Board Document #24: Award Committee Term Length

At the recent Midwinter meeting, the Board moved to standardize appointment term length for YALSA awards committees as described in Document #24.  This change will prevent overly-extended committee service breaks for members and will streamline the appointment and candidate-seeking process for YALSA staff and leaders.

In 2015, the YALSA Board approved the Selection and Award Committee Participation Policy. This policy requires a two-year break period between selection and award committee service.  The break period allows for greater member volunteer participation on selection and awards committees and encourages members to volunteer for process committee and task forces.  The policy is working successfully, with the exception of issues arising from inconsistent term lengths on YALSA’s six awards committees.

Current term periods on these six committees range from twelve months, ending on January 31 for Edwards, Morris, and Nonfiction to eighteen months, ending on June 30 for Alex, Odyssey, and Printz. The eighteen month term originally intended to accommodate ceremonies and other events associated with the awards, with the bulk of committee work completed during the first twelve months of work.  These staggered term lengths result in a complicated and time-consuming appointment process for YALSA leaders and staff.  They also create significant frustration for eager member volunteers rolling off an eighteen month committee. These members are forced to wait at least 2.5 years, instead of the standard two years, before serving on another awards or selection committee because of appointment and election timing.

Changing appointment terms to a uniform period will eliminate these inefficiencies and concerns.  Beginning with the 2018-19 awards committees, all awards committee terms will end on January 31.

YALSA leaders do realize that attending the ALA Annual awards ceremonies for the Alex, Odyssey, and Printz awards are important to the committee members who spent their time and energy selecting the winners. So, while the official term to these committee members will end on January 30, members of these committees will be strongly encouraged to still attend the ALA Annual awards ceremonies. YALSA will provide letters or statements regarding this to encourage institutional support of this travel.

If you are a former awards committee member on your two-year break or are new to committee work, be sure to check out these other opportunities to stay involved!  And, if you’re interested in getting involved with selection committee, check out this opportunity on The Hub.

Jennifer Korn

YALSA Board Member, 2014-2017

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