The whole Award process starts almost as soon as the previous one has finished. At the end of the ‘Andersen Year’, which is always an even year, the National Sections of IBBY are invited to submit nominations for the Jury, as well as submit the nominations of the actual candidates for the awards. The IBBY Executive Committee selects the Jury from the nominations at its meeting in Bologna. Once the members of the jury have accepted their selection, their work begins with a discussion about the criteria – can they be improved, is anything obsolete, are there new aspects that need looking at? Meanwhile, the National Sections are busy preparing the dossiers and book lists to support their candidates’ nomination. The standard of dossiers has improved over the years and the majority are now submitted electronically and are of a very high standard. By mid-year all the dossiers and books have been sent to the jurors – an impressive task as each dossier and set of books have to be shipped to 14 destinations around the world – quite a feat! The jury begins its work in earnest, prodded and prompted all the time as we try to make sure that all the packages have arrived. One thing is certain – not all postal services around the world are reliable! The paperwork takes over as confirmations, invoices, receipts are written and sent out. The sponsor is contacted and kindly requested to send the funds.
Tension mounts, long lists are drawn up, discussions via a blog take place, new discoveries, old favourites – all are studied, assessed and debated. The discussions and debates are done in camera – nothing should be spread outside the jury. The process culminates in the actual jury meeting. The 2014 jury have the privilege of meeting at the International Youth Library in Munich. While we are ever vigilant to make sure that no hint of the names of the winners is leaked, the shortlist is immediately released worldwide.
Suddenly time is short – we have three days: there are flyers to print, large banners to print with the names of the finalists and the winners. The Bologna Fair advertising firm is alerted and sent files to be printed and then to be mounted at the fair the minute the names are announced at the IBBY press conference. Speeches have to be written, press releases prepared: it is a finely-timed ballet. And throughout it all everyone is sworn to secrecy.
THE moment comes and the Jury president announces the winners at the IBBY press conference on the first day of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. The winners are contacted, the press clamour for interviews, and more plans are made. The IBBY stand is decked out with the winners’ banners and all their books are bought out from their hiding place and put on show. After the excitement at the fair, it is back home and the next stage starts: the medals are ordered from a firm in Prague, the winners’ diplomas are ordered from the local paper museum, diplomas for all the candidates are printed, flights are booked to take the winners to the congress, beds are reserved, exhibitions planned. The Jury President writes to tell the news to the Patron, Queen Margrethe of Denmark and asks for Her permission to extend Her congratulations to the winners at the award ceremony. The winners are requested to send their best books to the Queen.
Then the congress itself: are the winners happy, is the jury president ready, are the speeches ready, have the medals arrived, are the diplomas packed, is the venue festive enough, can it be made better, is there enough food, are the visuals ready, so on and so forth. Will the sponsor, Nami Island Inc., be happy? Will the IBBY family be happy?
Sigh, relax and enjoy!
by Liz Page, Jury Secretary