The Margaret A. Edwards Award honors an author for significant and lasting contribution to literature for young adults.
ALA's Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), on behalf of library staff who work with young adults in all types of libraries, gives recognition to those authors whose book or books have provided young adults with a window through which they can view their world and which help them to grow and to understand themselves and their role in society. The award is given annually to an author whose book or books, over a period of time, have been accepted by young adults as an authentic voice that continues to illuminate their experiences and emotions, giving insight into their lives. The book or books should enable them to understand themselves, the world in which they live, and their relationship with others and with society. The book or books must be in print at the time of the nomination.
Policies and Procedures
Edwards is a virtual committee. The committee members are appointed by YALSA's President-Elect to serve a 12 month term. There are 5 voting committee members, including the chair. Each term begins Feb. 1st and ends the following Jan. 31st. If someone resigns, the current President of YALSA may appoint a new person to finish out that particular term. A committee of five, including the chair, will be responsible for the final selection of the recipient of the Award. Input may be solicited from the field, including librarians and young adults, but the selection will be made by the committee. Input should be received by the chair of the committee by November 1.
A new committee will be charged with the selection of the recipient for each annual award. The chair of the committee will be appointed by the President-Elect from among the five members. Committee members are not eligible for consecutive reappointment to the subsequent committee.
Committee members, including administrative assistants and chairs, who have completed one full term on any of YALSA’s six award committees may not be appointed to the same or another YALSA award committee for two years from the conclusion of their term. In extreme circumstances, and at the President’s discretion, an exception may be made if a committee member resigns suddenly or if there is a shortage of qualified candidates for positions. The President, after discussion with the Executive Director and Committee Chair, may determine that the best course of action is to appoint a member regardless of his/her recent committee service history.
Members who have served two consecutive years as a member and/or administrative assistant may not be appointed to the same committee for three years from the conclusion of their last term. This guideline will not apply to the Chair. In extreme circumstances, and at the President’s discretion, an exception may be made if a committee member resigns suddenly. The President, after discussion with the Committee Chair, may determine that the best course of action is to fill the vacancy with an experienced committee member, and appoint a member in good standing who successfully served on the committee in question during the previous three years.
Responsibilities of regular committee positions
Additional information about committee member responsibilities is available from YALSA's Handbook. All committee members must comply with YALSA's Policies, as presented in the online Handbook, including: Social Media Policy, Ethical Behavior Policy for Volunteers and the Award Committees Conflict of Interest Policy.
Eligibility & Definitions
- "Author" may be an individual or a co-author. The author must be living at the time of the nomination. In the case of co-authors, one must be living. If an author continues to write books of interest and appeal to young adults, then he or she may receive the award more than once as warranted, as long as it is not more frequently than every six years.
- "Book or books" indicates either a title or titles written specifically for young adults, or those titles written for adults, which continue to be requested and read by young adults. The title or titles must be in-print at the time of nomination. Only those titles of an author's work which meet the criteria of the award will be cited.
- "Over a period of time" means that the book or books must have been published in the United States no less than five years prior to the first meeting of the current Margaret A. Edwards Award Committee at the Midwinter Meeting. The five year period is stipulated so that the book or books have had enough time to filter down, i.e., reach a wide level of distribution, and to be accepted by young adults.
- "Continues to illuminate their experiences and emotions" means that the book or books have become a literary cornerstone for young adults.
The committee making its selection of nominees must be aware of the entire range of books for young adults and will take into account the following:
- Does the book(s) help adolescents to become aware of themselves and to answer their questions about their role and importance in relationships, society and in the world?
- Is the book(s) of acceptable literary quality?
- Does the book(s) satisfy the curiosity of young adults and yet help them thoughtfully to build a philosophy of life?
- Is the book(s) currently popular with a wide range of young adults in many different parts of the country?
- Do the book(s) serve as a "window to the world" for young adults?
As all nominated authors and titles must be kept confidential, there will be no announcements of nominees. All committee meetings and discussions, including electronic discussions, are closed to YALSA membership and the general public.
Committee members may nominate an unlimited number of authors or titles. However, each nomination must be made in writing on an official nomination form (available from the YALSA Office at firstname.lastname@example.org, and online from the YALSA website at www.ala.org/yalsa). Each nomination should include the following information: author, title, publisher, price, ISBN, and an annotation specifying those qualities that justify the title for consideration. Nominations from committee members need no second.
Field suggestions are encouraged. To be eligible, they must be submitted on the official suggestion form. All field suggestions must then be seconded by a committee member, and periodically the chair will send a list of field suggestions to committee members for this purpose. If, within thirty days, no second is forthcoming, the title will be dropped from consideration. Only those titles that have been nominated (and seconded if field suggestions) may be discussed at Midwinter and Annual Conference meetings. Furthermore, all nominated titles must be discussed. Publishers, authors, or editors may not suggest or nominate their own titles.
School Library Journal is the award's donor and funds the award and administrative cost. The recipient receives a cash prize of $2,000 plus an appropriate citation.
Annotations and Press Release
The committee is responsible for writing a press release and annotations for the winning title and honor books. Both the annotations and the press release will include discussion of the literary merits of the titles. The annotations and press release must be written prior to the Monday awards press conference.
- The Ethical Behavior Policy for Volunteers and the Award Committees Conflict of Interest Policy outline appropriate interactions between committee members and publishers.
- The chair and/or administrative assistant are responsible for contact with the publishers. Committee members must not solicit publishers for free personal copies of books. If members receive, or are offered, unsolicited copies of books from publishers, they may accept the titles.
- Committee members must not solicit publishers for favors, invitations, etc. If members receive these, however, they will use their own judgment in accepting. Publishers understand that such acceptance in no way influences members' actions or selections.
Revised by the YALSA Board of Directors, January, 1996