Friday, January 17, 2014

The Alex Award



The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.


The Alex Awards were first given annually beginning in 1998. The titles were selected by the  YALSA Adult Books for Young Adults Task Force from the previous year's publishing and were  part of the Adult Books for Young Adults Project, which explored the role of adult books in the  reading lives of teenagers and was funded by the Margaret Alexander Edwards Trust. Edwards  was a young adult specialist for many years at the Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore. Her work is  described in her book Fair Garden and the Swarm of Beasts, and over the years she has served as  an inspiration to librarians who serve young adults. With the approval of the Trust, the task  force appointed to develop and implement the project named the awards the Alex Awards after  Edwards, who was called "Alex" by her friends.
In 2002, the Alex Awards were approved as an official ALA award, and the Task Force was superseded by the Alex Awards Committee. In 2010, it was decided that an annual vetted list of nominations would be published along with the ten award winners.
The major sponsor of the Alex Awards continues to be the Margaret Alexander Edwards Trust.

Committee Function

What the committee does

YALSA's Alex Award Committee selects ten books from the previous year written for adults that have special appeal to teens. In addition, it also provides an official vetted list of nominated titles considered for the award.


The list is prepared for librarians to use with young adults, and annotations will be written to attract the teen audience. It is a general list of adult titles selected for their demonstrable appeal to the personal reading tastes of the young adult.

Frequency of List

The Alex Award list of ten winning titles will be produced annually. The titles that appear on the final list of official nominations are those that have been read and discussed by the full committee, in accordance with the committee's policies and procedures, and that the committee has come to a consensus that these titles are worthy of being placed on the official list of nominations. A vetted list of Alex Award nominations will also be made available in January, at the publication of the award.

Committee Makeup

How many members, length of term, etc.

Committee members are appointed by YALSA's President-Elect and serve a two-year term, with the possibility of reappointment for an additional two-year term. There are 9 voting committee members, including the chair. Each term begins at the conclusion of one Midwinter and ends at the conclusion of the Midwinter that is at the end of the term. If someone resigns, the current President of YALSA appoints a new person to finish out that particular term. Reappointment is not automatic, but instead is based upon participation. Any individual who wishes to be appointed for a second term must fill out a Selection Committee Volunteer Form the summer prior to their desired reappointment.

Responsibilities of regular committee positions

Members are required to attend all committee meetings and read widely from books eligible for nomination. Additional information about committee member responsibilities is available from YALSA's Handbook.

Special positions within Committee

In addition to the 8 regular committee members, the Alex Committee will also include a Chair, a Booklist consultant and an administrative assistant, if the Chair chooses to select one.
Responsibilities of special positions
  • A committee chair is appointed by YALSA's President-Elect for an annual term; and, as such, has the right to vote, to validate titles (by a vote) for consideration on the list and to enter into discussion of titles. It should be understood, however, that the primary responsibility of the chair is facilitator of the committee's charge, including all business matters. The chair should only discuss a title after other committee members have had an opportunity to speak so as not to unduly influence the decision. Furthermore, the chair and his/her administrative assistant have sole responsibility for publisher contact. An administrative assistant can be named by the committee chair in consultation with the President-Elect of YALSA. The administrative assistant will assist the chair in duties which may include the following: maintaining the nominations' database, tabulating votes and other such duties assigned by the chair. The administrative assistant is a non-voting member of the committee.
  • Booklist will designate a member of their staff to serve as a consultant, who is a nonvoting member of the committee.
  • YALSA's Program Officer for Conference & Events serves as a staff liaison to this committee.

Title Acquisition and Eligibility

How titles are acquired

While YALSA's Alex Committee may receive books from publishers, it is the committee's responsibility to look more widely. Members must make every effort to seek out eligible titles to
consider. Other ways to obtain eligible titles include but are not limited to:
  • Picking up galleys at Midwinter and Annual ALA meetings and at other conferences.
  • Examining review copies received in the work place.
  • Browsing new titles at bookstores.
  • Borrowing books on interlibrary loan.
  • Sharing books among members by mail.

What makes a title eligible or ineligible

The Alex Committee considers any title from a publisher's adult list in the calendar year prior to the announcement. The chair is responsible for verifying the eligibility of all nominated titles. A book originally published outside the United States will be considered according to its U.S. publication year. Books published outside of the United States are not eligible unless a U.S. edition is available. Works of joint authorship and editorship will be eligible.  Titles that are self-published, published only in eBook format, and/or published from a publisher outside of the US will not be considered eligible until the first year the book is available in print or distributed through a US publishing house.

