ALA President Courtney Young releases statement regarding Handler remarks

For Immediate Release
Wed, 11/26/2014


Macey Morales

Manager Media Relations

Public Information Office


CHICAGO — On Wednesday, Nov. 19,  author Daniel Handler served as the host of the 2014 National Book Awards. Known for his quick wit and bold presentations, Handler pushed the envelope too far. Shortly after the announcement of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature to author Jacqueline Woodson, for her book “Brown Girl Dreaming,”  Handler’s poor attempt to joke with the crowd by folding in African-American stereotypes proved ill-fated.   

ALA President Courtney Young released the following statement in response to Handler’s remarks.   

“Diversity is a fundamental value of the American Library Association (ALA) and its members, and one of ALA's Key Action Areas,” said Young. “Last week, Daniel Handler, author of the Lemony Snicket series, made a series of insensitive and racist comments while serving as Master of Ceremonies for the National Book Awards. His comments were inappropriate and fell far short of the association’s commitment to diversity.   Handler himself has acknowledged this, calling his remarks directed toward National Book Award Winner Jacqueline Woodson an ‘ill-conceived’ attempt at humor and expressing his remorse and regret.

“Handler’s remarks come at a time when the publishing world has little diversity. Works from authors and illustrators of color make up less than 8 percent of children’s titles produced in 2013. The ALA hopes this regrettable incident will be used to open a dialogue on the need for diversity in the publishing industry, particularly in regards to books for young people.”

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 55,000 members in academic, public, school, government and special libraries. The mission of the American Library Association is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.