Carnegie Corporation of New York and the American Library Association Announce New Literary Prizes

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Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction to Be Awarded in June by ALA

Carnegie Corporation of New York is sponsoring the establishment of two new literary prizes—the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction—in partnership with the American Library Association (ALA), home of the coveted Newbery and Caldecott Medals for distinguished contributions to children’s literature.  The shortlist of 2012 finalists will be published in May with winners announced in June at the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, California.

The medals, which each year will recognize the authors of the most distinguished American books of fiction and nonfiction for adults, are distinctly different from other major adult book awards—which are judged by writers and critics—in that they will be selected by librarians. The shortlisted authors—and eventual winners—reflect the expert judgment and insight of library professionals who work closely with adult readers.

The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction are funded through a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York on the occasion of the foundation’s centennial and in recognition of Andrew Carnegie’s deep belief in the power of books and learning to change the world. Winning authors will receive a $5000 cash award.  A finalist in each category will receive $1500.

 “The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction will recognize superior literature,” said Vartan Gregorian, President of Carnegie Corporation and past president of the New York Public Library.  “But they also celebrate the important role librarians play in opening the world of imagination, education, and aspiration to new readers and avid book lovers alike.”

Gregorian continued, “The professionals who manage libraries are our guides through these indispensable institutions, which are our nation’s public treasure houses of knowledge and information.  And we rely on librarians who can employ their deep knowledge of both print and e-books, along with their considerable technical skills, to meet the needs of library patrons who may live in diverse communities but all share a passion for learning and for connecting with the wider world. These awards celebrate that passion, which Andrew Carnegie, one of the greatest benefactors of libraries both in the United States and around the globe, also recognized as indispensable for the progress of society.”  

The awards are cosponsored by the American Library Association’s Booklist, which publishes reviews for librarians, book groups and book lovers, and the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA). The 50 titles in consideration for each of the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence—the long-listed authors—are drawn from the annual Booklist Editors’ Choice and the RUSA CODES (Collection Development and Evaluation Section Committee) Notable Books lists.

Nancy Pearl will serve as chair of the first selection committee, which will be composed of seven professionals from the library community with expertise in adult literature. Pearl, a long-time librarian, developed the program “If All of Seattle Read the Same Book,” which spread across the country. The former executive director of the Washington Center for the Book, Pearl celebrates the written word by speaking at bookstores and libraries across the country and on her monthly television program “Book Lust with Nancy Pearl” on the Seattle Channel. She is a regular commentator about books on National Public Radio and was named the 50th winner of the Women’s National Book Association Award for her contribution to the world of books.

“Librarians devote their lives to helping the public—people from all walks of life and backgrounds—to become lifelong learners. The award 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.

“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, ALA’s executive director.

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.

Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction

The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction were established on the occasion of the centennial celebration of the founding of Carnegie Corporation of New York. The medals are awarded annually to the best work of fiction and of nonfiction written for adults and published in the United States. 

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 Online includes a growing archive of 135,000+ reviews available to subscribers 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 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 American Library Association

Established in 1876, the American Library Association (ALA) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization created to provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.