Congratulations to the winners of the 2019 National Book Awards, and to the National Book Foundation for putting on another terrific gala in New York this week. Now in its 70th year, the National Book Awards really appears to be hitting another level under the direction of Lisa Lucas, with great speakers, and a fun, inclusive atmosphere celebrating the vital role books play in our culture. This year's emcee, actor and Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton, said it best: "It is the stories that we tell each other that define who we are and what holds our civilization together."
You can read all about the event on the Publishers Weekly website. To recap, the 2019 National Book Award winners are:
Fiction: Susan Choi, for Trust Exercise (Henry Holt).
Nonfiction: Sarah M. Broom for The Yellow House (Grove Press).
Young People's Literature: Martin W. Sandler for 1919: The Year That Changed America (Bloomsbury).
Poetry: Arthur Sze for Sight Lines (Copper Canyon Press).
Translated Literature: László Krasznahorkai and translator Ottilie Mulzet for Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming, translated from the Hungarian (New Directions Press).
Among the other honors awarded at the National Book Awards, American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher was presented with the NBF’s Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community, given to him by the great novelist Ann Patchett—who also happens to be one of the ABA's constituents as the owner of Nashville's Parnassus Books.
"I would pretty much go anywhere to say nice things about Oren Teicher, considering all the wonderful things he's done for me—considering all of the wonderful things he's done for all of us," Patchett said.
For his part, Teicher told the audience that "working on behalf of indie booksellers these past 30 years has been a dream job," and he accepted the award on behalf of indie booksellers across the country.
And in what sounds like one of the night’s most rollicking moments, the great director, free speech defender, and library lover John Waters introduced the winner of this year's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, Edmund White. In his remarks, however, White turned serious, recalling how difficult it was to be a gay novelist in the pre-Stonewall 1960s. “To go from the most maligned writer to deeply honored in half a century is distinguished indeed,” he observed.
Want to start reading one of the 2019 National Book Award winners in an e-book edition from your local library? You may want to get on the holds list now. As of this morning, November 22, OverDrive reports that:
Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming by László Krasznahorkai has just 54 e-book copies in libraries nationwide, and is available in just 20 states.
There are just 25 library e-book copies of Arthur Sze’s Sight Lines available nationwide, in just 11 states.
U.S. Libraries hold 749 e-book copies of Sarah M. Broom's The Yellow House, in 47 states.
And there are 973 e-book copies of Susan Choi’s Trust Exercise in libraries across the country, in 47 states.
OverDrive executives say they have only recently received Martin W. Sandler’s e-book, so data is not available.
With Guy Gonzalez now directing the OverDrive supported Project Panorama, a useful new feature has now gone live in the Panorama Picks program: a spotlight on a specific Panorama Picks title. The first spotlight, now live, went to Tom Courtney's guidebook Walkabout Northern California, published by Wilderness Press—an imprint of AdventureKEEN, independent publishers of travel and adventure books. Gonzalez deemed Walkabout Northern California the title with "the most unmet demand in libraries in California over the summer."
Panorama Picks offers local booksellers quarterly lists of popular fiction, nonfiction, and young adult titles beyond the bestsellers that are in demand at public libraries, using "aggregated, anonymized hold list data." Panorama says that kind of data can help move books and identify opportunities for author events. Gonzalez told PW he plans to do a spotlight with each new quarterly list.
The beat goes on: The Charleston County Public Library is among the latest to boycott Macmillan e-books. “CCPL opposes any effort to restrict or delay our ability to provide the public with free and equitable access to information and services,” said CCPL Executive Director Angela Craig, in a press release.
Three weeks in, the resistance to Macmillan's e-book embargo continues. An ALA online petition continues to gain signatures and is now over 210,000, and counting. Local media, like Cincinnati Public Radio are continuing to pick up the story. And, nationally, the embargo is drawing some increasingly stiff rebukes, including this blistering take from Mike Masnick at TechDirt. (The comments on the TechDirt piece are also very interesting).
In Florida, a group of county commissioners refused overturn their decision to block the library from spending $2,700 on a New York Times digital subscription, because they disagree with the paper's political coverage. This piece from The Tampa Bay Times captured the tension of a standing room only commission meeting, calling it "a history lesson on the year 2019, typed in real time, with fury and haste."
