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Guest Blog: Stonewall Book Awards by Peter Coyl

Looking to add children’s and young adult GLBTQ literature to your collection? Start with the Stonewall Book Award’s Mike Morgan and Larry RomansChildren’s and Young Adult Literature prize.  Added in 2010 to the first and most enduring awards for GLBTQ books, the Stonewall Book Awards, it is now one of three awards annually given by the Gay,Lesbian, Bisexual Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association.  The Stonewall Book Awards are awarded for books exhibiting exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience.  While many of the titles selected often appear on the Rainbow Book List, the Stonewall Book Awards are an official award of ALA, which means that the winners and nominees have the right to carry the official seal on the cover.

Every year, the Stonewall Committee of fourteen members including the chair read through hundreds of newly published books.  The committee is charged with selecting the best in three areas:  Literature (adult materials), Non-Fiction (adult materials), and Children’s and Young Adult Literature.  As such, the committee must read all types of materials, not just youth and young adult materials.  You need to have the time to read and critically analyze all the materials that come in, as well as participate in the substantive discussion of all the titles that are considered for nomination.

To volunteer to serve on the committee starts with a fairly easy process:  fill out the ALA committee volunteerform.  A list of all the GLBTRT committees is available here, and the instructions for the form can be found online.  Once you’ve filled out the form, appointments will be made by the Chair and Chair Elect of GLBTRT, and notifications will be made in a timely manner.  Since the Stonewall Awards are part of GLBTRT and not YALSA, you will have to hold an active membership in GLBTRT to qualify for service.
Once appointed and the committee is full, then the real work begins.  The committee Chairperson assigns specific publishers to each committee member, and throughout the year as the committee finds books that would fit the qualifications for the list (through reviews, publisher’s catalogs, ARCs, or other means), they fill out a spreadsheet and then committee members request those titles from the publishers they are responsible for contacting.  By the time the Stonewall Committee meets at the ALA Midwinter Meeting (this year in Seattle), we will have discussed hundreds of titles and narrowed down the field to the top 15 in EACH category.
During ALA Midwinter, the Stonewall Committee meets behind closed doors to discuss the 15 top titles in each of the three categories.  During these sessions, the 15 are narrowed down through discussions and debate, and a winner and four honor books are picked in each category.  The winner of the Stonewall Book Award’s Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children’s and Young Adult Literature prize is announced during the Youth Media Awards on Monday morning, alongside the Newbery, Caldecott and Printz awards, making it an exciting time for committee members.
The amount of material published relating to the GLBT community has expanded in recent years, but there is not a lot comparatively speaking so the number of books considered for the Children and Young Adult Literature Award is significantly less than for adults.  However, there is more published every year, and hopefully more and more will be published in light of the recent strides across the country.  It makes for very interesting discussions to compare the adult materials to the young adult materials, especially in light of where different libraries catalog things.  I have a specialization in Youth and Children’s Services, but I still find the adult materials fascinating.
If you are going to the ALA Midwinter Meeting, then I highly suggest attending the Youth Media Awards on Monday, 28 for the announcement of the Stonewall Book Award’s Mike Morgan and Larry Miller Children’s and Young Adult Literature.  If you are in or around the Dallas Fort Worth area, I’ll be giving three presentations about the winners and honor books the following weeks:

       Wednesday, February 6, 7-8 p.m., Oak Lawn Branch Library (4100 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas, Texas, 214-670-1359

Thursday, February 7, 7-8 p.m., Audelia Road Branch Library (10045 Audelia Road, Dallas, Texas, 214-670-1350

Saturday, February 9, 5-6 p.m., North Oak Cliff Branch Library (302 West Tenth Street, Dallas, Texas, 214-670-7555

I’ll also be presenting at the Texas Library Association on Friday, April 26, at a presentation entitled Out of the Closet and Onto the Shelves: GLBT Literature Today, along with Rainbow Project incoming chair and TLT blogger Christie Gibrich and other members of the GLBTRT in Texas, and Tim Federle, author of the forthcoming book Better Nate than Ever.
Peter Coyl is a Manager with the Dallas Public Library and occasionally blogs at http.www.adventuresofaguybrarian.com. He currently serves on the Stonewall Award committee through June 2014. He can be emailed at peterdcoyl@gmail.com.

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