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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Volunteers Wanted: Join the Heavy Medal Award Committee

Heavy Medal logo.

After nearly a year of reading, months of discussion, and a slew of strong nominations, it’s time to form the Heavy Medal Award Committee (HMAC). This committee is made up of volunteers who are serious about reading and critiquing Newbery eligible titles.

HMAC Responsibilities

  • Read the 12- 15 titles on the Heavy Medal Book List (HMBL). There are 6 titles at this point; the final list goes live on Monday, December 13th.
  • Write an introduction blog post for at least one of the titles.
  • Actively participate in online discussions of these books between December 27th and January 14th.
  • Select 6 books as the Heavy Medal Finalists in mid-January.
  • Participate in a live ZOOM discussion of the 6 Finalists on Friday, January 21, finishing with a ballot to decide the Heavy Medal Award winner. This part is not required of all HMAC members (but we’re hoping most take part). Similar to last year, School Library Journal hosts the Zoom discussion and the idea is to replicate the live committee discussions. This session will be open for interested viewers, unlike the actual committee.

Have questions? Here are at least some of the answers:

How many members are on the HMAC? We aim for 15. This year, there is a signup deadline (Saturday December 11 at 5 p.m.) and will select members on Sunday. We hope to create a well-rounded and diverse 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 comments 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 comments 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. We also try to start with positive comments and save critiques for later in the day.

Can I volunteer for the HMAC if I’ve already done it in past years? Yes. Returnees are welcome and so are first-timers. We will keep your number of times on the committee in mind as we select members.

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 happens as part of the Zoom discussion. If you can’t make it, we’ll figure out a plan so you can still vote.

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? Fill out this Heavy Medal Committee Volunteer Form by Saturday, December 11 at 5 p.m. We’ll need some basic information to help us select a well rounded committee. We’ll send a request for a biography information and optional photos once committee members are finalized

If you still have questions about the HMAC, feel free to ask them in the comments below. Or you can contact us directly at emilyrmroczek@gmail.com and sengelfried@yahoo.com.

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About Emily Mroczek-Bayci

Emily Mroczek (Bayci) is a freelance children’s librarian in the Chicago suburbs. She served on the 2019 Newbery committee. You can reach her at emilyrmroczek@gmail.com.

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