begun to lead up to the announcements. Let's take a peek behind the scenes.

By Thursday night award committee members have arrived. Many gather for dinner as a group to visit, shake off jitters, and relax. This is usually also the time, when the award committee chair knows who has been snowed or iced in and decisions are being made whether to replace that person with someone from the Notables Committee (Notables folks have been reading the same books so can particiapte in the discussions).

At 8am Friday, their work begins. Books provided by the ALSC office or that committee members brought along are unpacked, snacks are laid out, and the discussions begin. Each book nominated or suggested is talked about, examined, argued over and vetted. Some books remain and many are taken off the table. Members listen as well as talk and judge and consider thoughtfully throughout this time.

This work goes on all through Friday and into Saturday when the final votes and tallies are taken. Once the winner and honor books are tallied and decided upon, it's time to write-up annotations, let the ALSC office know, and then be very, very secretive through Sunday ("I've got a secret!"). During this day, ALA is busy getting the information gathered and PR set for Monday...and phone numbers of the book creators. Then on Monday bright and early the committees gather again and make the amazing phone calls to the winners and honorees. That is always one of the best moments. Then off to the press conference...but that's another post!

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