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Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Newbery Medal Winner - Fairfax Librarian Will Help Choose Winner!

The 2017 Newbery Winner.
Which book will Sondy
choose to win in 2019? Stay tuned!
Our colleague, Sondra Eklund, youth services manager at City of Fairfax Regional Library, is on the prestigious Newbery Medal Award Committee. The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.  

We asked Sondy a few questions about this special honor.



What does being on this committee entail?

I’ll be reading as many books as I possibly can that are published in 2018 in the United States by American authors for children ages 0 to 14. At the start of 2019, I will meet with 14 other people in a locked room, and we will choose the winner of the John Newbery Medal. We will also decide if we want to name any Honor books which are also distinguished.

That seems like a lot of work, is there a way others can help you?

There are thousands of children’s books published in America every year. I’m going to read as many books as I can, and other committee members will read as widely as they can. There is a nomination process during the year, so committee members will formally nominate, from our reading, which books we will consider in the final deliberations. But in case some good books get overlooked, if you or your children read an especially good children’s book published in 2018, I hope you’ll let me know! Just stop by any library branch and ask a youth services librarian to tell me.


How are members selected for the Newbery committee?

Eight of the fifteen committee members are elected by the membership of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association. The chair and six other members are appointed by the ALSC president. I was elected to the position.

Tell us how you were elected for the Newbery committee.

I became a librarian as my second career. I began writing a website of book reviews in 2001. As I was getting my Master’s in Library Science (2007), the ALA Annual Conference came to Washington, DC. I went to the conference, attended the Newbery/Caldecott Awards Banquet and heard Susan Patron give her acceptance speech for the Newbery Medal given to The Higher Power of Lucky. That was when I realized serving on the Newbery committee might be a possibility in my new career.
 


2007 Newbery Winner. Patron's acceptance speech inspired Sondy
to seek a spot on the award selection committee.

I next applied to attend the Bill Morris Invitational Seminar on media evaluation to learn how the award committees work. It took three tries, but I was accepted to attend the seminar in Dallas in 2012.

At the seminar, we heard from past chairpersons from various award committees. They advised us to get involved in other ALSC committees and to put our name into the hat for award committee service.

I put my name in, and got on the ballot in April 2013 to be on the 2015 Newbery Committee. But missed being elected by 15 votes! (Out of about 800 ballots cast.) It was already too late to get on the ballot for the following year, so I very sadly gave it a rest and worked on other ALSC committees. In the meantime, I applied for and got to be a Cybils judge five years in a row. I gave my name for consideration to be on the Newbery Award Committee ballot again in March 2016. This time, I made a web page with my qualifications, printed cards to pass out at ALA Midwinter Meeting and the ALSC Mini-Institute that happened a couple months before voting. This time I got the news on April 12, 2017, that I was indeed a member of the 2019 Newbery Award committee!

How do you feel about being a committee member?

I am thrilled by this dream come true! I’m proud to have this important responsibility. And I’m clearing my schedule for a lot of work! I’ll have my nose in a children’s book every chance I get in 2018.

Thanks Sondy! We are so proud of you. Good luck with all your reading in 2018. -The Editors

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