A core value of children’s librarianship has always included finding, evaluating, selecting, and collecting the best products for young people, and making them accessible to those we serve. The Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Children’s Video was established in the late 1980s (and first awarded in 1991) “to honor outstanding video productions for children.” The Medal reflected librarians’ desire to help shape the marketplace, by encouraging production of high quality videos for children.
At the time, video was the “new media” format of the time, and was rapidly expanding into libraries and children’s homes. Yet public opinion about videos for children varied. While some acknowledged potential for video to be a “constructive educational resource” (Project, 1989, p. 3), others felt that video presented “dangerous commercial interests,” along the lines of broadcast television.
Fast-forward 26 years, and video is now perceived as an “old” media format, slowly going the way of the typewriter, the land-line telephone, and the floppy disk. New media formats, which may or may not have useful educational value, are eliciting the same types of worries that video once did, and more. And librarians still want to have a voice in encouraging and shaping quality new media products.
To address these changes, in summer 2014, ALSC President Ellen Riordan formed the Evolving Carnegie Task Force to investigate how the existing Carnegie Medal might be “evolved” to encompass some of today’s new media formats.
The Task Force started by interviewing a panel of new media experts, including Faith Rogow, Senior Fellow at the Fred Rogers Center; Betsy Bozdech, Executive Director of Common Sense Media; Tanya Baronti Smith, Program Coordinator at the Fred Rogers Center; Jason Yip, Research Fellow at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center; ALSC Board Members Gretchen Caserotti, Ernie Cox, and Julie Roach; Kay Weisman, 1989 Carnegie Medal Chair (also on the ALSC Board); Martha Simpson, 2011 Carnegie Medal Chair; and ALSC’s Children & Technology Committee members Liz Fraser, Clara Hendricks, Tara Smith and Swalena Griffin.
The data from the experts provided a snapshot of the field, and helped us shape questions for the ALSC Membership survey. Yet after collecting responses, we ended up with even more questions. For example, it is relatively easy to compare books or videos, because the content is packaged in similar containers. In contrast, new media formats are not consistent. How do you find them, and how are they accessed? How can they be defined, compared, or evaluated? How should an award committee determine if a product is a “book app,” an “interactive e-book,” or an “enhanced book”? How would committee members be able to determine criteria for a “Best-of-List”? Is a new media product closer to a book or to a game, and how does that impact eligibility for inclusion?
And then there are the problems involved in evaluating new media products. Does the book app look and function the same on an iPad as it does on a different tablet? Does your library have tablets? Does your library provide access to its patrons? Does your library have a well-defined way to purchase content for tablets? Where do we begin . . . and where do we stop?
Despite the challenges in finding, defining, evaluating, and comparing new media, after the ALSC Membership survey results were in, we found general consensus among ALSC Membership that ALSC should have a leadership role in finding, evaluating, selecting and guiding the use of new media, just as librarians have always done with other media products for children, from books, to video, and beyond.
After presenting our report to the ALSC Board at Midwinter, it was agreed that this task force should have its charge extended to Annual. Stay tuned!
Evolving Carnegie Task Force Members include:
- Mary Fellows (co-chair)
- Marianne Martens (co-chair)
- Gretchen Caserotti (ALSC Board Member, and liaison to the board)
- Cen Campbell (former co-chair, now member)
- Jessica Hoptay-Brown
- Kim Patton
- Laurie Reese
- Soraya Silverman
Marianne Martens is Assistant Professor at Kent State University’s School of Library and Information Science, co-chair of the Evolving Carnegie Task Force, and a member of ALSC’s Children and Technology Committee. You can read more about her work at mariannemartens.org, and she can be reached at email@example.com.