ALA, ALSC respond to Wilder Medal name change

For Immediate Release
Mon, 06/25/2018

Contact:

Macey Morales

Deputy Director

Communications and Marketing Office

mmorales@ala.org

NEW ORLEANS - During the ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans, the Board of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), voted to change the name of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award to the Children's Literature Legacy Award. This award honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a significant and lasting contribution to children's literature. ALA President Jim Neal and ALSC President Nina Lindsay released the following joint statement:

“Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books have been and will continue to be deeply meaningful to many readers. Although Wilder’s work holds a significant place in the history of children’s literature and continues to be read today, ALSC has had to grapple with the inconsistency between Wilder’s legacy and its core values of inclusiveness, integrity and respect, and responsiveness through an award that bears Wilder’s name.

“Wilder’s books are a product of her life experiences and perspective as a settler in America’s 1800s. Her works reflect dated cultural attitudes toward Indigenous people and people of color that contradict modern acceptance, celebration, and understanding of diverse communities.   

“ALSC works within the context of our society as a whole, where the conversations taking place inform our work and help us articulate our core values and support of diverse populations.

“Changing the name of the award should not be viewed as an attempt to censor, limit, or deter access to Wilder’s books and materials, but rather as an effort to align the award’s title with ALSC’s core values.  This change should not be viewed as a call for readers to change their personal relationship with or feelings about Wilder’s books. Updating the award's name should not be construed as censorship, as we are not demanding that anyone stop reading Wilder’s books, talking about them, or making them available to children. We hope adults think critically about Wilder’s books and the discussions that can take place around them.

“It also should be noted that changing the name of the ALSC award for significant and lasting contribution to children’s literature has no reflection on past winners or their achievements, and does not negate the honor they have received for making a ‘significant and lasting contribution to literature for children.’  

“This decision was made after much consideration and fact-finding. It is one that we believe serves the best interests of ALSC and all of those they serve, not only now, in 2018, but also in the long-term.”  

About ALSC
ALSC, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children. With a network of more than 4,000 children’s and youth librarians, literature experts, publishers and educational faculty, ALSC is committed to creating a better future for children through libraries. To learn more about ALSC, visit ALSC’s website.

About the American Library Association
The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit ala.org.