And bad news

October 12, 2006

It seems the Marshall, MO Pubic Library Board of Trustees has evaded a final decision on whether Blankets and Fun Home belong on library shelves. Both Dirk Deppey and Newsarama’s Matt Brady (found via Blog@) have spoken to the Marshall Democrat-News to get a rundown of last night’s meeting. Instead of making a decision specific to the books in question, the Board decided to form a committee to write a “materials selection policy.”

From Newsarama:

“The proposal was agreed to unanimously, and until the policy has been written and adopted by the Board, the two books will remain out of circulation. After the policy is formed, the two books will be evaluated as to their suitableness for the library.”

Kudos to Democrat-News reporter Zack Sims for asking the first question that came to my mind:

“Sims told Newsarama that he asked if all the books in the library would be treated as such, and retroactively run through the yet-to-be-written policy, and said that he was led to believe that they wouldn’t, though the policy will be applied to every new book.”

It’s still unclear as to who will serve this policy committee. The librarians who are already doing materials selection in keeping with their education and training? Concerned citizens? Board of Trustees members? Some combination of the above?

Tom Spurgeon reacts to the pseudo-decision, noting its canniness (and lack of conviction):

“It’s still distressing, because the books are not shelved until the time of their re-evaluation, which in a way means that for now the board gets to avoid making a decision and the heat that comes with it, but still gets the books off the shelves.”

Over at The Beat, a Marshall resident voices displeasure. Final figures at the Democrat-News site indicate that 71.6% of the 303 voters in the paper’s on-line poll were opposed.

I’ll be curious to see how the “materials selection policy” develops, who has final say, and just how much additional work this will be for Marshall’s librarians. Because when was the last time you heard of an over-funded, over-staffed public library?

There’s good news

October 12, 2006

Gene Yang’s excellent American Born Chinese (First Second) is a finalist for a National Book Award in the Young People’s Literature category. The New York Times (free registration required) confirms that the book is the first graphic novel ever to be nominated.

This makes me really happy, because the book is excellent. It’s already been nominated for the American Library Association’s list of Great Graphic Novels for Teens, but this kind of recognition is sure to put it on the radar of even more librarians and booksellers, and that’s all to the good. It’s an added bonus that the book comes from First Second, because they really seem to sincerely love every book they publish, and to lavish attention and care on them as a result.

Here are some of the reviews for American Born Chinese:

In other award news, I share Brigid’s limited enthusiasm for the Quill Award given to Naruto Vol. 7. But look at the awards program’s guiding principles:

“The Quill Awards pair a populist sensibility with Hollywood-style glitz and have become the first literary prizes to reflect the tastes of the group that matters most in publishing-readers.”

So they’re roughly equivalent to the People’s Choice Awards or the ones Wizard gives out, and I don’t really expect Alison Bechdel to win one of those, either. Plus, just being nominated in the category is bound to give the other books a bump.

Reed Business Information, sponsor of the Quills, is the parent company of Publishers Weekly.