Achuka hopes Roger Sutton’s views will be listened to and supported by those invited on to future Newbery/Caldecott committees
While previously content to merely caution award committee members not to violate the confidentiality of committee discussions, at ALA’s Midwinter Conference earlier this year the ALSC Board of Directors approved revisions to its “Policy for Service on Award Committees.” The policy now states that “[committee] members should not engage in any print or electronic communication outside of the committee regarding eligible titles during their term of service.” If this seems little to ask, remember that any book with text is an “eligible title” for the Newbery Medal and that “any print or electronic communication” means not just The Horn Book and SLJ, etc., but also blogs, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, and professional listservs. Oh, and your e-mail.
Of course I have a vested interest here. I’m sorry that I and the other Horn Book editors may no longer serve on ALSC award committees. By swearing to refrain from public commentary on the books we read, when such commentary is exactly what the public is counting on us for, we are being asked to stop doing the job that presumably brought us to the attention of ALSC in the first place. But the larger problem is that ALSC is asking all of its award committee members to neglect their professional responsibilities for a year in favor of an awards program that needs more fresh air, not less. No librarian worthy of the name should ever put herself in the position of not being able to promote good books.