Volunteers Wanted: Help select our Mock Newbery winner by joining the Heavy Medal Award Committee
Dec 12 update: We may still have spots available on the Heavy Medal Award Committee. I somehow deleted the original list of sign-ups. I’ve asked everyone who signed up to re-submit, but don’t know how many will see that request on this blog. If I don’t hear back from enough of them (so far only a handful have re-submitted), I’ll open up sign-ups again on Monday, December 14th.
Dec 10 update: Our sign-ups for the Heavy Medal Award Committee are now closed. [Dec 12: See note above for an update. There still may be room]
We had a bunch of folks volunteering and our committee is now full. Apologies to those who were still hoping to sign on. Remember that you can still comment on the online book discussions on Heavy Medal even if you aren’t on the HMAC. Thanks again to all who volunteered.
After nearly a year of reading, several months of discussion, and an almost-complete discussion list, it’s time to form the Heavy Medal Award Committee (HMAC). This committee is made up of volunteers who are pretty serious about children’s books. HMAC members commit to the following:
- Read the 15 titles on the Heavy Medal Book List (HMBL). There are 12 titles at this point; the HMAC will soon choose the final three.
- Participate in online discussions of these books between December 28th and mid-January
- Select 6 books as the Heavy Medal Finalists in mid-January.
- Participate in a live ZOOM discussion of the 6 Finalists, finishing with a ballot to decide the Heavy Medal Award winner. This part is not required of all HMAC members (but I’m hoping most will take part)
The Zoom discussion is a new element. School Library Journal will host this event and we’re still ironing out the final details. But here’s what it’s looking like so far:
- The Zoom discussion date will be announced soon. It will take place on either January 15th or January 22nd. As soon as we get the date finalized I’ll let everyone know.
- The idea behind the Zoom discussion is to replicate the live discussion that takes place in the real Committee closer than we’ve been able to in the past.
- One big difference, though, is that unlike the real Newbery Committee’s work, this discussion will not be confidential. We’re hoping that lots of people will watch the live discussion.
- Viewers will be able to participate live with online polls and opportunities for comments and questions.
- If any members of the HMAC cannot take part in the Zoom discussion because of timing or other reasons, that’s fine. Participation in the online discussion is the major focus.
Have questions? Here are at least some of the answers:
- How many members will be on the HMAC?
We don’t have a set number. We typically get close to 15 (the actual Committee number) but more is okay and less will work too. We hope to get a bunch of volunteers in the next couple of days. We’ll see how it goes and announce it here when we have a full committee.
- Can I just read some of the books and post about those?
No. Just like on the real Newbery Committee, we expect participants to read all 15 books and be prepared to discuss them online. If there’s a reason which will prevent you from reading one or two titles, though, such as access, please volunteer anyway and we’ll talk.
- Do I have to post on the online discussions at certain times of the day?
No. You can fit posts around your schedule. But you will need to find ways to discuss as many books as you can. The only “live” element is the Zoom discussion.
- Do I have to post every day?
No. If you can’t post on a given day, it’s fine to go back and catch up. However, we will introduce a new book for discussion almost every day, so it can be hard to keep up without fairly frequent posts.
- Can I volunteer for the HMAC if I’ve already done it in past years?
Yes. Returnees are welcome and so are first-timers.
- Can I still participate in discussions if I don’t volunteer for the HMAC?
Yes. We invite all Heavy Medal readers to participate in the book discussion, even if you can’t commit to joining the Committee. Only HMAC members will participate in the actual balloting, though, which will happen as part of the Zoom discussion.
- Am I able to vote for the winner if I’m not on the HMAC?
Yes. In addition to the live balloting during the Zoom discussion, we will hold a separate Reader’s Poll, where anyone can cast a vote. That will happen around the same time as the Zoom discussion.
- How will the HMAC choose the 6 finalists for the Zoom discussion?
The HMAC members will decide upon the method, based on how the online discussion has gone. It may be possible to choose the 6, or most of the 6, by consensus. Polls may also be part of the process.
- If I’m not on the HMAC, how do I watch and participate in the Zoom discussion?
We’ll have a link to free sign-ups available soon.
- How do I volunteer?
Just fill out this short Heavy Medal Committee Volunteer Form. We’ll just need your name, email address, and a bit about yourself. (We’ll send a request for a photo (optional) separately). You can see what others shared last year, but whatever you want to write about yourself is fine. There’s also a question about availability for the Zoom discussion.
If you still have questions about the HMAC, feel free to ask them in the comments below. Or you can email me directly at email@example.com.
About Steven Engelfried
Steven Engelfried was the Library Services Manager at the Wilsonville Public Library in Oregon until he retired in 2022 after 35 years as a full-time librarian. He served on the 2010 Newbery committee, chaired the 2013 Newbery Committee, and also served on the 2002 Caldecott committee. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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