From The Pitch, news of another packed meeting, this one a library board meeting in the Kansas City Area which debated the local library's support of the LGBTQ community. The tense meeting came after one of the library’s board members penned an editorial criticizing the Mid-Continent Public Library’s LGBTQ materials and programs. “A once-safe community setting known as the public library has become a space that, in the guise of intellectual freedom, wants to change thinking on voyeurism and gender confusion, while promoting materials and programs that lead children toward being sexually exploited,” wrote Rita Wiese, who represents Platte County on the MCPL board. The Pitch reports that after the meeting, board president Michelle Wycoff released a statement. "While individual board members may have publicly shared personal opinions about the program, these are not the positions of the library board.”
The New York Times profiles Ken LaCorte, a former Fox News executive who now runs a suite of websites that inflame political furies on the right and the left. "Conservative Edition News is a repository of stories guaranteed to infuriate the American right. Its recent headlines include 'Austin sex-ed curriculum teaches kids how to obtain an abortion' and 'HuffPost writer considers Christianity dangerous.’” the Times reports. Meanwhile, on Liberal Edition News, "readers are fed a steady diet of content guaranteed to drive liberal voters further left or to wring a visceral response from moderates. One recent story singled out an Italian youth soccer coach who called Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist, a 'whore.'”
Meanwhile, Buzzfeed looks at how the impeachment hearings are being portrayed in vastly different ways. "There are two impeachment hearings unfolding in the nation's capital. One, carried out by the Democrats, is designed to ascertain the truth as to whether Trump sought a "quid pro quo" deal with Ukraine to get the country to investigate Joe Biden and the 2016 presidential election in exchange for aid money. The other, being carried out simultaneously by the Republicans, is quite different. Instead of trying to learn the truth, it seeks to create not just a counter-narrative but a completely separate reality."
In a piece that has been making the rounds, Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing reports on a really questionable practice: With prison libraries on the decline "the past couple years has seen a rise in prison profiteers" who strike deals with state corrections departments to provide "free" tablets to prisoners, then charging inmates for their use, including by-the-minute charges for reading e-books that "are primarily drawn from Project Gutenberg, a free online service composed of volunteer-produced, public domain and CC-licensed e-books."
Is this the beginning of a potential U.S. breakthrough on open access? News this week that Carnegie Mellon University and Elsevier have reached what the two sides are calling a "transformative" open access deal. Under the terms of the agreement, said to be the first of its kind between Elsevier and a U.S.university, Carnegie Mellon scholars will have access to all Elsevier academic journals, and beginning Jan. 1, 2020, and articles with a corresponding Carnegie Mellon author published through Elsevier also will be open access. “This transformative deal is an important milestone in the university’s continued support for open access that marks a necessary evolution to support the changing needs of researchers,” said Dean of University Libraries and Director of Emerging and Integrative Media Initiatives Keith Webster. Can this deal provide a framework for a deal with the University of California, which has been in a tense standoff with Elsevier?
Oxford Dictionaries released its Word of the Year: Climate Emergency. "Analysis of language data collected in the Oxford Corpus shows the rapid rise of climate emergency from relative obscurity to becoming one of the most prominent–and prominently debated–terms of 2019."
From Publishers Weekly, HarperCollins Children’s Books has announced the debut of Heartdrum, "an imprint devoted to publishing books by Native creators that introduce young Native protagonists and showcase the present and future of Indian Country." Scheduled to launch in winter 2021, the imprint is helmed by author Cynthia Leitich Smith, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, and Rosemary Brosnan, v-p and editorial director at HarperCollins Children’s Books.
The Week in Libraries is a weekly opinion and news column. News, tips, submissions, questions or comments are welcome, and can be submitted via email.
[Editor's Note: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be no PW Preview for Librarians newsletter next week. And with the holiday season upon us, this will be the last edition of The Week In Libraries column for 2019. The PW Preview for Librarians newsletter will continue to be delivered through the December 20 issue, and then will return with the January 10 edition.]