The young people’s book award I chose to learn about is the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Nonfiction. Established in 1999 to honour a mother with a love of reading, this award selects Canadian non-fiction books in print, geared towards young people under the age of 18, and published within the previous calendar year. This is one of Canada’s most prominent awards with a $10,000 prize. The book I chose to review is the 2018 winner of the award: #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale. While writing my review, I thought about how awards and reviews can help information professionals acquire resources. With more texts to choose from and a limited budget, information professionals can use awards and reviews to gauge user interest in a resource, form ideas on its added value to the collection, and decide which stakeholder and user information needs are being met (Johnson, 2018, p. 111).
I learned that fiction books are more often to receive awards than non-fiction. By having book awards that keep lists of their finalists and nominees, information professionals can have an easier time diversifying the genres of the collection to meet user needs. As libraries become more user-centred rather than collection-centred, libraries are starting to move away from the Dewey Decimal for reader-interest classifications. Genrefication is one form of reader-interest classification. By organising the library by genre, information professionals can “support literacy efforts, [increase] engage[ment]”, make resources easier to find and give exposure to overlooked works (Moeller & Becnel, 2019, pp. 199-120). However, deciding to move to this new form of organization can be difficult when books fit into more than one genre. For example, #NotYourPrincess could be shelved under a section for anthologies, biographies, or young adults. Understanding how children and young adults are using the library and referring to the collection development policy would help with the collection’s organization.
While I know about residential schools and intergenerational trauma, interacting with the different forms in the anthology influenced how I filled the gap in my knowledge about history from an Indigenous or Native American lens. Therefore, it encouraged me to think about how I would apply this to my future career. If I am evaluating the gaps in the collection, I would make sure that I am acquiring resources in a variety of formats to accommodate the user’s learning preferences. Another potential gap I could see in providing services to children and young adults is a lack of Canadian literature. Canada does not have many Canadian-owned publishing companies (Dewar, 2017, para. 10). With foreign companies owning mainstream publishing companies in Canada, Canadian perspectives might not be a priority and in turn, perspectives are being perpetuated that are not reflective of Canadian life. In my professional practice, I would continue to follow Canadian awards and reviewers to make sure I can collect resources with Canadian perspectives to be included in the collections. Also, by supporting these awards, I would be encouraging Canadian authors and illustrators to continue creating.
Charleyboy, L. & Leatherdale, M. B. (Eds.). (2017). #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American women. Annick Press.
Coates, T. (2015, July 4). Letter to my son. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/07/tanehisi-coates-between-the-world-and-me/397619/
Deandreab. (2017, June 14). A letter to my son: The perils of raising a black man in America. Indianapolis Moms. https://indianapolis.momcollective.com/raceandparenting/letter-son-perils-raising-black-man-america/
Dewar, E. (2017, June 8). How Canada sold out its publishing industry. The Walrus. https://thewalrus.ca/no-one-blinked/
Johnson, P. (2018). Fundamentals of collection development and management (4th ed.). Chicago, IL: American Library Association.
Moeller, R. A. & Becnel, K. (2019). “Why on Earth would we not genrefy the books?”: A study of reader-interest classification in school libraries. Knowledge Organization, 46(3), 199-208. https://doi.org/10.5771/0943-7444-2019-3-199
The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. (n.d.) Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Nonfiction. https://bookcentre.ca/programs/awards/norma-fleck-award-for-canadian-childrens-non-fiction