Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Award Books...Honoring Experiences And Expressions Via Literature

As we vote statewide for Iowa Award books and order new titles for our collections, I am thinking about the process and impact of award books.

Questions about the process…

Any guarantee that the best book of the year gets the award?
Is there such thing as the best book of the year?
What effect does an award have on the life and circulation of a book?
What effect does an award have on collection development policies, collections, and the reading life of students?
Members of award committees have control on nominations and winners? How do they get it? Should they have it?

What is an award and what does it mean?

Like the Oscars I think that all nominations are worthy to some extent.  However I do not think that an award necessarily represents the best book of the year.  Awards have criteria but biases still exist. Politics come into play and authors have reputations.  We are never going to fully  agree on what the best book since committees and individuals perceive literature differently based on their own reading experiences.  

The effect of an award gives a perceived value and with that comes with additional attention. Students see the award posters and we highlight the importance of award books.  The prominent display of the award books keeps circulation high.  We want to supply readers with the must have books.  I like how we organize our IASL book awards with a combination of adult and student input. Having diverse librarian representation on our award committees ensures that we will continue to provide titles sharing numerous writing and art experiences that represent diversity.