The Michael L. Printz Award Policies and Procedures

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The Michael L. Printz Award recognizes the best titles in young adult literature in a given calendar year.


The award will:

  • Recognize the best in the field of materials for young adults
  • Promote the growing number of books published for young adults
  • Inspire wider readership in the genre
  • Give recognition to the importance of the genre
  • Position YALSA as an authority in the field of evaluating and selecting materials for teen library collections

Policies and Procedures

Committee Charge

To select from the previous year's publications the best young adult book ("best" being defined solely in terms of literary merit) and, if the Committee so decides, as many as four Honor Books. The Committee will also have the opportunity for input into the oversight and planning of the Printz Awards Program. Committee size: 9, plus a consultant from the staff of Booklist, and an administrative assistant if requested.

Committee Member

The Committee shall consist of a chair, eight members, a consultant from the staff of Booklist, and an administrative assistant if the Chair requests. Beginning in 2017, the Chair and members will be appointed by the Vice President/ President-Elect of YALSA. 

Members serve 12-month terms beginning February 1 and ending January 31 of the following year. All members are required to attend all Printz Committee meetings held during the selection process. In the event a member is unable to complete her/his term, the President of the Association, in consultation with the Chair and the YALSA staff liaison, shall appoint a qualified replacement.

The chair is a voting member of the committee with all the rights and responsibilities of other members. In addition, the chair presides at all meetings of the committee and serves as a facilitator of both discussion and committee business. As such, the chair must serve as a list owner of an electronic discussion list created through the YALSA office solely for use by the committee, and take responsibility for list maintenance.

If the chair desires, the Vice President/President-Elect of YALSA may appoint an administrative assistant in consultation with the committee chair. The administrative assistant will assist the chair in duties that may include the following: contacting publishers on behalf of the chair/committee, maintaining the database of nominations, tabulating votes, and other such duties assigned by the chair. The administrative assistant is a non-voting member of the committee, and must be a YALSA member.

The Editor/Publisher of Booklist magazine, the Printz Award's sponsor, will appoint a consultant to the Committee from among the magazine's Books for Youth staff. This consultant may participate fully in all book discussions but may not participate in voting.

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.

Responsibilities of regular committee positions

Members are required to attend all committee meetings and read widely from books eligible for nomination. 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.


While the Chair will develop and share out a detailed timeline and work plan, the committee will observe the following general calendar:

May-June: Committee members and chair are appointed.
December: Committee members participate in virtual training, organized by the Awards & Selection Committees Oversight Committee
February 1: The committee begins work
May: By May 15 the chair will have assembled and sent to committee members a list of all nominated titles.
June:  ALA Annual Conference: The committee will meet in three closed sessions to discuss all nominated titles.
September:  By September 15 the chair will have assembled a second list of titles nominated since Annual and will have sent them to committee members.
December 1: Final date for submission of field nominations.
December 15: Final date for nominations by committee members.
January 1: Chair will send list of all titles nominated since September 15 to committee members.
January: Midwinter Meeting,  Committee will meet in three closed sessions to select a winner and honor titles (if any).
February: the Committee will have input into the planning of the Printz Awards Program & Reception at the ALA Annual Conference.
June: Annual Conference,  Printz Awards Program.


The award-winning book may be fiction, nonfiction, poetry or an anthology.

As many as four honor titles may be selected.

Books must have been published between January 1 and December 31 of the year preceding announcement of the award.

To be eligible, a title must have been designated by its publisher as being either a young adult book or one published for the age range that YALSA defines as "young adult," i.e., 12 through 18. Adult books are not eligible.

Works of joint authorship or editorship are eligible.

The award may be given posthumously provided the other criteria are met.

Books previously published in another country are eligible (presuming an American edition has been published during the period of eligibility).

Titles that are self-published, published only in eBook format, and/or published from a publisher outside of the US will not be considered eligible until the first year the book is available in print or distributed through a US publishing house.

If no title is deemed sufficiently meritorious, no award will be given that year.

The chair is responsible for verifying the eligibility of all nominated titles.

The Printz Award does not require the attendance of the winning authors at the awards ceremonies. However, authors will be encouraged to attend.


What is quality? We know what it is not. We hope the award will have a wide AUDIENCE among readers from 12 to 18 but POPULARITY is not the criterion for this award. Nor is MESSAGE. In accordance with the Library Bill of Rights, CONTROVERSY is not something to avoid. In fact, we want a book that readers will talk about.

Librarianship focuses on individuals, in all their diversity, and that focus is a fundamental value of the Young Adult Library Services Association and its members. Diversity is, thus, honored in the Association and in the collections and services that libraries provide to young adults.

Having established what the award is not, it is far harder to formulate what it is. As every reader knows, a great book can redefine what we mean by quality. Criteria change with time. Therefore, flexibility and an avoidance of the too-rigid are essential components of these criteria (some examples of too-rigid criteria: A realistic hope - well, what about Robert Cormier's Chocolate War or Brock Coles' The Facts Speak for Themselves? Avoiding complicated plot - what about Louis Sachar's Holes? Originality - what about all the mythic themes that are continually re-worked? We can all think of other great books that don't fit those criteria.)

What we are looking for, in short, is literary excellence.

All forms of writing—fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art, and any combination of these, including anthologies—are eligible.

The following criteria are only suggested guidelines and should in no way be considered as absolutes. They will always be open to change and adaptation. Depending on the book, one or more of these criteria will apply:

  • Story
  • Voice
  • Style
  • Setting
  • Accuracy
  • Characters
  • Theme
  • Illustrations
  • Design (including format, organization, etc.)

For each book the questions and answers will be different, the weight of the various criteria will be different.

The ALA press release announcing the winner should stipulate why the title has been chosen for its literary excellence.


As all nominated titles must be kept confidential, there will be no announcements of nominated titles. 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 titles. However, each nomination must be made in writing on an official nomination form (available from the YALSA Office at, and online from the YALSA website at 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

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.

Voting Procedures

  • Straw Votes: at the discretion of the chair straw votes may be conducted periodically. The sole purpose of such votes is to guide discussion by revealing levels of support for individual titles.
  • Members must be present to vote. Proxies will not be accepted. Following discussion, balloting will begin. Paper ballots will be used and tallied either by the chair or her/his designee(s). On each ballot each member will vote for her/his top three choices. First choice receives five points; second choice receives three points, and third choice receives one point. Members are reminded that, at this point, they are voting for the winner, NOT for honor titles. A separate ballot will be conducted for honor titles. To win, a title must receive five first place votes and must also receive at least five more points than the second place title. If no title meets these criteria on the first ballot, any title receiving no votes is removed from consideration and a period of discussion of remaining titles follows. A second ballot is then conducted. Balloting continues in this fashion until a winner is declared.
    • Honor Books All nominated titles are eligible for honor book consideration. Following the selection of a winner, a straw vote is conducted. Any title receiving no votes is removed from consideration. A formal, weighted ballot will follow. Based on the results of this ballot, the committee will decide if it wishes to name honor books and, if so, how many.


Booklist magazine is the official sponsor of the award.

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.

Publisher solicitation

  1. The Ethical Behavior Policy for Volunteers and the Award Committees Conflict of Interest Policy outline appropriate interactions between committee members and publishers.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Last revision, March 2013. These procedures are subject to review and possible revision by the Organizations and Bylaws committee with final approval by the YALSA Board of Directors.