F.A.Q.s for the BCCLS Mock Awards, 2007:
Q: How do you choose the books you read?
A: All the books we choose receive starred reviews from authoritative review sources, including Booklist, KLIATT, SLJ, VOYA (we add books to our reading list that receive a 5Q, regardless of the P rating), Kirkus, PW, Horn Book. In the case of the Mock Printz, we also consider a nomination to YALSA's Best Books for Young Adults equivalent to a starred review. From the list of starred reviews, we see which books have garnered the most praise and begin with those. We also read according to our personal interests.
Q: How do you choose the books that appear on your short list?
A: Everyone on a Mock Awards committee puts a list together of their personal top ten candidates for their award. The ten books that appear on the largest number of top ten lists are the ones shortlisted for the Mock Awards.
Q: What other criteria do you use in choosing books?
A: When deciding what books to honor, we use the criteria from the ALA Awards. Most importantly, the awards are about writing quality, not popularity, and not emotional reaction. A book that sits on the shelf and collects dust could still be eligible for a Mock Award if the writing is strong enough.
For more information on the ALA Awards, visit the Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz sites.
Q. Can I come to the Mock Awards program in January even though I'm a director? Not a youth services librarian? Employed by a non-BCCLS library?
A: Absolutely. All professional and paraprofessional library employees with an interest in literature for children and young adults are welcome to attend.
A: No, but it helps to have some familiarity with the book. Read enough to find out whether it's worthy or not. Read reviews! Check to see if the book has generated buzz among librarians, including discussion on children's and YA literature listservs like PUBYAC, YALSA-BK, and Adbooks.
Q: Does my library have to buy everything on the list?
A: No, but everything on the list should have a starred review from an authoritative review source. Check to see if this type of book is well-received at your library. Lists like these are a fast checkup for your collection.
Q: How can I give my favorite title the best chance of being on your list?
A: Contact one of the members of the BCCLS Youth Services Committee and ask that your book be read and considered. Campaign for it on the blog, or on the BCCLSYouth mailing list. Bring it to the program anyway and find out why it didn't make the list.
Q: Why isn't the final list published earlier?
A: We would miss too many great books fromt he fall publishing season. September and October are big months in publishing, and we have to allow time for libraries to acquire copies of these books and for committee members to read them.
Q: How do you read that many books in a short period of time?
A: Start by reading some star-reviewed items as they come into your library, especially items that have more than one starred review or are nominated to YALSA's Best Books for Young Adults. Look at the blog to find out what's getting a lot of discussion. Chances are some of the books you see listed here will make the final cut.
As for the rest, reading is part of the job. Turn off the TV, stay up late reading, and come in to work a little bleary-eyed in the morning. Also, consider listening to some of the selections. It's a great way to handle that horrible rush-hour commute, or to make time pass while you're chopping vegetables or on the treadmill.