For immediate release | March 5, 2012

Carnegie Corporation of New York, American Library Association announce new literary prizes for adult best fiction, nonfiction book of year

CHICAGO — Winners of two new annual literary prizes—the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction—will be announced at the 2012 American Library Association Annual Conference in Anaheim, Calif., in June. This is the first time that ALA, which sponsors the prestigious Youth Media Awards including the John Newbery and Randolph Caldecott Medals for children’s literature, is offering single-book awards for adult trade fiction and nonfiction.

The shortlisted authors and eventual winners reflect the expert judgment and insight of library professionals who work closely with adult readers, unlike awards selected by writers and critics. “Librarians devote their lives to helping the public—people from all walks of life and backgrounds—to become lifelong learners. The awards will celebrate the best of the best and serve as a guide to help adults select quality reading material, making a real contribution to our country being a nation of readers,” says ALA President Molly Raphael.

Funded through a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York on the occasion of the foundation’s centennial, “the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction recognize literary excellence,” said Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation and past president of the New York Public Library. “But more, they also celebrate the important role librarians play in opening up the world of imagination, education, and aspiration to new readers and avid book lovers alike.”

Cosponsors of the awards are ALA’s Booklist and the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), both with extensive experience in sponsoring and administering book and media awards. Booklist was involved in the launch and is sponsor of the Michael Printz Award, Odyssey Award and Alex Awards. RUSA’s Collection Development and Evaluation Section (CODES) administers Notable Books, The Reading List, The Listen List and the Sophie Brody Award.

The 50 titles under consideration for the prizes will be drawn from the previous year’s Booklist Editors’ Choice and RUSA CODES Notable Books lists. Winning authors will each receive $5,000, while the two additional finalists in each category will receive $1,500. The list of finalists will be announced in May.

High-profile librarian Nancy Pearl will serve as chair of the first selection committee, which will comprise seven library professionals with expertise in adult literature. “I'm thrilled to be chairing these new awards that honor not only outstanding works of literature and their authors, but also the memory of Andrew Carnegie, who played a pivotal role in the development of public libraries around the world,” says Pearl.

The annually appointed committee will include three Booklist editors or contributors and three former members of RUSA CODES’ Notable Books Council. In addition to Pearl, committee members for this launch year are: A. Issac Pulver, director , Saratoga (N.Y.) Springs Public Library; Nonny Schlotzhauer, librarian, Collection Development/Social Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa.; Danise Hoover, associate librarian, Public Services, Hunter College Library, New York; Brad Hooper, editor, Adult Books, Booklist, Chicago; Donna Seaman, senior editor, Adult Books, Booklist Chicago; and Rebecca Vnuk, editor, Reference and Collection Management, Booklist, Chicago.

"Co-sponsoring these awards for adult books that recognize excellence and encourage reading as the Newbery and Caldecott Medals do for children’s literature is a natural fit for Booklist," says Editor and Publisher Bill Ott, "Especially since the awards will guide librarians, library users, and others in selecting quality reading materials—something Booklist does every day."

"Although books are delivered in many formats today, the power of a magnificent piece of literature and the beauty of the written word is still something to be honored and RUSA is privileged to be involved in these new awards," says Susan Hornung, executive director, RUSA.

"Libraries play a vital role in their communities nationwide, and librarians are at the heart of it all. Each works on a day-to-day basis with a community of readers that discover and explore everything from best-sellers to scholarly works, and each has a unique perspective on what people love to read. We are very pleased to collaborate on a new project with Carnegie Corporation that nourishes the public’s love of learning and reading," says Keith Michael Fiels, executive director, ALA.

The awards will launch with campaigns promoting them to the general public, publishers, librarians and other reading-related constituencies.

About Carnegie Corporation of New York

Carnegie Corporation of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding. In keeping with this mandate, the corporation’s work focuses on the issues that Andrew Carnegie considered of paramount importance: international peace, the advancement of education and knowledge, and the strength of our democracy.

About Booklist

Booklist is
the book review magazine of the American Library Association, considered an essential collection development and readers’ advisory tool by thousands of librarians for more than 100 years. Booklist Onlineincludes a growing archive of reviews of more than 135,000 individual books, as well as a wealth of free content offering the latest news and views on books and media.

About Reference and User Services Association (RUSA)

The Reference and User Services Association, an ALA division, is responsible for stimulating and supporting excellence in the delivery of general library services and materials, and the provision of reference and information services, collection development, readers’ advisory, and resource sharing for all ages, in every type of library.

About the ALA

The American Library Association the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 60,000 members. Its mission is to promote the highest quality library and information services and public access to information.