What a pleasure to be packing lightly for ALA Midwinter.
Award committee members are probably shuffling books right now, trying to figure out exactly which ones they really need to bring with them. When I was on the committee my books were ruffled and riffled with different colored post-its, and leaving any of them behind felt treacherous. I checked two bags that conference, mostly filled with books and papers (a tip: use two smaller suitcases rather than one big one, and give yourself extra time at check-in to shuffle contents, so that you can get both suitcases in under the 50 lb limit!)
Committee members have been waiting more than two years (for those who stood for election) for this weekend. Like standing for a exam, there’s not too much else they can do to prepare at this point except to try to eat and sleep well. With the exuberance of Obama’s inauguration swirling around them, they’ve carved out space in their mind and energy to hold their judgments about each of dozens of books…judgments that they’ve formed as sturdily and intricately as possible, and yet which will take on their most dramatic changes through the hours of discussion this weekend. Selecting a Newbery or Caldecott or other award winner is a craft. The year long preparation–which each of fifteen people may feel, during that year, is the true selection–is actually the groundwork and the practice for the collaborative creation that they’ll undertake this weekend. It’s because of that preparation that we trust the fifteen to the task, and that we will applaud them at the press conference Monday. Their work is done, their work is beginning. See you all on Monday.