Publisher solicitation

  1. All committee members must comply with YALSA's Awards Committee Conflict of Interest Policy.
  2. The chair and/or administrative assistant are responsible for contact with the publishers. Committee members must not solicit publishers for free personal copies of books. If members receive, or are offered, unsolicited copies of books from publishers, they may accept the titles.
  3. Committee members must not solicit publishers for favors, invitations, etc. If members receive these, however, they will use their own judgment in accepting. Publishers understand that such acceptance in no way influences members' actions or selections.

Suggested selection criteria

YALSA's Alex Committee looks for outstanding titles that are of interest and value to teenagers. Suggested selection criteria:
  1. Titles are selected for their demonstrated or probable appeal to the personal reading tastes of young adults 
  2. Appeal and popularity are not synonymous In addition to the question of appeal, committee members should consider the following when assessing titles: language, plot, style, setting, dialog, characterization, and design.

Creation of the List

Nominating procedures

Deadlines for nominations

Nominations may be accepted from the field and Committee up to December 1st of that calendar year. Nominations from committee members may be accepted up to December 31st of that calendar year.

How nominations are solicited

Anyone can nominate titles for YALSA's lists and awards. Nomination forms are available on the YALSA web site at from authors or publishers for their own titles are not eligible for the list.

Field nominations

Field nominations, which are nominations that come from someone who is not a member of the committee, require a second from an Alex committee member. The chair informs the committee of field nominations, which remain active until all nominations are closed. If no committee member seconds the field nomination, the title is dropped from consideration.

Availability of nominations

The committee will consider and vote on books published within their assigned calendar year, January 1 to December 31.

Voting procedures

Final selections are made at the Midwinter Meeting during a series of meetings. The chair will provide each book's nominator with the first opportunity to address that title if he/she desires. All nominated titles must be discussed. After comments and committee discussion are completed, a vote is taken to determine if a title should be included on the official vetted list of nominations. Straw votes may be conducted periodically, at the discretion of the Chair, to reveal levels of support for individual titles.

Procedures for final votes

A book must receive a majority vote from the official vetted list of nominations to be placed among the top ten winning titles. Only members attending the Midwinter meeting will be allowed to vote. Members can only vote on books they have read. If a committee member has an emergency and must leave before the final vote, that member must give a signed ballot to the chair who will then designate a voting proxy for the absent member. The final vote will be counted by an individual  designated by the chair.


After the final discussion and selection, winning titles are then annotated by the committee. These annotations must be completed at the last meeting of the committee. Annotations will be written to attract the teen reader.


The annotated list is disseminated each January. The complete and final annotated list will be available each year shortly after the close of ALA's Midwinter Meeting. Following its last meeting the committee will provide the YALSA Office with the final annotated list of winning titles as well as vetted nominations. Both winning titles and vetted nominations will be made available on the YALSA website and winners may appear in a spring issue of Booklist. YALSA will also include the final Alex list in its annual Best of the Best for Young Adults compilation of selection and award titles for young adults.

Outside Participation at Meetings

Observer guidelines

  • Alex meetings and discussions are closed to the membership and the general public.
  • Committee members are welcome throughout the year to get teen feedback on materials and bring that feedback to face-to- face meetings and online discussions.


There will be no announcements of final selections until after the final committee meeting at the
ALA Midwinter Meeting.

Use of the List

Use and Reproduction

YALSA's Alex List may be reproduced under "fair use" standards. As stated in Section 107 of The Copyright Act of 1976, factors to be considered shall include:
  • the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  • the nature of the copyrighted work;
  • the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole

Sample citation

YALSA Alex Awards Committee.  "2011 Alex Awards."  Young Adult Library Services Association. [insert dater published on the web]. Young Adult Library Services Association, Web. [insert date accessed by user]. more information about acceptable use of YALSA's lists of recommended reading, and/or to request permission to reproduce the list, please contact ALA's Rights and Permission Manager at

Committee Specific Information



Last revision, March 2013. These procedures are subject to review and possible revision by the Organizations and Bylaws committee with final approval by the YALSA Board of Directors.