The 2014 Midwinter Book and Media Awards
By Kristen Allen-Vogel
On Sunday, January 26 the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) presented the Book and Media Awards Reception sponsored by NoveList in front of a large, enthusiastic audience at the Sheraton Philadelphia. Attendance was so high that additional chairs were brought in throughout the program.
RUSA and its chapters awarded several awards for individual people or works. The Zora Neale Hurston Award for leadership in promoting African-American literature went to Dr. Grace Jackson-Brown for her work with the Springfield African American Read-In. The Louis Shores Award for excellence in book reviewing went to Francine Graf of Choice. The Sophie Brody Medal for achievement in Jewish Literature was awarded to Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation by Yossi Klein Halevi. Mammals of Africa by Jonathan Kingdon and David Happold won the Dartmouth Medal for excellence in reference publications.
RUSA also announced several lists of reference resources, in print and in the form of free websites. When the list of nine Outstanding Reference Sources was announced, the crowd was audibly pleased by the inclusion of Frogs of the United States and Canada by C. Kenneth Dodd. Other lists announced included the Best Business Websites, Outstanding Business Reference Sources (which addressed print materials), Best Free Websites, and Best Historic Materials. The upcoming issue of RUSA's publication RUSQ will include reviews of the websites on each list.
The stars of the show were the Listen List, announced at the beginning of the program, and the Reading List and Notable Books List, which were announced at the end of the program - like the Oscars saving the most well-known awards for last. The Listen List honors outstanding audiobook narration and, judging by the crowd response, many titles on the list were dear to the audience's hearts. The Ocean at the End of the Lane written and narrated by Neil Gaiman, Heartburn by Nora Ephron, narrated by Meryl Streep, and Longbourn by Jo Baker, narrated by Emma Fielding provoked some of the most enthusiastic responses. The complete list can be found with all the awards at RUSA's Literary Tastes page, along with listen-alikes for each title.
The Reading List recommends the best in eight genres: "adrenaline," fantasy, historical fiction, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction, and women's fiction. For this list, the winners were announced along with four shortlisted books in each category. Again, these can be found with read-alikes for the winners on RUSA's website. Members of the New Members Round Table with an interest in public libraries and service to adults, either as reference librarians or in collection development, would do well to explore these lists every year.
The Notable Books List includes outstanding fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for the adult audience. The books on this list, along with Booklist's Editor's Choice books, will be the source of the longlist for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction, awarded at ALA Annual. Based on the good books we heard about and the good time we had this evening at the Books & Media reception, I would suggest that anybody attending Annual should make it a point not to miss it.
Kristen Allen-Vogel is a reference librarian at the Dayton Metro Library in Dayton, Ohio.